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Trying to find correct method to set or adjust tappets on my 1973 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead engine which has a stroker motor and solid lifters

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If your Shovelhead has solid lifters, you set them exactly like you would set the tappets on an Ironhead Sportster. With the engine stone cold, Bring either piston to top dead center ON THE COMPRESSION stroke. Both valves on that cylinder should be closed and the tappets on the heel of the cam at this point. Now, adjust the pushrods longer until you can no longer turn them with your fingertips. Now, back them back down until you can barely spin them with your fingers. Lock the locknuts down. Then bring the other cylinder to TDC COMPRESSION STROKE and adjust those pushrods.

You are adjusting for Zero backlash just like on an Ironhead Sporty. As the engine heats and the cylinders and head expand, they do so away from the cases which gives you more backlash the hotter they get. If you get the pushrods too tight, when the engine cools down, they'll hold the valve open just slightly making the engine difficult to get started.

Now, if you have hydraulic tappets, with the engine cold, back the pushrods off until they are loose. Bring them back down to zero backlash and then come down four additional turns and lock the locknut. Wait until the tappet bleeds down and you can spin the pushrod before you turn the engine.

Good Luck
Steve

Posted on Mar 20, 2011

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