1997 Heritage Softail Classic with a clashing starter pinion gear

Discussion in 'Softail Models' started by GunnyGee, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. GunnyGee

    GunnyGee New Member

    Greetings to all who read this post. I am experiencing starter pinion gear clash when cranking. Not everytime, but often enough to make me cringe just before I hit the button, especially with a crowd nearby. The starter motor begins to turn before the pinion fully engages into the ring gear. I tap the button a few times to a point that I think it will engage then I stand on the button and most time it will crank and on occasion it will clash.

    I am the second owner of the bike that has about 27,00 miles and that has had a history of starter problems for some time now. The first owner broke the original starter and replaced it with a stock HD starter. Sometime later he blew up the starter one-way clutch. He had it replaced with a 10 element heavy duty sprag. Within two riding seasons I blewup the one-way clutch. The engine is stock except for the following: Andews Cam (EV-27) with adjustable pushrods, S&S Carb, Straight pipes, and Screamin Eagle Ignition Module.

    Late last season (2010) I disassembled the bike and replaced the starter motor with an Ultima 2.0 Kw #70-227 starter, I installed a new ring gear, since I found it with damaged teeth. I inspected the jackshaft, bushings, and pinion gear and found nothing wrong and reused. I replaced the inner primary seal for the starter shaft, since it was leaking a little oil down the inside of the primary housing. My HD batery is about 2.5 years old and appears to be real strong and has about 9.5 volts when cranking the motor just prior to the engine starting and is always left on a tender. I rode the bike for nearly 800 miles and for a couple more months in 2010 before parking it for the season. I had zero troubles starting the bike after that. It was fast and strong cranking. A little noisy compared to other bikes, but I have heard that the compensator contributes to the noisy racket.

    Anyway, one time early this season probably the forth start of the season I cranked the motor over and the engine started but and the starter motor remained engaged. I hit the stop switch and battery switch and the motor continued to crank the engine over. I banged on the start switch and solenoid overide switch found on Ultima Starter motors and nothing would stop the motor from cranking over. I quickly began to pull the seat to disconnect the battery, but the battery went dead before I could get to it. I hooked up a battery charger and rechared the battery. Once charged, I hit the starter button and it cranked correctly and it never did that again. But soon after this episode the pinion clashing started on a very infrequent basis to now where it does it about 50%or more of the time.

    Does anyone have any ideas what could be causing the pinion clashing? What caused the motor to not disengage when I released the start button and killed the battery? I am about to dive back into the bike, but would like to get some ideas from you on what to check before I tear it down and other things I should check when I get it disassembled again. At this point, (I hope) I have not damaged the ring gear.

    Looking forward to reading your ideas and opinions......
  2. bbarbee

    bbarbee Member

    I have the same problem. Not figured it out yet either.
  3. HDDon

    HDDon Experienced Member Contributor Retired Moderators

    You might want to check the start switch if you haven't done that, sometimes corrosion can cause the switch to stick. When you changed your started did you also put in a new starter relay? I'm sure you have already done this but the connections to the battery and starter need to be clean and tight.
  4. glider

    glider Veteran Member

    It sounds like it's time to replace your starter drive with what you describe.
  5. karlsbike

    karlsbike Active Member

    In additon to what is proposed, I'd give it a go with the primary cover off to see what is going on. You may see something or you may not, but it's worth checking. Just take out the plugs, cover off and crank it.

    You need to make sure that the jackshaft ass'y is put together correctly, in particular the splined connection sleeve with its internal snap-ring. If it is mounted the wrong way, it could possibly cause the pinion gear to sit too far out, not retracting from the ring gear sufficiently. In addition, check the spring-loaded sleeve sitting in the inner primary as well.
    Good luck with it, and let us know what you find out.
  6. Blue Wide Glide

    Blue Wide Glide Junior Member

    Does the starter "clash" happen when the engine is cold?