Cam Bearing Failure, Not Tensioners

Discussion in 'Softail Models' started by big_ern_77, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. big_ern_77

    big_ern_77 New Member

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    Just thought I would share my experience here since I've been worrying about the noise my recently purchased '04 Heritage has been making. The noise is kind of a random clatter in the engine. Not sure if clatter is the right word but definitely worse than a tick. I could have swore the noise was coming from the front rocker box and the local harley dealer said it was probably the cam chain tensioners. I never believed it was that because in addition to the noise, the bike seemed to run as if the timing was off and the exhaust pipe from the front cylinder had a dominant pulse of air coming from it as if the valves weren't opening and closing correctly. I think the dealer just wanted $700 to do the tensioners. Anyway I tore the rocker boxes and heads off cause I had an oil leak there anyway and I wanted to see the rockers. What did I find there? Nothing. Well, since I had it that far apart I pulled the pushrods out, broke down the tubes, removed the lifters, and pulled the cam cover. Figured I'd check the tensioners that the dealer thought it was. They looked good, average wear for 19K miles. The funny thing was that as soon as I pulled the cam plate out, the front cam cocked off to the side from the tension on the chain. I looked at it a bit and see that the front cam's outer bearing is absolutely destroyed! The front cam had been flopping around on the outer end because of that bearing enough that it scored the (EDIT) out of the inner end of the cam. So now I'm looking at new cams and bearings when everything I had found on the internet pointed at the tensioners. Nothing beats just tearing into it to find the problem.




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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 16, 2010
  2. Hoople

    Hoople Account Removed

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    Thanks for writing this up. It's a Wealth of knowledge. I know you just recently purchased the bike and probably don't know much on the history but I would like to know the brand,,weight & change frequency of the engine oil that was used by the previous owner.

    Everybody has a favorite oil. And a lot of people have low mileage bikes with with pre-mature problems of bearings & followers, but few match the problems with their oils.
     
  3. TQuentin1

    TQuentin1 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

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  4. dbmg

    dbmg Experienced Member

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    I agree completely. With oil change mileage intervals being so long, and if a good syn oil is not used and then not changed for a couple of years based on mileage oil breakdown is inevitable. So low mileage bike should have oil changed every year if not ridden often enough. That why the advice on a oil change on a new low mileage used bike is recommended right after purchase.
     
  5. BUBBIE

    BUBBIE Well-Known Member

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    The 1999 up thru Early 2000 (dec 15,1999 build date or before) H D had a problem with the cam bearing going bad.... It was the "Drive Cam" Ball Bearing that gave up...
    They replaced the design from that ball (bicycle front wheel looking ball bearing),,,
    On the second 1/2 year they put in a Big roller style bearing... The fit was the same, into the cam plate and on the cam end but a heavier Roller bearing.....

    The other bicycle type Ball was still used and said Not to be a Problem... As it was on the cam side NOT driving the other cam....

    Looks like in your case it is the one that gave up the ship..

    I know you can replace the ball style with the Roller styld on BOTH and the problem is solved... I did just that on my 2000 FXDS and had a heavier roller bearing on Both cams..
    Not a problem after that..

    Just suggesting that IF the 04 Uses the "same" ball style for the NON-drive cam, I would replace it with the HEAVY roller style ON BOTH CAMS....

    signed....BUBBIE
     
  6. Hoople

    Hoople Account Removed

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    "Bicycle type ball" as in what's on my Front & Rear wheels of my Dyna!:D (6205's Oh no Mr. Bill :p)
     
  7. willy g

    willy g Member

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    Wow, lucky you found it now before it grenaded
     
  8. BUBBIE

    BUBBIE Well-Known Member

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    That sounded like Enough damage to the cam area.... It can be made to do a KIT conversion and use the SE KIT # 25284-08 ffor 429.95 Updates to the lates design and does away with the shoes and goes to Hydraulic type tensioner like OUR newer style .... KIT comes with a lot of parts, Well worth the 429$ price... New oil pump(high volume) new cam plate of which he needs but you will have to get the new cams.... Think about this type of conversion... SAVES MONEY and give you the Needed up-dated parts

    Cams? HMmmm wonder what ones?

    signed....BUBBIE
     
  9. big_ern_77

    big_ern_77 New Member

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    Well, no one else is awake and I'm absolutely pumped!!! I just got my Heritage back together and the engine is very quiet and oh so smooth! My throttle response is so much better and the random miss is gone. Not to mention it doesn't sound like something on the inside wants to come out! I bought the inner and outer cam bearings, complete upper end gasket set, and cam cover gasket for just over $100. A friend of mine happened to have some stock cams and gave them to me for the low low cost of a couple drinks next time I see him out. So not only is my noisy engine fixed, but all the gaskets and seals are new now too. Only had the bike down for three days and I did all the work myself. As was mentioned earlier, I am very lucky to have caught this before the cam chest grenaded. My bike was making this noise when I bought it at an auto auction in the Twin Cities so there's no telling how long it had been like that. I saw that Hoople was wondering about service history but unfortunately I don't have any info about the previous owner. The last two entries on the title are a car dealership in MN and a credit union in IL. Hopefully nothing further happens as a result of that cam bearing. What I would describe as a carrier in the center of that bicycle ball type bearing was broken into several pieces on the one side of the bearing and missing on the other side. Never found any pieces in the engine and no marks on the cylinder walls either. Call me lucky I guess!
     
  10. TQuentin1

    TQuentin1 Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator

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    Great!! Huge sense of satisfaction having got the girl back to running order on your own, isn't it! Congrats.

    TQ