The Heritage looks the same as when we started. But now we sleep better at night knowing we won't have to worry about primary chain adjustment. We wish our chrome cover kit had come in while we were doing this job, so we could have saved ourselves the cost of the gaskets. Oh well, next time.
We installed our automatic primary chain tensioner in our '06 Heritage Softail. Our Heritage is only one year from having the auto tensioner unit as stock. But we do a lot of miles on it, so we wanted the peace of mind that it brings. We rolled our bike on to our Handy lift at our secret HRBW workshop, then raised it to a comfortable working height.
Aftersecuring the Heritage on the lift, the first order of business was to remove the seat and disconnect the battery to prevent any accidental movement of the primary while our fingers were in there. Here, we are pointing to both ends of the negative battery cable.
We chose to disconnect the frame end of the negative cable. It's much easier to get to than the battery side. The frame end of the negative cable is also the ground for a number of the bike's other electrical components.
We like to stuff a shop towel under the battery cable to keep it from returning to the grounding point, thus reestablishing its connection with the frame. Most cables and wires have a memory. When you pull them away from their normal resting place, they want to return when you release them.
We were going into the primary chain case to install our new auto chain tensioner, but we first needed to drain the case. We accomplished this by removing the drain plug using a No. 30 Torx driver, then letting the primary drain, while we removed the rest of the parts that were in the way.
We only had to remove the footboard and the Buckshot heel shifter. While we were close to the kickstand, we smeared a small dab of grease inside the kickstand pivot.
To remove the primary chaincase cover, you first will have to remove the 12, 1/4-inch bolts around the perimeter of the cover. There are two different length bolts. There are also two long 1/4-inch screws that fasten the inspection cover to the primary cover (arrows) and pass on through and thread into the inner primary cover. These screws will need to be removed.
With all of the mounting screws and bolts removed, the primary cover will come off easily in your hand. We like to swing the outer cover down under the primary to catch any lingering oil that now wants to drop onto our table.
Here is what we're after-the primary chain adjusting "shoe" (arrow). This type adjuster, used since 2000, can be adjusted by raising the entire assembly as the primary chain stretches.
The automatic primary chain tensioner kit consists of a new mount (A), an automatic shoe (B), shoe mounting bolts (C), and a new carriage bolt (D) for using the kit on '99 and earlier models.
The new auto tensioner is half again as large as the stock adjuster. The parallel links (A) keep the shoe square with the chain as it rides over the shoe's surface. The shipping link (B) and cable tie secure the shoe at its lowest position until installation is complete.
To remove the stock adjuster, we first removed the nut and washer holding the bracket against the back plate.
Save the stock nut and washer for installing the new automatic tensioner.
The primary chain now has enough slack to allow the stock shoe to be slid out from under the lower run of the chain.
Here, we have the stock and automatic adjusters on the table where you can see the difference in size.
Here, we have the new automatic mounting bracket viewed from the backside. Note the serrations (A) that match the serrations on the fixed bracket mounted to the inner primary cover. The guide (B) indexes in the slot in the fixed bracket to keep the adjusting shoe in a vertical orientation.
To install the new mounting bracket, you will need to slip the bracket in behind the lower run of the primary chain. Use your finger to raise the carriage bolt high enough, so that the hole in the mounting bracket slides over the bolt's threads.
We reassembled the washer and nut on the carriage bolt extending through the mounting bracket, then ran the nut on a few turns.
We then took the new auto adjuster, slipped it under the primary chain, and lined up the mounting holes. Next, we fitted the included mounting bolts, then tightened the mounting bolts snug.'
The first adjustment was to raise the adjusting shoe with our finger until the top run of the chain had approximately 1-inch of up and down movement. We then tightened the adjusting shoe mounting bracket nut.
We torqued the mounting nut to 21-29 lb-ft, as well as the autotensioner mounting bolts (arrows) to 17-19 lb-ft.
The shipping plate fits over two pins (arrows) that hold the adjusting shoe in the lowered position. When we went to pull the cable tie from the shoe, it snapped and left part of the cable tie captured between the adjuster and the mounting bracket. We loosened up the two shoe mounting bolts, pulled the remainder of the cable tie free, and retorqued the mounting bolts.
With the cable tie out of the way, we removed the shipping plate freeing the autotensioner, which raised maybe 1/16 of an inch. The instructions tell you to check that the tensioner is installed correctly by moving the top run of the chain up and down with your finger. You then watch that the adjuster moves forward and back a little, maybe a total of 1/8 of an inch. If the adjuster doesn't move forward and back, you will need to go back and check your work.
Here are the gaskets you will need to complete the installation: the primary cover gasket, part No. 60539-94B (A), clutch cover, part No. 25416-99C (B), inspection cover, part No. 60567-90C (C), and two inspection cover bolts, part No. 63859-95B (D).
Fit the rest of the gaskets, assemble the covers, and torque all the mounting screws in the order as described in the service manual to 108-120 lb/in. If you don't have a manual, start the torque sequence in the middle of the cover, alternating top to bottom, then work your way to the front of the cover, and then do the back half. The two long inspection cover screws are last to be torqued. Don't forget the primary oil. We did, and we had to remove the clutch cover and fill the primary to the bottom edge of the clutch spring, (as per the service manual).
We're almost done. We lowered the lift and reconnected the battery cable, along with the rest of the ground wires, then coated them with a liberal coating of liquid electrical tape.
In 2006 Harley-Davidson introduced a new automatic primary chain tensioner for the Dyna model line. You may remember that in 2006 the Dyna's also sported a new six-speed transmission, revised engine cases with hidden oil lines, and revised primary chain cases, as well as the company's first closed-loop fuel injection system. A lot of changes from this model line made their way to the rest of the models that Harley-Davidson built in 2007. But only a few of these improvements can be retrofitted back to previous motorcycles. The automatic primary chain tensioner can be fitted to any big twin built from 1985 to 2006.
Maybe you're thinking that you may never have to adjust the primary chain on your bike? Most of the time you don't even think about the primary chain until you hear it. By the time the primary chain makes enough noise for you to hear it, there is already metal being ground up inside the cases. Ground metal mixed in with your primary oil will start to devour the rest of the parts inside the primary cases, like the chain, the compensating sprocket, the clutch drum sprocket, and the clutch itself.
Retrofitting the new automatic chain tensioner requires a couple hours ofwork, five new gaskets, a quart of primary oil, and, of course, the chain tensioner kit. For just under $150, you can forget about ever adjusting your primary chain again, and think more about more chrome or more power.