Removing the Front Cylinder

Sue suggested that my friends should know better than to stop by when I'm working on a project in the garage, because I usually get their hands dirty doing something. When Kelly dropped by it was no different. He said, he knew what would happen, but he did it just the same. It was very convenient a time or two to have the extra set of hands.

Because the engine acts as part of the frame, I've put the scissor jack under the engine to support the weight so it doesn't drop when I disconnect the front isolator mount from the engine. I wouldn't have been able to use the scissor jack if the muffler hadn't been removed, because on the Buell it sits right underneath the engine.

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I used the jack to push the engine up a little to relieve some tension thinking it would make that part of the process a little easier. Not only did it support the weight of the engine, I think it relieved enough tension that removing the bolts from the cylinder heads was easier than it otherwise would have been.

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Because the steering damper was attached to the left fork and the front isolator mount, I started by removing the damper so it was out of the way and wouldn't get damaged when I'd have to remove the isolator from the frame.

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I had removed the rocker box cover last week. So I started by removing the three bolts on the bottom of the rocker box and then did the hex bolts on the rocker arms, starting with the bolts over the push rods. There wasn't much room under the frame on the forward bolts. The most forward bolt was too deep to just use the ratchet and a socket; and there wasn't enough room for an extension, but a deep socket did the trick.

The allen head screw on the front left side of the rocker box didn't have much clearance under the front isolator mount, so I couldn't get an allen socket on it. I could barely fit a standard hex key on it, but moving slowly was eventually able to break it loose.

I needed to use a breaker bar to get the cylinder retaining bolts started on the front cylinder just like the rear cylinder, but there was a lot less clearance to get at the fasteners. The left front bolt required a very short extension to get at the bolt, but they eventually broke free.

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I had originally hoped I wouldn't have to separate the front isolator mount from the cylinder head because the manual suggested it shouldn't be done unless absolutely needed. It was absolutely needed. I removed the bolt from the front tie bar without much difficulty, but couldn't get a wrench on the bottom of the assembly holding the isolator to loosen it up (without potentially rounding out the hex of the nut), so decided I would remove the two bolts that went directly into the cylinder head (the red arrow on the photo above is pointing at the left side bolt) on either side of the isolator mount.

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I was then able to wiggle the rocker box up and back enough to take it out above the section of the frame where the rear cylinder had been. The coil was definitely in the way and made the maneuver a little more challenging than it would have been had I loosened the coil from the left side of the frame. I plan on doing that before I put the new cylinders back in. This was particularly true with removing the cylinder itself.

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Like the rear head, the push rod covers stayed with the head when I pulled it off. Fortunately, I had already removed and bagged the pushrods. They were marked with stripes the same as the other set, with the triple stripe indicating the exhaust side.

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Pulling the cylinder was what convinced me that I needed to remove the coil before installing the new cylinder, but it otherwise slide out easily—there was so little clearance it took a lot of gentle wiggling and coaxing to get it over the cylinder studs. By moving the rear wheel we were able to lower the piston a little to give enough clearance to get the cylinder over the top of the studs.

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After removing the cylinder, I put another rag around the crank to insure that I didn't lose a pin inside the case or that no debris would fall in as I removed the piston. With the piston removed, I decided to call it a day.

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Although I was pretty intimidated by this project when I started, I'm feeling pretty self-satisfied tonight. So far the entire process has been pretty straightforward and logical. There have been a few things that were more challenging, but for the most part, it's all gone pretty good. I'm looking forward to installing the new cylinders and getting it put back together.

I'll probably spend next week cleaning up all the parts and fasteners for installing the new parts. There's some carbon build up on the bottom of the heads and on the valves that I'd like to try to clean up before I put everything back together.