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Rattling Noise On Idle - 550 Primary Chain HI-VO

Discussion in 'XJ Technical Chat' started by Rice_Burnarr, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    Over the years, my 82 Seca 550 has gradually started making "the" rattling noise when running in neutral with the clutch lever out such that the transmission parts are spinning. Most pronounced when the engine is hot and the oil is thin. The noise goes away when I pull in the clutch, so I know it's nothing in the pistons, cams, or crank.

    Search indicates that it's a well known issue on the 550s and the consensus is that it's the primary "HI-VO" chain rattling around in there a little, and it's nothing to worry about.

    I've not been riding much lately, but was out yesterday for the first time in a while, and by the time I got back home, it was making more noise there than I remember.

    I changed my oil hoping that maybe the old stuff had started to break down and lose viscosity. Good news is that I didn't find anything interesting in the oil, but the bad news is that there was no change in the rattle.

    Are we all still sure that this is "nothing to worry about"?

    I've seen plenty of threads about broken primary chain guides, but they all seem to be for the bigger engines. Nothing on the 550's though. Is there any way I can get a peek at my primary chain guide without splitting the case? I know I can't replace it without splitting the case, but can I get a look at it at least?
     
  2. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Nope.

    It isn't made the same as the big bikes' tensioner though; the "slipper foot" is solid, not segmented; physically smaller and part of a robust metal plate. It's not gonna crumble on you. I'll try to find a good pic for you.

    How many miles on the bike? Ever had your clutch apart?

    Take a look in my clutch article, which specifically covers the 550/600 clutches. http://xjbikes.com/Forums/viewtopic/t=29541.html

    The goofy "tabbed" asymmetrical plain plates, arranged in a staggered pattern, are "off balance" slightly, so they each pull in a different direction on the hub when spinning. This was designed in to help alleviate clutch rattle. Does it work? Not really. I have a full Barnett clutch in one of my 550s; it DOES NOT have the tabbed/asymmetric plain plates, and it's just as not quiet as my other bike with a stock clutch.

    You also might want to pop the clutch cover and be sure the hub retaining nut isn't loose and the clutch banging around against the tab washer. One of my bikes came to me with a loose clutch nut and a BIG rattle.

    There are other things that will contribute to/help alleviate the "slap." The biggest single thing is to get the "lump-lump-lump" out of your idle. Make sure you adjust your camchain, get the valves in spec, and sync the thing to within an inch of its life. Get it idling like a sewing machine and the primary slap will be greatly reduced.

    Remember, the tensioner is oil-pressure driven. Oil pressure is low at idle, and a lumpy-idling motor will "yank" the primary enough to overcome the oil pressure holding the tensioner and make is slap worse.

    Have a peek in the clutch; get the motor tuned so it idles smoothly; run 20W-something (20W50 is fine if you can't find the recommended 20W40) and don't worry about it.
     
  3. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    Thanks Fitz,

    I found your input very prominent in the previous responses to the topic on the subject. As a matter of fact, the only reason my engine isn't already in half is your input to quell the panic on previous threads. :)

    My bike has less than 10K "responsible" miles on it. Original owner, and is in excellent condition. It idles as smooth as the day it left the showroom floor. It runs great, shifts great, and sounds perfect when I pull in the clutch. That tells me it's got nothing to do with valves or the cam chain.

    Something has changed.

    I've never had the clutch cover off. Never needed to. I re-read through your excellent clutch thread. I guess there's a chance that my hub nut may be loose, but it would have to have been improperly installed at the factory. Improbable, but certainly not impossible. Let me ask though... I pull in the clutch and the rattle goes away. In other words, when the plates and hub are all locked together, it rattles. But when I pull in the clutch and let them float with respect to eachother, it's quiet. Wouldn't that rule out plate rattle and a loose hub nut?

    I saw during searching and reading the service manual that the tensioner is oil pressure driven and that's why I changed my oil. I couldn't remember when was the last time I changed it and I was hoping that the old oil had started to break down and lose viscosity thereby reducing the tension on the primary chain. Hadn't been a lot of miles, but could have been a few years. I used 10W-40 (which should be the same as 20W-40 when hot) and it made no difference. However, both before and after the oil change, it's quieter when the oil is cold and thicker. Again, pointing to the HI-VO chain being the source of the noise.

    It does seem to get quieter once I get up to maybe 2000-2500 RPM, but I can't tell if the rattle is simply getting drowned out by a louder note at higher RPM's.

    On one hand, I don't want to rip the whole thing apart to fix a non-problem, but on the other hand, I don't want to put off a small issue now that's going to become a big issue later if I let it fester.

    Thanks again for your help, and I'd really like to see some pics if they're available. The service manual is pretty useless in this regard.

    Burnarr
     
  4. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Oh, it's related to the HI-VO chain, but there are other factors.

    For starters, remember that 20W40 is 20W oil that "acts like" 40W when hot; and 10W is 10 weight oil to begin with. Look in the manual at the temp range recommendation, and start running 20W-something. Unless you're riding a lot in temps below 41*F, then switch to 20W40 or 20W50; I can guarantee you'll hear a difference. The book says 10W up to 59*F; but it also "overlaps" recommending 20W beginning at 41F. So if you're riding in temps above 59, you're supposed to be using 20W-something anyway, and you're still good down to 41. I run 20W40 pretty much all the time, occasionally 20W50 in super-hot weather.

    When the clutch is out, the entire clutch assembly, all locked together, AND the transmission are all spinning merrily around; or should I say flopping? If it shuts up completely when you pull in the clutch, you better have a look at the clutch.

    You need to change the oil annually at a minimum, regardless of miles. And I would definitely pop the clutch cover, pull the pressure plate and be sure the hub nut is tight.

    So, at 10K original miles, you have checked the valve clearances twice now, RIGHT?

    I'll get a pic of some sort of the tensioner up as soon as I can find a good one.
     
  5. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    YES. But switch to 20W-something, and make sure your clutch isn't disassembling itself.

    Here're the only "portraits" I could locate of the mechanism in question; along with an excerpt from a magazine article explaining it. I added tags.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    Thanks again Fitz. Those pics are much better than anything I've seen to date.

    Your posts are chock full of good advice, from checking the valves, to changing the oil on a time OR mileage limit, and I have to admit that I'm recalcitrant on both counts. I've got a new valve cover gasket here, but just haven't gotten around to it. I've also got new rear brake shoes sitting on the bench... :oops:

    OK, OK... I'll pull the clutch cover just to make double dog sure that my clutch isn't unscrewing itself, but it's under protest.

    So, entering into the theoretical part of the discussion... How about the "Why?" As in why is my HI-VO chain making so much more noise than it used to? Some possible suggestions:

    Chain stretched to the point that the tensioner is hitting some mechanical limit and can no longer keep it as tight as intended?
    Chain stretched to the point that the tensioner is pushing the chain against the lower case?
    General engine wear has reduced oil pressure and the chain tension is lower accordingly.
    Oil is seeping around the tensioner assy (looks like there's an O-ring seal on it).
    Rubber shoe is hard and brittle and is acting like an amplifier.

    Any thoughts? Have you ever worked on an engine and made this noise go away?

    And one last question... Any idea what "HI-VO" stands for?
     
  7. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Dude; you're WAAYYY over-worrying this. Your bike has what, 10K on it? Mine have 13K and 27K respectively; both make "the noise" but getting the idle smoothed out is the biggest single factor in minimizing it. Running the correct weight oil for the temperature you're operating in will affect it as well, you'll see.

    Get the camchain and valves adjusted, and change to 20W-something motorcycle oil, and see how it sounds. But I still recommend a peek in the clutch (you'll need to pull the five screws and the pressure plate to check the hub nut) just to be sure. The drastic difference in sound you describe when pulling in the clutch is why I think that you really ought to have a peek. Unless you've been hammering the living crap out of the bike, your HY-VO chain is fine.

    And finally: HY-VO® Chain is a unique type of Silent Chain. HY-VO stands for High Capacity, High Velocity, and Involute Tooth, and it is a registered trademark of Borg-Warner Automotive, Inc.

    Here's an explanation of how it works; scroll down toward the bottom: http://chain-guide.com/applications/1-6 ... chain.html

    It's one of the heaviest-duty components in your bike.
     
  8. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    Haha! I know. It's what I do. :lol:

    The longer story is that I've been dealing with spine issues that have allowed me to do very little riding over the past year or so, and I'm feeling good enough to do some riding "right now". That opportunity may pass, and I would hate to miss it.

    On the other hand, I'm probably not going to be riding a lot before I would be packing the bike away for the winter anyway, and I'll put that riding off if there's the risk that I'm going to do something to the engine that I would regret later.

    Thanks for the details on the HY-VO. (on edit) http://borgwarnermorsetec.com/Hy-vo.pdf

    Couple other questions:

    I've seen some discussion about establishing a shim pool for the valves shims. Has that idea ever come to fruition?

    And, about how much does the 550 engine weigh?
     
  9. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    You're not going to damage anything, and the HY-VO chain is fine.

    What you might damage is a VALVE; if they've never been checked and the bike has 10K on it, you're 7000 overdue for the initial adjustment. That one's the most important: my bike had 7100 untouched miles on it when I got it, and 8 of 8 were tight.

    Get the valves in spec, change the oil, and ride the bike. Nothing's gonna blow up. See what it sounds like after the oil change; THEN decide if you feel like popping the clutch cover off.

    But I wouldn't worry about trying to replace the HY-VO chain. You can't anyway; you would need both sprockets too, and one is part of the crankshaft. I've never heard of a 550 primary chain or tensioner failure yet; and I'm confident that at only 10K miles, yours is fine.

    Not your valves though. Have you ever adjusted the CAM chain?
     
  10. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    Regarding my valves... If memory serves, I'm not as far out of schedule as you might believe. Back when I was young and stupider, believing that my local dealer would do a better job working on my bike than I could do myself, I took it to them for the 3000 mile service. Not saying they did it right, but a valve check and adjustment was supposed to be part of that service.

    I've now got a little less than 9K, so I'm approaching 1000 miles overdue. Overdue yes, but not 7000 miles overdue. :wink:

    I adjusted the cam chain last year. Didn't notice any difference in anything when I did it. No changes in noise, no changes in performance... Nothing. I guess that's good.

    So... I went looking for 20W-40 this afternoon and came up blank. Closest thing I found was 15W-40 diesel, and of course, the ubiquitous 20W-50. Even the Castrol 4 stroke Cycle oil was 10W40 or 20W50.

    What brand have you found with 20W-40?
     
  11. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    Since I couldn't find 20W-40, I did a little research into oil technology to refresh my memory on how the multi-grade oils work, and came away with the following. I'm sure we both already know most of this stuff, so I'm going to keep it brief.

    The first number (the "10W" in 10W-40) is how the oil behaves at cold temperatures (below 0 degrees C) and I don't care much about that number because I never ride anywhere near there.

    The second number (the "40" in 20W-40) is how the oil behaves at 100 degrees C. 10W-40, 15W-40, and 20W-40 should all be the same at 100C. The slope of the viscosity curve will be different between the start and the finish, but they all intercept at "40".

    The multi-grade oils start with a base oil weight and then they add viscosity improving additives to reduce the decrease in viscosity as the temperature goes up. The wider the range, the more additives they put in. In other words, 10W-40 requires more additives than 10W-30. These additives break down over time, use, and heat, and old used oil will thin more at high temp than fresh, clean, unused oil. This means that you should use the narrowest range that works in your application.

    The single grade oils like SAE40 contain none of these additives and will behave the same as the multigrades at 100C. In other words, SAE40, 10W-40, 15W-40, and 20W-40 should all be the same at 100C. Because of the lack of additives, the single grade oils are also immune to the additive breakdown.

    I'm thinking that since I'm a warm weather rider only (above 60F maybe), the best choice for me would be SAE40. Not only do I get 40 weight oil when hot, but I get rid of additives that I'm not making use of anyway.

    What say you? :?:
     
  12. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    NNOOO!!! Not straight-weight oil. Too thick when motor cold; scary for plain bearings with tight tolerances (like your bike.) And yes, I fully understand how multi-weight oils work.

    Run 20W50 if you can't find 20W40. Castrol 4T 20W50 is fine.

    If you want to run 20W40, I have a local shop that carries Spectro conventional (motorcycle) oil; which is what I use, or should I say, WAS using.

    This season, I'm running Castrol Act>EVO X-Tra 4T Semi-synthetic motorcycle oil, supposedly specially formulated for high-revving 4-cylinder bikes with wet clutches. I LIKE it. Absolutely zero oil consumption, even with extended high-speed running in hot temps. http://www.castrol.com/castrol/sectiong ... Id=7040549

    The ONLY drawback is it's a little hard to find; so I've been getting it here:
    http://www.motorcycle-superstore.com/1/ ... =SLIsearch

    But you'll be FINE with 20W50; and I guarantee your primary chain tensioner will love you for it.
     
  13. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    I'll take a look at some additional, less mainstream stores for some 20W-40, but I really don't get why that would make a difference over the 10W-40 I've already installed. Anything ending in "40" must be between 12.5 to 16.3 cSt when tested at 100 degrees C.

    10W-40 and 20W-40 should be the same when hot.

    Of course, 20W-50 would always be thicker at the same temp, but I'm not seeing the diff between 10W-40 and 20W-40 except at cold temps.

    Am I missing something? :?:
     
  14. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Just run 20W50 and you'll be fine; AND the primary will be quiter. Honest. Trust me. You're way over-theorizing this. You want to know how to quiet down your primary; and I'm telling you: Run 20W-base weight oil, adjust the camchain and get the valves in spec.

    Just do the oil change first; use Castrol 4T 20W50; and then go from there. Your primary WILL be quieter.
     
  15. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    Thanks for all your attention Fitz. I really appreciate the effort.

    I went out for about a ride this morning and parts didn't come flying out the side of the engine casing and the rattle also didn't get any worse than it was a couple of days ago. Good news on both fronts, right? :lol:

    I went to a different parts store as part of this trip and they didn't have any 20W-40 or Castrol 4T. So, I didn't get it today but I will get some and give it a try.

    I'm still trying decide if I want to peek at the clutch now or wait for the end of this riding season... What are the chances that I'd be able to re-use my original clutch cover gasket? I can slap some RTV silicone on it and a little seepage would be fine for the rest of this season, but I just don't want to leave a puddle everywhere I park.

    So... Any chance at all, or am I being way too optimistic? :?:
     
  16. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Way too optimistic. If it's the original original, it's going to disintegrate on you. It's quite a complex gasket because of the breather "maze" cast into the cover. Have a new one standing by.

    You'll have a bit of a challenge finding 20W40; but AutoZone carries Castrol 4T 20W50 plus I believe Havoline or Valvoline Motorcycle oil in 20W50.
     
  17. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    Yeah, it's the original original and I was figuring it was overly optimistic. I was just thinking that I might go poking a little deeper into my rattle issues come this winter and didn't want to replace that gasket now only to replace it again in a few months.

    I wasn't expecting it to be in great shape after I pulled that cover, but as long as it didn't come off with one part stuck to the cover and the rest still stuck to the side of the engine zebra stripe style.

    Had to ask though. :wink:
     
  18. bigfitz52

    bigfitz52 Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    That's precisely what it will do. I find that a dull #17 X-Acto Knife blade works quite well to get between the front of the clutch and the crankcase to get that bit of gasket off without chewing up the cases.

    Look at the breather passages cast into the rear side of the clutch housing:

    [​IMG]


    Look at the shape of the gasket:

    [​IMG]


    See why it won't survive?

    Don't overtorque the case bolts and you might be able to go through one or even two 'remove and replace' cycles; but don't count on it. I usually end up breaking them but I can usually get one re-use.
     
  19. waldo

    waldo Member

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    Fitz thats not your hand in the picture is it cause thats a tiny can
     
  20. Rice_Burnarr

    Rice_Burnarr Member

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    <Sigh...> Yeah, I figured.

    So, I was out a little yesterday and came to the conclusion that the rattle seems loudest on the lower left side of the engine.

    Haha! Or maybe I'm just imagining reasons NOT to pull that clutch cover off right now? :lol:
     

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