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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 01-17-2005, 12:57 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Calhounville, or
Bike Year, Make, Engine: 1965 Electraglide,2000 Nightrain
Posts: 1,724
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Engine Main Bearing Fitting

Here is some info that may be of help to those that want to build the HD and custom engines.
It does require machine tools and other equipment to do this work.
If interested in machine shop work, here is a web site full of experienced folks that will be glad to help selecting and operating all types of machine tools.

There are special tools required to size the right hand main bearing on 1955 to 1999 and custom engines. And both main bearings on 1954 and earlier. Here they are-

The crankcase main bearing lapping tool is the long one with Timken bearings mounted on the guide shank, there is one installed in the engine cases with the hand crank attached.
Up front at the right, is the rod main bearing lapping tool that is run in a lathe.
These tools are expensive but nessesary. They are availible from Harley Davidson(Kent Moore), Jims and Eastern M/C parts.
These tools are simple, they have an expanding sleeve that is adjusted by the collars on the tool.
A grinding compound is aplied to the sleeve( can of Clover grade C) The bushings next to the Cat are for the 1954 and earlier engines.
The tool is guided by the opposite main bearing, whether it is an old straight bearing engine or a 1955 and later Timken left side main bearing engine.
It would be a mistake trying to size the crankcase bearings any other way as there would be no garranty that the bearings will be aligned.
I highly recomend the use of a dial bore gage(shown) to easily check progress.

Connecting Rod bearings, can be sized by the rod lapping tool alone, but a Sunnen Honing Machine will really speed things up.
Here is a Sunnen Hone, with a rod on the mandrel( Note do not use the automotive type mandrels, use the industrial P style, they are best suited for roller bearing races.

The rods can be totaly done on the Honing machine, but a better final finish is had using the lapping tool to take out the final .0002". Here is the Rod lapping tool in a lathe ( I will caution to do this in a low powered machine, as its possible to seize the tool in the rod. This could be a dangerous situation on a powerful lathe)

This tip is of extreme importance, Absolutly inspect each and ever roller bearing under visual magnification and gaging. The first photo will show a gage specifically for this, but a good job can be done using a common comparator gage, on the right in second photo with a AGD .0001" dial indicator mounted.
Sort the bearings and group them for use with no more than .00005" variation. Do this and the dreaded mystery rod bearing failure will be no more.

This post is getting pretty long,I have other photos loaded here showing some advanced machine set ups for engine work.

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 01-18-2005, 03:18 AM
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Bike Year, Make, Engine: 1965 Electraglide,2000 Nightrain
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Here is some engine and rod bearing history.
HD engines used a four piece rod bearing cage up to 1972, the cages were made of cast iron and held 18 rollers per row. One cage for each side of the female rod, two cages to hold the longer rollers on the male rod.
In about 1973 both the bearings and the cages were changed to 3 piece aluminum cages with only 17 rollers per row. Also the bearings themselves were changed. These later bearings have a slight barrel shape to them. The bearings taper from the middle to the ends about .00015" or one hundred fifty millionths of an inch. This dont seem like much, but is significant on bearings.
The reason for this change in 1973 is the Kearney and Trecker cam operated milling machines that machined the crankcases were wearing out . AMF did not want to spend the money to rebuild/replace this equipment.
So the aluminum caged, 17 roller per row, barrel shaped rollers were designed by INA to allow the rods to rock side ways without pinching the ends of the bearings and rod races, causing rapid failure. Thus compensating for crankcases with out of square surfaces such as the cylinder surfaces.
I recently built a 1969 shovel engine. On inspecting these cases they were within an incredible .001" cylinder mount surfaces to the true line of crankshaft. It all went down hill from there to an all time low in about 1979.
Also in 1973 the connecting rods were changed from the rods marked XA used on panheads to the 72 shovel, to rods marked A or B. These later rods are 1/32" shorter. At this time the wrist pin location on the pistons was moved toward the skirt 1/32" Only HD service people were notified of this change.
So, when the bearings were changed to less per row, with a barrel shape, there is less bearing support and less bearing contact. They simply just dont last as long. ( the revtech 100 engines use these bearings).
So would it be an improvement on any engine to use the 18per row bearings and steel cages, now only availible from Jims?
The answer to that is, it depends. If this type of bearing is used, its very important that the crankcases are on the square. That the cylinder bores are true to the crankshaft.
Here is food for thought, all current S&S engines use a three piece cage bearing with only 16 barrel shaped rollers per row. They used to use the tougher 4 piece steel cage and 18 per row full contact bearing. HMMMM think about that.

If I did it once, I will do it again.
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