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Discussion Starter #1
With all the talk about the problems with the cam tensioners, specifically, the excessive wear of the shoes, whereas the bits of plastic pass through the oil pump, possibly causing problems with the pump, I wondered if this has yet been addressed by HD.

So, what years? 99-05, 99-04, not yet addressed? Is there an official stance from the MoCo?
 

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Highly Seasoned Rider!
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Bot said:
With all the talk about the problems with the cam tensioners, specifically, the excessive wear of the shoes, whereas the bits of plastic pass through the oil pump, possibly causing problems with the pump, I wondered if this has yet been addressed by HD.

So, what years? 99-05, 99-04, not yet addressed? Is there an official stance from the MoCo?

The years 1999 through 2005 and some 2006 with the original tensioner designs are all functionally the same. While there have been minor changes with regard to the camplate and the bearings, there aren't really any substantive differences in those years.

As to whether HD has addressed this, sure they did. Beginning with the 2006 Dyna, they changed the design to hydraulic tnesioners with different bearings and tensioiner material. Apparently these give less trouble.

The only way to get around the stock early tensioner design is to either change them every 25K or so or change to the 2006 and up or maybe go to gears. It all depends on whether you want to spend a lot of dough on the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
newultraclassic said:
The years 1999 through 2005 and some 2006 with the original tensioner designs are all functionally the same. While there have been minor changes with regard to the camplate and the bearings, there aren't really any substantive differences in those years.

As to whether HD has addressed this, sure they did. Beginning with the 2006 Dyna, they changed the design to hydraulic tnesioners with different bearings and tensioiner material. Apparently these give less trouble.

The only way to get around the stock early tensioner design is to either change them every 25K or so or change to the 2006 and up or maybe go to gears. It all depends on whether you want to spend a lot of dough on the issue.
Thanks! That is exactly what I was looking for.
 

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The tensioner issue has been blown out of proportion and has become a hysteria, fueled in no small way by people who've been making a living installing cam gear drives for the past six or seven years. Yes, some have had premature failures, but I, along with many, many other Harley owners, have not seen this problem. Those with high-lift cams and heavy-duty valve springs are probably the most likely to have tensioner failure.

Some have called it a crap shoot. Well, I guess it is, but in this case we owners have the house odds. I know many people who've checked their tensioners at 36,000 miles or so and they have plenty of wear left in them. As with anything, the people who've had the failures scream the loudest (don't blame them a bit) and it makes it look like all hell's breaking loose when the majority of Twin Cam 88s are humming along and racking up the miles.

Check the tensioners at about 35,000 miles. They are a wear item, according to Harley, but to Harley's discredit, neither the owner's nor the service manual mentions when the tensioners are supposed to be checked. This is the beef I have with Harley on this issue because dealers won't check them on a routine service because it's not on their list.

Whatever you do, don't get paranoid about it and let it spoil your enjoyment of riding.
 

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I have a 2006 Ultra and had a 2003 Ultra that had to have the entire cam chest replaced at 40,000. Just had my 2006 checked and tensioners were fine. What would be the difference between a 2003 and a 2006? I was surprised to learn that my 2006 had no real wear.

D.
 

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Pal of mine just had his changed on his '04 EGC. 75,000 miles and only half gone. Unless mine grenade, (45,000 miles) I think it's a way over-hyped issue also. If they DO go, I'm gonna be a whiner and never stop posting about it.
 

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.....'03 Ultra.......tensioners replace at about 18,000 and 45,000. Running gears now.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Sounds like a QC problem with whomever manufactured the tensioners, to me, some were good, some bad. But yes, I agree, those with problems tend to whine the loudest. My ticking sound has bothered me, the "tensioners problem" has been talked about so much that seems to be the first thing people blame. I'll pull the cover at the end of the season, check it out, at least the outer tensioner, it easy enough. I probably won't go to the gear drives, unless it looks really bad in there.
 

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I have seen the front tensioner have almost no wear when the other was about ready to go, Checking both is very important, the people that I have talked to that did have problems with the fragging said that it was the inside shoe that went.
 

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Krayven Sumhead said:
Pal of mine just had his changed on his '04 EGC. 75,000 miles and only half gone. Unless mine grenade, (45,000 miles) I think it's a way over-hyped issue also. If they DO go, I'm gonna be a whiner and never stop posting about it.
'04 EGC with 75000 miles? I'm impressed. Probably a Southern bike?
 

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Does anyone have a nice picture (see through) of the engine ? I would like to see whats going on in side.........please remember everybody hates a smartarse
 

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My friends 2002 just grenaded. The inner tensioner wiped out his oil pump, one cam, chain and possibly the case where the cam rides in the bearing. Jury's still out on the case.

Bottom line......... ALL tensioners prior to 2006 are subject to failure. Go gears.
 

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Geezer-Glide said:
My friends 2002 just grenaded. The inner tensioner wiped out his oil pump, one cam, chain and possibly the case where the cam rides in the bearing. Jury's still out on the case.

Bottom line......... ALL tensioners prior to 2006 are subject to failure. Go gears.

Very well stated...

Just My -2$en#e- Worth
 

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bigbluff said:
'04 EGC with 75000 miles? I'm impressed. Probably a Southern bike?
He's got 80,000 miles now and he lives near Tecumseh, Michigan. About 20 miles away from me. (Southern Michigan, so I guess you were right!!)
 

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Cam Chain tensioners

The great American philosopher, Harry Callahan, answered this question for all of us in 1971. His words, as best as I can quote:

"You've got to ask yourself a question. 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do you, punk?"

Inspection is a major headache, but how do you know they're ready to go and screw up other, expensive stuff inside the engine? HD finally gave up on them, but provides no guidance regarding inspection or replacement. Me? I had them looked at at 12K and no excessive wear showing. Was I happy to spend money? No. But I know I'm good (probably) for another 12K or so. I thought of it as cheap insurance, and another half-baked engineering job.
 

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Malaka said:
and another half-baked engineering job.
Come on give them a break, they've only been making motorcycles for 100+ years. It takes time to get it right.
I'm surprised Harley hasn't come out with gear sets to capitalize on the cost savings they got with the crappy design.
 

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Well I've pulled apart my last two oil filters on my 06 EGC, the first one was at 16,000 miles and found nothing, no metal specs and no tensioner specs, now again at 22.000 miles and the same, no specs of anything, well I guess thats a good thing, right.:wacko:
 

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As others stated, it appears to be a QC problem at the supplier's level for the chains and/or the pads. The shop I am familiar with has seen tensioner pads that were 50% down at 16000 miles and other that showed very little wear at similar mileages. The one's that were bad showed a very rough surface with a lot of smooth, rounded holes in it which indicates some bubbles were enclosed in the pad materials. This appears to be a common feature on the early failures.
Pad material has changed for the 96" engine, appears to be some kind of Nylon, but not sure.
 
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