The Truth About Your Cam Chest

If you've been around Harleys especially bikes from 99-05, you know the first question that's asked when it comes to cams is, did you do the tensioners yet? That question spills over into even the newer twin cam motors as more and more new riders continue to modify their stock twin cam. In this post I'm goin to go through the most common questions I receive from customers. But first lets talk about the plates, pumps and issues.

99-02 - The problem with the early twin cam 88 was not necessarily the fact that they had a spring loaded cam chain tensioner. The problem that haunted most of these early twin cam models was the fact that the chains were made with sharp ridges on the outer plates that quickly ate away at the plastic tensioner. being spring loaded, there was always constant pressure on that chain, unlike newer models where the tensioners fill with oil. This caused the sharp ridges of the chain to dig with each rotation of the crank, the higher the rpms you hit, the more plastic was being chewed away.

03-05 - Although these bikes had the same spring-loaded cam chain tensioners, the chain issue had been addressed after multiple people got free replacements under warranty. The new and improved breathers were in the 03-05, which helped with overall efficiency, but they also made changed to the cranks in these year dynas and went away from the Timken tapered crank bearings. These cranks usually ended up having more run out that the earlier models but if you were easier on your bike, you probably got more miles out of the tensioners on it. The more run out the less consistency on the you cam chain tensioners tension (more pad wear)

06- Current - These bikes have the best all around stock tensioners, hydraulic oil fed with delrin style pads. These were the best mix because they are able top place more or relieve tensioner tension with each rotation because of the lighter preload put on the chain. Mix in the delrin pads, these are pretty much as durable as you can get. These models also offered the bearingless bushing style cams that took away any more potential chain tension issues that could have been caused by worn cam plate bearings.

(Left 99-05/Right 06-Current)

Upgrade Options

There are a lot of options out there to either convert your older cam plate to something like the newer hydraulic style, or upgrade your newer one to a high volume race plate. But what the right choice? I will break down my top options below.

99-05

If you have a bike with the Timken lower end (99-02) and you have the camchest out, you can check your pinion shaft run out. While Harley seems to be ok with .010 max run out, if you have plans of a high volume plate and pump, you should be shooting for under .005. A lot of the early bikes are some what blessed with less run out due to the tapered Timken bearings. If your bike has .005 or greater, it doesn't mean you cant upgrade the tensioners to a more bullet proof system. Although, I don't recommend spending the money on the high volume set up if you're sitting above .005 you can still safely run it as long as you check you oil each change for any signs of bronze or metal from the plate or pump. These high volumes plates are made to tighter tolerances so even the slightest amount of excess runout will begin to wear the components. That's why I recommend balancing the crank beyond .005 if you absolutely want the high volume set up, that goes for 99-17. If your bike has under.005 you can also consider a gear drive set up, but honestly that's more for a complete motor overhaul!

So what if you don't want to do the crank? On your early models you can take a plate and pump combo from a 06 up dyna and use either Andrews or Feuling conversion cams which will allow the newer plate and eliminate the spring loaded tensioners while allowing you to also update the cam plate to the non bearing bushing style outer cam roller. This will allow you to also upgrade to the newer hydraulic lifters. This can be done for under $500 and if your goal is just to fix the issue and ride this is my top choice. If you have .005 and higher run out Feuling also has a OE+ option that has looser tolerances which will work great for this conversion (priced around $499)

If you plan on balancing your crank the race options will help your camchest scavenge and run with more oil pressure/oil-flow. The options for that 

Feuling HP+ or Race Series

S&S Hi Performance Plate and Pump

Screaming Eagle Plate and Pump

all of these companies have done their homework to create a great product for you build. If you have more cubes going on up top, you may like the extra oil pressure to have your motor running smooth, but like I said unless your run out is under .005 you should really think about what your future plans are for the motor before you spend the money. If you just want to upgrade to say you did it, you could be asking for more problems down the road.

Either way I can get you set up with the best parts for you build, so hit me up with any more questions!

-TJ

 

Comments

21 comments

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KELLY SHARPTON

KELLY SHARPTON

I have a 06 deuce, did Harley do anything to that engine? Like the other engine?

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outlawspeeder8888

outlawspeeder8888

2015 making noise with 76,000 miles. Sound like the keepers are worn out. No loss of power, no codes, starts up fine with noise, oil looks good, pressure normal. I haven opened it but I expecting the keeper to be down to the metal and rubbing on the chain. Oh, four months past the warranty.

Adam

Adam

Bike started to make more noise than normal pulled cam cover and plate found in even ware on back of plate
and oil pump also some low oil signs on lifters and cam trying to figure if a new oil pump and lifters would work or if it’s flywheel time trying to c if a 400 dollar band-aid will finish the year

Adam

Adam

Bike started to make more noise than normal pulled cam cover and plate found in even ware on back of plate
and oil pump also some low oil signs on lifters and cam trying to figure if a new oil pump and lifters would work or if it’s flywheel time trying to c if a 400 dollar band-aid will finish the year

John Richard Finney

John Richard Finney

Hi ive got the 2004 gear drive SE cam plate its gold and a hd high vol.pump now ive bought SS 625 cams and gear drive for2006 dyna will i have problems with this matchup of parts im putting a 103 crank in welded amd ballanced 117 axtell cylinders and forged pistons im thinkin about 2006 hydo lifters! what do you think thanks for all your help stay safe we need you in good working order lol

Rob Ryan

Rob Ryan

2004 flsts. 10k miles. Been pampered but hear chatter coming up. valve area and upper rockers or the short skirt/sleeve issu.
Wonder if Scr. Eagle is good?

Ryan

Ryan

I have an 06 Dyna fxdbi street bob, just to clarify…..this bike came with a hydraulic cam tensioner, correct?

Scott

Scott

I’ve got an 08 Street glide 96" . Would like to do a cam upgrade . S&s 583 ez start camchest kit . The more I read the more nervous I am about the gear drive set up . I have no idea about the run-out issues . What is the best option in your opinion for this . Am I overthinking things .

George

George

My friend has a 2000 Road King and it eats every shoe we put in it. Suggestions ?

Ernest Marchant

Ernest Marchant

awesome info. good work.

Dustin

Dustin

Any questions iv had have been quickly answered and the website is set up perfect for finding the parts I need! Never disappointed when I order from here

Sean king

Sean king

So I’ve upgraded to the screaming eagle cam chest and now when my pressure relief valve opens my cam shoes get stuck inside the ports ???

Chris

Chris

Great info, Ive had problems with my Zippers Top End with the S&S crank/flywheel with Timken conversion. As I pulled it apart I checked the pinion shaft run out it was at .oo1. I thought maybe it was wobbling reducing oil flow leading to scratches in the cylinder and piston skirt. I’m running the S&S TC3 Plate and pump and thought maybe I wasn’t getting enough oil pressure like something was out of tolerance. What are your thoughts on it vs the Fueling. Fueling was what I originally was going to do in the beginning. Now since its completely apart and run out is good I’m going to go with gear cams.

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