Shovelhead 4-speed overhaul part #1

Shovelhead primary removed

Until recently my 1982 Shovelhead didn’t leak a drop of oil. One of the main issues with these bikes (in regards to marking it’s territory) is a leaking primary, but mine was sealed great with the help of James Gaskets and some blue silicon. Another source for oil leakage is the oil seal on the mainshaft of the transmission. In my case this turned out to be the cause of my Shovel marking it’s territory. It started with a small drop every now and then but it got worse rather quick.

It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact source of the leakage, because the bottom of the engine, primary and tranny is often covered in lot’s of grease and dirt. So I started by cleaning the bottom of the engine and transmission with some brakecleaner, and the next morning I could clearly see the oil trail leading from behind the transmission sprocket to the bottom mounting bolts. Time to take it apart!

Before you can get the transmission out you need to get some stuff out of the way, the most obvious being the primary drive. After I drained the oil from the primary, I removed the primary cover and ran into the first challenge: the clutch.

A few years ago I replaced my clutch with a Barnett Scorpion clutch (no more slipping!), but to get the clutch hub of the mainshaft I needed two specific tools from Barnett, a Scorpion Clutch Lock Plate and a Scorpion Clutch Hub Puller.

Barnett Clutch hub puller and lock plate

First thing was to get the clutch hub nut loose (left hand thread! so turn clockwise to loosen!). Before you can unscrew this nut you’ll need to lock both the primary and the clutch. I used a piece of steel bar and rounded both ends using a file, stuck this between the crankshaft sprocket and the clutch shell to prevent the primary from spinning. I then used the clutch locking plate to lock the inner clutch hub to the clutch outer shell. (if you have some old clutch plates lying around you could weld 2 together to make your own locking plate)

Shovelhead primary lock bar

The clutch hub nut can be very tight, so I heated it up first using a paint stripper and then, using a 1 1/8″ socket and a long steel rod over the wrench, I removed the nut. (I guess you could use an impact wrench too) Because the mainshaft is tapered, the clutch hub will be very tight, that’s why you need the puller. Be sure you screw the clutch nut back on the mainshaft for 5 or 6 turns and put a washer over the nut before you attach the puller. If you don’t, the puller center bolt will push against your clutch pushrod and you’ll brake shit. (trust me!)

Before you can remove the primary drive as a whole, you’ll need to remove the compensating sprocket from the crankshaft. This is normal right-hand thread and it takes a 1 1/2″ socket. I know some people use an impact wrench to remove the compensating sprocket, but I would personally recommend against that because there’s a risk of breaking loose the magnets on the rotor, and then you’ll have a whole new problem (especially if it goes unnoticed). Finally, loosen the primary chain tensioner and you can take out the complete primary drive.

Shovelhead with primary drive removed.

More in part #2!

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