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"Stiff clutch leads me to madness...then humbled by solution"

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Brassneck, Mar 30, 2018.

  1. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    Ha, so I thought I would write up the headline of what could be described as my latest folly, well this week's anyways.

    This past week I have been getting my XS ready for spring riding, a little dusting, a little lube here/there, fixed up a sticking float in one of the carbs, cleaning chain, air/tires, blown element in the brake light, etc... and then I remembered that as the fall season ended I had meant to address the very stiff/hard to pull clutch that had plagued me all summer...which of course I completely failed to deal with after I put the bike away for the winter. (go figure). So I went to pull the clutch and it took almost both hands to get that sucker to move! It freed up a bit after a few pulls, but holy hell was it a workout.

    Quick back story: So last year I had started to really notice that the clutch was getting harder and harder to pull. It has always been a bit stiff in general, and over the summer I likely gained enough strength in my left hand to help compensate for it...but in the back of my mind, I felt like it was getting worse and almost to the point where I would dread riding for more than an hour due to the fatigue it would cause in my hand. Not to mention the dreaded finding neutral when warm (Which still bugs me from time to time).

    Anyway, my mind had been made and I was to address it this week. I took the side cover off, lubed what I could within the mechanism, ball bearing, and checked for any binding in the cable (felt free and clean) and in the push rod...thinking maybe I bent it at some point? Nope...all seemed good so I put it all back together--but darn it if it was just as stiff as before! Maybe even worse?? (My mind was playing with me, I thought). Could it be the routing? Is it possible that I have had it bending all wrong? So I took the cable off and re-routed it...put it back together and nope, still as hard as ever!

    Then I went on a binge quest to read up on all the posts within this site to see what solutions and or "mods" may have been done... Clearly this group had the answer! Obviously there was a flaw in the design and there had to be a fix. I read through about 37 pages of posts over the next several days (Some I had even been a contributor to over the years, ha ha). And the solution it seemed to me was either finding a better actuator arm for the clutch (Clutch worm mod thread), going with a hydraulic clutch, getting an ez-pull cable with a different lever, or perhaps a combination of one/all of these.

    Being a cheap bastard, and not really wanting to invest in the trial/error process--I decided to order up an ez-pull cable and just start with that first step. That night, after placing my order and doubting that this was indeed going to fix my issue, I was thinking and re-thinking all the things that I had done and THEN it dawned on me: "I don't think I've oiled the current cable for at least a year, or two...or wait, NO, I've never oiled it since getting it new!!!"

    The next morning (Yesterday) I went out to the shed and began the process of oiling the cable...drip by drip and letting it sit for about an hour. Reassembled and PRESTO, just like that, the clutch/pull and all things in between literally are as soft as butter. Problem solved...way better than I could even imagine, and what's killing me is that it was such a stupid/silly solution that I was aware of and should have done from the start...why/how I failed to do this simple task is beyond me for so long now!

    So, hopefully anyone reading this may find that a little oil will go a long ways, with the clutch cable at least...not that this is any new revelation or anything, but I found it comical and wanted to share. :)

    Good night!
     
    MrBultaco, Mailman, robinc and 4 others like this.
  2. Rasputin

    Rasputin XS650 Addict

    I had a similar problem on my TX750. Oiled the cable, even took the nipple off pulled out the inner and greased it, never got it really nice. I sourced some nylon lined outer and new inner, made a new cable, now it’s much better.
    All the TX750 NOS cables seem to be in USA or Canada.
     
    Brassneck likes this.
  3. xjwmx

    xjwmx It's just the unknown. Top Contributor

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    You had me scared for a second. When this group does something like that, it isn't because it's needed. It's because they're retired and and doing random things to kill time. Usually very skillfully :)
     
    Brassneck and gggGary like this.
  4. xjwmx

    xjwmx It's just the unknown. Top Contributor

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    If you can package what you're killing time with in such a way that others will purchase it and use it to kill time, you can make a small fortune and a lot of complicated headaches. Might go to hell for that but not sure.
     
    Brassneck likes this.
  5. Downeaster

    Downeaster Everything in XS Top Contributor

    BTDT.

    The stock clutch pull on the early FJ09s is...um...less than optimal. The cure is a longer clutch cable from an R1, different routing and a longer actuator arm on the clutch end from a Bolt. Spent the coin, did the mod and the results were...effin' AWFUL. MUCH worse. Jeebus, what the hell were they thinking?

    After spending most of a morning re-doing the routing in various ways, rotating the actuator arm on the splines a toof or two either way, adjusting the slack from both ends in various combinations, sacrificing virgin goats to the Clutch Gods (do you have any idea how hard it is to find a virgin goat this far out in the puckerbrush?) muttering incantations in three different languages and having limited success resisting the urge to place 13mm wrenches into Low Earth Orbit, a thought occurred to me:

    I haven't oiled the cable. Surely, a brand new cable wouldn't need oiling would it? Nah, of course not. But, knowing full well I was wasting my time, I grabbed the cable oiler and a can of VCO (virgin c*** oil), I gave it a couple of squirts and waited a bit.

    Huh. Imagine that...
     
    MrBultaco, Jim, peanut and 5 others like this.
  6. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Low earth orbit.....:lmao:
     
    Jim and Brassneck like this.
  7. Downeaster

    Downeaster Everything in XS Top Contributor

    A little known but useful fact: When, due to advanced chronological challenge, your arm no longer has sufficient boost to loft a tool into LEO, a little spirited verbal lubrication at a volume sufficient to scare kids on the playground a mile away and cause innocent mourning doves to fall out of the sky in mid-flight will do very nicely as a propellant enhancer...
     
    MrBultaco, Jim, TwoManyXS1Bs and 5 others like this.
  8. gggGary

    gggGary Stop that! XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Cable oil? I'm a real man I don' need no stink'n cable oil, LOL Just keep'n with XJWMX' theme; I've been messing with Tungsten disulfide and have a squirt can with a mix of 20-50 racing oil and Tungsten disulfide powder. I lubed the clutch cable on madness with it. Madness a good breathing 750 now with an 8 plate clutch with 3 HD and 3 normal springs. It had been slipping the 7 plate clutch after 5K RPM. Only rode it a limited amount so far cause a hard old rear tire was going up in smoke, but clutch action seems quite reasonable. It's had the 3,3 spring set up before and if the 8 plate isn't enough I will go to six HD springs. I figure even a girl could work it.

    [​IMG]
    Note; the oiler can is going to need at least a ball bearing to help keep it stirred up. Tungston is heavy stuff and wants to settle out.
     
  9. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

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    They say experience is the best teacher but I think pain and suffering is right up there with it, lol. Hopefully you've learned a thing or two here. I oil my clutch cable every year, usually in the spring. I also oil a brand new cable before using it. Most come practically dry.
     
    Jim likes this.
  10. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    So true! A little pain is good motivator for many things. Generally, I oil all my cables out of the box, which is why I was so surprised I didn't oil this one way back when I got it...live/learn. What's exciting is that I have a whole new perspective on the clutch pull now--It's even better than my little honda's (which are super light).

    Now to figure out the "Finding Neutral" issue which I've played around with a few times but never really solved it 100%. As I recall, I've addressed the neutral spring...but maybe I'll have another go at it. More follies to come...I think. :)
     
    Jim and TwoManyXS1Bs like this.
  11. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Good afternoon Brassneck! It’s good to know that my favourite cafe XS650 is back in commission and doing well. I really am going to pursue this cable oiling thingy as iit sure seems to help. My ‘76 Standard (the redoubtable Lucille :yikes:) was getting heavier and heavier to pull last fall.

    On the “finding neutral” issue - I don’t have a great of difficulty with that, but I am pretty sure that Daniel Black followed some guidance the forum and really got his ‘77, Stella, nicely sorted out. I don’t recall the details, but I think it had to do with the shifter starwheel and some springs and spacing of detents I think

    Best of luck,

    Pete

    PS - and DE - yes, I came of age in the West African petroleum patch and thus am a frequent user of verbal thruster boosting in the DCW and you’re right - it does help!
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018
    Jim likes this.
  12. DanielBlack

    DanielBlack XS650 Junkie

    Stella's neutral was never as hard to find as others'. The major symptom I was dealing with was slipping out of 2nd every once in a while. Adjusting the starwheel was the fix for that.

    While was in there I smoothed the steel plate edges, but not much more than that. Neutral may be a bit easier to find now, but not really noticable against its already satisfactory action.

    Check out 2M's series of threads on the subject. Compared to any one page of any one of those threads, I've got no additional info of value.
     
    Jim likes this.
  13. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty & Demi - I suggest but THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Ahhhh....sorry about the misleading suggestion. I knew that DB had worked on something to do with the transmission but I had thought it was the usual neutral issue.

    Pete
     
    Jim likes this.
  14. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    Thanks Guys! I think it has everything to do with my clutch adjustment as I can find neutral in all situations (Bike off, cold, rolling...And even sometimes really easy when sitting at a light) but more often than not, I skip past it. All other gears aren't an issue. I also think that I may need to support the shift arm a bit since I have a lot of lateral force (using rearsets)..and that doesn't help with smooth shifting. It's not horrible, but I think it could be a contributor to the situation.

    I've heard that needle bearings might help...but not sure what size nor how they would fit?
     
    Jim likes this.
  15. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    Interesting reads...did a solution ever materialize? Since it's not a hard rotating part nor really load-bearing really...I'm wondering if a heavily greased nylon bushing may help/work? Or perhaps even a channel cut into a nylon bushing and a set of small ball bearings (much like the OG head races) could work? Just thinking out loud here.
     
    Jim likes this.
  16. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

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  17. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    No, nothing materialized that I know of. But, you've got the idea. The boss doesn't have a lot of diameter to work with, which is why I was contemplating making my own outer race and needles, making the bearing OD 16mm or 17mm.

    I figured that hard shifting could require up to about 20 lbs on the stock 5.6" shift lever. If you have a short cafe'-type shift lever of about 1.5", that shift force could go up (4x) to 80 lbs. And, that would be the side load on the shiftshaft.

    http://www.xs650.com/threads/finding-neutral-while-stopped-and-in-gear.47568/#post-478052

    This was goin' thru my head back in '74 when I cafe'd my other XS1B...
     
    Jim and MaxPete like this.
  18. 5twins

    5twins XS650 Guru Top Contributor

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    I keep that hole in the cover and the part of the shaft that passes through it greased. Don't know how much it helps but I figure it can't hurt. Try it and see if it makes a difference.

    [​IMG]
     
    TwoManyXS1Bs and gggGary like this.
  19. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    Good idea...I like simple. If only I can remember to do so (ahem...oiling the damn cables!) :)
     
    MaxPete likes this.

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