Top End Head R&R

January 21st, 2013

I have the top end of my bike apart and see that there is carbon in the combustion chamber. How should I clean it out without taking apart the heads?

unless this residue is excessive inside the combustion chamber area i would leave it alone. Cleaning can sometimes do more harm than good as far as marring the rounded surfaces in the combustion chamber or the introduction of chemicals to the valve seals. The carbon will come right back and as long as the gasket surface is clean the assembly will go well.

As strange as it sounds, water is a good cleaner once the engine is together and running. When the engine is hot and running, a spray mist of water/rain in the intake will create steam in the combustion chamber causing the carbon to break away.

Rear brake/sprocket

September 10th, 2011

you  got the brake caliper mounted on the sprocket?!? how is that going to slow you down with grease flying of from the chain?

With the newer O-ring chains you don’t have to douse them with chain lube like the old style which means very little mess. That set up doesn’t work too bad and most importantly it looks cool.

Should you warm you bike up?

July 10th, 2011

People will often not understand why it is important to allow their bike’s engine to warm up before riding. They think that since they don’t allow their car to warm up, the bike should be the same. Wrong

Letting your engine warm up, especially for evolution and newer models is important because of they way they are built. Most Harley top ends are put together like a sandwich, meaning that there are cylinder studs, a cylinder that slide over them, a cylinder head and head bolts to hold them all together. You may be asking, “what does that have to do with warming my bike up?”

In this one clamp loaded sandwich if you will there is a head gasket and a base gasket that need that clamp load to seal. Harley heads and cylinders are made of aluminum which can expand up to .040 thousands when they heat up. That means in order for you to get the proper clamp load on those gaskets the engine needs to be at operating temperature.

When people hop on their bike, fire it up and take off in a burn out fashion the top end hasn’t put all the pressure it needs on those gaskets which can cause them to leak or be blown out over time. A good rule of thumb is to put your hand on the top rocker box and when it feels warm you are good to go.

Wet or dry clutch

July 2nd, 2011

Wet or dry primary. Which one is better?

Both have their up sides and down sides. I’ll list the pros and cons of each.

Wet Primary Pros

  • Quiet
  • Almost bullet proof.
  • Have a compensating sprocket which dampens some of the jerking power transfer between the engine and transmission


  • They are heavy
  • another place to possibly leak

Dry Clutch/primary pros

  • light
  • make a cool noise when the clutch is disengaged
  • open belts look cool


  • primary belts are succeptable to breaking if the drive train isn’t aligned right.

Powdercoating stuff

May 22nd, 2011
I recently purchased your video and have a question.
I understand you need to remove paint from the motor mounts and tranny mounts and from the threads, etc after powder coating the frame.
Someone had told me that you could put bolts and nuts through all the relevant holes and send it to powder coating like that.  Of course the bolts would be throw always at that point but this would make it easier since you would not need to re-tap any threads, and some of the motor and tranny mount spots would already have no paint on them, for example where the nuts were on the bottom.
Is this a good idea or does your experience say otherwise.
Look forward to your advice.
Hey There,
It’s a good idea to toss in some throw away bolts but you will want to be sure you cut the paint around the bolt before you remove them. Otherwise you can crack the powder coating and chip it from the frame. Most powder coaters will put caps in the threads to keep the paint out but some debris always seems to get in there.


Big bore and cams anyone?

January 30th, 2011

After many requests we finally wrapped up a video on big bore and cams (stage 2) DVD for twin cam models. It has a shit load of useful information and will be very usable. We made it as Harley owner friendly as possible, meaning if we didn’t have to bust out special tools to perform a specific task we didn’t as we walk you through the process completely.

Weather you are looking to replace your cam chain tensioners, install some cams, turn your bike into a 95″ or a 103″, this video will lay the ground work. The DVDs should be up on our site in about a month.


Michael Durham

Winterizing your bike

December 26th, 2010

A lot of people are beginning to see snow and are putting their bikes away for the winter. This is the time of year I get to laugh at everyone else because the California desert is in the 70 degree range all winter  long but we end up paying for it heavily in the summer.

Before parking your bike and forgetting about it only to say “what the fuck!” when it doesn’t start next season you should prepare it for hibernation.  First start by getting some fuel stabilizer. You can get this stuff in the lawn mower area at home depot, RV shops or some motorcycle shops. It helps stop your gas from turning to varnish in the tank and carburetor/injection system.

Put in the recommended amount, run the bike to get it through the injectors/carburetor and shut it off. Carbureted bikes will have a screw on the back of the float bowl to drain the gas from the carburetor completely which is a good idea.

Install a battery tender on your bike to give it a steady trickle charge for the winter. It isn’t a bad idea to cover the bike to keep stray mice and other animals from making a nest in the exhaust or who knows what else.

Do those few things and you should be able to fire it right back up next season.

Carburetor trouble

December 9th, 2010

I cleaned out my carburetor just like you had talked about but it won’t idle. I pulled out the low speed jet and I can’t see through it like you said.  How do I fix it?

Hey Dan,  A clogged low speed jet will stop your bike from being able to idle. You can soak the low speed jet in solvent for a little while which will usually break up all the old gas that has stuck itself in there then blow it out with compressed air. You should be able to look right through the hole and see day light. Worst case, jets are cheap and it may be best to just replace it.

Thanks, Michael Durham

Inner primary

October 24th, 2010


I’m in the process of fitting a chrome inner primary to my 96 Softail and been following your video which is absolutely great. The only problem I came across was when undoing the clutch I couldn’t get it to stop turning freely so I could undo the nut. I used the block in the primary chain, did I miss something else?


I’m glad to hear it went well. I do have a tool that looks like a little plastic step ladder that locks up the primary chain to the clutch pack gear. In a pinch and you don’t mind destroying it, you can use the plastic handle of a screw driver. Jam it in between the teeth on the clutch and the primary chain to lock it up.

Cheap engine and tranmission

October 9th, 2010

I am looking for a good and relatively cheap engine and transmission.  Which ones do you like?

S&S makes a solid bolt in engine but then again so does Harley. A stock Harley engine will typically give you the most bang for your buck.
Transmissions are really standardized these days and don’t see a large difference in the ones I have used. I have found that you do get what you pay for sometimes so if you run into a ridiculous deal on some after market transmission, there may be a reason for it.