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 @ bellsouth.net

Posted on Jun 06, 2010

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Install push rods


Hi Anonymous, assuming yor stock push rods are still in the engine, remove the clip at the top of the outer push rod tube with a screw driver. Lift up the spring cup and squirt some silicone spray or WD-40 on the o-ring, then take needle nose pliers and slide down the inner push rod tube, do this to all of them. Next you can either remove primary cover to access crankshaft extention bolt or jack up rear end to clear wheel, remove spark plugs, and put tranny in high gear to facilitate turning over engine. Rotate engine so that the RE (rear exhaust) push rod is all the way up the remaing three should spin freely. Lift up the bottom of outer pushrod tube, of one that spins, as high as it will go and secure it with a clothes pin. With some bolt cutters break and remove stock push rod. Repeat process for the other 2 that spin freely, then rotate the engine so RE pushrod is at it's lowest point and spins freely then remove it. I don't know what brand your adjustables are so lay them out on your bench, they should be all the same length with the adjusters all the way in. If you have two that are longer these would be exhaust push rods and the two shorter ones will be intake pushrods. Refering to manufacturers instructions you should be able to install new push rods as one piece with adjusters all the way in, or you may have to disassemle and install piece by piece, it happens sometimes. Refer to instructions for complete turns, it's either 3 or 4 usually 4. Since the RE lifter is all the way down as far as it will go on the base circle of the cam start with that one first. WARNING!!!!! before you install any push rod make sure there is an o-ring in the head and one in tappet block. Slide push rod into tube and install, back out the adjuster until it just starts to touch the lifter then with wrenches back out an additional 3 or 4 turns, if you are not sure about the number call the manufacturer. Lock the jam nut and wait a few minutes until the lifter bleeds down and you can spin the push rod freely. WARNING!!!! never attempt to rotate engine unless the push rod you are installing spins freely. OK now lets move onto the next push rod the RI (rear intake) rotate engine so lifter is at it's lowest point on the base circle and install and adjust the push rod, wait for it to spin freely and then do the other 2 in the same manner. When you are finished some push rods will spin freely while others won't depending on cam position this is normal. Now rotae engine slowly 2 or 3 complete revolutions to make sure you have no valve to valve problems or valve to piston problems. If you do re-doo the adjustment on the offending cylinder. When you are comfortable every thing is ok extend inner push rod tube and install clips, replace spark plugs take bike out of gear and repace primary or lower the bike. With fingers crossed and a silent prayer to the Harley Gods fire it up, there may some slight lifter tick in the first minute or two but will eventually stop when you take it for a test ride. When you get back check it for leaks. Thus ends my modified version of War and Peace. Good luck

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1 Answer

Need first steps to adjusting push rods didnt mark the pushrods as we removed them the bike is 80 cubic inch electra glide 1994


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
Blue - Rear Intake
Yellow - Front Intake
Green - Front exhaust

Now, if they have been changed to adjustable push rods by you or some previous owner, the first thing you have to do is figure out how many turns of the adjuster it takes to make the pushrod 0.100" longer. Turn the adjuster all the way inward making the pushrod as short as possible. Now, using a caliper, turn the adjuster outwards until you get a measurement of threaded rod that is exactly one hundred thousandts long. Then turn the adjust all the way back inward while counting the number of "flats" on the hex adjuster that you turn until it bottoms out. You must do it this way because different manufacturers of the pushrods use different thread pitches on their adjusters.

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.

Ride Safe,
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1 Answer

I have a 1980 Suzuki GS450L that broke a chain today while my son was riding it. The chain wrapped the drive sprocket and bent the clutch push rod. It appears mine doesn't have the seal mounted on the...


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Which order do the push rods go in for 1999 chevorelet venture , i know there are the intake and exhaust pushrods , but they got mixed up when laid out


Well check them and see if there the same ,,
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Soak you lifters in oil overnight, not for most of the morning or a few hours, but overnight. Once you get both push rods out use your fingers, a small pick, or what ever to pull the lifters out. Replace the lifters, O rings for push rod tubes, put the tubes over the push rod and looking at the lifters make absolutely sure they are in the lowest position they can be, adjust you push rods. If they are HD Screamin Eagle ones you extent the push rods to what we call zero lash, that is until they make firm contact with the lifter but are not compressing the lifter. this is just something you gotta do to figure out how. Then once you have zero lash HD sez unscrew or lengthen the push rod by holding the top piece with a wrench and unscrewing the bottom piece 3 and one half turns, then lock it up with the jam nut. Put push rod tubes together move to the next cyclinder.
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Soak lifters over night
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This is a painful process cause after things get a few hours on them you WILL want to go back in and readjust. I am truely sorry this is such a pain. I hope this helps and good luck,

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