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Cannot change out of first gear

Discussion in 'XJ Technical Chat' started by coachholland, Jun 29, 2009.

  1. coachholland

    coachholland Member

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    Ok, this is a bit odd because there were no warning signs that this was getting ready to happen. I had been using the Rotella oil that everyone had recommended and shifting was good. Pronounced, but good. I decided to change out my oil to Valvoline 20-50 motorcycle oil and man, what a difference it made. The shifts were smooth as can be and it felt like a brand new bike.

    I was riding this morning and no problems at all. She felt great. I pulled into a parking lot and she sat for about an hour. I came back out and got on the road, tried to shift and nada. Couldn't get her out of first gear. Got off the bike, put it on the center stand and tried to change gears by hand and the shifter just isn't wanting to go up. Verified the clutch is disengaging by seeing if the rear tire stops spinning. It does.

    Ideas? Surely it can't be gear failure because it seems like I would have had some warning before something like that would happen. I'm at a loss.
     
  2. schmuckaholic

    schmuckaholic Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like the dreaded "pieces of cam chain guide broke off and fell into the shifter drum". If this is the case, there's an emergency surgery procedure detailed on the XJCD if one is stuck on the side in the road in the middle of nowhere. Ultimately the engine is going to have to come out and the case split to replace the guides.
     
  3. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    There are three key springs inside the shifter mechanism (luckily OUTSIDE the inner cases) that can break and do. One (#4) lifts the dragging pawl up against the drum; one (#2) keeps the pawl engaged, and one (#6) centers the selector segment. Both #4 and #2 have been known to break, which keeps the shifter from correctly engaging the drum. If #6 is broken the mechanism won't return to center.

    Or you've been struck by the dreaded shaft-drive XJ primary chain adjuster curse.

    I'd check the shifter/pawl springs first. Between my XJs and my SRs I've had two #4's break. I now keep a spare.

    *note* if the hooked end is gone off #4, check the pawl for a sharp edge from the stamping process and round it off so it doesn't saw through your new spring.**
     

    Attached Files:

  4. coachholland

    coachholland Member

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    Thanks guys for the suggestions. The word "dreaded" in regards to this bike makes me want to cry. She's down for the season if it's that. A piece of plastic bringing the bike after all the work I've done makes it even worse.

    I'm guessing the emergency surgery is to take off the gear cover and remove the pieces of plastic if accessible and then get home and tear down before the chain flies off trashing the engine? If so, that's likely what I'll have to do to get her home.

    What is with me and chains on these bikes? My 82 went down at the end of last season with a shattered cam sprocket and bent link on the chain. Now the chain tensioner on my 81?

    *sighs*

    I'm hoping it's the possibility that fitz brought up. That seems like an easier fix that might keep me on the road.

    If there's any other things I should be looking for, let me know. Won't be able to get my bike home for a day or two.
     
  5. schmuckaholic

    schmuckaholic Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much, although according to this, it wouldn't be the chain flying off so much as the rest of the guide failing and causing the chain to grenade against the inside of the engine... which might happen in 5 miles, or 50,000.

    http://www.xjcd.org/emergency_guidectomy
     
  6. coachholland

    coachholland Member

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    OK, got the bike home last night and messed around with it a bit this morning. Checked the springs and indeed, the #4 is broken off at the hook. I've got a replacement that I've taken off my project bike, but I don't see how that would affect the ability to switch gears when the bike is turned off. I'm far from an expert when it comes to gearing, so I'll go with what's suggested.

    That said, the weird thing is this. I have not put the spring onto the bike yet, but did go ahead and remove the gearbox cover. I put the selector back on and tried shifting by hand with the cover off and can easily shift out of first and looks to be able to go all the way up to 4th gear without issues and then it seems to stick again. I used my shop light to try to look in the hole and there doesn't seem to be any deris in there. Poked around with several tools I have (picks, needlenose, screwdrivers, retractable extractors, etc) and nada.
     
  7. schmuckaholic

    schmuckaholic Well-Known Member

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    Good news, then -- sounds like you dodged a bullet.

    That bit about the springs causing this problem is one I hadn't heard of before. Live and learn...
     
  8. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Do like I said; check the arm where the spring hooks and see if there's a "sharp" edge from the stamping process. Take a small file and smooth it off so it won't happen again.
     
  9. coachholland

    coachholland Member

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    I used a dremmel to smooth it out.

    On reflection, I didn't really do anything to "fix" it. I had the spring completely off and was able to run through the gears. Here's what I think happened though.

    fitz, you posted in that shift diagram the parts I saw when I took off the cover. What I think actually happened is that the piece that is attached to the foot shifter was pulled forward and disengaged the teeth somehow. How that is possible is beyond me, but it's the only thing I can think of that happened and is simply a guess because I couldn't see what was behind the cover before I pulled it.

    Anyway, took her out on about a 20 mile run after I buttoned it back up (adjusted the clutch cable as well a bit) and she ran beautifully. I think I did dodge a bullet. :)

    Thanks again guys!
     
  10. maxj550

    maxj550 New Member

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    BTW, is this about XJ550 ?
    If so, mine is also stuck, and would like to know if i should follow your path to fix it.
     
  11. MattiThundrrr

    MattiThundrrr Not a guru

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    Last post on this thread was 6 years ago. CoachHolland hasn't been here since 2009, Fitz since last year... I'd try following their advice either way... search out every shifter option in the hopes its not the cam chain guide. To find out if the cam chain guide has broken, you need to remove the shift cover and look through the hole behind the shift drum. If there are black bits of plastic in there, that is what is preventing you from shifting. That is a big problem with a big repair (splitting the engine case and replacing the chain guide and perhaps an oil spray nozzle that gets ground off without the chain guide protecting it). You can try to tweeze out the plastic bits as a temporary solution, but only temporary.
    Have you read this thread?
    http://xjbikes.com/forums/threads/transmission-issue.59920/#post-458470
     
  12. k-moe

    k-moe Pie, Bacon, Bourbon. Moderator Premium Member

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    The answer was given in your thread about this issue. It makes it easier for us to help you if you keep your questions there.
     

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