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Thread: Wet Clutch for Early Sportsters

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    715

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    Bill,
    My wife has difficulty finding neutral on her 69, but I don't. I've been happy with the wet clutch on her bike, it works as well as the post 74 [spacer] wet clutches. I don't see a downside to the wet conversion, especially for someone like myself who isn't real big on maintenance.
    VPH-D

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Huntington, New York - American Zone
    Posts
    728

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    My wife has difficulty finding neutral on her 1995 Sportster, but I don't. Am I being sexist?
    Bill Pedalino
    Huntington, New York
    AMCA 6755

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Southern CA
    Posts
    38

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    Bill,
    Regarding the wet clutch, my experience is that the clutches used form 52 to 70 (dry) can leak for a variety of reasons. The most predominate are 1) failed clutch hub seal (incorporated as a running change in 57), 2) worn out clutch hub needle bearing, 3) failed or split motor main shaft seal, flooding the primary case 4) leaking rod seal on the bottle gear and 5) oil blowing into the primary via the relief valve due to wet sumping. Over the years I have encountered all of theses problems. Interestingly enough, the early 7 plate (KH and early 57's) clutch hub did not have a oil seal and HD sold a replacement wet clutch when the plates became saturated with oil. I routinely replace all of the bearings and seals with a motor rebuild/restoration. I also logged over 50,000 miles on a 68 XLCH and had no clutch problems, but did inspect/replace seals a necessary.
    The wet clutch can benefit from adding an ounce of ATF to the trans oil, using HD Sport Trans fluid of as I do with my XLCR and XR1000 use Mobil 1 ATF. I have yet to encounter any slipping or dragging with these heavily modified motors.
    Good luck.
    Dave

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Huntington, New York - American Zone
    Posts
    728

    Default

    Dave,
    If I understand you correctly - you use straight Mobil 1 ATF in your XR1000?
    Bill Pedalino
    Huntington, New York
    AMCA 6755

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Southern CA
    Posts
    38

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    Yes I do and have had no problems.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    715

    Default

    I might as well mention on the dry clutch, you should paint the ratchet plate rivet heads with a sealer such as Gasoila. Some people paint the rivets on the outer surface of the drum, too.
    VPH-D

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Huntington, New York - American Zone
    Posts
    728

    Default

    VPH-D (and others);

    I have my '64 XLCH totally assembled (mach-up) and ready for disassembly and paint. The motor is totally dry and I'm not going to start it up until after final assembly. However, I did notice that after assembling the handlebars and lever assemblies, the Barnett wet clutch does offer a significantly stiffer handle-pull. I used the Barnett springs and I called Barnett (they are very helpful) and was told to back out the springs a couple of clips. This helped a little but its still a fairly hard pull. I could live with this but my concern is the relatively thin pin bushing (P/N 43033-49) in the clutch handle. I'm concerned that the cable ferrule will eventually pull through, as this pin was strengthened substantially in '65.

    I'm thinking of using the stock (lighter) springs in lieu of the Barnett springs for a lighter handle-pull, but I know that the engaged plate pressure will be reduced and therefore more prone to clutch slippage. Has anyone used the stock springs for the Barnett application and if so, how did they work?

    Thanks...
    Bill Pedalino
    Huntington, New York
    AMCA 6755

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Northern Colorado
    Posts
    715

    Default

    Bill,
    IIRC, I put stock XL springs in my wife's wet clutch. The handle pull isn't bad at all...
    VPH-D

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Huntington, New York - American Zone
    Posts
    728

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    That's was my decision as well. I'm not dealing with a left handle pull that will develop a 'Popeye' left forearm. Thanks for the reply....
    Bill Pedalino
    Huntington, New York
    AMCA 6755

  10. #20

    Default re: Wet Clutch for Early Sportsters

    The general wisdom I have heard is to run the heavier Barnett springs when you use the wet clutch plate conversion. There is no way to get the same torque out of a wet clutch unless you increase the plate pressure. You have lubricated the plates for gosh sake. That is why its so nice to hang onto a dry setup. My race buddies have to have dry clutches so they can push-start the bike.

    One member mentioned all the things that go wrong that let oil leak in. One he didn't say is that the thrust washers captivated by the ratchet pawl plate get worn by a few thousandths, and now the whole basket can shake and sag. That angular movement lets the oil seal behind the thrust washers pass a little oil. Those thrust washers come in calibrated thicknesses so you can take the wobble out of the clutch basket.

    Another trick to get better disengagement with a wet conversion is to use the steel Barnett levers. Being flat, they allow a little more pull than the stock aluminum levers.

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