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Problem with James Gasket set

1805 Views 8 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  twincamzz
Thought I would let everyone know about a problem I ran into while doing a 883-1200 conversion on my 2001 Sporty. In a nutshell, the problem was that the front intake lifter would not stay pumped up.The motor would sound great, then all of a sudden it would start to tick, coming from the front intake lifter area. I replaced the lifters with a new set of Screamin' Eagle ones and took everything apart several times trying to determine what the problem was. Everytime all the mechanical stuff looked correct, but the problem persisted. Here is what I found out from talking with the Tech Rep at Dennis Kirk.

I originally purchased a set of Genuine James Gaskets from Dennis Kirk to do the rebuild with. Part # H26-347- Sportster 91-02, that supposedly replaced OEM # 17026-91. The cam cover gasket that was included in this kit is INCORRECT if you have a 2000 or later model Sportster. Seems Harley made a slight change in 2000 and the previous gasket will not work correctly. Looking at the gasket I was using I could see no problems, so the change must be very slight.

James Gasket is apparently aware of the problem, because Drag Specialties now has a part #172-099 for a James Gasket cam cover gasket for 2000 & up Sportys.(Dennis Kirk does not yet carry this gasket)

I have contacted James Gasket via e mail to inform them of the problem. I am not foolish enough to expect them to refund my $$$. I figured the only recourse was to tell everyone I know about this problem. Hopefully word will get out and they will have to react to the situation. I have used James Gaskets in the past and have always heard good things about them. The reputation suggested that their product was superior to the factory product, but now I have my doubts. Buyer Beware I guess.
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I wouldn't say that. Even when you use original Harley parts you can run into problems. Now and then I find the wrong parts in a box, sometimes it might be on the dealer but others I'm convinced the package was not opened.
Some of these parts have such minute differences that it is real hard to tell unless you work with them all the time and pay attention. In the few ocasions I pick up parts from the dealer personally I always open the boxes and look at every gasket. On the TC's in particular a single O ring can cost you a engine job or even a set of cases.
Also some of the good smaller companies might surprise you, if they make the intellectual leap and realize that they screwed up as opposed to someone looking for a free ride they often will make things right in one way or another.
Big difference dealing with an individual in charge and dealing with a bunch of overpaid corporate nimrods without authority.
Yea Hippo, I know James Gaskets are a good product, I'm just pissed off right now. Mainly because I had purchased 2 complete engine sets . One was to use for assembly to check the valve clearance, the other was for final assembly. Both boxes of gaskets were sealed and looked to be in excellent condition.Both cam cover gaskets were the same. I originally used the first one when I changed out the cams. I used the second one when I had everything apart the second time trying to figure this out...check the oil galley,pinion gear,oil pump gear,key, etc...
Now to discover that it would appear that this is not an isolated incident. The mere fact that now James Gaskets has a new part for '00-02 Sportys tells me they are aware of the change. The kit they sold me was supposed to be for 91-02 Sportys.:confused: My bike is a 2001. When the factory made the change in 2000 I think James Gaskets should have corrected the advertised years they say the kit will work on. Dennis Kirk should have set up some kinda red flag when that part number came up when I placed the order over the phone. They ask you what year bike the parts are for when you order.It was their Tech guy that said their records showed that they were aware of the change and that I was not the first to report a problem.
I will admit that I may have spoken before I know if this is actually the problem.Kinda late now to say that I guess,huh? But I haven't actually gotten to take it out and ride it to see.Damn Rain !!
This is all that is left to check Hippo.You are aware of all the details of this build, all the questions that I asked you. Like I keep telling you, the motor will sound excellent one minute, then the "tick from hell" will start. This has got to be the problem...I've checked everything else...twice !! Who knows, either Dennis Kirk or James Gaskets might come through to help make it right. You can be assured that I sent them both a letter expressing my situation.
I would still use both the James gaskets and Dennis Kirk. I just want somebody from either place to answer why they haven't done something about this. Maybe they just recently figured out there was a problem.That would explain the new part number. To borrow a quote from you ..."have to wait & see ..." LOL. Oh, and you were dead on once again when you referred to guys like me who don't deal with this stuff for a livin', after all, I'm the guy that put not one, but two of these gaskets on, and I could not see that there was a problem. It's hell to get old...at least my eyesight is the first thing to go instead of some other parts further south.He-he

I'll keep ya informed about how it turns out.
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I have heard of a similar thing on the sportster list (I think), not sure of who made the gaskets in this situation but the same thing occured, there was a slight change in the gasket which was blocking oil flow
YEEEEE- HAWWW !!!!!!!!

Well, I got to put about 150 miles on the scooter today. Guess what ? NO TICK !!!!!!!!!!!! She's runnin' better than ever folks ! WHEW! That cam cover gasket did the trick I reckon. I could kick myself right in the butt for not seeing the subtle difference the first time. I do feel lucky in a way.(I know that sounds strange, with all the crap I've been through trying to figure this out) When I took the motor apart this last time, it was great to see that there had been no damage done to anything. Guess I can uncross my fingers now, eh? I'm gonna go get in front of the fireplace now.I'm still trying to thaw out from the ride. But it was worth it. I know anyone reading this can appreciate that fact.


P.S. I still have not recieved a response from either James Gaskets or Dennis Kirk. It will be interesting to hear what they have to say. I'll let you know.
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How much valve clearence did you end up with anyway???
Kags, I ended up with .090 of valve to piston clearance. I took her out for another 100 miles or so today... all is well. Finally !! The tick is gone. Yea man. I have almost 500 miles on it now and could not be happier. I gotta admit I was worried for awhile there til I figured out the gasket problem. Whew, glad that's over.
HIPPO said:
Also some of the good smaller companies might surprise you, if they make the intellectual leap and realize that they screwed up as opposed to someone looking for a free ride they often will make things right in one way or another.
Big difference dealing with an individual in charge and dealing with a bunch of overpaid corporate nimrods without authority.
I am happy to report that at least the vender of the gasket sets in question " did the right thing". I received a call from Dennis Kirk last night .Their representative told me that I would receive a full refund on both sets of gaskets. She then apologized for any inconvenience this may have caused . While this does not even begin to make up for all of the aggravation and labor involved in troubleshooting this problem, or for all of the miles that I pushed this scooter in order to avoid doing any damage, I feel it is as good a deal as I could reasonably expect. It is refreshing in this day and age of "zero accountability" to see a company admit their mistake and make it right.

I also received an e-mail from James Gaskets informing me that because they had no way to verify the date of manufacture of the gasket sets in question (both sets of gaskets were clearly marked 5/31/2001 :confused: ) that they could not honor my request for a refund. Just like big business. This too I felt the need to tell the "world".

I now have almost 700 miles on the new motor and could not be more pleased. (Too bad "Indian Summer" lasted only 24 hours in my neck of the woods.) It runs great !! Thanks again to Hippo and Short Block Charlie for all of their excellent work on this project.
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