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Stuck Release Arm


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I have a 1986 FXR custom and I'm new to the HD world. It worked fine for some 200 miles then I went to down shift and found no action to my clutch lever. I could still shift but without the clutch. Once I limped home I found that the release arm on the transmission did not move. I removed the clutch access cover and noticed the locking nut loose and I could turn the clutch. Anyone have an Idea of my next steps to ID what is causing the release arm not to move?

Thanks for any advise.
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Start by checking the cable and it's condition and adjustment.

Next take a look here.

After that you may want to open up the clutch ramp side of the trans to see if the 3 balls and the snap ring are in place . This is what you should see. The 3 balls are behind the ramp and the snap ring should be in the land to hold the ramp in place. Disregard the red arrow.

After that, you should get a manual and go over the clutch side of the transmission to see if everything looks right.

You may try a clutch adjustment to see what you get out of it.

Clutch Adjustment Technique By The Book

Ideally, you want the motorcycle to be on a lift or stand. The procedure can be done on the kickstand but, some primary fluid may leak out.

Back off the cable adjuster until the adjuster is fully collapsed.

Remove the derby cover and set aside.

Loosen the clutch adjuster lock nut two turns.

Turn the clutch adjuster in until it LIGHTLY seats against the clutch release bearing. Seated means that it is touching but not pushing against the release. At this time the clutch lever should have very little play.

Back the adjuster out 1/2 to 1 full turn from seated. Repeat this several times to get all the play out.

Lock the adjuster nut down while holding the adjuster from turning.

Work the clutch lever several times before adjusting the free play at the cable adjuster. Adjust the free play to 1/16" to 1/8" as measured at the pivot.
Work the clutch several times to make sure operation is smooth and no binding in any part of the travel.

Install the derby cover after topping off primary oil if needed.

Perform a test ride and adjust the free play as needed to get the engagement and release points correct.
If you cannot adjust the clutch free play with the cable adjuster, the cable may be stretched or frayed.

A worn or warped clutch pack will often feel as if the adjustment is bad because it tends to make the release and engagement jerky. If after adjusting the free play you still have clutch operation problems it may be time to take a look at the clutch.
Thank Glider for the suggestions. I've checked the clutch cable and the cable moves freely and is fine. I have a manual from HD but it is not the best in diagramming the clutch release arm. With the release arm on the right side of the transmission and the clutch on the left side, I believe there is a push rod activator for the clutch at the base of the release arm. There is a cup/cover holding the release arm onto the transmission, this is where the release arm movement (Vertically) needs to push the rod (horizontally) through the transmission to the left side disengaging the clutch. Maybe that is what your picture IDs. Anyway this is where I'm going next.
Thanks Glider for the suggestions.

The clutch cable was my first thought but the cable wire moves freely within the sleeve. I have a HD Service Manual but it lacks detail of the release arm mechanism so I will have to explore the right side of the transmission. Thanks for the picture. I believe that there is a push rod assembly that is pushed by the release arm on the right side of the transmission starting just below of the release arm. This push rod then disengaes the clutch from drive mechanism on the left. So I'm going to remove the cover assembly connecting the release arm to the transmission.

I'll keep the information flow when I find out more.
You have a good understanding of the clutch mechanism. The pic shown above shows the clutch mechanism that gets rotated with the pull of the clutch handle. As it rotates, there are 3 balls that ride in grooved ramps and as it rotates, it alsi extends out to push the pushrod that you speak of to seperate the clutch discs.
Possible the release bearing went out on you causing the play you speak of in the clutch when you opened the derby cover.
This will give you some idea of the stack up althou I believe yours isn't a diaphram clutch in 86.


8. Retaining Ring
9. Snap Ring
10. Spring Seat
11. Diaphragm Spring
12. Retaining Ring
13. Release Plate
14. Retaining Ring
15. Bearing
16. Adjusting Screw
17. Pressure Plate
18. Friction Plate(s)
19. Steel Plate(s)
20. Spring Plate
21. Mainshaft Nut
22. Washer
23. Clutch Hub
24. Bearing
26. Clutch Shell