Wednesday, August 8, 2018

35,750 Miles

 That's what the odometer on my 2015 Ultra Limited was reading when I decided to pull the primary cover and replace the clutch. I had noticed on a ride two weekends ago that I was able to whack the throttle and slip the clutch. Not the kind of thing you want to mess with when bangin gears, doing burnouts and knee draggin with your buddies in the Smokie Mountains. OK, these days we're more like the old geezers we used to laugh at as we flew past, but its all good, knees in the breeze and all.
 My first concern was getting the bike vertical to work on it. No center stand and even if there were, I ain't capable of putting a 900+ pound scoot up on one. OK, maybe I could but my back would be barking at me for a week. These days I limit my lifting weight to an 18 pack of brewskies, 24 pack if they're on sale.
 Anyway, the chore was easily handled with a bike lift that Chris VB gave me. At first I was nervous and thought my wife may need to run the jack while I balanced the bike but I found that the lift was well suited to the task of bench pressing a full size touring rig. Once I blocked it up front to rear the bike felt quite stable. Thanks Chris!

 The job itself is pretty much just straight forward wrenching with no special tools needed unless you consider a torque wrench a special tool, which you shouldn't.

 The heel shifter, front and rear floor boards and primary cover come off. Then 6 bolts holding the diaphragm spring in place and thats it for tools. During disassembly I discovered this gunk smeared around the edge of the pressure plate, under the diaphragm spring.

It had the consistency of a paste but I accidentally found out it was attracted by a magnet. This is the worn material from the fibers and steels of the clutch.

A caliper proved that the clutch was actually worn past spec.

 The last clutch I did was in the sportster and the manufacturer recommended soaking the fibers in primary oil overnight. This Barnett clutch only wanted a 3 or 5 minute bath.

  So after buttoning everything back up and filling the primary with oil, it was time for a test ride. I thumbed the starter and the beast let out a big roar as it came to life. The next sound I usually hear is the famous Harley "clunk" as the bike is shifted into first gear. Not this time. One down, no clunk, not a peep. Sweet! In fact, in about a dozen shifts from neutral to first it only made a light clunk half of the time. Thats a huge improvement and I wonder if it will get better. Before if I wanted a butter shift from N to 1 I had to pull in the clutch lever and whack the throttle three times before attempting the shift. Two whacks didn't work.
 The clunk wasn't the reason for the new clutch. Slippage was and I realize now how bad it really was. No more twisting the wick and getting a slip. A couple of rips through the gears and wow I could really feel the difference. It pulls hard and I'm looking forward to the next ride.



  1. How will you know you're on the Harley without that clunk?

    I assume the reduction in the clunk is a result of less stiction between the Barnett plates, although I'm not sure why that would be if you use the same oils. Any ideas?

    1. Ya I dunno. How do they stick less but hold better. I think the bike comes filled with engine oil in the primary which I switched to redline. I did notice the size and shape of the friction material is different between the stock and Barnett, and I also replaced the diaphram spring. Maybe putting that all together is the answer.