8 Ball In The Wind

Friday, January 7, 2011

What could possibly go wrong?

This is the tale of the attempt to install a Baker F5K kicker on my 91 H-D Softail Custom.  The only problem being that we didnt have access to an arbor press, so being the people we are, we tried to adapt the set up to work without the press.  We had already swapped the 21" front wheel for a 16" white wall.  When Scott came up from Astoria, Oregon to lend a hand and bring some tools, the bunch of us got to work.  That should have been the first red flag warning sign...five scooter tramps drinking apple pie (and one on Oxycontin) as they work on one bike..in the livingroom.  What could possibly go wrong?

After putting the bike on asheet of plywood on the frontroom floor; we took off the exhaust, disconnected the battery and removed horseshoe oil bag.  The primary came off without a hitch and things were looking good.  Next we removed the Harley 5 speeds tranny cover and then unbolted the trap door.  We removed the primary cover; clutch countersprocket and primary chain, and stator.  Then we went to remove the trap door...so far so good.  Once we had the trapdoor off (which proved to be a bitch in itself), we got to thinking (should have been another red flag)  since we didnt have an arbor press, what were we going to do to press the tranny shafts into the new trapdoor? 
It was decided we would try "sucking" the bearings in the trapdoor onto the tranny shafts by slowly tightening the mounting bolts on the trapdoor.  It made sense, sort of, and even seemed to work, kind of.  Now I know, we should have just removed the tranny and taken it somewhere to have the shafts pressed into the trapdoor properly.  But the nearest shop with a press was a two hour round trip.  Not counting the time at the shop itself.  So we didnt do what we "should have" done.  It came back to haunt us in the end, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Before too long, (ok, it was like threeor four hours later) we had the shaft for the shift forks in place and the forks all set and ready.  All we needed to do was "suck" the trapdoor back onto the tranny shafts, and button everything back up.  For a while it really seemed like everything was going good.  The trapdoor was slowly getting itself pressed onto the tranny shafts, and everything was looking good.  Near as we could tell, this was starting to cook right along and everything was going really smoothly as it went back together.  Yeah, I know, it was going too smoothly. Once we had the trapdoor on, we checked the gears and made sure they were meshing and shifting using the shiftforks.  Put the shift drum on and buttoned up the tranny.  Reconnected the battery and oil tank, and  all we were looking at doing was putting the cover on with the kick lever. 
When we started, we had put the tranny in 5th gear as the directions instructed.  Before we put the shift drum back on, we made sure it was back in 5th.  When it was time to check the tranny before we put on the cover and kick lever...it wouldnt shift out of 5th.
So we pulled everything back off that needed to be removed.  Including the new trapdoor and started over from that point.  It too awhile but we went through everything and soon realized we couldnt see any reason it wasnt working.  Personally, I think we were just a bit too tired from fucking fighting it all day, and a bit too buzzed to think straight.

The next day we hit it after breakfast and spent a few more hours spinning our wheels but getting a hell of a lot accomplished.  We realized as we talked it over, that the gears werent meshing as soon as the shift drum was put back in place.  Near as we could tell, the Main shaft was out of alignment by about 3/16 of an inch.  Our "sucking" the new trapdoor on didnt work.  

A few days later, I pulled the tranny completely out of the bike.  Dave and I ran it down to a shop about an hour away.  When we got it to the shop; Old School Choppers in Longview, Washington, Denny looked at it and said yeah, the shaft had been pushed in the opposite direction because nothing was holding it in place like a press would have done.  It ended up that our attempt to "suck" the trapdoor on had sucked.  It had ruined the bushings and the tranny was going to need a rebuild. 
Once Denny  got finished with it, the tranny worked slick as shit.  And for less money than he had estimated too, so I wasnt about to bitch.  I got the tranny home, and over the next couple days, befor and after work, I put everything back together.  Including the new kicker cover.

Everything with the bike is hunky-dorey now...at least as far as the kicker goes.  I have to reroute the exhaust because it now covers the tranny fill hole, but I wanted to change the pipes anyway.  It all just goes to show, if youre going to do a job, do it right.  If the instructions say you need a press, better find access to one, or your gonna fuck it all up.  I hope to catch you on the road, and hopefully I'll be back at work soon enough to be able to keep the bike and the house...I have a few plans left for the bike before I call her done, so I'll probably need the front room again.

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