Changing transmission lids

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Changing transmission lids


Post by keys55 » Mon May 30, 2005 6:16 pm

I was wondering if it is an involved process to change from a ratchet top to a hand shift lid. I looked at the parts book for big differences in the gear section and I do not see any. BUT' I put that up there with the "THIS SHOULD BE NO PROBLEM AT ALL" section of my life. Of course I make part of my living off of " I ONLY GOT 1 KEY, BUT I WILL NOT LOSE IT" people. Better to go to those who know. ;D

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Re: Changing transmission lids


Post by kell » Tue May 31, 2005 6:45 pm

I did that on my bike, took off the ratchet top and put a hand shift top on.
Harley used the same tranny for about 50 years. Although there were some changes in shaft length and such, I think the top from any four speed tranny will fit on any other four speed tranny -- if I'm wrong somebody will correct me.
Of course any time you put a top on a tranny you have to align the shifter forks. There is a Harley tool for that but you can also align them without it. I wouldn't just slap the new top on -- it really matters that you align the shifter forks. It's straightforward but if you are going to do it by hand/eye (without the special Harley tool) I advise going through the process several times to get a feel for it, because the forks can move when you're lifting the top off the transmission.
You can read how to do it in the Clymer manual, or the Harley manual might have a description of the process. Or if you know somebody who has done it they can show you how to do it.

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Re: Changing transmission lids


Post by 61flh » Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:32 pm

I went from a rachet top to a hand shift on my 1947 UL and it went on with zero problems. Just took some time to get the linkage adjusted properly. The part that took the longest was removing the oil bag so I could actually get to the lid.
Regarding the shift fork alignment. I have never had a problem with this and never used the special tool. Maybe I am just lucky. What I do is make sure that the tranny is in neutral. You can verify this by rotating the rear wheel (assuming that the drive and primary chain/belt are still connecting). If you can do that without having the motor turn over, you are in neutral.
Then, make sure that the top is in neutral. Remember, it is one down and 3 up. Put it in first, then move it up a notch. Observe the way the linkage is setup so you know which way to rotate the shifter drum when doing this.
The grooves on the shifter drum will align with the tops of the shifter forks with zero effort if you have everything set correctly. Then, screw the top on, and while spinning the rear wheel, shift it in first then neutral and then second. It should shift without too much effort.
I just put a chrome lid on my 1961 FLH and followed the same procedure and it worked fine.

Good luck.

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Re: Changing transmission lids


Post by PanPal » Thu Jul 07, 2005 11:15 pm

The guy that sold me my bike changed to a chrome lid from a Jockey lid just before he sold it to me. Last weekend I had the lid off and had to re-shim 3rd and 4th shifting fork. Now it goes into 4th gear. There can be some differences in the lids depending on who you buy it from. The guy did give me the jockey lid and lever, and he did tell me it wouldn't go into 4th gear ever since he put the chrome lid on. It is better to have the tool to set the forks.
I think some early transmissions had the vent on the case rather than one of the mounting screws for the lid. Just make sure you have a vent or you will wonder why oil does not stay in the transmission.

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Re: Changing transmission lids


Post by Cotten » Fri Jul 08, 2005 3:31 am

Even though the Factory designed different Cluster and 3rd gears for the different lids, I really can only conjure as to why?
Go for it!

PS: The alignment tool is only a convenience. The trial method of carefully looking under it as you use it to move the forks to their positions has worked for generations.

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