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Harley engine timing

Harley engine timing

Call or Text: For more than years, Harley-Davidson has been producing its legendary lineup of Big Twin engines. Through the decades, various technological advances have led the company to develop nine different types of basic Big Twin motors. These simple yet powerful engines were available in 61 cubic inch and 74 cubic inch sizes, and were produced from through Named for its flat-topped, vented cylinder heads, the side valve-equipped 45 cubic inch flathead engine debuted inand the 74 cubic inch V model Big Twin came out in The Big Twin model was built in part to compete with the 74 cubic inch Indian Chief.

The 80 cubic inch models were produced untiland the 74 cubic inch U and UL models were in production until Made from throughthe Harley-Davidson Knucklehead motor was Harley's first production bike to have overhead valves.

A more-efficient circulating oil lubrication system on the knucklehead replaced the "total-loss" lubrication system that previous models featured. Also known as the EL model, the knucklehead got its name from its rocker boxes that looked like knuckles on a human fist. Both 61 cubic inch and 74 cubic inch models of this Big Twin engine were produced by Harley-Davidson. This Big Twin engine gets its name from the distinctive cake pan-like appearance of the rocker covers. The Harley-Davidson Panhead was equipped with aluminum heads and hydraulic valve lifters, and the Electra Glide model brought about the introduction of electric starters on Harley-Davidsons.

Produced from untilthe Harley-Davidson Shovelhead engine was available in 74 cubic inch and 80 cubic inch models. The Shovelhead was designed in part to produce more power and higher performance to make up for the increased weight of new Harley-Davidson motorcycle models. This Harley-Davidson Big Twin motor also gained its name because of the appearance of the rocker covers. Somewhat resembling the knucklehead, the slightly rounded Shovelhead rocker box covers are reminiscent of small shovels, with the push rod tubes serving as handles.

With the Evolution engine, Harley-Davidson had an engine that not only evolved from the Shovelhead, but was very different, and technically superior in a number of ways. The Harley-Davidson Evo was not only more powerful, but it ran cooler and smoother than the Shovelhead.

InHarley-Davidson introduced the eighty-eight cubic inch Twin Cam engine for the model year, and continued production of different Twin Cam models until A 96 cubic inch Twin Cam model, as well as a cubic inch, and a cubic inch model were also produced. This model was named for the two chain-driven cams it contains. The Twin Cam engine provided more torque and horsepower than the Evolution model, and was originally available with a choice of carburetor or fuel injection.

Issues with oil circulation on the Evolution engine prompted Harley-Davidson to outfit the Twin Cam with a better-performing internal twin-gerotor oil pump. The Twin Cam motor offered higher compression than its predecessor, and a dual-coil ignition system that eliminated wasted spark. In place of the familiar degree V-Twin engines that Harley is known for, the Revolution engine is a liquid-cooled degree V-Twin powerhouse. Originally available as a 69 cubic inch dynamo, the Revolution was beefed-up to 76 cubic inches in If you're timing the engine as part of a larger repair process like replacing a timing beltyou'll want to start by getting off on the right foot -- make sure you can locate the timing marks or notches on the flywheel and cam.

If they're worn or hard to see, you might want to mark them with a bit of white paint so they're easier to see. You don't want to be hunting for them later while you're struggling to get everything lined up. All you need is a test light and a socket or wrench the size of the socket will depend on your specific engine.

A test light is a small hand-held tool that resembles a screwdriver with wires coming from the end. One of the wires is hooked up to the power source of whatever is being tested in the case of engine timing, it is usually the distributor and the other wire provides ground. Some cost-cutting versions of the test light omit the ground wire, but they're so inexpensive anyway that it seems like a really inefficient way to save a few bucks.

The "screwdriver" tip is then touched to whatever is being tested for voltage -- if there's power, the test light will show results by illuminating a small light bulb embedded in the handle.

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This simple little setup is insanely useful for static timing, and also often handy when trying to troubleshoot irregularities in the electrical system. Locate the top dead center mark on your crank pulley. From here on out, this will be referred to as TDC, just like the repair manuals do it.

TDC can be marked on the crankshaft pulley or the flywheel, and is often found on both. Check your car's repair manual to identify the proper timing for your engine -- in degrees.

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The proper timing varies from car to car, so always check your owner's manual or shop manual. At the correct number of degrees before TDC, both the intake and exhaust valves will be closed. Not crucial for setting the timing, but helpful for general understanding of how the engine works and why timing is set the way it is. Use your wrench or sprocket to hand crank the engine clockwise so that the number one piston is at the top of its compression stroke.

Make sure the correct timing mark is lined up with the seam in the crankcase. If you turn too far clockwise, rotate it about 30 degrees back counterclockwise before moving forward again to find the correct position. Go more slowly next time! Take off the distributor cap and take a peek inside. Identify the rotor and look for a small notch inscribed on the inside wall of the distributor. This is where the rotor should be aligned when the number one piston is in firing position, but if your engine's ever been disassembled before, this might not be the case.

So take the time to properly align it by loosening the distributor drive clamp bolt. Next, turn your ignition on, but don't start the car. Switch it on as if you were sitting in a parking lot listening to the radio. Don't crank it.

harley engine timing

If the engine cranks, you'll have to switch it off, get back under the hood, and start over from the beginning. The goal is to simply provide battery power so the test light will work. Hook up your test light. Clip it to the distributor wire, make sure it has a good ground, and touch the positive terminal to the ignition point. If the light illuminates, you've done it right. Now, gently turn the distributor back clockwise until the light goes out.

Then turn it forward counterclockwise until the light comes on.

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Don't go past the point it comes on and call it good -- you want to identify the closest spot possible to when the test light actually illuminates. Do it again if you're not sure. Then tighten the distributor back into place. Remember, this is just a starting point -- you'll also need to have your engine dynamically timed for optimal performance or fuel economy. If your engine is new, you'll probably want to check and reset the timing after your engine's break-in period is complete.

The heating and cooling down of the metal parts will affect the timing which is totally normal and not a cause for concern.Podcast: Play in new window Download Embed. We here at Law Abiding Biker all agree that there is no real concern with the newer post motors and is limited to the years stated.

Although we are pro Harley Davidson, this was a complete design failure and the company should have done a better job taking care of owners of the affected years in our opinion. You really need to listen in to this podcast episode to get all the facts and information. What is happening on the affected years?

The problem is that many are experiencing failures at many different mileages, so it is hard to predict. Additionally, riders likely will not hear anything going wrong. The only way to check the status of your cam chain followers is to dig in and inspect them.

History: Know your Harley-Davidson engine types

What did Harley do to fix the problem on the newer motors? On the and later motors, hydraulic cam chain followers are now used to get rid of the stiff spring that put too much pressure on the followers rubbing on the cam chain. Some believe that the problem still exists even with the new hydraulic cam chain followers, but we are not seeing that at all.

Our opinion is that if you have an affected model that you take action as soon as you can and avoid the impending problem all together since you can't predict when it will happen. The best thing is that you will get upgraded cams on top of the rest of the upgrade kit, thus more performance.

Instead, it comes with hydraulic cam chain tensioner and high-flow oil pump. Harley says that the high-flow oil pump provides increased oil pressure at high-operating temperatures. It changes the chain tensioner from spring to hydraulic. This is the standard fix that Harley dealerships will give you unless you want to go with the gear driven system and cams, which is again our first suggestion depending on you budget of course. Harley cam chain tensioner twin cam backside.

harley engine timing

First just wanted to say thanks for the great content you guys put out. I commute a couple hours to work on an airplane and the Law Abiding Biker Podcast is always playing.

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I am new to Harley's, I've had a few older metrics and always have had dirt bikes, and the service video was great inspiration in completing the service. It really is simple to complete after watching you guys tackle it on the video.

I have read about a potential problem with the plastic shoes associated with the cam chains. Do you have any info on this issue? This is a small quote from an article on JP Cycles. Harley has made some changes in later model bikes, but even with the new hydraulic tensioning system, it is not a true fix. I am very familiar with your question, I rode a Ultra Classic for three years. Without knowing what you are riding I can tell you this:.

In order to run the valve train Harley went to a cam chain tensioner set up utilizing a spring loaded shoe putting pressure on the cam chain with push rods. They also used, and I can' remember the technical name of the chain, an older chain design. Indeed the cam chain shoes would wear out partly because of the shoe and partly because of the chain.There is no denying that a Harley-Davidson motorcycle has a unique sound, especially if the mufflers have been removed!

Even with the mufflers on, however, it sounds different from other motorcycles. The reason for the sound has to do with the way the engine is designed. A piston goes through the intake, compression, combustion and exhaust strokes every two revolutions of the crankshaft. When your lawn mower is idling, you can hear the pop-pop-pop-pop sound of the individual strokes. What you are actually hearing is the sound of the compressed gases in the cylinder escaping when the exhaust valve opens.

Each pop is the sound of the exhaust valve opening one time, and it happens on every second revolution of the crankshaft. In a two-cylinder, horizontally opposed enginethe pistons are timed so that one fires on one revolution of the crankshaft and the other fires on the next revolution -- so one of the two pistons fires on every revolution of the crankshaft.

This seems logical and gives the engine a balanced feeling. To create this type of engine, the crankshaft has two separate pins for the connecting rods from the pistons. The pins are degrees apart from one another. A Harley engine has two pistons. The difference in the Harley engine is that the crankshaft has only one pinand both pistons connect to it. This design, combined with the V arrangement of the cylinders, means that the pistons cannot fire at even intervals.

Instead of one piston firing every degrees, a Harley engine goes like this:. At idle, you can hear the pop-pop sound followed by a pause. So its sound is pop-pop That is the unique sound you hear! Print "What gives a Harley-Davidson motorcycle its distinctive sound?

Harley-Davidson History. Harley-Davidson Engines.

harley engine timing

What gives a Harley-Davidson motorcycle its distinctive sound? A piston fires. The next piston fires at degrees.

There is a degree gap. Directory: Harley-Davidson.We know you love your Harley Davidson motorcycle. But, as loyal followers of the brand, you must be aware that there is one central issue or problem surrounding the Harley Davidson, — and it is in their Twin Cam Engines. We are here to educate you, and to give you a little insight on what to expect on your first Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Because yes, even the greatest and an iconic brand like the Harley Davidson is not safe from mistakes and certain plot holes.

So if you are experiencing the same thing, and have Harley Davidson Twin Cam engine problems, then read on, and be informed! Once again, we know how much you adore the Twin Cam engine Harley Davidson motorcycles.

However, you still need to know and be aware of what exactly are you buying so there would be no surprise expenses once you start driving the motorcycle. There are plenty of defects in the Twin Cam engines. Enough potential issues to actually alarm you and make you think twice before buying one.

The actual design itself is designed poorly. Even with its brand new hydraulic tensioning system, this problem still exists and is not a lasting fix for the said issue. Now, what is exactly the problem here? Note that the Twin Cam engine uses plastic shoes on the cam chains. When these shoes rub against each other, it will eventually wear because of the friction and the constant contact between the two rubber shoes. In really extreme cases, sooner or later, there will be metal to metal contact and this interaction causes metal shavings and may or will result in dangerous and fatal engine failures.

If this problem is left unfixed and not noticed, there is a chance that the entire engine of the Twin Cam will be destroyed; pistons, cams, even engine cases.

It is a really serious engine problem that needs a lot of attention to get fixed. The scariest part here is that it can fail at 15, miles and even the new hydraulic system can fail at 40, miles or less. The plastic shoes need replacing every 40, miles because of its weak durability.

Another scary part here is that even the new engines still have the probability of having the same problem with the older engines. It is important to check the engines first before buying a motorcycle.

If it has a cam chain engine, there is a slight chance that it comes with the issues we discussed earlier. If you really want to own and drive a Harley Davidson regardless of its twin-cam engine problems, then you got to help your motorcycle yourself. The good thing is that you can do some measures to solve the problems and avoid catastrophic engine problems in the future. We do have a solution for your Harley Davidson twin cam engine problems.

How to Static Time an Engine

There are various gear systems you can use to directly combat the issue itself. This gear drive replacement is one durable solution to the Harley Davidson twin cam engine problems. Another thing that you can do is to invest in better oils for your motorcycle. Better performing oils can truly help in delaying the wearing and the destruction of the engine.

Though you are still spending on more expensive oils, this is still a cheaper solution than the gear replacement. But, this does not solve the problem since it only delays its arrival.We were very impressed with the stock output of the Big Dog's TP engine. The timing cover was removed and the stock sensor plate was removed. The nose cone-mounted i module is completely self-contained and replaces the module underneath the dash of the Big Dog.

The coil is a very important part of the Dyna package and uses rare earth magnets to allow for a 40,volt-per-tower output in a small package. Rare earth magnets cost a little more, but are much stronger, more compact, and retain their magnetic pull much longer than cheaper metal-core or ceramic magnets. Our bike doesn't have a VOES, which is a vacuum-operated switch that slows timing under heavy throttle to retard timing and prevent pinging.

The Dyna module will allow you to hook up the VOES wire to permanently slow the overall advance of the ignition curve, or it can be left unhooked for maximum advance. Curve 1 is very aggressive about 35 degrees of added advance from our starting point of 16 degrees and is intended for use with small displacement and basically stock engines. A large engine with high compression such as ours likes a slower and less aggressive curve to run happily. Horsepower dropped from Bill proved that even though you may think your bike is running right during seat-of-the-pants testing, you can actually be down on power while thinking that everything is working properly.

Here we catch Bob as he dials in what will be our best configuration of the day. Our high-compression engine was set up with 8 degrees of initial static timing with a full advance of about 24 degrees by running curve 4 on the Dyna box with the VOES circuit activated. The sheet has all the switch positions needed to dial in the system for easy reference.

Our peak horsepower went up to Although that may or may not knock your socks off, think of it as totally free and hidden power. We might have had similar gains with the stock Big Dog system if we had the tools necessary to adjust it. But since we didn't have a lot of time as our deadline approached, we went with the Dyna kit, and it really paid off in a big way. Upgrading high-flow heads, carburetors, camshafts, or free-flowing exhaust systems are all items that can improve the output of your engine.

It's not that difficult to add a little power if you have enough money to spend. The strange thing is, the easier the part is to install, the more expensive it is to buy. You'll save money in labor but pay for it with your initial purchase.

Conversely, the cheaper the part is -- a cam for instance -- the harder it is to install. It requires special tools and more time, making your labor costs higher.

There are things you can do to improve the way your bike runs, without having to max out your credit cards and going further into debt. Some exhaust systems have removable baffles that can easily be taken out to provide more flow.

You can even check your jetting with an exhaust gas analyzer and dial your carburetor in for a few free ponies.

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While the stock ignition system on the Dog works great, it requires a special interface cable and software that we didn't have lying around to tune it. We also just happened to have a complete Dyna i ignition system in our office that we were looking to put to good use. This Dyna module is very adjustable and offers four different curve variations that can be altered by hooking up or disconnecting the VOES Vacuum Operated Electric Switch wire.

Also included in the system is an ultra high-output single-fire coil that easily fits in a standard-sized coil housing. We contacted our good friend Terry Stewart at Dynatek to see who he'd recommend to help assist a tuning session on a dyno. Bill wanted to prove to us that we could most likely find an abun-dance of free power just waiting to be unleashed once the proper spark curve was discovered. And Terry Stewart from Dynatek dropped in to give us some information on the finer points of the system while Bill and Bob worked on the bike.

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I have a road King. Twin cam engine. Just had it rebuilt, now is 97 inches. Problem is… It pings. What makes a motor ping? Hi, John. Yes, can be timing or poor fuel. If you have adjustable pushrods, check adjustment.

What gives a Harley-Davidson motorcycle its distinctive sound?

We suggest contacting Thundermax. Their customer service is excellent. They may be able to help determine what is going on.

We are convinced you will enjoy the benefits of becoming a member and having access to the best instructional how to videos and professional tips.

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We would like to offer you a special promotion for your first-year membership. Hi Justin. Timing may not necessarily be the reason for your pinging.

harley engine timing

It may be worth considering. Is it possible that I used exhaust TDC instead of intake? If so how can I correct it? I changed rocker boxes on my 03 softail is it possible that I messed up my timing if I did tdc on exhaust instead of compression.?

Remember me. Lost your password? Privacy Policy. LOG IN. Search for:. Become A Member. If it can be done how about a video on timing a Twin Cam engine? Hello Cap, there is no way to adjust timing on a Twin Cam engine. Send us your question here.

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