Camchain / tensioner - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-25-2019, 01:50 PM Thread Starter
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Camchain / tensioner

My Vulcan 900 has one annoying feature: A light tapping from the front cylinder at tickover and light throttle openings, when warm. You tube has a posting where almost every owner says their 900 also taps, and say it is a feature. I suspect the camchain tensioner is stuck. When I did the valves the guy at my local Kawasaki dealer said don't worry it will adjust itself, but what if it is stuck? Has anyone removed theirs and reset it? Is there another reason for the tapping?
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post #2 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-26-2019, 09:58 AM
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My 900 experienced a cam chain tensioner issue on only one occasion. One day months ago, I started the bike cold, and for a couple of seconds I heard what I thought was a cam chain rattle. But within a couple of seconds that noise went away. It has never come back. I thought then and now, a cam chain tensioner got stuck momentarily then freed it self.
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post #3 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-27-2019, 08:44 PM
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I could be wrong, but I think most 900s tick to some extent. Mine does, but it's a light tick in the valve area. I was concerned at first, but now I've learned to live with it. I once had a Boss 351 with a solid lifter cam, and it always ticked, even with regular valve adjustments. The Vulcan 900 is basically a solid lifter cammed engine. It's just the nature of it.
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post #4 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-28-2019, 08:01 AM Thread Starter
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Tapping Vulcans

Thanks jbiggers, I'm glad I'm not the only one. I guess I'm going to have to learn to live with it. I like my bikes to be mechanically quiet but I,ll either have to get used to it or fix it. If it taps then there must be excess clearance somewhere surely?
Mine is also in the valve area so could be rocker shaft, lifters (rockers), chain etc. It only seems to be the front cylinder though.
I sold one bike because I couldn't live with the noise (and vibration) Yamaha Bulldog 1100. (same motor as the Dragstar 1100. Star 1100 in US I think)
Either earplugs or loud pipes I reckon!
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post #5 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-29-2019, 02:33 AM
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The one thing you could do, is to check the valve clearances, and adjust with shim changes if needed. There is nothing more to be done beyond this, regarding the ticking. It would be nice if the Vulcan 900 had hydraulic valve adjusters of some kind, but alas it does not. Some bikes do have them, but this one does not.

I could add, this design doesn't take away from the reliability of the engine, it just makes for a bit of a noisy engine that requires periodic valve clearance adjustments, just like my Boss 351 Mustang of many years ago.

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post #6 of 17 (permalink) Old 05-29-2019, 09:58 AM Thread Starter
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" My 900 experienced a cam chain tensioner issue on only one occasion. One day months ago, I started the bike cold, and for a couple of seconds I heard what I thought was a cam chain rattle. But within a couple of seconds that noise went away. " Quote Jbiggers.

That's quite usual with a lot of bikes, and usually due to the oil draining away from the cylinder heads on standing and it taking a second or two for the oil pressure to reach the valves, rocker shaft etc.
I had an 1100 Shadow with hydraulic lifters which was mechanically quiet but would occasionally tick at the traffic lights, when hot.
PS: I checked the shims a couple of weeks ago, only needing to replace the shim on one exhaust valve. (The clearance was actually too tight, not loose)
So it's back to the drawing board..
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post #7 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-05-2019, 08:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BikeMadPete View Post
My Vulcan 900 has one annoying feature: A light tapping from the front cylinder at tickover and light throttle openings, when warm. You tube has a posting where almost every owner says their 900 also taps, and say it is a feature. I suspect the camchain tensioner is stuck. When I did the valves the guy at my local Kawasaki dealer said don't worry it will adjust itself, but what if it is stuck? Has anyone removed theirs and reset it? Is there another reason for the tapping?
Aint no big deal to check. Remove the bolt & spring, push the plunger forward lightly (you might hear a ratchet click), then put the spring and bolt back in.

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post #8 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-05-2019, 01:57 PM Thread Starter
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Camchain tensioner adjustment

Thanks Du_Rron.
I've got the Clymer manual and have looked up the reset, which I'll probably do shortly. It says in the manual to "be careful the tensioner doesn't fall down the camchain tunnel, necessitating an engine strip" or some such. Is this a likelihood? I was thinking of pushing something down the tunnel such as a cloth attached to a piece of string etc. in case it did fall out, or tying something around it. Is this really likely to happen?
Cheers.
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post #9 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeMadPete View Post
Thanks Du_Rron.
I've got the Clymer manual and have looked up the reset, which I'll probably do shortly. It says in the manual to "be careful the tensioner doesn't fall down the camchain tunnel, necessitating an engine strip" or some such. Is this a likelihood? I was thinking of pushing something down the tunnel such as a cloth attached to a piece of string etc. in case it did fall out, or tying something around it. Is this really likely to happen?
Cheers.
With the chain guide in the head, it is highly unlikely to have enough clearance to dump the tensioner into the engine.

Once you remove the tensioner bolt, hold the tensioner body with a smaller bolt pressed against the capbolt threads of the tensioner body as you gently push the plunger towards the piston.

Here is a birdseye view of the tensioner installed.

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post #10 of 17 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Tense moment

Thanks Du_Ron.
I also thought it would be unlikely to fall down the tunnel. I think this is more advice on stripping the heads. Once the head is off and the camchain and guide are loose, the tensioner body would have enough room to fall into the crankcase, according to the Clymer manual. I think while the head is on and the camchain and chain guide are in place it would be extremely unlikely that it could happen. I'll see when I strip it.
Cheers.
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