No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

1951panheadnewagain
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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#16

Post by 1951panheadnewagain » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:50 am

I have a question about the steering damper function. I too have the big hex nut from Colony topping the stem shaft on my 1951 FL. From my experience this is typical of how all stem shafts are adjusted for preload. What then is the purpose of the adjustable steering damper? I can't wrap my head around how this even works. Does the big hex nut come off and is replaced with the string of parts typically sold as part of the kits on Ebay and such? I have attached a pic of the Ebay parts kit and a pic of the current setup I have on my FL. What purpose does this serve?
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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#17

Post by RUBONE » Thu Mar 31, 2016 5:44 am

That isn't the correct top nut for your bike. It should have a sort of castellated nut that the damper fits on. The damper does not tension the bearings, it merely creates drag through friction washers to slow the movement of the fork down, a totally different function than the bearing preload adjustment. Dampers were standard equipment through '58, then an option after that.

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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#18

Post by Bigincher » Thu Mar 31, 2016 6:06 am

If your steering head is stock, there should be a 3/8" pin protruding up about an inch, just behind the bearing cup. In your photo, one of the three plates has an extra portion with a 3/8" hole in it off to the side. The steel plates stack up, engaging the stem top nut (yes, yours is wrong and would be replaced with correct nut, not shown in photo), with fiber plates between them (one missing in the photo) and the center steel plate 'captures' the protruding pin. The 'spider' pring goes on top of the plates, under the knob. As you crank down the knob it applies pressure to the stack of steel/fiber plates, creating drag.

If the 3/8" pin is missing, there should be a 1/4" hole in the steering head casting. The pin is stepped; 1/4" portion pressed into the casting, and the 3/8" portion shoulders down on the casting with about an inch (approx) protruding.
I hope that helps explain it further.

1951panheadnewagain
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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#19

Post by 1951panheadnewagain » Fri Apr 01, 2016 2:24 am

I posted another picture this time showing what I believe is the nut you guys are referring to. I thought I understood the friction the steering damper created but I checked and the stem tube moves in unison with the triple tree so I am still not understanding how the knob creates friction to slow the response time of the fork rotation. I am obviously not getting something. I do appreciate your help in trying to help me understand.
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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#20

Post by Bigincher » Fri Apr 01, 2016 4:31 am

Yes, that's the correct nut, and that's a complete assembly.
I did my best to explain it. The key to it working is the pin in the frame, and the steel plate that grabs it. Also notice how the teeth on the inside of the other steel plates fit on the teeth of the top nut. Now think of the stack of plates- steel, friction, steel, friction, steel- as a clutch. As the knob is cranked down, the spring applies pressure, squeezing the plates together, and they 'slip' less and less. Remember that middle plate grabs the pin in the frame. If the knob is cranked down all the way, everything locks up tight, and the front forks won't turn at all.

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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#21

Post by 1951panheadnewagain » Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:28 am

What I have to do is find the infamous pin in the frame. This seems to be the missing part of the equation. I have three holes just forward of the top triple tree stem nut location but that's all I remember seeing. I gave the frame a hard look and don't see what you are referring to. Is the pin/hole in the frame visible with the triple trees in place or do the trees have to come off? What I have is the big nut which you saw, a small tabbed washer that I currently have the tab dropped into one those three holes I referred to in the top tree, the top tree, the bearing cup is under that and then frame steering head. I know the frame has been messed with so I don't know if that is why I am not seeing the pin/hole. Would you be able to get a picture of exactly where I should be looking that would be a huge help. If the trees have to come off then that is why I am not seeing what you are talking about. Thanks again for all your help.

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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#22

Post by RUBONE » Sat Apr 02, 2016 1:57 am

The frame pin sticks up just in front of the dash panel, behind the top tree. The three holes in the top tree are to allow the lower plate of the damper to lock the top nut and bearing adjusting nut together (one above, one below the tree) There are three holes for options, the pin on the lower plate goes through one only, whichever allows it to lock the crenelations on the lower nut and maintaining the bearing adjustment and keeps the top nut from loosening.
The plate with the keyhole on it goes over the frame pin(the one in front of the dash, with a friction washer below it, and another above it. Then the other round plate (the one without a pin), then the spider, spring, cover and handle.
By tensioning the handle it applies pressure to the washer which in turn presses on the friction discs capturing the keyhole washer between them. Because the keyhole washer is attached the the frame it has drag on it slowing the action of the fork. Nothing affect the stem or bearing tension.
The spider applies the pressure on the washers and is controlled by the ring formed on the handle stem. The light spring holds tension on the handle so it does not unscrew by itself. The cover is a cover.
See now? Clear as mud... :mrgreen:

1951panheadnewagain
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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#23

Post by 1951panheadnewagain » Sat Apr 02, 2016 2:04 am

Yes, I finally understand. The problem is my frame is missing the pin/hole for the pin. I am attaching two pics, one is my frame and the other is from this original thread where I believe it shows the pin. Would it be possible for me to add the post hole to the frame or am I wasting my time? Now that I see where the pin is supposed to be both of your descriptions make perfect sense. Thanks again for all your help.
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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#24

Post by RUBONE » Sat Apr 02, 2016 2:07 am

As you can see in your pic of your own bike the top tank/dash mount has been replaced. regretfully with a generic type with no pin hole. Adding one will be a bit of work. Or put a cover and handle on your stem and just pretend it is there! :mrgreen:

1951panheadnewagain
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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#25

Post by 1951panheadnewagain » Sat Apr 02, 2016 2:38 am

Thanks for the help,

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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#26

Post by RUBONE » Sat Apr 02, 2016 3:47 am

You are very welcome.

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Re: No steering damper ,but big ugly hole !

#27

Post by Bigincher » Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:35 am

During the chopper craze of the '60s, an awful lot of frames had that dash mount portion hacked off. Before '48, that portion of the dash mount did not have an accommodation for the damper pin. There are replacement pieces available to restore the dash mount, both pre-'48 without the pin, and '48-later with the pin. The castings are different. Looks like your frame has one of the earlier style replacement pieces.
To restore your frame with the correct replacement piece wouldn't be a big job, in and of itself. But stripping the frame, repainting, and reassembling after the repair would be a lot of work.
Next time you find yourself with the bike torn down to the frame, that would be a good time to think about doing the

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