Question about 2003 Harley Davidson FLHTC Electra Glide Classic

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1980 FLH pushrods, took hours to get out because bottom of rods still in hyrollic cup. I've determined that rockerarm is pushing down farther on rod then before on both heads. Have worked with pushroods for years and never had a problem getting them out. (I understand the entire hyrollic system and find this confusing) Pushrods are mint (S & S, same as stock), hyrollics are mint. Can't figure out why this is happening in the front and rear at same time.

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This is common. Usually it's not all the pushrods but at least one. The problem is not with the pushrods or the hydraulic units in the tappets. The problem is with the heads.

When Harley designed the Shovelhead engine, the gasoline that we burned had lead in it to lubricate the valves. This was back in 1966. Over the years, the lead has been taken out of the gasoline but Harley never updated the valves nor the valves seats to the "hardened valves and seats" because they knew they were going to introduce the Evolution engine. Therefore, all Shovelhead engines came from the factory with the "soft" valves and seats.

Being this is the case, the valve and valve seats wear quickly. When the valves and seats wear, the valves are pulled up higher into the seats make the valve stems sit higher in the rocker box. When you're trying to get the pushrods out, you shorten the pushrod as much as possible but the rocker arm is still too close to the end of the valve stem to allow the pushrod to come up high enough to clear the cup of the hydraulic unit in the tappets. I've had to use a small screwdriver wedged between the lower ball of the pushrod and the cup of the hydraulic unit to put enough pressure on the hydraulic unit to make it bleed down as much as possible.

The only remedy is have a valve job done on the heads by a machinist that is knowlegable of Harley heads. He should install hardened seats and valves and set the "stem height" to the correct dimension. With that done, the pushrods will go into and out of the hydraulic unit as they were originally designed to do.

I've seen an Ironhead Sportster that the valves and seats were worn so badly that the spring keeper on top of the spring was hitting the bottom side of the rocker arm. It was a wonder that the split locks had not jumped out resulting in the a valve being "dropped". If you have anymore questions, contact me directly at wd4ity @

Posted on Jun 06, 2010


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Uhh, if the pushrods in your 1994 model bike were stock, they are not adjustable. They should be color coded at to where they go. If this is what you have, they go in the following positions:
Purple - Rear Exhaust
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Once you know how many "flats" it takes to make the pushrods 0.100" longer install the pushrod into a position with the tappet all the way down. Adjust the pushrod out using your fingers until you get all the slack out of the pushrod. Then turn the pushrod adjuster outwards the number of turns that it takes to make the pushrod exactly 0.100" longer.

Once this is done, you will not be able to turn the pushrod. You must wait for the hydraulic tappet to bleed down before you can turn the engine. If you do turn the engine before the tappet bleeds down, you may bend the valve. Do not turn the engine until you can turn the pushrod with your fingers. Proceed until you get all pushrods installed and adjusted in this manner.

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