Question about 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

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Clutch adjuster threads in primary cover very worn

While working on my clutch, I noticed that the clutch cable adjuster threads in the primary case cover are very worn and close to being stripped out.
Q1: Has anyone ever used a heli-coil to repair this and has it held up well?

Q2: Are there any helicoils that would engage the full length of the hole, or is using multiple coils accpetable?


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Anything that works is acceptable. Instead of helicoils, I'd prefer to use either a Timesert or a Keensert. They are available in various lengths. The longer the better of course, but these things are made of steel and don't wear if they get loose. That's what wears the threads in most of the Sporty primary covers, the adjuster was run loose and vibration wears the threads. If you know a good welder, that's the way to go.

Good luck

Posted on Jun 06, 2010


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Related Questions:

1 Answer

Need instructions on replacing the whole clutch

Remove all tension from the cable. Drain the fluid and remove the primary outer cover. Remove the primary chain adjuster. Remove clutch adjustment plate cir-clip and plate assembly . Lock compensatory and clutch sprockets. Loosen and remove compensator and clutch hub assembly nuts and assemblies. Remember that the clutch nut is a left hand thread.

Oct 07, 2014 | Harley Davidson Motorcycles

1 Answer

How to adjust clutch inside primary case?

Because the clutch cable adjuster clearance increases with engine temperature, adjust
the clutch when the engine is cold. If the clutch is adjusted when the engine is hot, insufficient pushrod clearance can cause the clutch to slip.
1. Remove the clutch mechanism inspection cover and
quad ring
2. Remove the clamp and slide the rubber boot off the clutch in-line cable adjuster.
3. Loosen the adjuster locknut and turn the adjuster to provide maximum cable slack.
4. Make sure the clutch cable seats squarely in its perch at the handlebar.
5. At the clutch mechanism, loosen the clutch adjusting screw locknut and turn the adjusting screw clockwise until it is lightly seated.
6. Squeeze the clutch lever three times to verify the clutch balls are seated in the ramp release mechanism located behind the transmission side cover.
7. Back out the adjusting screw counterclockwise 1/2 to 1 turn. Then hold the adjusting screw and tighten the locknut to 72-120 in.-lb.(8-14 N•m).
8. Once again, squeeze the clutch lever to its maximum limit three times to set the clutch ball and ramp release mechanism.
9. Check the free play as follows:
a. At the in-line cable adjuster, turn the adjuster away from the locknut until slack is eliminated at the clutch hand lever.
b. Pull the clutch cable sheath away from the clutch lever, then turn the clutch cable adjuster to obtain the clearance gap
c. When the adjustment is correct, tighten the clutch in-line cable locknut and slide the rubber boot over the cable adjuster.
10. Install the clutch inspection cover quad ring onto the primary chain case cover.
11. Install the clutch inspection cover and tighten the screws to 84-108 in.-lb. (9.5-12 N•m).

Jul 23, 2014 | 2000 Harley Davidson FXDWG Dyna Wide Glide

1 Answer

Clutch is slipping

The clutch friction plates may be worn out.

The clutch adjustment is likely way out in any case. You will need to go into the inspection (derby) cover and adjust the clutch and the cable adjustment will have to be done at the same time.

Slide the rubber cover off the cable adjuster. Then holding cable adjuster with a one half inch wrench, loosen the jam nut using a nine sixteenths inch wrench and back the jam nut away from the cable adjuster and then move the adjuster toward jam nut to introduce a large amount of free play at hand lever. THEN using a T27 TORX driver, remove the five TORX screws with washers to remove clutch inspection cover (derby cover) and seal in the primary cover (unless it has a gasket as aftermarket or Screaming Eagle covers will have in which case remove the gasket). IF the screws are very tight use a spring loaded impact driver with the correct T-27 TORX bit and a suitable sized hammer to shock them loose OR heat them with a hot air gun (sometimes people also put Loctite on the screw threads which then may need heat to break down this locking compound). THEN using an Allen key in, and to hold, the adjustment screw and a wrench on the locknut loosen the locknut and then turn the adjusting screw in or clockwise until resistance is felt (to take up all free play and lightly seat the adjuster to the clutch push rod but no more) and then activate the clutch lever to ensure that the clutch release balls are seated in the ramps. THEN back off the adjusting screw one half to one full turn. THEN holding the Allen key and adjusting screw so neither can move anymore tighten the locknut to 72-120 in-lbs (8.1-13.6 NM). THEN squeeze the clutch lever to maximum limit three times, to set the ball and ramp release mechanism. THEN replace the cover seal or gasket if it is very old, deteriorated or etc. and verify that the seal is fully seated in the groove of the cover and if there is a gasket make sure it is facing the correct way i.e. with the rubber sealing surface towards the primary cover and the triangulated screw hole to the top. THEN using the T-27 TORX driver, install the five TORX screws and washers to secure the clutch inspection cover in place and tighten the screws in a crosswise pattern to 84-108 in-lbs (9-12Nm). THEN move to the cable adjuster and turn the cable adjuster clockwise away from the jam nut until all of the slack is eliminated. THEN pull the clutch cable ferrule at the hand control end of the clutch cable at the hand control lever bracket away from the clutch hand lever bracket to check the free play. You need to obtain 1/16 to 1/8 inch free play between the end of the cable ferrule and the clutch hand lever bracket i.e. while you are pulling the cable away from the clutch lever mechanism bracket there should be a space or freeplay of 1/16 to 1/8 inch or in other words if you can pull the clutch cable away from the clutch lever bracket that much you have the correct lever free play, so turn the cable adjuster as necessary to get this amount of free play between the end of the clutch cable and the clutch lever bracket on the handlebars. After you have adjusted the cable so that you have this free play then hold the adjuster with a 1/2 inch wrench and using a 9/16 inch wrench, tighten jam nut against cable adjuster and then pull the rubber cable adjuster cover over the cable adjuster mechanism. THEN place the spring washer over the lower inside hole of the left footrest support with the concave side of the spring washer facing the support flange. These cable adjuster instructions are for stock HD clutch cables as aftermarket cables will be somewhat different to adjust BUT the idea will be the same.

May 25, 2014 | Harley Davidson FLSTC Heritage Softail...

1 Answer

I have a 1979 the primaryharley sportster I removed cover to replace the gasket now I have no clutch when i put itto gatrher is there a secret to putting primary case on

When you took the primary cover off, you had to turn a screw back by the clutch to get the cover off. Now, you have to readjust that mechanism. This is the clutch release mechanism. First, up towards the front of the primary cover, there is a long threaded cable adjuster threaded into the cover. Loosen the lock nut and turn the adjuster barrel inward a good bit, at least a half inch or so. Now, take the round plug out at the back of the primary cover and remove the locking nut. This is not actually a nut but looks like one with no threads in it. Now, turn the screw counterclockwise until it stops. Then turn it back about a quarter turn. Put the lock nut back in and the round cap. Go back to the cable adjuster at the front of the cover and turn it out until you have about an 1/8" of freeplay in the cable. Tighten the locknut. If you still don't have a clutch, you have something wrong in the primary cover.

Good Luck

Jul 02, 2011 | 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

1 Answer

Primary chain hitting case on clutch housing, cable nearly fully adjusted clutch slips if adjust any more. bad grinding noise from chain hitting case can i adjust clutch any more in housing?

The primary chain adjustment has nothing to do with the clutch. Take the small upper inspection cover off the primary cover and use your finger to check the primary chain tension. It should have 3/8 to 1/2 inch up and down movement in the top run of the chain when the engine is cold. To adjust, loosen the lock nut on the primary chain adjuster on the bottom of the primary case. Turn the screw upward to tighten the chain, downward to loosen. Once set, tighten the locknut.

To adjust the clutch, loosen the clutch cable adjuster as much as you can. Remove the derby cover from the primary cover. Remove the spring and the locknut. Turn the adjuster screw counterclockwise as far as it will go. Turn it back in 1/4 turn and replace the lock nut and the spring. Replace derby cover. Adjust the clutch cable so that you have about a 1/8 inch play at the hand lever.

Good Luck

Apr 29, 2011 | 2005 Harley Davidson XL 1200 R Sporster...

2 Answers

How to adjust a clutch on a2005hd fatboy?

Take all the play off clutch lever using adjusting nuts under rubber boot on clutch cable remove derby cover on primary cover use allen wrench to hold push rod while loosing lock nut turn allen wrench clock wise on push rod until it just stops do not apply pressure you will bend push rod.then turn counter clock wise about half turn hold with allen wrench tighten lock nut . Adjust nuts on cable until; 1/8 inch play on clutch lever should be good to go .

Mar 23, 2011 | 2005 Harley Davidson FLSTF - FLSTFI Fat...

1 Answer

Oil is coming out the clutch cable at adjusting threads what would cause this

Right where the threaded adjuster goes into the outer primary case, there's a locknut. There should be an O-ring on this treaded piece to seal in the oil. To replace the o-ring, you must go through the procedure to replace the clutch cable by removing the primary outer cover, disassembling the clutch release mechanism, and turning the cable out.

Good Luck

Aug 30, 2010 | 2000 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster...

1 Answer

How to change the clutch cable on a 2003 Buell Firebolt.

drain primary fluid,remove clutch inspection cover make sure not to lose spring hex when removing,with small screw driver turn adjuster so the hex nut screws out (left handed threads) remove ball and ramp off cable careful not to drop anything into primary.okay now go up cable to mid-range adjuster and back off (together) then go up to clutch lever and remove there a snap ring that you should replace and be mindful of cable rounting then go back down to primary cover and remove,when putting new one in be sure not to over tighten and don't forget o-ring, after all reinstalled to adjust clutch screw adjuster in to it lightly seats and back off 1/4 to 1/2 turn and adjust mid range until you have a 1/16 to 1/8 freeplay at lever pull and release three times to make sure the ramp and ball have seated good luck

Jan 12, 2010 | 2003 Buell Firebolt XB9R

1 Answer

Clutch cable broke at handle lever on 1979 harley davidson sporst

To change the clutch cable on you '79 Sporty, you'll have to take the outer primary cover off. To do this, you'll have to drain the oil from the primary, take the left side foot peg off, and loosen the primary chain adjuster on the bottom side of the primary. Loosen the locknut and use an allen wrench or hex key to screw the adjuster bolt downward.

If you need to know anything else, drop me a line at

Then, remove the large "plug" towards the rear of the cover. Inside, you'll see something that looks like a nut but with no threads in it held in by a small spring. This the the lock nut, remove it. Below it is what looks like another nut with a slotted adjuster bolt sticking out. Remover the bolts from around the primary cover and break it loose from the engine. While turning the adjuster screw at the rear of the cover inward, remove the cover.

The cable connects to the cluch release mechanism. By turning the "link" downwards, you can disconnect it from the mechanism. Notice which way the "link" in attached to the release mechanism. Take the "link" off the end of the clutch cable.

Break the lock nut loose at the threaded cable adjuster on the outside of the case and screw the adjuster all the way out of the primary cover. Disconnect the cable at the handlebar lever and your cable is out.

Reinstall the new cable in the reverse order. When replacing the outer primary cover, make sure you use a new gasket on the cover as well as on the foot peg boss. The "foot peg boss gasket" is very important. You'll see an aluminum boss with a threaded rod sticking out of it that holds your left foot peg on. There is a round gasket that goes over this threaded rod and seals against the boss. If you leave this off, your bike will leak oil around this threaded rod when your foot peg goes on. Make sure you specifically ask for the "foot peg boss gasket" when you buy the new primary gasket. It's just a round gasket a bit larger than a quarter.

As you put the primary cover back on, there is a spring on the primary chain adjuster. Part of the spring is in the primary cover and the other part is in the engine. You'll see how it goes in. There is a large stud in that area that the outer primary cover slides up on. Adjust the tension on the primary chain by removing the "plug" at the top of the primary cover. You want 3/4" to 7/8" up and down play in the chain with the engine cold.

On the adjuster, as you're installing the outer cover, turn the ajuster screw back into the clutch release mechanism by turning the screw backwards. Once you have the outer primary cover completely installed, you must adjust the release mechanism. Adjust the screw inwards until you feel a resistance, then back the screw off about a 1/4 to 1/2 turn, insert the "lock nut" and spring, and install the "plug". Then, using the cable adjuster on the outside of the cover, adjust the cable. Add oil.

Oct 26, 2009 | 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

1 Answer

I would like to see exactly where you would adjust the clutch cable.demonstrate please.

Start at the clutch cable, loosen the locknut and screw the cable in so that there are no threads showing (till the adjuster touches the locknut.

You have to remove the derby cover (the big round cover with 5 screws on the outer primary) so the bike has to be sitting upright or the primary fluid will leak out.

Remove the derby cover, get an 11/16 (i think) socket and loosen the lock nut on the end of the clutch basket (use a hammer to tap the ratchet and loosen the nut).

Unsrew the nut a few turns and get an allen wrench (I forget what size but find one that will fit in the end of the rod that you just loosened up the nut on)

Using the allen key turn the rod in untill the clutch just start to engage, stop there then turn the allen 1/2 a turn out then using the ratchet and socket tighten the lock nut on the end of the clutch basket (tap the ratchet with a hammer to tighten so that the rod you just adjusted 1/2 a turn out does not move.

Now go back to the clutch cable and screw the cable back out so that you can see the clutch lever start to tighten up. Adjust the cable so that when you grab and pull the cable just before the lever you get a space just wide enough to slip a quarter into. So where the cable goes into the lever you want a little freeplay, the correct freeplay is 1/16 to 1/8, about the width of a quarter. Tighten the locknut on the clutch cable and put the derby cover back on.

Thats all there is to it, I hope this is clear enough, any questions just ask.

Here is the instructions from the manual:

1. Position motorcycle on a suitable lift, upright and level.
Point front wheel straight ahead.
2. Remove five TORX screws with captive washers to detach
clutch inspection cover from primary chaincase cover.
3. Remove and discard seal.
4. See Figure 1-20. Add free play to cable.
a. Slide rubber boot (1) off cable adjuster.
b. Holding cable adjuster (2) with 1/2 in. wrench, loosen
jam nut (3) using a 9/16 in. wrench.
c. Turn cable adjuster (2) until there is a large amount
of free play at clutch hand lever.
5. See Figure 1-21. Loosen jam nut (1) on clutch adjuster
screw (2). To take up all free play, turn screw inward
(clockwise) until lightly seated. Activate the clutch lever to
verify the balls are seated in the ramps.
6. Back out adjusting screw (counterclockwise) 1/2 to 1 full
turn.Tighten jamnut to 72-120 in-lbs (8.1-13.6 Nm), while
holding adjusting screw with an Allen wrench.
7. Squeeze clutch lever to maximum limit three times, to set
ball and ramp release mechanism.
8. Check free play.
a. Turn cable adjuster away from jam nut until slack is
eliminated at hand lever.
b. See Figure 1-22. Pull clutch cable ferrule (2) away
from clutch lever bracket (3) to check free play. Turn
cable adjuster as necessary to obtain 1/16-1/8
in. (1.6-3.2 mm) free play between end of cable ferrule
and clutch lever bracket.
9. Hold adjuster with 1/2 in. wrench. Using 9/16 in. wrench,
tighten jam nut against cable adjuster. Cover cable
adjuster mechanism with rubber boot.

10. Install clutch inspection cover and new seal as follows:
a. Thoroughly wipe all lubricant from cover mounting
surface and groove in chaincase.
b. Position new seal (1) in groove in primary chaincase
cover and press each of the nubs on seal into the
groove. The nubs will retain seal in position.
c. Insert screw (with captive washer) through clutch
inspection cover and carefully thread it into the top
cover screw hole.
d. Start the remaining four screws (with captive
e. Alternately tighten screws to 84-108 in-lbs (9.5-12.2
Nm) following torque sequence shown in Figure 1-23.

Jun 10, 2009 | 2008 Harley Davidson FLHRC Road King...

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