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Discussion Starter #1
My brother just burnt the clutch on his Wide Glide. What would cause this? Would this be a defect covered under warranty? Was he just hot rodding it too much? he said he wasin 5th doing about 55mph gunned it to 70mph then shifted to 6th. then the engine seemed to rev to high. he down shifted, down shifted, until 1st gear. Then bike wouldn't shift out of 1st. Dealer said burnt clutch. Any help?
 

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Touch my monkey....
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My brother just burnt the clutch on his Wide Glide. What would cause this? Would this be a defect covered under warranty? Was he just hot rodding it too much? he said he wasin 5th doing about 55mph gunned it to 70mph then shifted to 6th. then the engine seemed to rev to high. he down shifted, down shifted, until 1st gear. Then bike wouldn't shift out of 1st. Dealer said burnt clutch. Any help?
A few things come to mind other than abuse, which is the first thing ANY dealer will claim, as clutch discs are considered "wearable, non-warranty" items, like brake pads, and tires.

1. The clutch could have been adjusted too tight. You have 2 adjustments for a clutch:

a) the pushrod screw/adjuster in the center of the clutch basket that adjusts for clutch preload, (at the pushrod that goes through the trans, and releases the clutch plates when pressure is applied to the clutch lever.) This is always adjusted first, with the cable end play adjustment fully UN-adjusted.

b)Cable end play adjuster on the cable, at the left side of most bikes, (I believe the right side on the FL models) that adjusts the slack in the cable, determining release and re-engagement of the clutch when pulling the lever.

As the clutch wears, (and it will faster, if you speed shift or pull out hard/fast repeatedly) the fiber covered discs become thinner, and less slack in the adjustment becomes an issue, as it's the same as almost "riding" your clutch when the adjustment reaches a certain level.

Enough wear and the clutch will begin to slip, creating heat and more wear.

2.) Hot Rodding. Wear is one thing, but constantly overheating a clutch causes rapid wear on the plates, warpage of fiber and metal friction plates. In extreme cases, it can ffect and weaken the Diaphram Spring, or the "pressure plate" if you will, that holds constant tension on your clutch plates, and prevents them from slipping.

Secondly, heat also degrades the primary fluid, resulting in an inability to keep the clutch plates cooler, resulting in a quicker failure.

I'd highly recommend any bike that had a failed clutch resulting in slippage, (outside normal wear) should receive a new clutch diaphram as well, as it may be related to the failure, or possibly damaged from the failure.
 

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Nice info Hanz. One thing I dont understand is if he was going 70 mph in sixth (mmm sixth) with higher than normal RPM why did he down shift? With Higher than normal RPM and down shifting all the way down to first like that it sounds like he cooked it.
 

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Touch my monkey....
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Nice info Hanz. One thing I dont understand is if he was going 70 mph in sixth (mmm sixth) with higher than normal RPM why did he down shift? With Higher than normal RPM and down shifting all the way down to first like that it sounds like he cooked it.
I think I understand the story as: He was doing 55 in 5th and then gunned it to 70. Once at 70, he shifted to 6th, and the engine began racing...

The down shifting was back to 5th....still racing.....back to 4th....still racing, and all the while, he was slowing down, as there was no more forward drive.;)

Downshifting at a high rmp/speed to a much lower gear is more likely to lock the rear tire up and cause a serious hop/skid, if not a completely catastrophic, "Youtube" video..........:eek:
 

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Does not compute why burned disks would result in won't shift out of first.
Won't shift should indicate insufficient clutch disk separation, burned up disks should mean already got extra clearance, shouldn't it?
 

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Does not compute why burned disks would result in won't shift out of first.
Won't shift should indicate insufficient clutch disk separation, burned up disks should mean already got extra clearance, shouldn't it?
Burned discs causes slipping when hot, but if the plates are burned/warped due to heat, the warped plates act as if the whole clutch pack is "thicker", taking up more room in the clutch basket.

When the plates get hot, they warp slightly, however even more physical warpage happens as they cool completely. The warped plates don't sit on each other flat and true any longer, and the high and low spots don't always match. It actually reduces clearence when it comes to release. It also reduces the "plate to plate" contact, causing the slippage.

Also, if the material on the fiber clutch plates was begining to flake/break off, it gets caught between the plates, in the pack, not allowing for a complete release due to drag and allowing the plates to move in and out in their respective grooves in the basket, hindering getting the bike out of gear due to drag.

Once a clutch on an 800+ lbs bike begins slipping at speed or on a hard shift with high rpms, the damage can be pretty quick and is usually for keeps....

I would suspect that the clutch was already warped and the last incident broke some of the thinning material off the fiber plates and it's caught inbetween the plates, as well as some significant wapage.
 

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I know of a Barnett clutch still going strong enough to do wheelies after nearly 20 years. ;)
 

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Gentlemen, how frequently do HD riders burn out clutches?
That depends on the rider. How you ride and shift has a lot to do with it. It's been my expereience that in most cases, since Harely changed to the more modern diaphram type system in their big bikes, that getting 75K+ is very realistic, if not the norm.

Most of it comes down to proper shifting to reduce heat, changing the primary fluid on the scheduled intervals and proper adjustment. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I talked to my brother. He said on a trip to Myrtle Beach, Mrytle Beach HD adjusted his clutch. He took it to New River HD for the clutch problem, they said he burnt it. He told them Myrtle Beach HD adjusted the clutch. New River said they wouldn't cover the clutch under warranty. Do you think Myrtle Beach adjusted the clutch wrong and that could have caused the burnt clutch? How do you get a hold of the MoCo to dispute the claim? If Myrtle Beach jacked up the clutch, should warranty cover it, and should New River fix it? Or does he have to take it up with Myrtle Beach HD?
 

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I can't say what happened, anymore than anyone else can, that didn't physically stand there and watch to see what Myrtle Beach HD did. However, I could hardly blame it on Myrtly Beach HD, if the clutch was admittedly slipping on his way there, which is why he had it adjusted there to begin with. The damage had already started.

If the clutch was just re-adjusted and it went shortly afterwards, then you can assume it was the last bit of adjustment before the clutch finally went the rest of the way, due to abuse, normal wear or faulty parts. After all, it was already slipping on the way to Myrtle Beach....

Either way, it's almost impossible to prove, unless the pressure diaphram is physically broken, or something is obviously faulty upon inspection. IMHO, He may just have to eat this one and pay to have the new clutch put in. Adjusting a clutch is one of the simplest forms of service you can do to your own bike. Perhaps it's time your brother learns to do this and not have to pay a dealership to do it, and take the risk of this happeneing again. Food for thought. ;)
 

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IEither way, it's almost impossible to prove. He may just have to eat this one and pay to have the new clutch put in. Adjusting a clutch is one of the simplest forms of service you can do to your own bike. Perhaps it's time your brother learns to do this and not have to pay a dealership to do it, and take the risk of this happeneing again. Food for thought. ;)
+1 For the price the dealership would charge to install and adjust a new clutch, your brother could take that money and buy a service manual to go along with his clutch and do the install and adjustment himself and know it was done right.
 

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For late model bikes, you'll need the special tool to compress the diaphram to remove the retainer, but it's not terribly expensive.

For the cost of having a dealership do the job, you can buy the clutch, new pressure diaphram, (OEM or stronger) Compression tool, and a manual and probably have enough left over for a McDonald's Hamburger and a 6-pack. :D

I jest you not........

Primary gasket: A kit is about $44. A single gasket is less, but the dealer gets a lot for them. Try an indy shop.

Primary Derby gasket: Reuse.

Tool: $90

http://www.jpcycles.com/productgroup.aspx?GID=F75EAD3E-04FA-4003-A62B-D27595DE45F9

Clutch kit: $109

http://www.jpcycles.com/productdeta...2B20695&store=Harley&page=1&search=clutch kit

20% stronger diaphram: $26.99

http://www.jpcycles.com/productdeta...97&store=Harley&page=1&search=clutch diaphram

1 QT Primary fluid: $9.99

http://www.jpcycles.com/productgrou...3DF7&search=primary+fluid&store=Harley&page=1

If he needs a manual to install and adjust, they're about $65 at the dealership and worth every penny of it. I got mine for $45 off Ebay. You can generally find them slightly cheaper there.

Good luck.
 
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