1951 panhead clutch

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51 moneyhog

1951 panhead clutch


Post by 51 moneyhog » Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:25 pm

Post by 51 moneyhog on Oct 23, 2005, 5:00am

I have a 51 panhead with primary belt drive and Kevlar clutches. When I first take off in first gear the bike makes a noise and it jerks. It does this until the clutch grabs. It seems to get better when the bike warms-up. I never had this problem when I had the original Harley clutches in it. Problem started when I put in Barnet Kevlar clutches. Do you know what kind of clutches might be better so I don't have this problem and something that has an easier pull on the hand clutch. The one I have now is very stiff and is a bear in traffic.

Post by foot on Oct 24, 2005, 5:56am

Barnett recommends soaking them in Ford ATF fliud for at least 15 minutes & them wiping them off prior to install. Mine work fine. Have you done this important step ??

Post by Kuda on Oct 31, 2005, 2:24pm

Did you change the steels? Reason I'm asking is I rebuilt mine about three times before my dumb @ss realized that the steels were all plain, not the ball end or "rattler" steels. Finally ordered a pair of rattler steels (don't need all the steels to be rattlers, two is fine, one in the front and one in the back) and all is well again. It was just about to drive me NUTS...

'49 FL

Post by caschnd1 on Oct 31, 2005, 3:00pm

Interesting. I run all plain steels (no rattlers) and have never had any issues with the clutch "grabbing". The only difference I've noticed between steels with and without the rattlers (buffers) is the sound.


Post by Mike Colaizzi on Nov 1, 2005, 2:52am

I'm having a similar problem--when I release the clutch lever the clutch jerks 2-3 times with a creaking
noise with each jerk, until the bike starts rolling. Anyone know what to look at? Thanks in advance for
all replies.

Post by Mike Colaizzi on Nov 1, 2005, 2:56am

Forgot to add--I've installed a BDL belt drive inside the tin primary, if this makes a difference.
Mike Colaizzi

Post by kell on Nov 1, 2005, 5:59am

I have a Barnett clutch that does that.
It's stick-slip motion. Fingernail on a chalkboard.

Imagine you have a block of felt and a block of soft rubber, and you want to slide them on a formica tabletop. The felt will glide, but the soft rubber will screech when you try to push it across the surface. Barnett plates are like the rubber, instead of gliding you get stiction.
It makes a real nasty sound.
If I wasn't so damn cheap I'd get a new set of plates that doesn't do that. (Previous owner put the Barnett plates in).

Hey money if you run the "mousetrap eliminator" setup your clutch will have a hard pull, no getting around it. Lube your cable and make sure there's no binding in any of the parts that move when you pull the clutch in. Try backing off the nuts on the pressure plate springs as much as you can without making the clutch slip.

Post by panama on Nov 1, 2005, 7:06am

If you soak the Barnett clutches in Ford ATF fliud for at least 15 minutes, then wipe off, it won't do that.
That IS Barnett's recommendation anyway..
I have No problems like that, with the Kevlar clutches.

Post by Kuda on Nov 1, 2005, 3:27pm

First I've heard of soaking them, I admit. Would you do that even if you run 'em dry, like with a belt primary?


Post by Mbskeam on Nov 2, 2005, 3:15am

the friction plates that I run in mine are the police special that V-twin sells. (green ones) have 25000 on them and they where used when I put them in, so they have more miles than this. I tryed a set of alto plates, but they slipped and back in went the old ones.
are your steels flat, and the pressure plate also?
what springs do you have? if you have foot clutch I bet it is hard to pull.
are the studs on your hub smooth or do they have grooves from wear?
do the the plates and friction disks holes line up to the studs or drag?
do you have a ram jet ret?. these work very well. to stop most of what you describe.


Post by kell on Nov 2, 2005, 3:40am
''Kuda wrote:
First I've heard of soaking them, I admit. Would you do that even if you run 'em dry, like with a belt primary?

Yes, that recommendation is for dry clutches.

Post by bibs on Apr 13, 2006, 2:14am

I have a 53 pan with mouse trap.....everything is new!!! all good stuff....but the clutch drags in first gear and is difficult to get 'er in neutral.The clutch hub is a 5 stud(new) new alto plates and 4 anti rattler steels....I also have the roller bearing arrangement,the clutch is smooth as velvet....but she wants to creep in gear.The clutch rod is pushing out the pressure plate a good 1/4-5/16ths of an inch...so that isnt the problem......um thinking that the 4 anti rattler plates are!! Am I close?

Post by Mbskeam on Apr 13, 2006, 2:30am

you might try and open up the holes that the studs ride thru, just a bit. they may be not sliding free, (apart), and if that does not work check your pressure plate, is it flat?
and lastly you could try a ram jet, had one on mine for a long time and it works, and they are cheap to buy.


Post by 108 on Apr 13, 2006, 3:54am

Bibs, The main problem is the anti-rattler steels . The ball and spring grips the drive lugs inside the drum to stop the rattle but this drag prevents the plates from floating apart when the preesure plate lifts . If they dont seperate freely, one or more steels rubbing a plate is all it takes to cause that crunching into first and draging shifts. Best thing I ever did was to remove the balls and bend/file the holders so that each lug had equal clearance and check the stud holes or anything causeing any drag on the steels. BTW, my 48Fl has a 1 1/2 belt, half-stroke rocker ,original tin cover , Ram-Jet retainer and 5 plates with no buffer. It's smooth and works perfect.

Post by billy on Apr 13, 2006, 4:41am


If/when you pull them out, (I know you said they were NEW) but I'd still put a 'straight-edge' across the steels just to rule out the possibility of warped plate(s)

I use the Ram-Jett retainers too. They work great!!

Post by fourthgear on Apr 13, 2006, 1:18pm

My new alto's make that noise when cold and all I do is slowly let the clutch out at first when cold , doesn't do it after warmed up and I don't remember if I soaked them or not . I will be pulling the clutch plates @ five hundred miles on new system this weekend and maybe I will soak them to see if it makes difference, sounds like sound advice.
Does the ram jet take care of that rattle when clutch is pulled in ? My new clutch hub came with some kind of retainer , is it junk?

Post by Cotten on Apr 13, 2006, 2:28pm

Clutch retainers are a great idea (especially for footclutches), and the big roller fix is ideal,...but neither address the symptoms described.

Why have so many turned away from using the 37950-41 spring plate?


Post by Mbskeam on Apr 14, 2006, 4:37am

got a pic.......
just curious as to what it looks like?
I had Altos in mine and did not care for them, the steels are good but the frictions seamed to slip on me.

Post by panwars on Apr 15, 2006, 5:59pm

I am running "Energy One" Kevlars on plane steels and get clutch sqeal cold, first start, sometimes. I too soak them in atf for 10 mins, wipe and install.
When the chatter and noise got real bad (they only had about 1000 miles on them), I bead blasted the steels to put a satin finish back on them, re soaked discs,and all chatter/noise has been for guite a while(4000 miles).
Now it is back sometimes at first engagement cold. Not a big deal. If it ever gets real bad, I will bead blast steels again.
I love theses discs because oil (from trans) and grease (from hub bearings) don't affect them near as much as dry discs. These are designed to run wet or dry. Great for old Harleys!

Post by bibs on Apr 16, 2006, 4:21am

Thanks for the heads up guys!! I got 'er squared away today.The steel plates were all flat and I removed the rattlers.The clutch plates were in excellent shape and showed a fairly good footprint where they had all been hookin up.I am using the 52 roller set-up as I have in the past with other clutches.When your at idle with the clutch in now.....she dont complain!!! I also had a 25 tooth trans. sprocket that I traded a 23 tooth. for.These roads in south jersey(and all this damm congestion down here)dont loan themselves to tall gearing 'specially for the old pan.Before I changed the gearing I could hold 'er at 55 all day in 3rd gear!! Now I got acceleration and I can still cruise at 60 with out any problem!!

Post by panster on Apr 18, 2006, 12:58am

I had the noise/grab problem on take off, slightly tightening the three spring nuts ,(half a turn at a time), cured it.

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