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  • cam tensioner upgrade TC88

    (2002 Low Rider)


    I've got an old TC88. In my research I've found the cam chain tensioners tend to go bad around 20-30k miles. Mine only has about 7k but I'm looking to nip the problem in the bud.

    Which would you choose: the S&S gear driven kit or the Screaming Eagle Hydraulic Tensioners. The Screaming Eagle kit comes with an upgraded oil pump, however from what I've read it seems gear drive is more efficient
    Last edited by Danny3nose; 07-03-2017, 08:39 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Danny3nose View Post
    (2002 Low Rider)


    I've got an old TC88. In my research I've found the cam chain tensioners tend to go bad around 20-30k miles. Mine only has about 7k but I'm looking to nip the problem in the bud.

    Which would you choose: the S&S gear driven kit or the Screaming Eagle Hydraulic Tensioners. The Screaming Eagle kit comes with an upgraded oil pump, however from what I've read it seems gear drive is more efficient
    If it were Mine, I`d go wit duh gears. Hardly ever hear of gears wearing out.
    Ear Tag no. 00030
    MMMMOOoo"Official HERD Exalted Prime Example"...
    Do`nt need no stinking hay,We want fresh green spring grass
    If they get close enough kick em in the crotch,MMMOOOOooo
    The missing link
    http://www.shovelhead.us/

    Comment


    • #3
      If I go the gear drive route (thinking about the S&S gear drive kit) should I also upgrade the oil pump, or is the juice not worth the squeeze?

      Comment


      • #4
        I don't recall exactly where, but a while back, I read a good post about this and many people who responded were very happy with the specific brand of aftermarket tensioners that were being discussed. I don't believe it was on this forum. I'll look into it and see if I can find the info.
        Official HERD Member #00231

        "Blue skies hanging over my head, I got five hundred miles to ride" - RVZ

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Danny3nose View Post
          If I go the gear drive route (thinking about the S&S gear drive kit) should I also upgrade the oil pump, or is the juice not worth the squeeze?
          With that few of miles, I do not think I would be too concerned about the oil pump.
          Harleys dont pack a lot of oil pressure anyway, too many gaps between the rollers for it to escape through. Long as it is getting a volume of oil moving through the bearings, it should be good to go.
          Ear Tag no. 00030
          MMMMOOoo"Official HERD Exalted Prime Example"...
          Do`nt need no stinking hay,We want fresh green spring grass
          If they get close enough kick em in the crotch,MMMOOOOooo
          The missing link
          http://www.shovelhead.us/

          Comment


          • #6
            Danny3!

            I have a fresh perspective of the early twin-cam cam chain tensioners. I had a 2000 FXD for a decade and put almost 80K on it. (Like you, I bought it used, with 6k on the clock)

            I too have heard the horror stories associated. But as I decided to learn how to do all the service on this bike myself (an economic decision) I treated these cam chain tensioners as a inspection and service item on my checklist. I put 6k to 8k annually on my Superglide... always did all the service intervals like clockwork, but in winter, I'd go the extra mile with stuff. Annually, when the oil was drained (and later, when I went with several aftermarket pipes, which meant I had to remove the exhaust) I would pull the cam cover casting off and inspect the tensioners. In the 10 years and 80k I had the bike, I replaced the stock tensioners twice. Think tires.

            OK. Soapbox out. I would dearly love to show you my several sets of complete service photos I took over the years, but these photos are in Photobucket prison. I could link you to several of my threads here, but they are virtually worthless because the photos are gone.



            Rant over.

            ~~


            Consider this, D-3.

            A SE hydraulic cam plate upgrade... parts... would run $500-$750ish? Plus labor.

            Several gear drive kits are out there... I personally love everything S&S has to offer. And I have no idea what that kit would cost... if your bike is even a candidate. (A gear drive setup can't be installed if your main shaft has more than .003" TIR runout.)

            Anyway, so there's that major cost. Let's say arbritrarily... $1,000.

            The alternative? Inspect your cam chain tensioners annually, or at some reasonable mileage value. Just like your tires. Just like your brake pads.

            A new factory stock tensioner is $55 to $60. I put 'em in myself. If you're handy with a wrench, can read (or watch a 'tube vid) you can DIY.

            So, since I can't show you my old ones, I picked these off the 'net.

            Here's what your outer shoe looks like. Shows very little wear. What initially looks like pitting, is actually porosity in that orange stuff.

            Click image for larger version  Name:	217212d1321479740-cam-chain-tensioner-tensioner1.jpg Views:	2 Size:	89.9 KB ID:	1221725

            Here's the rear tensioner (it's almost the same part) with the cam plate removed.

            Click image for larger version  Name:	Harley-Cam-Chain-Tensioner-back-side.jpeg Views:	1 Size:	73.7 KB ID:	1221726

            These below are pretty worn...

            Click image for larger version  Name:	Tensioners 52k..JPG Views:	1 Size:	49.5 KB ID:	1221727

            I found this pic too... I post this because I remember they looked about like these at the same mileage:

            Click image for larger version  Name:	48392d1243542698_what_is_the_average_lifespan_mileage_of_a_twin_cam_88_cam_chain_tensioner_32744_1c7bb60d8defa0153560db3a034fcb870533e1db.jpg Views:	1 Size:	72.4 KB ID:	1221728

            ~~

            You can inspect the rear tensioner with a dental mirror (DAMMIT! I had pic's of me doing so!) without removing the cam plate.

            Now: I don't want to lull you into complacency. Yes, these have prematurely wore out on some bikes of the '99-'06 vintage.

            Food for thought. The SE hydraulic cam plate would be nice. But I have chosen, both in my old Superglide, and my "new" 2001 FXDX, to service the stock tensioners with OEM.





            Attached Files
            Last edited by Big D; 07-03-2017, 07:26 PM.
            2001 FXDX Superglide Sport. More horses than a feller would want

            Official HERD Member #00192

            "What, me worry?" Alfred E. Neuman

            Comment


            • #7
              THATS a pretty darn good write up Big D - thank you!
              Bob

              Official HERD Member #00230

              Westchester County, NY
              '17 FLHXS Street Glide Special
              "Some men fish all their lives without knowing it is not really the fish that they are after" - Henry David Thoreau

              Comment


              • #8
                Danny 3!I thought up more stuff to say...



                You'll quickly come to discover that I have this knack for making a short story long...

                ~~

                Now, I'm a cheap so-and-so. When I started riding again in 2006, I promised myself and my wonderful wife of 41 years, that I'd do the service to the bike to keep the costs down. And I've pretty well done so,.

                I took another look at your pristine Low Rider, and it is gorgeous! Now, take a look at Kelley Blue Book for this bike's trade-in value. Balance that number with the idea that you will spend $1,000.00 on this cam plate upgrade... and know that you'll never get that money back.

                ~~

                You are EXACTLY right that for your (our!) vintage of Twin Cam engines, there have been service and quality issues here. But I've heard some unreasonable hysteria about it, too. Someone's brother-in-laws' co-workers had a bad one... cost him $2,600 to fix...

                Just the other day, I saw a page link show up on Facebook with a pic of a bike like ours, "BEWARE THESE USED BIKES HAVE A GRENADE/TICKING TIME BOMB THE MoCo KEPT SECRET..." Yup. Article about cam chain tensioners.

                ~~

                You're a shooter. As am I, altho not in competition. I own a Kimber Custom II .45acp. It's accurate and has been flawless for 8,000 rounds now. When I bought it? You would have thought I'd taken a swing at the Pope!

                "Don't you know they're JUNK! You'll be sorry! Huh? No, I've never owned one, but my wife's uncle knew this guy in the '80's that had one..."


                2001 FXDX Superglide Sport. More horses than a feller would want

                Official HERD Member #00192

                "What, me worry?" Alfred E. Neuman

                Comment


                • #9
                  That part about the Kimber is SO fricken true! When I bought mine I couldn't believe how many guys dissed it like it was a brick or something - turns out to be the finest, most problem free, most accurate pistol I've ever owned!
                  Bob

                  Official HERD Member #00230

                  Westchester County, NY
                  '17 FLHXS Street Glide Special
                  "Some men fish all their lives without knowing it is not really the fish that they are after" - Henry David Thoreau

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Big D View Post
                    Danny3!

                    I have a fresh perspective of the early twin-cam cam chain tensioners. I had a 2000 FXD for a decade and put almost 80K on it. (Like you, I bought it used, with 6k on the clock)

                    I too have heard the horror stories associated. But as I decided to learn how to do all the service on this bike myself (an economic decision) I treated these cam chain tensioners as a inspection and service item on my checklist. I put 6k to 8k annually on my Superglide... always did all the service intervals like clockwork, but in winter, I'd go the extra mile with stuff. Annually, when the oil was drained (and later, when I went with several aftermarket pipes, which meant I had to remove the exhaust) I would pull the cam cover casting off and inspect the tensioners. In the 10 years and 80k I had the bike, I replaced the stock tensioners twice. Think tires.

                    OK. Soapbox out. I would dearly love to show you my several sets of complete service photos I took over the years, but these photos are in Photobucket prison. I could link you to several of my threads here, but they are virtually worthless because the photos are gone.



                    Rant over.

                    ~~


                    Consider this, D-3.

                    A SE hydraulic cam plate upgrade... parts... would run $500-$750ish? Plus labor.

                    Several gear drive kits are out there... I personally love everything S&S has to offer. And I have no idea what that kit would cost... if your bike is even a candidate. (A gear drive setup can't be installed if your main shaft has more than .003" TIR runout.)

                    Anyway, so there's that major cost. Let's say arbritrarily... $1,000.

                    The alternative? Inspect your cam chain tensioners annually, or at some reasonable mileage value. Just like your tires. Just like your brake pads.

                    A new factory stock tensioner is $55 to $60. I put 'em in myself. If you're handy with a wrench, can read (or watch a 'tube vid) you can DIY.

                    So, since I can't show you my old ones, I picked these off the 'net.

                    Here's what your outer shoe looks like. Shows very little wear. What initially looks like pitting, is actually porosity in that orange stuff.

                    Click image for larger version Name:	217212d1321479740-cam-chain-tensioner-tensioner1.jpg Views:	2 Size:	89.9 KB ID:	1221725

                    Here's the rear tensioner (it's almost the same part) with the cam plate removed.

                    Click image for larger version Name:	Harley-Cam-Chain-Tensioner-back-side.jpeg Views:	1 Size:	73.7 KB ID:	1221726

                    These below are pretty worn...

                    Click image for larger version Name:	Tensioners 52k..JPG Views:	1 Size:	49.5 KB ID:	1221727

                    I found this pic too... I post this because I remember they looked about like these at the same mileage:

                    Click image for larger version Name:	48392d1243542698_what_is_the_average_lifespan_mileage_of_a_twin_cam_88_cam_chain_tensioner_32744_1c7bb60d8defa0153560db3a034fcb870533e1db.jpg Views:	1 Size:	72.4 KB ID:	1221728

                    ~~

                    You can inspect the rear tensioner with a dental mirror (DAMMIT! I had pic's of me doing so!) without removing the cam plate.

                    Now: I don't want to lull you into complacency. Yes, these have prematurely wore out on some bikes of the '99-'06 vintage.

                    Food for thought. The SE hydraulic cam plate would be nice. But I have chosen, both in my old Superglide, and my "new" 2001 FXDX, to service the stock tensioners with OEM.




                    So, I had no idea my main shaft would have to be gauged to see if it could run a gear drive. I'm glad I posted because I almost just plunked down the $700 for the S&S kit. The SE kit is significantly cheaper (about $300 less) so I may have a look and see what I'm working with before I commit. I've never opened up an engine and I'm not all that mechanically inclined. Just got the Clymer manual and it doesn't look all that horrible. We'll see where it takes me. Thanks for the tip!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Danny3nose View Post

                      So, I had no idea my main shaft would have to be gauged to see if it could run a gear drive. I'm glad I posted because I almost just plunked down the $700 for the S&S kit. The SE kit is significantly cheaper (about $300 less) so I may have a look and see what I'm working with before I commit. I've never opened up an engine and I'm not all that mechanically inclined. Just got the Clymer manual and it doesn't look all that horrible. We'll see where it takes me. Thanks for the tip!
                      Danny,

                      After railing at length about hearsay from others, I just did so by repeating what I heard about shaft runout!

                      The best bet I feel, is to call the S&S Tech support people.

                      I have talked to folks like this at Progressive shock, and Baker Performance, and they're happy to help.
                      2001 FXDX Superglide Sport. More horses than a feller would want

                      Official HERD Member #00192

                      "What, me worry?" Alfred E. Neuman

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Big D View Post
                        OK. Soapbox out. I would dearly love to show you my several sets of complete service photos I took over the years, but these photos are in Photobucket prison. I could link you to several of my threads here, but they are virtually worthless because the photos are gone.
                        Your pics arent gone, You just can't third-party host them, but you still have full access to your account. Log into your photobucket account, click on the pic, open it, right click on it and you can save them to your pc or tablet. Whatever machine it is you're working from. Sucks, because you have to do it one pic at a time, unless there's another way to do it by multiple pics simultaneously.

                        Official HERD Member #00231

                        "Blue skies hanging over my head, I got five hundred miles to ride" - RVZ

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I had heard and read all the horror stories too when I bought my 2005 FLSTFI Fat Boy. I kept up on my maintenance, did regular inspections, and every 10,000-15,000 miles would have the dealer do a full once over. I traded that bike in with 47,000 miles with absolutely no issues with the cam chains, tensioners, etc. Not saying it doesn't happen, but I personally don't believe that it is the time bomb it is made out to be. As long as you keep up with your fluid changes and regular inspections.
                          A.K.A. Chad
                          Official Ear Tag #163
                          Official Member Paracord Posse
                          2012 FLHTK Ultra Limited
                          "I talk a lot but don't say much, and I know it..."
                          "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog."

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                          • #14
                            FWIW... my dad rides an 04 Softail Standard (heavily customized) and my brother an 05 (not so customized) and neither of them have had a lick of trouble with the stock tensioners. Yes, they should be inspected regularly, but that should happen with any bike that actually gets ridden *g*. I had mine in for service just before our trip (09 TC96 Softail) and it was fine at 40k. All that to say I don't think it's the "ticking time bomb" that some folks make it out to be.
                            Kristy
                            Official HERD Member #00205

                            '09 Softail Deluxe - Mojo
                            Stage 1, dyno, no major mods but it's shiny!

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                            • #15
                              My 05 Ultra was making a slight odd noise (Technicians words not mine) when I took it in for something else. It was still under the extended warranty at the time and had around 30,000 miles, I'd have to look at the receipt. Anyhow they did the SE hydraulic switch-over and it was only the $50 deductible...I was lucky!
                              John
                              Herd member #20
                              2005 Ultra Classic
                              Does my Heaven burn like Hell on you?
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