Clutch Pack Rebuild on a 98' Road King

Sue's clutch seemed to be slipping a little when she parked, so we decided it might be time to rebuild the clutch pack. I'd done this before on the Buell's clutch and helped Jim (or at least watched Jim) rebuild the clutch on his Twin Cam, so I figured I'd tear into the clutch on the EVO Road King. I expected the primary on this bike to be a little bit different than it was on Jim's bike, and it was—but not too much. With a few exceptions, it was pretty much the same.

It is interesting to notice the differences (usually upgrades) between Sue's EVO and my Twin Cam.


I started by removing the derby cover and draining the fluid.


It's recommended that you soak the friction plates in your primary oil for around 15 minutes before you install them, so I normally put them in a tub with primary oil when I start this project and let them soak until I'm ready for them.


The biggest pain doing this job is removing the floorboards. There are two fasteners on the back of the bracket and a large allen-head screw on the front of the bracket. To put it bluntly, there is no quick way to remove those fasteners, so just be patient and realize it's going to be tough to get a wrench on things. The allen is in pretty tight quarters with my oil cooler on, so I couldn't get an allen socket on the fastener and had to use an allen key.

I don't think we ended up needing to do that with Jim's bike, and I probably could have gotten away without doing it on this bike. I wish I had tried it. It was a pain.

Once you have the floorboards off, you can move to the next step.


You'll also need to remove the shifter assembly to get the primary cover off. This is pretty easy. A couple of allen screws and it (or they if you have a heel shifter) should slide right off the splined shaft. I put the fasteners back with the appropriate part when I take them off so I don't have to remember anything.


Before I remove the primary cover, I back off the clutch to make things a little easier. Slide the rubber boot off the adjustment turnbuckle and with a 1/2" and 7/16" wrench, back off the clutch so there's play in the cable.


Now it's time to remove the primary cover. Because of the Pingle hand shifter, there are a couple of non-standard fasteners you need to be aware of. As I normally do, I use a piece of cardboard to remind me where the fasteners go (some of them are longer than others and this makes it easier for me to get the right fasteners back into the right spots.

One of the allen heads was stripped, making it difficult to remove. I took a torx bit that was just a little bigger and with my hand impact wedged it into the head so I could remove the fastener. I used this as an excuse to replace all the fasteners on the primary cover.


The six fasteners holding the clutch assembly together are pushing down on a spring, so they are under tension. A little bit at a time, loosen those fasteners in a star pattern until you can remove them and the plate holding the spring in place.


You'll notice there are tabs on the plate holding down the spring. I fit these tabs behind the studs where the fasteners go in between the fingers of the spring when the clutch is re-assembled.


After you remove the plate the spring pressed on, you'll see the friction plates and the steel spacer plates sitting inside the clutch. You will likely need a pick (I also use a magnet for this) to remove each of the plates and set them aside.

Now you'll remove the new plates from the soak and install them into the clutch in reverse order. The new clutch pack came with a heavier-duty spring which I installed in place of the old spring—although the old spring would have probably worked just as well. 


Following a star pattern, snug up all the fasteners gradually to avoid putting too much torque on any single fastener. When everything is snug, torque to spec—about 100 in lbs.


I've been using a thin film of this Permatex gasket material on either side of the gasket to help it better seal when the fasteners are all snugged up.


In addition to an appropriate torque spec, there is a sequence you need to follow when installing the primary cover. This is one of the reasons some kind of shop manual is such an important tool to have in the garage. For this bike, I have a Harley factory manual—thats not true for my Road King or the Sportster. There are things I like about the factory manual, but I prefer the way my Clymer manuals explain some of the procedures. I also have a Haynes manual for one of the bikes and three or four other manuals for specific things. I'm one of those guys that likes to have as much information as possible regarding any specific project, so I have several manuals on a shelf in the garage I can turn to if I'm ever confused by something.


I noticed when I pulled the drain plug that it didn't look right. On the lower left is the piece of the plug I found inside the primary—the upper right is the new plug I purchased as a replacement. I try to carefully inspect these types of parts every time I service the bike to make sure there are no problems.

I was the last person to change the primary fluid and don't remember this being an issue so I can't explain why the plug was broken. It's possible I torqued it down to tight or something—nevertheless, it's been replaced now.


BDL, the maker of the high-performance clutch pack I used, recommended not using synthetic oil with the plates, so I opted for the Harley oil this go around. After adding the appropriate amount of fluid and replacing the derby cover gasket, I put the derby cover back on and torqued the fasteners to spec.


I wish I could say replacing the floorboards was a lot easier than removing them, but I can't. I just had to remind myself to be patient and avoid the tempatation to be in a hurry.

With the floorboards and the shifter re-installed, the job is done and the trike is now ready for a test run to make sure the clutch is working properly. Any excuse to go out on the bike is a good excuse.