Cam Chain Tensioner Replacement

Discussion in 'Engine, Fuel and Exhaust' started by One For The Road, Jan 1, 2018.

  1. Hi All,
    I want to replace the cam chain tensioners on my 2005 Ultra. I had them replaced by a local shop about 23K miles ago. I'd like to do them this time myself. While I haven't done much engine work on Twin Cam motors I worked on my old Shovelhead for 30+ years or so. I feel confident I have the skills to tackle this job. I do have the Harley service manual.

    I can buy just the shoes themselves or the complete spring assembly. If I buy just the shoes it looks like I need the assembly fixture as well so I am leaning towards buying the complete assembly. I found a complete kit online at They offer the complete kit with all gaskets, O rings and shoe assemblies for about $90. The shoes are made from Teflon. I have not read anything about how well Teflon holds up in this application. Does anyone have experience with Teflon shoes. Their kit also uses the round spring. I think Harley OEM springs are square. Can anyone comment on round vs. square springs.

    I don't want to remove the cams from the support plate. I had the inner cam bearing replaced with a Torrington when the shop did them last time. I need a special tool to remove the secondary (inner) tensioner without removing the cams from the plate. I have seen homemade ones online but I don't have the equipment to make one myself. The company mentioned above also offers what they call a 'Cujo' tool. It appears to remove the tensioner without removing the cams from the plate.Has anyone had experience with this type of tool.

    When the local shop did the work last time they replaced the fixed pushrods with adjustable ones. My old Shovelhead had adjustable pushrods. To adjust them you put the lifter on the base circle of the cam, took out all the up and down shake then did a total of 4 turns then tightened the locknut. Then you waited until you could spin the pushrod between your fingers before rotating the engine. I don't know if it makes a difference what brand of pushrods were used. Does anyone know if there is a standard number of turns for the Twin Cam pushrods. I assume you wait for the lifter to bleed down (spin between fingers) before rotating the engine.

    On to the oil pump. My oil pressure gauge reads about 32 psi going down the road and drops to about 5 psi at idle. This is with it fully warmed up. No lifter clatter and the dash light never comes on. According to the manual this seems about normal. Any opinions on replacing the oil pump or the oil pressure relief spring. I see Baisley offers a replacement spring.

    I'm sure I will have more questions but thanks for any replies to the above or any other comments or help you all offer. This forum has a great deal of experienced people. Thanks again.

    One for the Road (Steve)
  2. dolt

    dolt Senior Member

    A better choice for shoe replacement would be the CYCO tensioner shoes that are made from Polymide-Stanyl plastic; supposedly the best plastic for high pressure applications. Don't know where Teflon falls in the plastics performance hierarchy but the CYCO pads are a product from US Seal, been around for about five years now and have a great reputation. You can buy the tensioner pads, pins and install tool for about $60 plus shipping.

    You should remove the cams to R/R the inner tensioner unless you have the proper tool; not familiar with the "cujo" tool but I doubt that it works very well. Without the right tool, by the time you figure out a shade tree way to remove the inner tensioner, you could have completed the R/R of the cams. Unless you can see a video of the "cujo" tool in action, I would stay away. The R/R of the cams is really not difficult, many times I have found them to fall out with the bearings. However, if the don't they will usually tap out with using a plastic dead blow hammer and a suitable driver; I have found a wooden dowel works well. If the cams are real stubborn, use a good heat gun with high temps on the cam plate and the cams will probably drop out. If you have to drive them out, you should replace the outer cam bearings as part of the drill. Once again, the oven and freezer are the best tools at your disposal. Heat bearings, freeze the cams and the bearings will drop on. Keep the appropriate size piece of PVC pipe handy to tap the bearings on the final bit if they don't drop on all the way. Driving against the inner race will not harm the bearing. Same procedure for the cam install; freeze the cams with bearings installed, heat the plate, make sure the timing dots are aligned and drop the cams into the plate; a piece of cake. Or, take the plate with cams and the new tensioner assembly to a local dealer or indy and pop for $20-$25 for them to install the new inner tensioner. Just mark the timing dots on the backside of the cam sprockets so you can see that the alignment is correct when you get them back.

    Depending on the TPI (you will need to know the TPI) for you pushrods, adjust them the proper number of turns to set preload at about .135". Same procedure as the on outlined in your OP.

    No need to replace the oil pump unless you see some damage/scoring to the gerotors; just be sure to assemble the pump properly. Plenty get the gerotors mixed up or forget the wave washer. Nothing wrong with your oil pressure; the HD oiling system is based on volume, not pressure. However, the addition of the Baisley LMR-002 spring will help idle and low rpm pressure; cheap and doesn't hurt anything. Main thing to watch out for with the oil pump is the scavenge port o-ring and alignment.;)
  3. tourbox

    tourbox Senior Member Contributor

    Dolt has you pretty well covered here. If you do a search there are tips by Glider & TQ on adjustments with different Threads per Inch(TPI).
  4. dolt

    dolt Senior Member

    TPI chart attached; just need to know what pushrods.

    Attached Files:

  5. Thanks for the replies..Once I have the pushrods out I will measure how many turns it takes to lengthen them by 0.135".

    According to their website I can rent the Cujo tool for $10. I may do that and report here how well it worked.

    Can I remove the cam plate with the oil pump attached.

  6. dolt

    dolt Senior Member

    No need to measure; brand of pushrod will tell whether 24TPI or 32TPI. I would be very interested in knowing if the Cujo tool works as I have not seen any "off the shelf" tool that has worked as advertised.

    You can remove the cam plate with the pump attached but why? Good idea to disassemble the pump and inspect. Pump will still have to be aligned when plate assembly is installed whether attached or not.;)
    RibEye likes this.
  7. Hi All,
    I finished the cam chain tensioners yesterday and took the bike out for a ride (near 80 here in southern AZ). Everything seems fine. Here are my thoughts on the job.

    It was fairly straight forward. One of the biggest chores was turning the motor over using the rear wheel (bike in 5th gear, plugs out). I was working by myself (I miss the kick start on the Shovel).

    When I had the pushrods out I counted the number of turns needed to extend them 0.135”. It took about 3 and ¼ turns. There was no manufacturer name on the rods. I kept them in order so they want back in the same spot.

    The tensioner pads were well worn. Not many miles left before they might have caused damage. They were the yellowish orange that made me think the Indy who replaced them last time used Harley parts. Regardless they are gone now.

    I used the Cujo tool to remove both tensioners. The tool worked okay but not quite as expected. It is a two piece tool … the main tool and a pin. The pin uses the same holes as the grenade pin does to hold back the tensioner. Thus you cannot just retract the tensioner. You have to remove the retaining clip then use the tool to retract the tensioner and then remove it from the cam plate.As a side note I purchased the tool from MC Spare Parts. Unless their website is updated it says the tool is not available. I called them (spoke with Joe, real nice to deal with). He told me they are available.

    You slip the tool over the tensioner, insert the tool pin and squeeze the handles together. This retracts the tensioner. Then just remove it from the cam plate.

    You do the opposite to install the new tensioners. Just retract the outer tensioner, slip it over the post on the cam plate and push it on. Then release the tool to let the tensioner onto the chain. The inner tensioner go on a bit differently. Use the tool to install the tensioner and let it rest on the chain. The use a screwdriver to unload it and insert the grenade pin. Pull the pin later. All in all the tool worked okay if you don’t want to press out the cams.

    I installed a new Ultima high volume oil pump. My old one was pumping okay pressure but since I was in the cam chest I thought I would waste some money and do the new one.

    As I said I was out riding yesterday and put on about 100 miles. Everything seems fine. Pumping about 34 psi above 2000 rpm and 10 or so psi at idle. In hindsight I would have replaced the bypass spring with one from Baisley. Perhaps next time.

    All in all if you have a few mechanical skills you can do the tensioners yourself. Thanks to all the people who replied to my OP. There are some really smart people on this forum.

    BowTieChevy and NCBILL like this.
  8. dolt

    dolt Senior Member

    Sounds like it all worked out well. With the oil pressure you have, you don't need the Baisley spring; a waste of money.
  9. Jeff Klarich

    Jeff Klarich Experienced Member Contributor

    Good job, thanks for the update. I too live in AZ and lovin the 80 degree days.
  10. 03Twinkie

    03Twinkie Member

    Sorry about quoting an old thread, but I have a question about this very thing. Is it not advisable to turn the engine from the cam-side crank pinion, maybe by inserting proper size bolt along with some rubber washer to provide cushioning? Assuming of course transmission in neutral and spark plugs removed.