Front End Wobble on 1999 FLSTC

Discussion in 'Softail Models' started by nuclearbrew, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. nuclearbrew

    nuclearbrew New Member

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    I have a 99 Heritage Softail with a front end wobble. This all started after a hard application of the front brakes. Or at least that is when I noticed it. Right after the hard braking incident, I was stopping at a red light while moving to the left lane, and the bike started to pull and shake bad. I pulled off the road,and checked for a loose front end and tire pressure. All was good, a couple of figure eight later in a parking lot, I drove on. Let me explain what I have noticed, and what I have done so far. I hope some one can tell me, hey dummy you missed this! I switched tires from the stock Dunlop 402's, due to them wearing out in only 6K miles to Metzler 880 Marathons. I have around 3 or 4 thousand miles on these tires, and wear seems normal with no cupping or uneven wear on the tread. I had the tires put on a dynamic balance with no problems noted. I also pulled the bearings, inspected them and repacked them on both front and back tire. Yep I checked the alignment of the back tire using the bent coathanger trick. I figured that the problem was either the forks or the frame, and as I see no damage or signs of cracking on the frame (no chipped paint or rust) I decided to remove the forks and disassemble them, yep all looked good, nothing bent or obstructed, but they did seem to be assemble incorrectly from the factory. There is a flanged washer that goes next to the oil seal, and the manual says the flanged side should go against the seal, but when I took the forks apart the flat side was against the seal. I put the forks aside and figured I would take out the steering neck assembly as I am only one bolt away! The bearings and races wear both in good shape, so I repacked and installed the assembly and the rest of the bike. I tried to adjust the fallaway as best I could, but the fallways would not center. I could get the forks to break withing 1-2 inches of each other, but from center it would immediatedly fall to the clutch side but I had to tap it 1.5 inches to the throttle side. I had all lights, hand and hand controls removed to adjust the fallway. Out for a test ride. The wobble is there but worse! Back to the shed and I removed an rebuilt the front brakes and checked for a warped rotor, the brake pads had plenty of pad, but they were Chipping on the edges, so I installed new Kevlar pads, the old ones were a metal compound of some sort. Back out for a ride, the wobble is not bad as long as I dont let go of the handlebars. Everytime I change tires, I use the hands off test to check my alignment, but not after around 3-4 seconds at speeds about 30 miles per hour the wobble starts slow and get more violent until I either grab the bars, or eat asphalt! Any ideas... my next stop is checking the motor mounts. I have read on previous post about stabilizers, are these stock on FLSTC bikes?
    Monty
     
  2. glider

    glider Veteran Member

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    The softail bikes are rigid mounted with no stabilizers like the baggers. Also the softails are difficult to set the front end using the fall away method because of the steering head angle of the front end. The baggers will self center where the softails will usually fall to one side. Proper torque on the steering head (aprox 70 FT lbs) is the way I do it. I would also suspect the front tire as the problem or the balancing of it here from what you mention. Can you lift the bike and spin the front wheel noting if there is a wobble in the thread as it spins?
     
  3. nuclearbrew

    nuclearbrew New Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply, hence the quick reply button eh? Wow never heard of the 70 FT lbs torque idea, but am willing to try it. Yes I checked for a wobble in the tread and there is nothing. I spoke with a few Harley mechanics, one a master mechanic, and his advice was keep tightening the steering head bolt until the wobble goes away and call it a day. I assume if you over tighten it, you will do damage to the bearings and race, possible causing a catastophic failure of the unit follow by loss of control followed by another crash to add to my list!
     
  4. glider

    glider Veteran Member

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    Not good advice at all. You know the results of over tightening a bearing. I hope you inspected the bearing races in the neck for indentations where the bearing beats it up when going straight down the road. You would find an indentation in one area but you have to look closely for it.

    There's no saying that the wobble is even coming from the steering head so how tight would you have it before realizing that? THIS is why I say it was very poor advice.
     
  5. KingHeritage

    KingHeritage Junior Member

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    Have you checked for loose spokes?
     
  6. nuclearbrew

    nuclearbrew New Member

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    Yes I did, and put the tires on a dynamic balance, eliminating that as a potential problem.

    Glider,
    Do you still recommend the 70 Ft lbs for a FLSTC? Or should I stick with the fall away test recommened in the service manual, which I finally got to center and within 1-2 inches as the manual requests. Of course it still didn't solve the problem, and best I can describe feels "loose".
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2009
  7. glider

    glider Veteran Member

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    Looking this over again, I saw the STC of the FLSTC of your bike and got sidetracked to thinking it was a FX softail custom.

    The fall off for your bike is the proper way to set it up, not the way previously mentioned with the 70 lbs.

    Sorry for the mix up.
     
  8. bdambrose

    bdambrose Member

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    I have an 08 FLSTC that got a litttle loose in the front end, but during a service, they discovered the neck bearing needed grease and was a little bit loose. It went away.
     
  9. NEWHD74FAN

    NEWHD74FAN Experienced Member Retired Moderators

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    Inspect and replace the neck races and bearings for pitting or wear, and while apart check that the tube is straight, as you said you hit a bump and may have bent something, would be my first thought. Then with all the new parts in, check that the fallaway is now correct (you said before that with the cables off the fallaway was uneven when you had it apart the first time). Torque on the head nut is to "preload" the bearing (settling it into the races, not zero the runout too tight (it may damage the bearing track surface) following your manual...JMO!