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transmission problems

Discussion in 'Motorcycle Tech Talk' started by snydley, Jul 21, 2018.

  1. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    I have a '98 Softail Custom and have some transmission troubles, these have been going on for a couple years now, and gradually getting worse.
    First of all I changed all oils, and filled them correctly.
    I changed the clutch pressure plates, but not the steel plates.
    The clutch is adjusted correctly as far as I can tell. I can pull the clutch in with the bike running and the bike doesn't "lurch" forward, as the case when the clutch isn't adjusted correctly and is partially engaged. I can also pull the clutch in and "walk" the bike forward and backwards without the slightest sensation of the bike trying to pull forward.
    The engine and tranny are stock and the replacement friction plates are aftermarket stock replacement disks.

    The Problems:
    1. When the ambient temperature is cold, the bike is almost impossible to get into second gear. I start in first, and when it's time to shift to second I have to pull up, like hell on the shifter with my foot until it finally goes into 2nd. This only happens shifting from 1st to 2nd, all other gears are fine. Once the tranny is warm it shifts OK.
    2. When warm, it is almost impossible to shift into neutral. Usually if I want to stop for a minute to get something out of my coat pocket, for example, and want to put it in neutral for a minute, I have to shut the bike off. This happens 95% of the time, or better.
    3. It seems like maybe it "clunks" into gear a little louder, not much though, than my '06 FLHTCI, or my '08FXSTSSE2, or the '88FLHTC I used to own.

    As I said, I changed oils, with Harley 20W50 in the engine, and Formula+ in the tranny and primary case, and changed and adjusted friction disks.

    I've never had any problems with any of my trannys until this one, and these problems have been progressive and been going on for a few years, now it's to the point where I need to do something with it.

    Any help is greatly appreciated,
    Thanks,
    Snyde
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018
  2. Fatboy128

    Fatboy128 Well-Known Member

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    Wish I could help more than this: To me it sounds like the clutch plates are sticking.
    Given that the clutch is adj proper the first thing I myself would do is try a different primary oil and make sure its filled correctly and not over or under the factory specified amount. My '05 softail calls for just touching the bottom of the clutch pressure pate. (with the bike leveled). I run Red Line synthetic or Mobil One syn in my primary.
    Other than this, I'm at a loss.
  3. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    I really doubt that is the problem. I use these same oils in my '06 FLHTCI and have been changing the oils for years, and have never had this problem in any other bike. The bike has over 40K miles on it too,(forgot to say that earlier). I long for the day of my 1960 Pan and the 4 speed and dry clutch. That thing was rock solid and never gave me a lick of trouble, unless the clutch plates were sticky, in which case I'd take them out, scrape them on a concrete pad, clean them off and put it back together.
    Easy, peasy!
    Thanks for your help,
    Snyde
  4. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Couple of things on 98 clutch. In the middle of the clutch pack there are two plates with tiny springs between them. This can be a problem area. If you replace clutch pack get the set without this plate

    The throw out bearing on the main adjustment under the right side trans cover is known to give out if it’s over adjusted tight similar issues occur

    If the adjustment is difficult to find and keep the clutch in the right place it’s probably one of these two things


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Red Rider likes this.
  5. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Thanks for the tips. It was last year, and I don't remember when I bought the new clutches and I don't remember if they had these springs or not, I don't remember them though. I think I would have remembered if they did, but hey at my age I forget why I came into a room! :eek:
    I will check the throw out bearing first, then take the clutches out and see what I have. I dismissed the clutches because when I pull the clutch in the bike doesn't want to creep forward at all. I don't really know much about the newer clutches or trannys. My thinking, (about the clutch making the bike creep if tight), comes from working on my old 1960 Pan with dry clutches, and my 1982 Shovel with wet clutches. Maybe the same "rules" don't apply to newer bikes. The older ones were much simpler, though not as reliable!
    Thanks again,
    Snyde
    Red Rider likes this.
  6. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Adjusting the new ones is a process took me a while,

    Loosen the nut on the adjuster in the clutch pack,
    back off adjuster until clutch goes slack
    Loosen adjuster inline cable
    handle should move freely and not move clutch.
    Back the nut all the way to the end of the adjuster
    but don't remove it on the clutch.
    Pull the clutch lever in to the grip, let it sit there
    Slowly turn in the adjuster and watch the clutch lever
    it will start to move out, when it's all the way out, back off
    the adjuster a 1/4 to 1/2 turn and tighten the nut while holding
    the adjuster with allen.

    Now tap the lever in, it should move a bit.
    Now Adjust the cable, turn it so the cable gets longer
    and watch the lever, when it's out back off a bit.

    You should then pull the cable end away from the lever
    housing and be able to fit a dime/nickel in there. When you
    can, tighten down the cable.

    Ride around, if you still have problems its most likely
    the throwout bearing taking a dump... There are other issues
    that do this basically anything that can throw off the adjustment
    such as throwout, broken bearing in end cap letting shaft walk, etc.
    Red Rider likes this.
  7. charlie46

    charlie46 Well-Known Member

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    You Tube has great videos on adjusting Harley clutchs
  8. Red Rider

    Red Rider Well-Known Member

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    Please let us know what resolves the problem when you get it fixed (and you will!) so that we can all gain the knowledge. I would be grateful, as I am sure others would be, too. Good luck!
  9. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Sorry, I should have written back and at least acknowledged your last answer to me. Thanks so much for that. I kind of put that on the back burner for a moment, well not for too long, my bike is on my lift, but I'm in the middle of replacing the rear rocker cover gaskets on my '98 Softail Classic, and I don't remember when I've ever had a job on a bike with such a clearance issue. The front gasket was "cake" but the rear one is a real P.I.T.A., and I even took the gas tanks and seat off. I almost wonder if it might be easier to take the engine out of the bike and change the gaskets and put it back in! Once I finish that, tomorrow, I'm gonna tackle the clutch and go through the procedure you outlined, which is pretty much how I do it; slacken the clutch plate adjustment screw and clutch cable, then adjust the clutch plates first, then the clutch cable.
    Thanks again for your help!
    Snyde
    Red Rider likes this.
  10. Fatboy128

    Fatboy128 Well-Known Member

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    My 2005 Fatboy (softail model) required a rocker box gasket a few years ago. I managed to get it apart without pulling engine. It was close but doable. I would assume they didn't change the frame to engine clearances, but then again, it's Harley..
  11. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Well I just went through the clutch adjustment yesterday, and it's still doing the same thing, almost impossible to get in neutral, with the engine running, and "clunking" a little louder than normal when shifting. I'm gonna recheck the adjustments again tomorrow and if nothing has changed since I went through them , I'll replace the throwout bearing.
    As far as the rear rocker cover goes, I was able to get it back together, with much difficulty. The first time, as I was putting the top cover on, I lost the bolt when placing the bolt down through the hole in the frame, I used a magnet and it fell off the magnet and I think it slipped into the gap between the frame pieces next to the hole,(you'll know what I'm talking about if you've ever replaced that bolt). I never found it. I got 4 new bolts and replaced them all.

    HUGE TIP!!!

    What I found worked best for me for holding the bolt, and sticking it through the hole in the frame, was a piece of fuel line, the inside diameter a little smaller than the bolt head. I crammed the head of the bolt into the fuel line and it held it great!! I placed the fiber washer into the indent in the top rocker cover with my finger and a small screwdriver, then, with the bolt crammed up the fuel line, I guided it through the hole in the frame and was able to start it with the fuel line, I then removed the line and finished tightening it with a 1/4" drive hex bit and torque wrench. THE FUEL LINE WAS "THE TICKET"!! I hope I never have to do that again, but I know how to do it now if I ever need to!!
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
  12. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Improvise, adapt, overcome!

    Yep that rear rocker cover can be a PIA, I cut down an allen insert
    that came with a mini socket drive kit and used a 1/4 inch open end,
    and I also found a mini ratchet wrench where you could put it over the allen
    insert and it helps speed up the process,

    Buddy has an El Bruto 113 that we had to rebuild something in the rear cylinder
    about 11 million times so we quickly developed a way to do that rear.

    Some wrenches put a small jack with a piece of wood under the engine and disconnect the front motor mounts then tilt the engine down so they have access without removing it.

    Rubber hose trick would be easier LOL
  13. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    I was so afraid that I dislodged the gaskets with all the "finagling" I had to do getting that top cover on, but so far so good,(knock wood). I haven't found any oil leaking yet. I used Permatex non-hardening gasket sealer on the gaskets and I'm sure that helped. Next, I'm gonna replace the throwout bearing in the tranny!
  14. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Good luck, its not difficult to do but it's a bit of work.

    You'll have to drain the trans to do the work, otherwise when you remove the cover you'll have a bit of gear oil coming out. You can put the bike up on a couple of 2 x 6 under each tire then lean over on side stand, this increases the lean angle to move the oil to the other side, however if you find the throw out bearing bad, change the oil.

    Get a new side cover gasket, then after install readjust the clutch. One thing that destroys those tiny bearings is over tight adjustment.

    Good luck!
  15. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Not a problem, I have a bike lift, I'll roll it up, jack it up and drain the oil. Maybe I'll take this time to refill the tranny with Amsoil. I've never used it, but have heard great things about it.
  16. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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  17. Fatboy128

    Fatboy128 Well-Known Member

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    I've been using the Spectro Gear Saver for years. Love it. Quiets some of the clunking and makes my Fatboy a 200 mph machine!
  18. hotroadking

    hotroadking Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Plus it thins yer profile, adds $100K to yer wallet, makes you irresistible to biker chicks, invisible to police radar, fills potholes in your way and grows hair back.
  19. Fatboy128

    Fatboy128 Well-Known Member

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    Yep! I didn't want to brag! ;)
  20. snydley

    snydley Active Member

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    Geez, I thought I already replied to this. Anyway, I'll definitely look for this, maybe they have it in NAPA auto parts, one of our local stores. After changing the friction plates last year, changing the fluid with Formula + this year, adjusting and rechecking the clutch, I've got some kind of problem, because it's still almost impossible to get in neutral, "clunks" a little louder than normal, I think, but it doesn't feel like the clutch is "binding" at all, I can put the bike in gear, hold the clutch in and roll the bike back and forth with no problem. Last night, before putting it up for the night, just for a test, I pulled half way up my driveway, which is uphill. I pulled the clutch in lifted my feet and the bike started to roll backwards. One thing I did notice though is that my Primary chain needs replacing. I can no longer adjust it to spec., it's too loose, stretched out from 44K+ miles, I guess. Geez, you mean these things don't last forever? ;) Would that affect this tranny/clutch this way? As far as the Spectro Gear Saver growing hair back, how much of it do I have to drink to get my hair back? I missing quite a bit of it!;)
    Snyde

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