slipping kicker

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slipping kicker


Post by janvanderasdonk » Mon Aug 25, 2008 9:17 pm

hi folks,

have been using this sight as a reference mark ever since I got my '50 Pan engine, lots of great information. Currently I'm building a completely new chopper based around the engine and 4-speed kicker transmission. Both engine and transmission were fully revised by a harley mechanic, where I bought them from.

Long story short, here's my problem. After having finally assembled all the necessary parts and got the old bastard running I noticed a small, yet possibly destructive problem on my kicker. Some times while I am kicking it, I can feel this the kicker slipping a small notch, as if some teeth are not fully grabbing into the connecting sprocket.

The bad thing is that yesterday I tried to kick it, felt the resistance of the compression, kicked down, but all of a sudden nothing grabbed. So I slammed my leg down with my full weight resting on it without the resistance of the engine, badly injuring my knee.

Although the kicker now seems to work as supposed to, I am a little scared on kicking it again and injuring my knee. Do any of you guys know what might cause this problem and how I might fix it? Before I open up the transmission I would like to know what to look for, since I am not familiar with transmission assembly.

Look forward to hear from you experts out there!



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Re: slipping kicker


Post by Ohio-Rider » Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:42 pm

Jan.... From what your decsribing, I think I would first check that your clutch isn't slipping. When was the last time you had the kicker cover off the bike, or inspected your clutch pads? -Steve

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Re: slipping kicker


Post by janvanderasdonk » Mon Aug 25, 2008 10:54 pm

personally i never had the cover off. on the clutch slipping thing: i haven't been able to ride it, only idle it in the garage, but i never noticed any weird things while at idle. how can i tell if the clutch is slipping?

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Re: slipping kicker


Post by caschnd1 » Tue Aug 26, 2008 3:43 am


I've seen exactly the bahavior you describe when the kicker gears are worn out. There are two gears under your kicker cover. One goes on your main shaft and the other on the starter crank (kick starter shaft). If these gears or the kicker rachet gear is worn too far, you'll get that sudden slip. And as you found out, it's a pain on the knee. Baker ( ... assicgears) makes a high quality set of replacement gears. Don't waste you money on the Taiwan replacements. They are not up to snuff and will wear out very quickly.



Re: slipping kicker


Post by VT » Tue Aug 26, 2008 4:19 am

You can try starting the machine from the saddle, putting the kick arm on a compression stroke, down at 7:00 and with your left foot still on the ground, and pushing the kick arm completely through with your right foot and holding it down until the motor either starts or quits turning. You don't have much leverage this way, but with a 74" motor, you can just bump the motor though with one small kick and it will either start or mis-fire. If it mis-fires don't turn the key off, just stay above the saddle and keep kicking it through until it starts. It won't kick you back. It may pop and fume, but that's all. It's magic and another non-publicized feature of the Knuckle and Panheads, and it's the factory method for starting the machine. Only these models will start using this method. Shovels and iron Sportsters won't. Too long of a stroke.

Never hang off to the side of a 74" Knuckle or Pan transmission (like you would on a BSA, Triumph, or Shovel, or Sportster). The kick cover bushings on a 4-speed Big Twin were not designed to support that much weight. And if the starter clutch does dismesh from the starter mainshaft gear, the teeth from the (spring) thrusted starter mainshaft gear will ride on top of the starter clutch and that's when you can hangman drop.
You can probably put a lot more miles on the kick cover like it is right now. Just start it from the saddle.

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Re: slipping kicker


Post by janvanderasdonk » Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:28 am

thanks for all the info guys! Especially the tip on kicking it from the saddle at 7.00 seems very interesting! I'll give it a go next time I get the chance to start it again and keep you posted.


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Re: slipping kicker


Post by Cotten » Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:38 pm

The machine will never care how you kick it.

Back inside the kickcover, you will find that the kickclutch itself is engaged by a spring that is normally is depressed by the copper-dipped pawl that is riveted to the kickgear (as Craig mentioned).
A fatigued spring alone can allow slippage.

When the bushings in the cover, and in the kickclutch gear itself, wear to the point that the gears can "walk up" on each other, the pawl will be scarred and indented by the kickclutch gear's teeth. This damage is a common cause for the kickclutch to slip, as mushed-up metal extends the pawl in unpredictable spots.


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Re: slipping kicker


Post by john HD » Tue Aug 26, 2008 2:09 pm

mine used to do that until i rebushed the kicker cover.

no problems now.


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