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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you are someone who is still running the factory 2007-2009(?) factory style compensator, here's a tip I've been using. I'm sure this tip is worth exactly the amount I am charging you - your results may vary... so don't sue me if it doesn't work for you!

In my case, my compensator seems to eventually get dry inside - constant centrifugal force slings out the oil, the compensator is situated HIGHER than the oil level in the primary - and eventually the internal parts wearing against each other produce enough graphite-like fine metal particles, and the plate-spring mechanism begins to gum up.

The symptom which developed at this point for me was I started to notice that hear kind of a SSHHH or whooshing - almost like a dry bearing - type of sound from the front primary area. It was pretty loud...

I pulled off the primary cover and found that the compensator was virtually plugged up with sludge - basically looked like graphite paste...
I cleaned out all the pasty fine metal sludge and lubricated everything well, and now my bike sounds like a real Harley again. It also doesn't lurch and buck when I'm driving slowly like it did before - (makes sense since the comp is now working smoothly again).

I started thinking about what is actually happening... and believe that there are a few things which can be done to minimize problems from the poor design of these compensators. Probably the worst problem is that by design, centrifugal force slings out all the oil when you're running. Since the oil normal primary oil level is actually lower than the compensator - if the bike is parked on a level surface, there is very little opportunity for the comp to get lubricated - except as oil is splashed (on the outside) of the comp while the engine is running - which is not helpful - since any spashed oil gets immediately slung off...

The problem of proper lubrication is made even worse by thicker oil, so if you're running 20w50 oil in your primary, the oil is thicker and even less likely to seep into the compensator.

I suspect that this is one reason that Mobil 1, for instance, have started recommending their 4T (10-40) oil for twincam primaries on their website, since this slightly thinner oil is more likely to run INTO the primary during cool-down - and it will likely take longer to sludge up from metal which is constantly wearing off the spring plates than thicker oil could.

Here are my conclusions;
1. Switch over to high quality ATF in the primary. ATF is very "thin" by comparison to most motor oil, and it permeates into every nook and cranny very easily. Read the forums here - MANY many bikers have been running ATF in their primaries for years with very good results. ATF also lubricates chains and bearing extremely well - virtually every single 4WD truck runs it in their chain-based transfer case - many are running 300,400,500 HP. ATF is an extremely good lubricant.

2. Overfill your primary 6 or 8 oz, this raises the oil level, so it will be more likely to reach the compensator. It is important that the fluid fills the compensator often while the bike is not running. This will allow it to flush out the comp and prevent sludge from building up in there. (As long as your clutch cleanly disengages, there's no danger of adding a few extra oz.) I've found that ATF allows a very smooth and clean clutch disengage - I get almost no clunk when shifting into 1st.

3. Whenever possible, park on a hill - nose down. This will cause primary fluid to run forward where it can partially fill the compensator. If you park this way for even a few seconds, then once you start the engine, the fluid will sling out - helping to flush out the compensator.

If you do this fairly often, I believe that it is possible to overcome the bad design, and achieve long(er) life from your twincam compensator.

fwiw...
 

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Keep on Ridin’
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Well thought out post. Worth considering. Thanks!

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Mississippi Cajun
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Makes a lot of sense.
 

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Hmmm Have similar noises and bucks slightly once in while.

The replacement compensators sold by HD now have a plastic baffle goes behind comp, glued to inner primary. Suppose to direct oil into compensator? Seen it on UTube videos.
 

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Pulled Primary cover off. Compensator looks clean. Nut was tight. Refilled with Lucas Hi-Po Motorcycle oil semi synthetic 10w40. On sale at O'Riellys $6 and change. Have 10W50 for same price. Whine noise is reduced, clutch grabs quicker, happy about that.
 

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I tried this suggestion, ATF with extra 8 oz on my Softail and I'm very pleased with the results. The "bucking is now gone and clutch seems to work with no problem. I will
probably go with the SE compensator upgrade after this riding season, but for now
I feel good about the temporary fix
thank you
 

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My new to me 07 Softail with only 4500 miles has been doing the bucking thing badly when idling in traffic in 1st and 2nd. I thought it might be because the stock compensator wasn't up to the SE 103 kit. I've been planning on getting some gaskets and taking a look but maybe I'll give ATF a try when I refill it too.

The only thing is that ATF is super high detergent compared to motor oil. Seems like it might have mixed long term effects on clutch discs, but theyre a wear item anyway right?

An old trick to clean up the innards of a mistreated and dirty motor used to be to add some ATF and run it for a few minutes right before an oil change. I did it once on a pickup the first owner NEVER changed to oil on and collapsed half the lifters because large chunks of crud plugged them up. Worked a little too well!

I've know truckers to add ATF to their diesel too, to help clean the injectors. That was when injector pressures were a lot lower than they are these days though.
 

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If your careful and just removing the outer primary cover, should be able to reuse the gasket. A thin coat of silicone sealer both sides of gasket has done me well 4 times.

Have to agree with the ATF as a motor flush. Buy cheapest one on shelf, cheaper than a actual motor flush item. Remember to never drive your vehicle with ATF in it.
 

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My new to me 07 Softail with only 4500 miles has been doing the bucking thing badly when idling in traffic in 1st and 2nd. I thought it might be because the stock compensator wasn't up to the SE 103 kit. I've been planning on getting some gaskets and taking a look but maybe I'll give ATF a try when I refill it too.

The only thing is that ATF is super high detergent compared to motor oil. Seems like it might have mixed long term effects on clutch discs, but theyre a wear item anyway right?

An old trick to clean up the innards of a mistreated and dirty motor used to be to add some ATF and run it for a few minutes right before an oil change. I did it once on a pickup the first owner NEVER changed to oil on and collapsed half the lifters because large chunks of crud plugged them up. Worked a little too well!

I've know truckers to add ATF to their diesel too, to help clean the injectors. That was when injector pressures were a lot lower than they are these days though.
The clutch disks that you run now , are the same type as what is in automatic transmissions . Therefore ATF is fine with them . :)
 

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Gotta out think Murphy

If your careful and just removing the outer primary cover, should be able to reuse the gasket. A thin coat of silicone sealer both sides of gasket has done me well 4 times.

Have to agree with the ATF as a motor flush. Buy cheapest one on shelf, cheaper than a actual motor flush item. Remember to never drive your vehicle with ATF in it.
With the nearest shop 75 miles away you know I'm guaranteed to break mine, unless I have a spare!
 

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With the nearest shop 75 miles away you know I'm guaranteed to break mine, unless I have a spare!
I see where your at, spares are good to have. IF it has never been off, should be ok, fairly sturdy gasket. No sealant on factory install, the HD manual says nothing about using any either. Good Luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
won't help with stock comp

Hmmm Have similar noises and bucks slightly once in while.

The replacement compensators sold by HD now have a plastic baffle goes behind comp, glued to inner primary. Suppose to direct oil into compensator? Seen it on UTube videos.
Unfortunately, this upgrade doesn't help the stock compensator - since the outer face of the stock comp is solid - it completely covers the inner workings - so all the redirected oil is still slung off. Whereas the SE comps have an open 3 spoke design - which lets the glue-on baffle channel oil into the center of the comp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I see where your at, spares are good to have. IF it has never been off, should be ok, fairly sturdy gasket. No sealant on factory install, the HD manual says nothing about using any either. Good Luck
I've re-used the gasket a couple of times - I rinse it off with brake-clean so it doesn't seep - otherwise when I've tightened the case bolts, it seems to ooze a little oil out as the gasket is tightened...

If it broke when removing it, THEN I would consider a little silicone sealer right at that spot. - if I didn't have a spare gasket handy.
 

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I've re-used the gasket a couple of times - I rinse it off with brake-clean so it doesn't seep - otherwise when I've tightened the case bolts, it seems to ooze a little oil out as the gasket is tightened...

If it broke when removing it, THEN I would consider a little silicone sealer right at that spot. - if I didn't have a spare gasket handy.
Sounds good. I just over due it by putting the silicone sealer on, gives me a warm fuzzy. Ride safe
 

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Just did my 10k a couple months ago, put the 38 oz in the primary, should I remove inspection cover and add more? if so how much more?
 

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Just did my 10k a couple months ago, put the 38 oz in the primary, should I remove inspection cover and add more? if so how much more?
Need to check your owners manual. Usually runs about a quart aka 32 ozs.
 

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no need to run more than the recommended amount. Not sure where the extra 8 oz. came from. Dexron is a wonderful lubricant and great for "wet" clutches, which Automatic transmissions are full of as well as gears and bearings. 4X4 transfer cases use Dexron as well( chains) bearings and gears.
 

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I was just looking at the screaming eagle big twin compensator on the moco website and read the review posted there. It describes the same issue I'm having with drive train lurch in low gear, although I don't have any noises from my primary (yet).

According to the receipts I just got from the previous owner, the Softail Deluxe I recently bought has a stage 2 upgrade from a 96" to 103", with SE258 cams. One of the guys I work with thought the cams might be contributing to the drive train lurch I'm experiencing since its only there at low rpm. Could that be part of my problem?

The reviewer also said he had bad primary noise on starting like some of you have said, and he found a bunch of loose metal and chewed up comp gear teeth when he opened it up. I was just going to switch to ATF in my primary but the more I read its making me think I better do some wrenching & take a good look sooner than later.

I've seen one description of the compensator as being the "shock absorber" between the motor output shaft and the primary chain. Looking at the pictures of the SE compensator, I see the lobes that the sprocket would ride on, but I don't see any springs, so if the sprocket is solidly bolted down I don't see how it can ride up on the lobes. Is there a spring inside the sprocket hub? I would like to gain an understanding of how this works before I start working on it. Yes I bought a service manual but its not as detailed as I might wish.

The SE Big Twin comp comes with a couple oil deflectors that you epoxy inside the cover to direct oil flow to it, as well as improved oil passages and a needle bearing thrust washer. I also understand that in later years (2010?) HD started molding the oil slinger into the primary cover.

I think I'll probably go with the SE compensator, but the idea of a hunk of large plastic that's epoxied in place coming loose inside the primary seems like a bad idea to me, so I wonder if a primary cover from a later model with the integral slinger would fit my case?
 

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I was just looking at the screaming eagle big twin compensator on the moco website and read the review posted there. It describes the same issue I'm having with drive train lurch in low gear, although I don't have any noises from my primary (yet).

According to the receipts I just got from the previous owner, the Softail Deluxe I recently bought has a stage 2 upgrade from a 96" to 103", with SE258 cams. One of the guys I work with thought the cams might be contributing to the drive train lurch I'm experiencing since its only there at low rpm. Could that be part of my problem?

The reviewer also said he had bad primary noise on starting like some of you have said, and he found a bunch of loose metal and chewed up comp gear teeth when he opened it up. I was just going to switch to ATF in my primary but the more I read its making me think I better do some wrenching & take a good look sooner than later.

I've seen one description of the compensator as being the "shock absorber" between the motor output shaft and the primary chain. Looking at the pictures of the SE compensator, I see the lobes that the sprocket would ride on, but I don't see any springs, so if the sprocket is solidly bolted down I don't see how it can ride up on the lobes. Is there a spring inside the sprocket hub? I would like to gain an understanding of how this works before I start working on it. Yes I bought a service manual but its not as detailed as I might wish.

The SE Big Twin comp comes with a couple oil deflectors that you epoxy inside the cover to direct oil flow to it, as well as improved oil passages and a needle bearing thrust washer. I also understand that in later years (2010?) HD started molding the oil slinger into the primary cover.

I think I'll probably go with the SE compensator, but the idea of a hunk of large plastic that's epoxied in place coming loose inside the primary seems like a bad idea to me, so I wonder if a primary cover from a later model with the integral slinger would fit my case?
Look at this :
 

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Thanks webco2! Gotta love utube! That answers my question about springs and gives some other good info too. Never realized there was so much actual value available there, I've only ever watched entertainment type stuff on it until now.
Pete
 
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