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Thread: Warranty fix: frozen lifter

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    Warranty fix: frozen lifter

    Here's a tale for Alex, in particular, to enjoy. I know he likes to have a go at the M8 and I have been a relentlessly positive and happy owner of a new 2019 Road Glide since April last year.

    And I still am. But the warranty just came to the rescue. I post this just in case anyone else has the same issue.

    I don't believe in fairy tales. I pass on the problems too.

    After 13,500 miles in 9 months, my FLTRX 107 in the fabulously unpopular shade of Kinetic Green appeared to have suffered some sort of engine component failure about 12 days ago.

    Got off the bike after the usual 50-mile ride home from work and heard an unusual and unwelcome loud chirping/squealing sound from the motor. Which was not there at the start of the ride.

    Couldn't find anything loose or untoward on the exterior of the bike (which is Stage 2, fully tuned, headers and mufflers, blah blah blah)..

    Same noise again next morning. No difference to the sound when clutch actuated or bike put in gear,

    Videoed it immediately and sent the video to the dealership after calling them. And to a friend who is a very experienced H-D tech and the service manager of a US dealership.

    His response: ''Hard to tell but could be frozen lifter. Rare, but not unknown on the M8...get it looked at''

    My dealership's response: ''We advise you not to start the bike, and not to ride the bike. Bring it in and we will take a look.'

    I have to say, I got treated right. This bike has been serviced at this dealer since new, but I did not buy it there. They couldn't source me the metalflake green I wanted, it was a premium paint offer for 2019 only, and was only an option on the chrome RG base model FLTRX, not officially sold in Australia. I finally found a dealer 300 miles away who sourced me one.

    Anyway, the shop close to home that has serviced the bike since new and was now telling me to bring it in for teardown is owned by a fellow Kiwi, and without me even asking, he gave me the 2020 RG demo for a week while they fixed my bike. It was done in 5 days, no warranty hassles at all, as I/you would expect.

    Today I picked it up and the mechanic told me it was indeed a frozen lifter, stalling instead of rolling on the cam lobe. This was the cause of the "metal against metal'' squeal.

    He showed me the damaged parts removed.

    One badly pitted lifter and camshaft, and one lifter with the hardening starting to come off......oil pump had a few marks so that was swapped out, but for the 18-early 19 version, there are no upgrade late19-2020 oil pumps anywhere in Australia, they are on back order from USA.... but as I am not sumping and my piston oil jets were only ''half a turn'' loose....I shouldn't need to worry.

    Now running new higher-quality SE lifters, plus new replaced oil pump, pushrods, H-D torque camshaft All good. He even lightly honed the bores and gave me new rings (''Because I always like to do that when I take the top end apart'') so I ran it in at various revs on the 50 miles to work.

    Cause: Mechanic not absolutely certain, could have been dodgy lifter set....but he always suspects slightly reduced oil pressure in lifter area owing to slightly loose piston oil jets would not have helped with maintaining the right oil flow to lifters just before that point... especially combined with what he (and my friend in the US) call very-average-quality stock lifters working with upgraded camshaft.

    This mechanic says he always installs SE lifters with any cam upgrade.

    So. Just warning if you get the same issue. Be wary if you have a cam upgrade but the stock lifters.

    I've not had to pay a cent for $1600 worth of parts and a bit of labour. And rightly so. But H-D only instals stock replacement items, and I suspect that I may get a phone call this week saying ''hey Dave, we forgot to charge you for the non-stock lifters''. I will suck it up if that happens, i want piece of mind.

    If I had kept riding it, maybe the tappet roller would have shattered and needle rollers hurled through the entire bottom end. Now THAT'S an issue. I remember my Shovelhead cam bearing exploding 12 years ago....previous owner installed aftermarket camshaft on one of those shitty INA bearings. But I digress.

    You won't change my mind about the M8, because every H-D motor has had issues. But I will enjoy the observations.

    Right, Alex. You FIRST!
    Last edited by kiwidave; 06-02-2020 at 07:40 AM.

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    Re: Warranty fix: frozen lifter

    Good old Phil, he knows his H-D's.
    A great read that Kiwi, and obviously a very good dealership.
    wine [there is the] truth"



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    Re: Warranty fix: frozen lifter

    I'm not the least bit surprised Dave - a little lifter history. When the TC engine was first released back in 1999 the new design lifters were part number 18538-99A and were manufactured in the States by Hylift-Johnson. These were very good lifters. For the 2002 year engines HD changed their supplier to another American manufacturer, Delphi. These were also good lifters and even though they had a smaller volume plunger cavity, they worked well. These were part number 18538-99B and were used until somewhere round about the 2010 year engines when HD went to part number 18538-99C which are made in Mexico. Nobody seems to know when exactly these came in and this is when lifter problems started to appear. Lifters gradually started bleeding down and rattling at lower mileage with many collapsing and completely destroying engines. The photos below show one 'C' lifter that I keep in my shop to show customers what can happen. This one went shortly after 15,000 miles without warning in a CVO Glide and unfortunatley the owner rode it for a while like this. The only things salvageable from this engine were the heads, cylinders and pushrods. I replaced everything else including the cases due to the oil being turned into a steel particle soup. The dealership wanted to sell the guy a new engine for £8500.

    The first photo shows a normal 'C ' lifter and the one that collapsed ..

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    Here's more of the dead one ...
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    As you can see the steel body has broken apart and the roller complete with all of the needle bearings have completely gone. This is a 'C' lifter and this is not an isolated incident. Now the really bad news is that all M8's have the 18538-99C lifters in them. The part number hasn't changed. If the lifters had then I reckon they'd be on a 'D' revision by now but they're not. There seems to be a hiccup in the mechanic's explanation - he says that your engine wasn't sumping but then says that the oil pressure to the lifters was reduced. That doesn't add up. If your piston cooling jets were 'only half a turn loose' (FFS that's like saying someone is only half pregnant ) then they weren't tight and if they weren't tight then they were bypassing oil. The reduced pressure issue may not even have had anything to do with your lifter failure. Those lifters are junk and have been failing in TC engines for years and they didn't have any sumping problems. I'm afraid the SE lifters are no better, just more expensive. Photos below of a set that came out of a customer bike a few years ago and the cams that they ruined at the same time ...

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    Undoubtedly the dealership did look after you very well with the parts that they have available to fit whilst maintaining your warranty. However I don't think HD actually manufacture anything. They assemble parts sourced from the cheapest vendor and the quality of those parts comes second to price. I've never yet bought a lifter from the MoCo, stock or the SE variant and I never will having seen first hand the carnage they can cause. The warranty period is good and bad - in this case it's been good for you but you're stuck with poor performing parts until it expires. Hopefully you'll have no more issues with the bike and then once the safety net is gone you'll be in a much better position for help with parts outside of the limited advice available from HD employees ...
    Last edited by Fast Lane; 07-02-2020 at 01:03 AM.

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    Re: Warranty fix: frozen lifter

    Thanks for that Alex. Much appreciated. That's the best explanation i have seen anywhere about the reduction in H-D lifter quality.

    Next time I am in the shop or any dealer I am going to ask to have a look at the packaging of the SE lifters and see if they are made in Mexico. But I do not doubt your verdict.

    Do you know if the SE lifters for M8 are the same part as the SE lifters for TC which you know are junk? In the same way the standard ones are still the same part as a decade ago?

    The mechanic is experienced and wanted to help me as much as he could, but his verdict on the stock lifters was very telling. He was frankly just guessing in terms of loose oiler jets' impact on lifter lubrication, etc... ..... You have nailed it as a simple case of a low quality part failing, as they have done in your experience for 10 years.

    On my 1985 Evo when swapping lifters every 30-40 thousand miles for preventive maintenance I only used USA-manufactured H-D branded lifters durings the 1990s and 2000s and never had a problem.

    On my 1980 Shovel I used H-D again (USA made) in 2009 and no issue. And would have used Velva-Touch happily. I have always avoided, and urged mates to do likewise, cheap lifters not USA-made. Especially anything from V-Twin or off ebay.

    I've got adjustable pushrods in the M8 as part of stage 2 kit and so when the warranty ends I will easily be able to remove these SE lifters.....but replace with which brand? I would take recommendations. I do note that S&S's premium lifters have ''Made In The USA'' stamped all over them. I would not buy if they were made elsewhere.

    This bike will be doing 20,000+ miles a year over the next decade (as long as I keep my current job) so I won't be gambling.

    Oh, and my failed lifter and scored camshaft looked EXACTLY like your images there.

    Luckily, 12 days or so ago, I knew enough to stop riding the moment the noise appeared...I well remember the ''bolts in a bucket'' sound of a camshaft bearing travelling through my 1980 FXWG's bottom end while riding.... you only need one costly lesson!

    Thanks again. Dave
    Last edited by kiwidave; 07-02-2020 at 07:25 AM.

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    Re: Warranty fix: frozen lifter

    The earliest SE catalogue I have is from 2007 and in that, the SE lifters are part number 18572-07. The latest one I have is 2018 and in that the part number is 18572-13 so that suggests to me that they've changed the lifter. I have no direct experience of running them though, only seen what I've taken out of customer bikes. Every so often a new lifter comes out that is flavour of the month for a while. Morel have been around for years, they supply Bob Wood and his lifters have a good reputation but they're pricey. Comp Cams lifters have also been around forever and their 875's are commonly used in TC engines with relatively few problems being spoken of. Delphi are also a good, reliable lifter. I've been using Hylift- Johnson for about three years now after hearing about them from Larry Yacko, a very sharp man and one of the best when it comes to HD cylinder heads. Hylift-Johnson used to supply S & S, I don't know if they still do. They do a few different spec lifters, you can see them here ... http://www.larrysmotorcyclemachine.com/lifters.html or just Google them. I use their 2313SE in all of my builds. I run them in my own bike set at about 0.140" pre load with heavy valve springs and they're holding up great. They are manufactured to a very tight tolerance so they rattle for a while before they fill up with oil which can be quite alarming if you don't know what's going on. I don't know if they have any sales outlets in Oz though. Larry's a good guy to deal with maybe drop him an email ...
    Last edited by Fast Lane; 09-02-2020 at 12:26 AM.

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    Re: Warranty fix: frozen lifter

    Thanks Alex.

    Yes, Screaming Eagle lifters 18572-13 were fitted to my motor last week.

    The dealership either swallowed the cost of the ''superior'' H-D lifters or convinced H-D Australia to pay for them, or simply forgot to bill me, but when I picked up the bike I had zero to pay ... and I was not hanging around to query the bill! (I was told H-D only installs OEM like-for-like parts on warranty jobs, it will never upgrade)

    Are these the ones which have failed in your experience? I will keep them for another 15 months until warranty runs out, and then swap them.

    I will go with those Hylift Johnson ones in the link .... the 213SE will probably be slightly overkill for a rider with a bolt-in cam who does not go past 4500rpm (and that is very rare), but I will feel secure.

    Would you swap them out every 30,000-40,000 miles just as insurance as we did on the Evos?

    I've learned a lot in my own thread. I want to keep my bike, which will be doing big miles until I can no longer ride, as bulletproof as possible. Cheers
    Last edited by kiwidave; 10-02-2020 at 08:12 AM.

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    Re: Warranty fix: frozen lifter

    Just found this.

    Where are they made?

    Read the words very, very carefully.

    http://

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    Re: Warranty fix: frozen lifter

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwidave View Post
    Read the words very, very carefully.

    http://
    Hmmmm. What are we to interpret from that I wonder? I do recommend a lifter change at the 30,000 - 40,000 mile mark but then thinking about it I'm asking myself why? I've had plenty of bikes in with higher mileage than that on 'B' lifters and apart from some light scoring on the rollers they've been fine. I think the problem is that we can't tell what shape a lifter is in internally by looking at it externally and that interval was always the norm for Evo engines. The consequences of a lifter disintigrating can be disastrous and for what they cost I reckon a new set every 40,000 miles is cheap security. They do have a hard life, especially where heavier valve springs are being used and/or cams with steep ramps. It's also good practice to replace them when replacing the cam profile. The plunger may have to travel to a new position within the bore with a different cam lobe and depending on any varnish or depositis in the bore it may be restricted in doing so - or maybe not. Just me overthinking it ...

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