Study Results thru July 2014

What we know about the Harley 2014 version compensator # 42200064A through July 2014

Our focus has been to be proactive in the study of the #42200064A version and to determine its strengths and possible weaknesses. Then to anticipate possible issues and have a remedy in place prior to a large number of units experiencing failures. To date we have reached that goal with the redesign of our Oil Delivery Tray to provide a generous and constant flow of lubrication to the cam splines, ramps and sprocket spokes as well as a substantially increased splash supply to the OEM oil collection scoop. This added supply gives the OEM “capillary” design its best opportunity to function at its fullest. Also the Oil Delivery Tray has a powerful magnet installed to aid in debris abatement.  Also the addition of a replacement Composite Thrust washer for the axial roller thrust bearing to relieve the mounting concerns over the application of the roller thrust and provide a noise dampener to substantially reduce the orchestra of sounds being produced by the assembly.

After installing dozens of units and personally logging thousands of test miles and studying the results the past 11 months, we have made a number of determinations about this version of the Harley compensator.

First the positives:

  • The service life has been extended. This is due to the introduction of some oil to lubricate the working surfaces
  • The one piece retainer & sprocket sleeve is providing some improvement in machining accuracy and consistency.
  • The wider cam ramps do provide increased working surface of the cam ramps.

Now the not so positives;:

  • The lubrication being introduced into the interior and working surfaces of the comp is limited. It does appear to be adequate for the sprocket bore and thrust areas. Very little is actually making it to the rear of the assembly to lubricate the cam splines, ramps and sprocket spokes. We are continuing to observe advanced wear in these areas due to lack of adequate lubrication. The placement of the OEM oil collection scoop is at the front of the assembly. There is very little splash making it to that area and that is limiting the supply of lubrication to the oil intake. After studying the “capillary action” as designed in this assembly there is too little pressure and flow to drive lubrication to the rear of the assembly in any volume thus continuing to starve of the cam splines, ramps and spokes of vitally necessary lubrication for long term survival. In our opinion and given what we have learned in our 4+ years of study and R&D of this assembly, we feel that most units will get past the factory warranty period before serious issues start coming to light. Just how long a service life, it is too early to say with any certainty. Last the expected service life of the engine and drive train, we do not see that as a reality.
  • There is no provision for debris abatement so it is left to accumulate in the interior of the assembly and also be digested by the working surfaces of the assembly. Long term what that means is not known at this point.
  • The wider cam ramps appear to be an effort to extend the life of the ramp and spokes. These have taken the most destructive abuse in the previous versions. However the sprocket spokes now have a groove cast into them. The purpose appears to be to provide an additional place to capture lubrication for the ramp and spoke working surfaces. This is not what is occurring. I liken it to taking a length of hose and filling it with water, then spin it around and see what happens to the water, gone instantly. Same is occurring here, a conduit to discharge lubrication from the constant centrifugal forces at work. To compound the design flaw you now have 2 high points or humps if you will that now rock back and forth across. The previous versions the spoke was a continuous curved surface allow a constant and smoother movement up and down the ramps and through the ramp valleys. The grooves also have reduced the material available for the working surfaces thus cancelling what was gained from the wider ramps. The wear, even with a generous and constant lubrication supply, is more than with the previous smooth cast versions. However with proper lubrication we feel would last a very very long time without issue. More on this later as it does have other effects.
  • The as-cast working surfaces of the cam ramps and spokes still remain in this #42200064A version. In the pre-2007 primary configuration the compensators also had as-cast cams. However the range of motion was considerably less thus having minimal effect on the operation of the assembly. Now the rotational cushioning is considerable and the movement on the ramps is long. The as-cast produces an uneven application of pressure to the spokes as they run up and down the ramps causing a slight wobble in the sprocket. This effects the smoothness of the operation and produces noises along with uneven pressures being applied to the thrust faces. I liken it to gears being run as cast and you can imagine what that would feel and sound like much less what the expected service life would be. Again more on this later as it does have other effects.
  • The thrust on the #42200064A is a Axial roller thrust bearing. All the previous versions had a high quality composite thrust washer. There were some failures of this washer due to the lack of lubrication causing wear and even worse overheating and disintegration. So now we have a axial roller thrust. There is an ongoing debate as to this being a good application for this type of bearing so we will leave it to you to determine your own position on application. We will see how that all pans out with time. In our opinion and based on all we have learning over the past 4+ years of study and R&D on this assembly we feel it an unwise choice. With the as-cast surfaces causing the sprocket to apply uneven and osculating pressures to the rollers we feel this is not a correct application. Add to that, a roller in a high speed application is designed to roll in one direction and this is a high speed rocking back and forth action so we question the service reliability. Again only our opinion.
  • Another area of concern has been the cam splines. In previous versions they have been running staved of lubrication and the wear has been substantial. As they did wear the noises were added to by the loosening of the assembly. With the #42200064A version there is a slight amount of lubrication making to the splines. However in our opinion it is inadequate for a long service life.
  • You need to consider the fact that this is about 12 pounds of steel much of which is as-cast and it is spinning on the end of the crank at thousands of RPM and is unbalanced. This I feel speaks for itself and does not need expanding on.
  • Noise is now surfacing as an issue with this #42200064A version. We have found of the many units we have installed and studied the #4200064A is ,out-of-the-box new, generally noisier than the previous versions. The previous versions were generally quiet and the noises increased as the surfaces rapidly degraded and the assembly lost its spring preload pressure and the noises continued to increase until the owner would no longer tolerate the concerning and embarrassing sounds. This is not a one thing cause it is more complex than that. I will try to unravel what appears to be going on.
    • The as-cast surfaces are noise causers and was in the previous versions also. Adding a constant and generous flow of lubrication does aid in reducing the noises.
    • The spokes now with the grooves are compounding the noises. We are seeing that as the spokes are moving up and down the ramps and across the ramp valleys they are rocking back and forth from one hump or peak if you will to the other which appears to be adding to the noise making orchestra. I liken it to a solid lifter that is out of adjustment and running loose but multiplied by the number of humps/peaks on the 3 spokes. We are finding that as the spokes do wear slightly, even with a generous lubrication supply, reducing the groove depth and peaks slightly then noises calm some, that is to a discerning ear listening.
    • The thrust is now a metal-to-metal application. I liken that to a wind chime and if you wrap some vinyl tape on the chime tube what happens. Again, ongoing debate over the thrust application but we have determined that a composite thrust washer, designed for this application, is a substantial noise reducer as well as eliminating the concerns with the roller thrust bearing application.
    • So depending on the luck of the draw as to the as-cast surfaces being slightly off or off much more you will see one assembly noisier than another. We have had a couple of units that were relativity quite out-of-the-box but they did begin getting audible noises within a few thousand miles but nothing that would cause one to pull the assembly.
  • The parts after being hardened become too costly to match machine the as-cast working surfaces and balancing would be easiest before hardening also due to the need to remove material from the heavy side of each part, however can be balanced as a complete assembly if desired. The grooves in the spokes we are stuck with as there is nothing to do that would not weaken the sprocket.

Now ask yourselves the same questions we asked ourselves;

  • In a mechanical working assembly be it an engine, gear box, etc or in this case the compensator assembly, does the noise level correlate with the length of the service life?
  • So the louder the noises the shorter the expected service life?
  • Conversely the less the noises the longer the service life?

We will continue to gather information, feedback and documentation on this assembly as we move forward and continue our vigilance to head off issues as we are able. We know the MoCo is reading everything written about them and our work is certainly on their watch list.  It is our desire to work in concert with the MoCo and be a part of enhancing the loyal Harley enthusiasts enjoyment in their riding experience.

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Richard, Ron and  Steve