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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #1
Lately Warren's Harley (Heritage Softail) makes this horrible clanking sound while cranking.

It sounds like it's going to tear itself apart.

I've heard other high mileage HD's make the same exact sound.

Anyone know the cause and cure?
 

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It is likely the compensator. It is a common noise one some generations, and HD even considers it "normal". But if the noise has gotten louder lately, it may broke or worn out, and time for a repair. My 2007 Ultra clanks from the day I picked it up with only 8800 miles on it. Here is a video where the guy explains what it is and what it does.

Beware that the guy does use some minor adult language during the video.

 

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Not even 35 seconds in and the guy tells the world he doesn't know what a compensator is for.:coffeescreen:
Well.........I am guessing that about takes care of that!! That would be like
Kinda like not knowing "Kickstand Bearings" or whatever you called it Eye ....to some folks!! THEN AGAIN......Actually Not .....a COMPENSATOR" is a REAL PART with a serious purpose......maybe like preventing loud clacking and Clanking noises??:confused:
Ed
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It wasn't an ideal video, but it was the best one I could find in a quick search that shows the part and explaining to Wade what he was hearing. I would think it helped.

TenneseeZ, the compensator does not prevent the clanking noise. It is in fact the source of it, a biproduct of it doing its job, that gets worse as it wears or fails. If you remove the compensator completely, you will completely eliminate the noise. Of course, at the risk of damaging far more expensive parts and creating more vibrations.
 

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It wasn't an ideal video, but it was the best one I could find in a quick search that shows the part and explaining to Wade what he was hearing. I would think it helped.

TenneseeZ, the compensator does not prevent the clanking noise. It is in fact the source of it, a biproduct of it doing its job, that gets worse as it wears or fails. If you remove the compensator completely, you will completely eliminate the noise. Of course, at the risk of damaging far more expensive parts and creating more vibrations.

Gotcha Lurch;)
I know, I was being "Silly" ....and not very clear about the Compensators real purpose. this this from JP Cycles....................There is a verified problem with Harley-Davidson Big Twin compensating sprockets. The compensating sprocket buffers torque from the engine and the limitations with this part may be most obvious in newer, big bore engines. A part that was adequate in an 82-cubic-inch engine may not be adequate in a 103-cubic-inch engine. Harley has not issued a recall. The company is, however, selling a reinforced compensator replacement kit, part number 40274-08. The symptoms of a bad compensator are a loud clang at start up, trouble shifting into first or neutral and a sound like gravel in the front of the primary around 2200 RPM. But, the only way to know for sure that you have this problem is to pull the primary cover off and look.
As I recall, technically it "Buffers" and or helps with "Harmonics" or Vibration...as you stated
and I think you are saying it absorbs them and keeps the motor from going "Bang":biggrin:
Regards:71baldboy:
Ed.
 

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American Legion Rider
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I wasn't sitting on top of it but I sure didn't hear a loud pop as it fired. Guess that's the Baker versus the OEM correct?
 

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Gotcha Lurch;)
I know, I was being "Silly" ....and not very clear about the Compensators real purpose. this this from JP Cycles....................There is a verified problem with Harley-Davidson Big Twin compensating sprockets. The compensating sprocket buffers torque from the engine and the limitations with this part may be most obvious in newer, big bore engines. A part that was adequate in an 82-cubic-inch engine may not be adequate in a 103-cubic-inch engine. Harley has not issued a recall. The company is, however, selling a reinforced compensator replacement kit, part number 40274-08. The symptoms of a bad compensator are a loud clang at start up, trouble shifting into first or neutral and a sound like gravel in the front of the primary around 2200 RPM. But, the only way to know for sure that you have this problem is to pull the primary cover off and look.
As I recall, technically it "Buffers" and or helps with "Harmonics" or Vibration...as you stated
and I think you are saying it absorbs them and keeps the motor from going "Bang":biggrin:
Regards:71baldboy:
Ed.
That's basically it. It buffers and smooths out some of the jerks and vibrations between the engine and the transmission and helps extend the life of the primary chain, chain tensioner, and clutch ring gear and so forth. It has nothing to do with the starter. (Older bikes without starters still have compensators.)

When they came out with the 96 inch engine they found that some of the compensators weren't strong enough for the stronger engine and had some weld failures after a time. They switched the design about 5 or 6 years ago and haven't been having any regular issues that I know of. The ones that might have that failure would be, say, 2007 models to 2009. (I think.)
 

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If his noise is from a worn out compensator sprocket and he doesn't want to go with the updated SE Harley part, have him look for a replacement made by BDL. I don't have one on my bikes, but BDL does makes some top-notch stuff, and it's likely to be a little less expensive then the factory part.
 
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