Question about 2002 Harley Davidson XL 1200 C Sportster Custom

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Under torque my 2002 1200 sportster sounds like the primary is skiping and make s clanking noise i have checked the primary chain adjustment and its fine it only has 800 mi on it

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The large nut on the compensator sprocket may be loose causing the problem. I am a bit confused though. You aren't clear about what has 800 miles on it. Does the bike, a 2002 model, only have 800 miles on it or does the new primary chain have 800 miles on it? Either way, if it's doing this, I'd pull the primary cover off and check everything inside the primary.

Good luck

Posted on Oct 17, 2010

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There are a number of allen head bolts you have to remove, unless you are planning on working on your clutch or your primary chain needs replacing I would not bother going to all the trouble of removing it, as the primary chain adjuster can be accessed through the the small access plate in the primary cover. You will have to replace the gasket but you won't lose your primary oil this way.
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When is the last time you checked the tension on your primary drive chain? Remove the round plug at the top of the primary cover. You can reach the primary chain through this hole. Use your finger to gauge the up and down movement of the chain. If you need to adjust the chain, on the bottom of the primary is an adjusting bolt with a lock nut. Loosen the lock nut and turn the adjuster upwards to tighten the chain, lower it to loosen the chain. The chain should have 3/8" to 1/2" of movement with the engine cold. Usually the final drive belt won't make a rattling noise since it's a rubber-like compound. It should have a tension of about 1/2" up and down movement with a force of ten pounds applied to it from the underside of the lower run.

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More than likely, it's either a loose primary chain or possibly the compensator sprocket. If the noise is at idle, this will probably be the case. Now, if the noise occurs when you roll the throttle on but goes away when just cruising, you may have a bottom end problem. If I were you, I'd disconnect the battery and pull the outer primary cover off. Check the torque on the compensator nut. It should be torqued to 150-165 foot pounds of torque. You'll need a "locking bar" to lock the engine and transmission to keep it from turning in order to apply that amount of torque. Check the adjustment of the primary chain. 3/4 to 7/8 inch with the engine cold. When you refill the primary with oil, do it with the bike standing straight up. Fill to the bottom edge of the outer clutch shell, the bright aluminum part.

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Sounds like you have some shifter pawl problems. If you remove your outer primary cover, you can see the shifter pawl just behind your clutch assembly. The problem could be the shifter pawls, the springs, or the carrier. You'll just have to go in there to find out exactly what it is.

To get the outer cover off, first loosen the primary chain tensioner beneath the primary cover. Then remove the large round cover from the outer primary cover. Beneath the cover is a spring with a locknut over the clutch adjuster. Drain the oil out of the primary and remove all the bolts around the primary including the left side foot rest and the nut at the front. Slide the outer primary cover off as you turn the clutch adjuster clockwise.

With cover off, you may can see the problem with the shifter pawl but I'm afraid that you're going to have to pull the engine drive sprocket and the clutch assembly off to repair it. To do this, you need an air wrench to remove the front sprocket nut and the clutch assembly nut. The clutch assembly nut is left handed threads. Take the snap ring out of the center of the clutch assembly and remove the clutch adjuster plate.

When reassembling the primary, torque the engine nut to 150-165 Foot pounds, the clutch nut torque is 70-80 foot pounds left handed, adjust the primary chain to 3/8 to 1/2" up and down with the engine cold. Check the primary chain adjustment thorough the upper inspection hole on the outer primary cover. I highly suggest you purchase a service manual to refer to if you decide to do this job. If you do it yourself, the book will pay for itself with this one job. Otherwise, this is a pretty advanced job and you might be better off taking to an experience mechanic.

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1 Answer

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When is the last time you checked the adjustment of your primary chain? It should be adjusted to where you have 3/4 to 7/8 inch up and down play when checked in the middle of the upper section of the chain when COLD. I like to set the chain at the 3/4 inch setting if possible. As the engine/transmission heats up, the chain will tighten up. If the chain is too loose, it will rub the top of the inside of the inner primary cover when you back off on the throttle.

Also, you didn't say how many miles your bike has on it. You could need to replace the nylon shoe on the primary chain adjuster mechanism if it's worn badly. Also, I've seen a lot of spring cups on the compensator sprocket go bad. Remove the outer primary cover and try to turn this cup with you hands. If you can turn it by hand, you probably need to replace it. This will make a "clop, clop, clop" type noise when idling. While in the primary, check the torque on the engine sprocket nut. It should be 150-165 foot pounds. You will need a primary locking tool to check this as the engine will turn over before you reach that torque level.

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