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TC88 Cam Chain Tensioners

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Tech Talk' started by mmcmurphy, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. mmcmurphy

    mmcmurphy New Member

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    I have a 2000 FLHTCI with worn out cam chain tensioners. The local HD dealer said that HD does not have an improved tensioner fix for this problem and suggested I replace the chains with a very expensive cam and gear set to the tune of about $1,500 which I do not have. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Mick
  2. voodoochild

    voodoochild New Member

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    Mick, how many miles did you get out of the first set? Depending on the mileage you may want to go back to them, especially if the gear set is out of $$. I don't know of any fix either, but then again someone else may have other info for you. Keep us posted.
  3. chucktx

    chucktx Moderator Staff Member

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    mmcmurphy, sorry to inform you, but there are only two choices...one is to go back stock....tensioners, or a gear cam set. it sucks to know that my tc has a problem built into it that will require money to fix it. sooner or later every tc has to have money thrown at it to keep it running. if the tensioners are not taken care of it can get really expensive....oil pump will crap out from all the shavings from the chain and tensioner shoes.....big time sucks:angry: :angry:
  4. Slimjim

    Slimjim Active Member

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    How many miles before this problem starts to show itself?
  5. Slimjim

    Slimjim Active Member

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    I just copied this from one of CD's articles on oil pressure. Maybe the problem has been fixed on later models.



    "Coincidentally, he found that his tensioner shoes were not worn at all. He had been told that Harley Davidson changed materials in the 2000-year production probably in the late 2k and 2001 models. I could not dig up any information on this other than this is what he was told. The bottom line here is to keep and eye on your motorcycles oil pressure. Listen for unusual sounds and increased heat. The only indication we had was the oil pressure light coming on at idle."
  6. CD

    CD Guest

    AFAIK most problems seem to show up at over 20k miles. I think the wear problem was still an issue all along and HD is hoping that the new design will work better. Think about it, there is nothing left from the TC88 (all but the 06 Dyna line) in the cam chest. I have looked at shoes that were trashed down to metal and no reason for it other than poor material an insufficient surface area for the job.
  7. Seahag

    Seahag New Member

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    Before CD hung up his hat, I bought two complete gear drive cam kits from him for under $600.00 each. The dealership is raping you on parts and labor if they want $1500+

    These included your inner cam bearings, outer cam bearings, gear drive cams, gear drives, and cam cover gasket....

    It is really a simple job to do, if you have any mechanical ability...just take your time. Read the instructions carefully and perform each step in order.

    For the specialty tools, there are places you can rent the tools from that are very affordable. You simply need a credit card to put a deposit on the tools, in case you don't return them. I had the rental tools from a source on harleytechtalk for just over two weeks and it was $40.00 to rent.

    The other option, that I'm thinking of using this year is to buy my own set of cam chest tools from http://www.georges-garage.com/ ...They have much better prices than Jims or S&S tools.

    A friend of my father in law's had his tensioners fail completely; taking out the entire motor with metal and plastic fragments. It was almost $4,000.00 to get his bike repaired by the dealer. My wife was with the day we heard his story, and she said "I'm glad you took care of those before that could happen to us"....First time she ever gave me kudos for tearing into the motorcycle.:D

    P.S... www.Wallyscycleworld.com and www.jirehcycle.com both have similar gear drive cam package pricing to what directparts gave me. I just always gave CD first dibs on all my large purchases. The only downside to the package deals I've seen is you usually only have the choice of Andrews or S&S cams....not that there is anything wrong with either's line up...just that it somewhat narrows your choices.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2006
  8. AFNurse

    AFNurse Moderator Staff Member

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    Seahag, I DON"T like hearing what you have to say.....about crapping out at/over 20k.....I am at 18+K right now!! Love to ride, DON"T want to have parts go out like this!!! Here is hoping that for whatever reason, my stuff holds together!!!
  9. ReeseSS

    ReeseSS New Member

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    I would not go past 15,000 miles with out checking them for wear. There has been a very big inconsistency on how long they are lasting, some have gone out before 10k and others up to 25k but they are a part that will wear and go out so don't put off checking them out. As stated, waiting too long will be costly.
    The labor involved is almost the same as replacing cams so if the idea of upgrading cams has ever tempted you, this would be the time! The gear set adds $400 to the cost if you were doing cams anyway, besides eliminating the tensioners and shoes, the timing is right on never subject to chain stretch.
  10. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I just did a chain to gear conversion on a 95 the bike had 40K and we replaced them at 30 K about 1/2 worn, every bike is different but I would not go over 40K without checking them, and I would suggest pulling the cam cover at 20K to look.

    Thing is you can't see the rear one very well and it's not always smart to trust the front wear to gauge the rear. This one had twice the wear on the inner chain adjuster as the outer.

    FWIW Gear drive is the way to go if you go performance or if you ride alot of miles it's a good idea.

    I would drop the exhaust down, you don't have to completely remove it, then pull the cam cover, get a cam cover gasket.

    If they are slightly worn then you're fine for a while, just pop the cover back on. If they have a lot of wear then you can

    1) Put on new tensioners - no big deal, need a special tool to twist it though and you'll need to pull the cam support plate, chain etc.

    2) Go gear drive.

    Make sure you replace the inner case bearing with torringtons not the ones that come in the HD kit, and if you're doing gear drives get the S&S cam change kit for it. You won't use the roller bearing that comes for the rear cam on the HD kit, you need two ball bearing bearings LOL

    As was said there are places to rent on HTT or buy them but you can't do this without the tools.

    Still with cams, gears and the change kit you should be in the $600 range total.
  11. SkyKing

    SkyKing New Member

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    I checked my wifes 2000 FLSTC at 15000 miles. It had considerable wear on one tensioner. I do most of my own work (not because I'm a good mechanic, but because I just like taking stuff apart myself), but I had a local Indy shop put in the gears and cams. It's good to keep a good relationship with them. They give me lots of free advise and loan me tools and parts on occasion. It was less than $1000 parts and labor. S&S gears and TW37 cam.
  12. bxbutch

    bxbutch New Member

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    i cut open my oil filter every oil change to check for tensioner material & any metal that could signal a problem
  13. charlieharley0057

    charlieharley0057 New Member

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    2004 Heritage Softail

    Hi All.
    First off a very happy Hogmanay too you all.
    Now someone give me some good news.:roflmao: I have a 2004 Heritage Softail and have completed over 25000 sMiles. Now at no time did my ex-stealership:devil: mention a problem with the cam chain tensioners. and I do not recall seeing any mention of these in the service schedule. I will of course inspect these asp as I'm now really worried about riding my bike. But can anyone tell me if this has been rectified by design or materials used?? All the comments are about 1999/2000 models so has HD got too grips with this problem. Or am I on the wrong planet.:picked:

    Aye Charlieharley
  14. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    They changed the tensioner and cam plate setup in 06 Dynas and for all 07's, basically went to a different material and design for the tensioners and they are hydraulic, the bearings in the cam plate are gone from the old roller style to a flat bearing surface like a crankshaft journal on a v8
  15. kenfuzed

    kenfuzed Administrator Staff Member

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    Hey Charlieharley,

    I too have a 2004 Harley Heritage and so far it hasn't shown any sign of harsh wear on the tensioner shoes. I know Harley just changed the design last year, but not sure if there were any improvements made to that material on prior models. I'll be doing a cam change later this month or next so I'll see how they look again then.

    Maybe mine aren't as worn because of the synthetic oil? Just kiddin, I won't open that can up again (for a while) :p

    Since I had already picked up the cams at a great price and don't have the money to switch to gear drive cams, I'll probably polish the back side of the chains to reduce wear against the tensioners.
  16. charlieharley0057

    charlieharley0057 New Member

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    Thanks

    I will be working for the next few weekends so it will probably by Feb before I can get around too checking them out but thanks for the info. When you get your's open please let me know how they look. Pits really I will probably change for stock before the riding season and then set up a found to change to gear, next time round LOL.:)
  17. ringo912

    ringo912 Active Member

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    Cam Tensioners

    Mick,

    I have heard that some go at 15,000 and others at 40,000. Not sure why. I inspected mine at 20,000 and the wear was so minimal that I could just barely feel it by running my finger nail over the surface. I'm at 25,000 now and probably won't check them again until 30,000. The tensioner shoes are about 3/16" thick and are supposed to be changed when they wear to half of their original thickness.

    Just a note: I'm not sure if there is a wear correlation or not, but I changed to AMSOIL Synthetic at 2,000 miles and have been running it ever since.
  18. ZZTejas69

    ZZTejas69 New Member

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    Twin Cam tensioner shoes

    My brother-in-law has seen TCs fail with 5000- 20000 miles on them at his shop. I went with the Andrews gear drive cam to eliminate the problem. Don't get false hope that you can last until 20K miles. HD has a design flaw that they won't fix the right way, Chicken#*+t. I approached a HD rep in Rapid City at the Sturgis rally this year and, he tried to tell me that HD has new hydraulic tensionsers that will eliminate the problem. Wonder how much R&D Harley put into this new tensioner? The rep also told me that my gear drive was noisy, BS! Harley wont spend the $$$ to properly solve the problem and they don't care about bikes that have a few years on them. Ive been ridin em since they were junk in the 70s / AMF. HD has turned their back on all but the yuppie scum that trade every year. We are not all American Airlines pilots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  19. ringo912

    ringo912 Active Member

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    Cam Tensioners

    ZZ,

    I agree. HD should be spending $$ on R&D instead of buliding Motorcycle Musems for the Yuppie's to visit. Their new 6 speed trans is a good example. Lot of complaints about the noise in 5th gear. Baker is already advertising a fix for the HD 6 speed. I will be changing over to the gear drive also. Not going to wait until one of tensioner shoes blows out.

    And, aah yes the Yuppies. Quite the group aren't they. But then again, I guess HD needs a market for all the over priced Bull#@%& in their dealerships. Yuppies gotta look pretty when touring those musems.
  20. kenfuzed

    kenfuzed Administrator Staff Member

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    I actually had the opportunity to talk with a Harley engineer a few years back. He shared some history with me in regards to the chain drive cams. Turns out that back in the mid 90's while in R&D for the Twin Cam they had prototypes that were gear driven rather than chain. Along came the EPA requiring certain specs for drivetrain noise. According to this engineer the switch to chain driven cams was a concession made to avoid other more intrusive restrictions on other components, even though it cost the factory more to manufacture the chain drives and the noise wasn't that great. Because of those original EPA restrictions Harley-Davidson became bound to the design and has never been able to offer a gear drive replacement, which would violate their original agreement.

    This weekend I had the chance to look inside the cam chest of a 2003 Harley RoadKing with 95k + miles on it. Both outer and inner tensioners were showing minimal wear. I wish I would have had a camera to share pictures. The owner opted to replace the tensioners with new ones as a precaution but not because it was necessary. He was upgrading cams and stayed with chains. He said he'll probably check them again in a year to see how they are wearing.

    The new hydraulic tensioners on the 06/07-later models should resolve most worries about this issue in the future. As for the rest of us with the pre-07 models we should just check this every 20k or change to gears if you have the cash.

    For me its not a big issue and I'll find better things to blame on the yuppies :D

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