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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My wife and I were riding my 2004 Heritage Softail last night (just purchased it a month and a half ago) when I heard a clunk and then had oil ALL OVER my left leg. I thought I had a blown fork seal, but upon reading many posts on here and elsewhere, I discovered many issues with the pinch bolts. Well I felt behind the tin covers and could feel that the fork tube had unscrewed itself and fell down enough to spew oil. So now the dealership is going to pick it up on Tuesday and try and fit it in before Thursday. If not possible, then I have to wait about 2 1/2 weeks before they can get to it. My wife does not want me to mess with it because we purchased a 2 year extended warranty. I want to remove the fork, pour out the oil and refill and replace the pinch bolts with heavier duty ones. How easy is this fix really? I don't want any down time since the weather in WI. has been so shitty lately, we are finally getting some dry, warm weather. I have never messed with forks before, but the videos seem pretty easy on Youtube. Is there a drain valve on the 2004s to drain the forks without pulling them off?
 

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Not really a drain "valve", but a screw looking plug on the bottom of the slider right behind the front axle.

Pretty easy job. Just use the lower triple tree to clamp the upper tube while tightening the top cap.


I vote for doing it yourself for the learning experience.
 

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Not really a drain "valve", but a screw looking plug on the bottom of the slider right behind the front axle.

Pretty easy job. Just use the lower triple tree to clamp the upper tube while tightening the top cap.


I vote for doing it yourself for the learning experience.

^^^^This^^^^ did mine over the winter, for the first time. Toughest part was making sure I had exact amounts of oil in each fork.
 

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Did the pinch bolt break off in the lower tree ? That's the only thing that can be a problem, getting the broken end out so the new bolt can screw in. The rest of the job is easy.
Also I would replace the fork oil in both forks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I haven't tried to remove the pinch bolt yet. I don't have a service manual for this bike yet, so I also have to figure out how to measure for fork oil as well.
 

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I believe the '04 Heritage takes 9oz. per fork. I would double check that though.
After the loose fork is fixed remove the top fork caps, put pans under the fork legs and remove the drain plugs. Let the oil drain and pump the forks to get the rest out.
Re-install the drain plugs and pour the fork oil into the top of the forks. Re-install the fork caps.
Double check that both pinch bolts are tight.
I've removed broken pinch bolts using a sharp punch and hammer. I dimple the edge of the broken bolt with the punch then tap the punch in the direction you want the bolt to turn. I would back the bolt out .
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I will try the punch and hammer trick if it is sheared. Thanks for the tip. Wife just left for work, now I can try and fix without her getting to mad!
 

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12.9 oz. I'd use the HD heavy duty fork oil, gives a much smoother ride.
 

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You may want to get yourself another set of drain plugs before you do this. I had a 2004 Heritage and the drain bolts were phillips head. I couldn't get them loose with a screwdriver and ended up snapping vicegrips on them. It effed them up pretty bad when I removed them.

I replaced them with allen heads.

They have a soft crush washer on them to help them seal. I'd replaced those even if you can reserve the plugs.
 

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One of my forks did the same a couple of years ago. To get the old bolt out I drilled an 1/8 inch hole in the broken bolt. At some point the bit caught and ran the bolt out the back side. Then I went to ACE hardware and got grade 8 bolts. I also marked the tube and tree with paint so I can quickly see if they've moved.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
What should I torque the new pinch bolts to??? I only had one bolt sheared off. Put #8 hardened bolts in from Fastenal. Do I need to torque the top bolts to? I just took them off using a channel locks with a rag over it. would need a big socket then as well.
 

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Pinch bolts = 30 - 35 ft lb.
Fork Tube Cap (The one that looks like a bolt) = 40 - 60 ft lb.
Fork Tube Plug (The one with an o-ring) = snug
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
OK, got the new pinch bolts in and torqued, that the forks drained and now getting ready to go to the dealer for some HD heavy duty fork oil. BUT, I got to wondering, I got the tube back up and screwed back on, but I didn't have access to the top of the tube to tighten it up. Will just hand tight and then new bolts be enough to keep this from happening again??
 

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I would not trust it. Even if it doesn't unscrew again, the Fork Tube Cap and the Fork Tube Plug are what holds the top of the upper sliders to the triple Clamps. With the upper slider just hand tight to the Fork tube Plug, Things could move in ways they were not intended to and damage the threads on the Fork Tube Plug.

Jonathan
 

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I would not trust it. Even if it doesn't unscrew again, the Fork Tube Cap and the Fork Tube Plug are what holds the top of the upper sliders to the triple Clamps. With the upper slider just hand tight to the Fork tube Plug, Things could move in ways they were not intended to and damage the threads on the Fork Tube Plug.

Jonathan
The upper tube plug does not get torqued. By the book.

The pinch bolt is what keeps the upper tube from turning and coming un screwed from the upper tube plug.
 

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OK, got the new pinch bolts in and torqued, that the forks drained and now getting ready to go to the dealer for some HD heavy duty fork oil. BUT, I got to wondering, I got the tube back up and screwed back on, but I didn't have access to the top of the tube to tighten it up. Will just hand tight and then new bolts be enough to keep this from happening again??
Loosen the pinch bolt, slide the tube down, tighten the pinch bolt to keep the tube from turning, tighten the cap, loosen the pinch bolt, slide the tube back up into the top clamp. Pour the correct amount of oil in and install the top nut. Re-tighten the pinch bolt last.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
All I can say is wow what a difference! I bought this bike from my local HD dealer almost 2 months ago and shortly after I got it I noticed a weird noise when the bike reached 32 mph. It was a weird rotating metal noise, I had the bike at the dealer for an un related issue and asked them if it was normal (Harleys are noisy beasts) and they rode it and stated that everything was normal. That sound was the damn tube turning! Now that my bike is fixed there is absolutely no noise up front. It used to rattle over every bump, thought it was the nacelle or windshield. NOPE! Rides like a completely different bike now. Thanks for all the help and advice.
 

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:thumb

Confirmation that you should do your own work if that dealer found everything "normal" when you asked them to take a look at that.


Now to invest in a service manual.
 
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