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Thread: Need to change my oil pump drive. Do I need to pull both rocker boxes?

  1. #1
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    Need to change my oil pump drive. Do I need to pull both rocker boxes?

    Hi experianced Buell owners.
    I just purchased a 2004 Firebolt XB12R and had read about the dreaded oil pump drive. Well, I pretty much rode it home (only a few miles) and decided not to ride it again until I checked that drive. So after pulling the oil pump out, I found what I had been warned about. The teeth on the helical gear were razor sharp and there could not have been too many miles left before those teeth broke off.
    So, firstly, thanks for all the various forum owners for warning about this issue.
    I have ordered a new bronze gear plus the pinion locking tool and various gaskets, plugs, leads etc seeing as I don't know how old everything is, I may as well change a few things whilst I have the engine rotated. The current gear is steel so I assume it is the original. The bike has done 36k miles.
    So, for people who have had the cam box cover off on their bikes, do I need to pull both rocker boxes off? They are not leaking, so if I can only disturb the front one, then I will just pull that off.
    My plan is, to remove the front rockerbox cover, turn the engine to unload the valve springs then loosen/remove the rocker arms.
    I then know that this pot is at TDC and the other is on intake/exhaust phase. Turn the motor another 315 deg so the rear is now at TDC and it would also be on a compression stroke so the valves relaxed.
    I can then safely pull the cam box cover off.
    Have I missed anything on my cunning plan?
    I also intend to poke a small phillips head screwdriver into the hole where the timing sensor attaches to the cam to ensure I don't pull the front 3 cams out and slip a bit of shim in to keep the rear cam from pulling forward when I pull the cam cover off.
    Lastly, I assume I will need to rotate the engine to get the front rocker box off, is that correct?
    Also, pic below for those that like to see how close this drive was to failing. For those with a few miles on their bikes who have not checked that gear, do it on your next oil change.
    Thanks!
    20220911_141354~2.jpg

  2. #2
    Senior Member Barrett's Avatar
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    Sir: Yes on engine rotation for what you intend to do. Fairly simple and straight-forward process. If you need a link to the procedure along with great pics, let me know and will post it up for you.
    1-Yes on both rocker box covers questions you posed.
    2-Factory service manual excellent for gear replacement procedure.
    3-Dedicated pinion locking tool not required for this job. Simply use a plain old penny as device to lock the gears.
    4-Remove cam side timing cover! Drill out rivets...remove screws for inner plate cover...remove timer studs...remove trigger rotor bolt. Doing this will prevent # 2E cam from being pulled out of its position when removing cover.

    Consider replacing the intake manifold gaskets with OEM or James....checking condition of all 4 exhaust studs....replacing rocker cover breather grommets...during this procedure.

    The factory installed pump driver gear was more than adequate for its time. The root cause of excessive wear and premature life-span failure was always a combination of incorrect oil viscosity...using the rev-limiter as a shift indicator...and placing high load demands and revs onto the motor before both the engine and oil were fully warmed up.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Cooter's Avatar
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    What about open headers? I just got mine from Hell-fire Industries and the instructions said to start, and rev to redline immediately?

    Fabio-Driven

  4. #4
    Senior Member 34nineteen's Avatar
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    Hopefully you did not purchase the Hammer tool for holding the pinion gear, as it does not fit the XB case. It fits the Sportster case, which is different.

    I've never heard the method of using a penny to lock the gears. If you choose to go this route, be sure to use a penny made only at a Pennsylvania mint. These are of the highest quality and should be used first and foremost.

    A penny minted at the California mint (El Segundo), is reputably made out of old beer cans. Avoid at all costs.

    If in doubt, the California penny will have a lazy and lackluster appearance, whereas one from the PA mint will be of the utmost character and should be considered an heirloom.

    Another test of the California penny, is to stand it on its edge. If it falls over backwards, discard immediately.
    Last edited by 34nineteen; 09-13-2022 at 08:46 PM.

  5. #5
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    Thank you Sir for validating my plan. I have already ordered the Jims - Pinion Gear Locking Tool 1665 for locking the crank, the penny sounds like a good idea, but I had already ordered the tool.
    The cam side timing cover has had the rivets drilled by the previous owner. Not sure if that means the gear has been replaced once before, all I know is that it is not the bonze gear which is what I have ordered.
    >>Consider replacing the intake manifold gaskets with OEM or James....checking condition of all 4 exhaust studs....replacing rocker cover breather grommets...during this procedure.
    Thanks for the tips.

  6. #6
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    I saw the Hammer tool, but purchased the Jims - Pinion Gear Locking Tool 1665 which claims to fit a 2004 Firebolt. They sell a few different models of this tool so I assume the others are for the sportster case.
    Some of these tools had multiple holes in them to fit different models. If I was getting these lazercut, I would have designed it with multiple mount points and also the gear lock on all 4 corners so that it would fit as many bikes as possible to reduce my inventory costs.

  7. #7
    Senior Member 34nineteen's Avatar
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    Just remember to (at very least) loosen the rocker boxes. If you do not do that, you will have spring pressure pushing on the pushrods and cams. If you remove the cam cover while you still have this spring pressure on it, you could damage the cams or case. I have a feeling this happened on my S1 by a previous owner who was skipping steps. Sometimes you can get away with this on a Sportster (or M2) motor due to the lower lift of the cam (and decreased spring pressure on the cams), but I wouldnt recommend it.

    Rocker gaskets are relatively cheap, and can be a source of leaks which can affect other parts of the bike, such as the cooling fan.



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