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How do I adjust the pushrods in my 72 sportster

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First off remove all the pushrod covers. Then starting with any of them turn the motor over till one of the pushrods is all the way up. Then loosen the nuts at the bottom and turn the adjusting nut on it till you can just barely spin the pushrods with your fingers. Retighten the pushrod nuts. Recheck to make sure you can still turn it. Take your time doing it. and then replace the covers.

Posted on Jul 26, 2009


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How do I adjust pushrods on my 2013 sportster 72 1200

Hi, Aaron you have hydraulic lifters your pushrods are solid and are non-adjustable so if you have a tick its probably a faulty lifter for this scenario you will need your service/owners/parts manual if you can not find the first and best tool you ever bought for your Harley, despair not, for a mere zero $ you can download another one. For more information about your issue and valuable "FREE" downloads that you will need please click on the links below and for more specific information or questions at no charge please feel free to contact me at Good luck and have a nice day.
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Dec 26, 2016 | 2013 Harley Davidson Sportster SuperLow

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I need to change out bad pushrod rings on my 1989 sportster 1200, and i need detailed step by step directions, as i am ignorant in this area...

Hi, Peter you have 2 options method A use a set of bolt cutters to cut out the stock pushrods and replace them with adjustable aftermarket taperlites and new o-rings or method B remove the rocker boxes and stock pushrods replace the o-rings and rocker box gaskets, I prefer method A because it is faster and you can remove the adjustable push rods to do hydraulic lifter or cam work without taking off the rocker boxes the downside is the expense of the adjustable push rods and I am sorry you can't find the first and best tool you ever bought for your Harley Davidson but despair not for a mere $7 you can download another one. For more information about your issue, please visit the websites below, and for specific information or questions, please feel free to contact me at Good luck and have a nice day. Harley Sportster XL883L Rocker Box Upper and Lower Gasket Replacement
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Jul 23, 2011 | 2004 Bajaj Caliber 115

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Valve adjustment

To adjust the valves on your Ironhead, the engine must be stone cold. You want to adjust the tappets so that you have zero backlash on the cold engine. As the engine heats up, the cylinder and heads expand upward creating valve lash in the valve train. This is why you want zero lash with the engine cold. If you get the valves set too tightly, it'll hold a valve open ever so slightly and make starting difficult.

To adjust the valves, bring one piston to TDC on the compression stroke, both valves closed with tappets in their lowest position. Pop the pushrod covers loose and loosen the lock nut on one of the tappets. Adjust the top part of the adjuster outwards until the pushrod can no longer be turned with your fingers. Turn the lock nut down but don't lock it yet. Gradually turn the top adjuster downward until you can spin the pushrod with your finger and finish locking the lock nut. Recheck the pushrod to see if it still spins but has no up and down movement. Do the same with the other pushrod on that cylinder. Remember, if's better to get the pushrods adjusted slightly loose rather than slightly tight. It might rattle a bit more but it'll start easier as well. Put the pushrod tubes back together and then do the same thing with the other cylinder.

May 21, 2011 | 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

1 Answer


You probably need to adjust your valves. Ironhead Sportsters are equipped with solid lifters and must be adjusted with zero backlash. If one of the pushrods is adjusted just a bit tight and holds a valve open even slightly, the bike is almost impossible to start with the kickstarter.

To adjust the valves, the bike must be stone cold. Take the spark plugs out, raise the rear wheel of the ground, and put the transmission in fourth gear. Turn the engine over by bumping the rear wheel in the normal direction of rotation. Bring the piston of one of the cylinders up to top dead center on the Compression stroke. Pop the pushrod tube covers and check the pushrods. You should be able to spin both pushrods with your fingers. If not, adjust the pushrod so taht it's tight. Then back it off to where you can just spin it with your fingers. Keep in mind that on a Sportster, it's better to have the pushrods slightly loose than tight. Once you get that cylinder's pushrods adjusted, do the same thing with the other cylinder.

Now, once you get this done, starting your bike is simply a matter of figuring what works with it. I've always said that kickstarting a Harley, especially a Sportster, is a ritual. Some bikes like for you to milk the throttle twice, kick the engine through twice with the choke on and ignition off, then turn on the ignition and kick it. Other bikes seem to want only one milk of the throttle, one kick with the ignition off, and then kick it. Each bike seems to have it's own particular ritual that you must figure out to get reliable starting. I'd try milk the throttle once, put the choke on, kick it through with the ignition off once, then turn the ignition on and kick. If the bike spits back through the carb, you need to start all over again. If you get the engine flooded, hold the throttle wide open and kick until it fires.

One other thing about a Sportster. Did the old man you bought it from have a limp in his right leg? A Sportster is notorious for "slipping through" when you try to start it. The result is that all your weight comes down on your knee without any resistance. The result is your knee tries to bend backwards, the way it wasn't designed to do. This can tear ligaments and cartilage in the knee and it even has it's own name, "Sportster Knee". Be careful.

Ride Safe

Apr 20, 2011 | Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster...

1 Answer

How do i adjust my rockers on the rear jug took apart 2 fix base gaskets on rear jug

If your bike is equipped with the Evolution engine there is no adjustment on the rocker arms, the engine is equipped with hydraulic tappets. The pushrods on the Big Twin Evo engine are color coded and go in a particular position. They are different lengths. The blue color coded pushrod is the rear intake pushrod, the purple color coded pushrod is the exhaust pushrod. The pushrods for the Evo Sportster are all the same and there is no adjustment on those eiher provided they are stock.

Now, if you are working on something other than an Evolution engine or you have aftermarket pushrods, please repost and I'll tell you what I know about the valve adjustment for your engine.


Mar 26, 2011 | Harley Davidson FXST - FXSTI Softail...

1 Answer

Its hard to start and when running its poping in the front cylinder

The Ironhead Sportsters have solid lifter in them and they must be adjusted correctly. To adjust the valves, remove the spark plugs and get the rear wheel off the ground. Shift the transmission into fourth gear and use the rear wheel to turn the engine over. Remove the push rod cover clips and collapse the push rod tubes.

Now, bring the front piston to top dead center on the compressin stroke. Use a common drinking straw inserted into the spark plug hole to tell where the piston is in the cylinder. Do not use anything else as if you use something that will break, it may do so and the then you'll have to pull the head to get it out of the cylinder. If you are on the compression stroke, the two tappets will be down. If one is up, you are not on the compression stroke.

Loosen the lock nut and adjust the adjuster upwards to make the tappet taller. Adjust it upwards just enough to make the pushrod tight to where you cannot turn it. Now, lower the adjuster until you can just spin the pushrod between your two fingers easily, Lock the lock nut and move to the next tappet on the front cylinder.

Now, do the same thing on the rear cylinder. It is better to have the pushrods just a bit loose rather than too tight. If the pushrod is tight, it will hold the valve open and make the bike hard to start. If you do get it started, it may pop on one or the other cylinder until the engine warms up and the cylinders expand. Make sure you have a good set of plugs in the engine as well.

When finished, shift the transmission back to neutral and lower the bike. Install the spark plugs.

Good Luck

Aug 15, 2010 | 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

1 Answer

What are the torque specs for the push rods on a 1993 sportster

Pushrods on a completely stock 1993 are one piece and have no torque spec as they are not of the adjustable variety. If you do in fact have "adjustable pushrods" and have set the adjustment according to the pushrods manufacturer's specification in conjunction with a good Harley service manual the nuts on the pushrod need to be good and snug........Tight, but do not bear down on the wrenches. Use your best judgement.

Aug 04, 2010 | 1993 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883

2 Answers

I put drag pipes on,now crank position sensor

There is no adjustment to the valves on your Evo Sportster. The tappets are self adjusting hydraulics unless someone has changed them. Take a look at you pushrod tubes, are they should be one-piece tubes.

Sorry but I cannot explain why your crank sensor keeps giving trouble. I know nothing of the electronics on the newer bikes. But I do know that the last Sportster that used solid tappets was the 1985 model Ironhead. All Sportsters since have hydraulic tappets and require no adjusting.

Mar 03, 2010 | 2004 Harley Davidson XL 883 Sportster

1 Answer

I need to know how to adjust the valves on my 1996 883 sportster

Unless there have been modifications to the engine, there is no adjustment. rocker arms have no provisions for adjustment, fixed length pushrods. Hope this helps.


Sep 02, 2009 | 1993 Harley Davidson XLH Sportster 883

1 Answer

I need to change my cam cover on my 98 softail need help/?

you will have to loosen the pushrods if you have adjustable pushrods, if not then you will have to remove the rocker boxes first. if you dont release all the pressure from the pushrods you will crack the engine case when you go to remove the cam cover.

Mar 29, 2009 | 2000 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

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