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Discussion Starter #1
For the past several weeks I have had great difficulty getting my bike underway from a stop sign without stalling the motor, or serious lugging of the engine or burning rubber. I can't find the normal smooth launch point in the clutch. I've also noticed a loud clank from the primary when shutting down the motor. This clank has gotten louder over the past few months. The original compensator was replaced with a new standard compensator at 18K miles and now I have 36K miles on the bike.

My question is can a compensator issue cause my clutch issues or is that unlikely?

I'll appreciate your ideas and suggestions.

V

PS '09 Ultra Classic. The engine was built from a 103 to 107 at 18K, originally a 96. An Energy One heavy duty clutch was installed approximately 5000 miles ago. Dyno: 104 HP and 109 torque
 

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Pull primary take a look. You can reuse gasket if careful and some silicone gasket sealer to be safe.
 

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What do you mean by "new standard compensator"? If it was the same design as the original factory comp it was likely inadequate from the day it was installed and has gotten worse over time. Besides the clank at shutdown is there additional vibration and noise at low rpm? Some describe the noise as "a box of rocks" from the primary. Do you get an occasional or frequent loud bang or crack noise when you press the start button? How much and what kind of fluid are you using in the primary? A grabby clutch can be caused by synthetic oil in the primary. A JASO certified oil for wet clutches should give the smoothest engagement. Most motorcycle oils are JASO certified, many car engine oils have a friction modifier (signified by "conserves gasoline" sunburst symbol somewhere on the container) that can make the clutch slip or be grabby. Without knowing more there are too many possibilities.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
What do you mean by "new standard compensator"? If it was the same design as the original factory comp it was likely inadequate from the day it was installed and has How much and what kind of fluid are you using in the primary? A grabby clutch can be caused by synthetic oil in the primary. A JASO certified oil for wet clutches should give the smoothest engagement. Most motorcycle oils are JASO certified, many car engine oils have a friction modifier (signified by "conserves gasoline" sunburst symbol somewhere on the container) that can make the clutch slip or be grabby. Without knowing more there are too many possibilities.
Thanks for replying. I meant the compensator in there now is the same as the Harley original compensator....not the so-called "heavy duty" Screamin Eagle compensator that is often referred to. I guess calling it standard is misleading, sorry. I've used the Harley primary oil up until last week when I put Mobile One for V-twins in the primary. Hasn't made any difference in the function or noises I hear.

Your description seems spot on to me: "Besides the clank at shutdown is there additional vibration and noise at low rpm? Some describe the noise as "a box of rocks" from the primary. Do you get an occasional or frequent loud bang or crack noise when you press the start button?"

The answer is yes to the above and that is why I suspect I have compensator problems. However,my original question remains........is my compensator problem related to my clutch issues or is that a separate problem?

Thanks.
 

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South GA Redneck
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My suggestion would be to upgrade the Compensator and check out the clutch while you're in there. The clutch you have is sufficient for the engine upgrades. Just inspect the clutch plates and spring while you have it apart. Then when you put everything back together, make sure clutch is properly adjusted and fill with Mobil1 or equivalent.
 

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Everything you confirm says your compensator is shot. It is supposed to allow slight momentary differences in rotational speed between the crankshaft and the chain/clutch and the rest of the drive line. A spring should store the energy and then release it back into the drive line gently The noises you are hearing are the compensator running full travel one way or the other without the spring being able to stop the movement and the compensator is slamming into the stop at the maximum deflection point. This goes very hard on everything. The bang on start is the compensator bottoming out against a stationary engine and slamming it into motion. My fear, unconfirmed by anyone else was that this shock would eventually scissor the crank shaft and it does slowly destroy the starter drive clutch. A long explanation to encourage you to replace the compensator as soon as you can. Unfortunately you will also have to buy a new rotor to go with the new compensator. The new design uses bellville springs, not the coil spring in your present unit and the old rotor won't work with the new springs. Bottom line, about $500 in parts, fluid and gasket extra. Not a difficult do it yourself job if you have some mechanical experience, otherwise labor will add even more. The question about the "standard" compensator came up because somewhere around 2009 the coil spring factory style replacement was no longer offered and the "standard" replacement became the SE style comp.

The uncontrolled slop in the compensator is aggravating the grabby clutch. The new compensator may not cure that but it will be far less. I have 73,000 miles on my 08 Road King and the clutch still grabs just at the end of the friction zone as the machine is catching up with the engine during launch. I live with it. Some people get a smoother clutch engagement by using automatic transmission fluid in the primary. ATF seems too thin to me for full protective lubrication so I stay away from it. Use JASO certified engine oil (which you have) or the specific primary fluids offered by several top manufacturers. Google Harley primary fluids and you will get a list. Conventional 20W-50 engine oil may provide a smoother engagement than synthetic. If you still don't like the clutch engagement after the compensator change, that isn't very expensive to try.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Everything you confirm says your compensator is shot. It is supposed to allow slight momentary differences in rotational speed between the crankshaft and the chain/clutch and the rest of the drive line. A spring should store the energy and then release it back into the drive line gently The noises you are hearing are the compensator running full travel one way or the other without the spring being able to stop the movement and the compensator is slamming into the stop at the maximum deflection point. This goes very hard on everything. The bang on start is the compensator bottoming out against a stationary engine and slamming it into motion. My fear, unconfirmed by anyone else was that this shock would eventually scissor the crank shaft and it does slowly destroy the starter drive clutch. A long explanation to encourage you to replace the compensator as soon as you can. Unfortunately you will also have to buy a new rotor to go with the new compensator. The new design uses bellville springs, not the coil spring in your present unit and the old rotor won't work with the new springs. Bottom line, about $500 in parts, fluid and gasket extra. Not a difficult do it yourself job if you have some mechanical experience, otherwise labor will add even more. The question about the "standard" compensator came up because somewhere around 2009 the coil spring factory style replacement was no longer offered and the "standard" replacement became the SE style comp.

The uncontrolled slop in the compensator is aggravating the grabby clutch. The new compensator may not cure that but it will be far less. I have 73,000 miles on my 08 Road King and the clutch still grabs just at the end of the friction zone as the machine is catching up with the engine during launch. I live with it. Some people get a smoother clutch engagement by using automatic transmission fluid in the primary. ATF seems too thin to me for full protective lubrication so I stay away from it. Use JASO certified engine oil (which you have) or the specific primary fluids offered by several top manufacturers. Google Harley primary fluids and you will get a list. Conventional 20W-50 engine oil may provide a smoother engagement than synthetic. If you still don't like the clutch engagement after the compensator change, that isn't very expensive to try.




Thanks, appreciate the information. I've read lots of complaints about the SE comp and have seen some hopeful enthusiasm for the new Baker comp although I haven't seen any convincing testimonials as yet. I'll probably gamble on the Baker. After reading the installation .pdf I see it also requires the newer rotor as well as some removal of material from the inner or outer primary......not sure which. As for the clutch problems I'll just have to keep exploring and hope I find the solution. Thanks again.
 

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South GA Redneck
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The removal of the material from the inner primary is probably due to the fact that to get the rotor off and the new rotor on, you need to remove the inner primary. And some mechanics will use a die grinder to remove the "lip" on the inner primary to allow the rotor to be removed without removing the inner primary.
 

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With the outer primary cover removed you can easily see the sealing lip on the outer side of the inner primary case. The area in question runs from about the 6 oclock position to the 9 oclock position if there were a clock face on the rotor. As you will see the lip is many times wider than the gasket through out that area and only a small fraction of an inch of material needs to be removed. I elected the grinder approach as I didn't want to upset inner primary gaskets and lip seals on the various rotating shafts. It would seem to have been a good choice as I have over 73,000 miles on the machine now and still no leaks or fluid transfer from one chamber to another.

Check the drive train section here for descriptions of the job with pictures and on youtube for demos of all facets of the job. Seeing someone else do it before you try it is very helpful. The grinding is necessary to remove the old style rotor, not to R&R the compensator itself. Use caution when lifting the rotor and installing the new one. The magnets are very strong and it is hard to start the rotor away from the installed position because of strong magnetism and the new one will slam down the last 1/4 to 1/2 inch during installation. If allowed to slam down it may be damaged and fingers can get severely pinched. Good luck, hope it goes well.
 
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