Clutch Qs

Tech Q&A for the VTX 1800 - PLEASE keep this section tech-oriented only!

Clutch Qs

Postby timtrace » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:54 pm

Greetings - I'm ready to do clutch maintenance on my 2003 1800 C @ 17k miles, and I have a BUNCH of questions. Please help if you're able. I've cross-posted this to the OA, hope that doesn't rub anyone the wrong way.

The reason for doing the maintenance is that I've been feeling slippage at full-throttle/low RPMs in 3rd gear, you know, when you goose it and the revs climb without acceleration, then a hot moment later it grabs.

I didn't keep the fibers and steels in order when I pulled them off the baskets. Is this an insurmountable problem?

To my absolutely novice eyes there seems to be good meat left on the fibers. I haven't yet put a caliper on them. The service manual says 3.7.2-3.8.8mm with a service limit of 3.1mm. I'll surely replace the fibers if they're below 3.4mm, to stave off repeat maintenance as long as possible.

Again with the caveat of my absolutely novice eyes, the steels look great. The dimples are clearly visible all around, and the metal is satiny with no discoloration. I read a blurb about testing them for warpage with a glass plate and water ---- how is this done, exactly?

Spring bolts, I've ordered and received the BBIGLRY & Bone's heavy duty clutch bolts, so I'm all good there.

I've pulled the basket, it was easy to get the nut off the shaft with an electric impact wrench. Should I reuse the old nut and restake it, or should I order a new one? If new, what's the PN, please?

I'm going to drill the basket for improved oil flow by following these instructions: http://www.californiavtxriders.com/phpB ... hp?t=19067

With the bike in 5th and the rear wheel immobilized, will I be able to crank the clutch basket nut down to 137lb-ft, or will I need a big strap wrench, or a tool made from old steels? I know not to use the impact to tighten it down.

Based on the condition of the fibers and steels, I think my slippage low in 3rd might be only a matter of spring pressure. If caliper measurements are favorable to keeping the OEM clutch and steels in service, what's the most current thinking for increasing the pressure on a stock clutch pack? Can I purchase an a la carte pack of MTC or Barnett springs?

If I need to go with new fibers (and/or steels), I want easily-controlled, smooth slippage when the wife is on the back seat, and the ability to snap my neck when I dump the clutch while riding solo. Does this point me more towards MTC or Barnett? And what shim height (0.75?)

Whew, that's enough for now. If I get answers to half these questions I'll be incredibly happy and grateful. THANK YOU!
timtrace
 
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Bike: 2003 Honda VTX 1800 C

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Re: Clutch Qs

Postby Bareass172 » Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:07 am

Alright, let's see if we can't nail this down...

timtrace wrote:Greetings - I'm ready to do clutch maintenance on my 2003 1800 C @ 17k miles, and I have a BUNCH of questions. Please help if you're able. I've cross-posted this to the OA, hope that doesn't rub anyone the wrong way.

No problems here, and I own the place so... :elated:

timtrace wrote:The reason for doing the maintenance is that I've been feeling slippage at full-throttle/low RPMs in 3rd gear, you know, when you goose it and the revs climb without acceleration, then a hot moment later it grabs.

I didn't keep the fibers and steels in order when I pulled them off the baskets. Is this an insurmountable problem?

I'm not really sure why it would matter, if someone told you otherwise they are wrong.

timtrace wrote:To my absolutely novice eyes there seems to be good meat left on the fibers. I haven't yet put a caliper on them. The service manual says 3.7.2-3.8.8mm with a service limit of 3.1mm. I'll surely replace the fibers if they're below 3.4mm, to stave off repeat maintenance as long as possible.

I'm not sure exactly where you got any numbers other than the 3.1mm service limit. I'm not saying you're not right, I just can't verify them myself because my manual only shows the 3.1mm limit. With fibers you're typically just looking for physical, noticeable damage and checking the thickness as you mentioned. Not much else goes wrong with the fibers normally.

timtrace wrote:Again with the caveat of my absolutely novice eyes, the steels look great. The dimples are clearly visible all around, and the metal is satiny with no discoloration. I read a blurb about testing them for warpage with a glass plate and water ---- how is this done, exactly?

The steels are typically where problems occur because they overheat and glaze. The glazing creates a loss of friction and therefore, a slipping clutch. In all the years I've advised people online I have never definitively advised someone to re-use their steel plates because there is just no substitute for having them in your hands to view them. Do I think your plates are likely fine to re-use - yes, very likely. Do I want someone complaining to me later that their clutch is still slipping because what they thought looked fine wasn't? For this reason I usually tell people to just drop the cash on new steels and not take a chance - it's like insurance to prevent you from having to re-open the clutch a second time.
With that said, even glazed plates can sometimes be brought back by scuffing them, but again this becomes trying to explain a process steeped in experience and personal touch to a novice. No offense intended with the novice remark, but some skills just need to be taught in person, not explained in text.
As for checking for warpage in water, I see what they're driving at but wouldn't waste my time with it. Maybe you can find a youtube video or something to explain it better, but you're trying to measure .30mm of warpage using water as a level. The concept is nice, the execution is the problem. If the plates are not discolored from heat, odds are good they're not warped.

Bottom line is what I said - they're probably fine, but without holding them in my hand I can't promise anything.

timtrace wrote:Spring bolts, I've ordered and received the BBIGLRY & Bone's heavy duty clutch bolts, so I'm all good there.

Those could potentially save you a huge headache...

timtrace wrote:I've pulled the basket, it was easy to get the nut off the shaft with an electric impact wrench. Should I reuse the old nut and restake it, or should I order a new one? If new, what's the PN, please?

Re-use/restake is fine by me. I think the manual recommends replacement, but that's primarily a "CYA" thing.

timtrace wrote:I'm going to drill the basket for improved oil flow by following these instructions: http://www.californiavtxriders.com/phpB ... hp?t=19067

This is, in my opinion, a controversial subject. I cannot stress to you how much respect and admiration I have for Biglry who was one of the first people really pushing the basket drilling idea. Biglry has forgotten more about MC's than I know and I've learned so much from him over the years. With that said, the theory on basket drilling is that it lets more oil into the basket, with people even drilling baskets on an angle to try and "scoop" more oil into the basket. My opinion is that with the amount of centrifugal force going on as that basket spins, the holes only serve to let the oil out faster.
This is a personal choice, and I'm not here to muddy the waters for you, just to provide a counter point to the argument. If you're thinking about doing it because a lot of people on the various forums are pushing the idea, just remember that the overwhelming majority of people on the forums are NOT EXPERTS by any stretch. Many of them are guys just like yourself with limited knowledge but wanting to learn. Please don't misunderstand my point, I admire ANYONE willing to spend time sharing knowledge with others - the downside is the internet tends to make everyone seem like an expert, even when they are not. I'm not trying to be ugly at all, but when you make your decision just let it be yours and not someone else's. These forums are not all filled with mechanical engineers giving advice! :thumb:

timtrace wrote:With the bike in 5th and the rear wheel immobilized, will I be able to crank the clutch basket nut down to 137lb-ft, or will I need a big strap wrench, or a tool made from old steels? I know not to use the impact to tighten it down.

I honestly have no idea. I made the tool and have never tried it any other way.
http://tech.bareasschoppers.com/resourc ... clutchtool

timtrace wrote:Based on the condition of the fibers and steels, I think my slippage low in 3rd might be only a matter of spring pressure. If caliper measurements are favorable to keeping the OEM clutch and steels in service, what's the most current thinking for increasing the pressure on a stock clutch pack? Can I purchase an a la carte pack of MTC or Barnett springs?

The truth is, the stock Honda fibers are junk. I'm not trying to be ugly, but it's the same clutch Honda used on other, smaller bikes and I think they were trying to re-purpose existing parts. I still remember when I bought my VTX in late 2001 (02 model), I pulled out of the dealer lot and slipped the clutch getting on it in 3rd gear - on a brand new bike. I can further reinforce this concept because, after many years tinkering with the clutch, we discovered that the MTC clutch (which consists of Honda steels and MTC fibers) is held in place by springs that provide the same exact tension as the stock springs - yet the MTC grabs so hard some people complain about it. If you want to see the numbers, they are buried somewhere either in this thread or one of the threads it links to:
viewtopic.php?f=86&t=965
That link and the links in it will teach you WAY MORE about the clutch than 99.9% of people care to know, but it's incredible information compiled over a few years by a lot of dedicated people. The charts with the spring pressure rates are in there somewhere - it was kind of a bombshell when we saw the MTC springs (without shims, to be clear) were the same as the stockers.

You asked about increasing spring pressure, well MANY years ago when the X was new in the market I wrote this article:
http://tech.bareasschoppers.com/clutch/ ... -vtx-1800/
The old Barnett springs mentioned in that article don't exist anymore. Luckily Barnett made changes after we started seeing clutch problems and opening clutches to find broken and shattered springs. The steel was too brittle. The concept was always sound though, so if you can get shims you could try shimming your stock springs or, I'm sure Barnett still sells a replacement spring set just not the ones in that write-up. Honestly, I haven't replaced just springs for anyone in over 10 years. Most guys just want a better clutch and to be done with it.
MTC does sell the springs also as a set if you wanted to go that route. They are listed as springs for the Suzuki M109 since that's what they were originally used on.

timtrace wrote:If I need to go with new fibers (and/or steels), I want easily-controlled, smooth slippage when the wife is on the back seat, and the ability to snap my neck when I dump the clutch while riding solo. Does this point me more towards MTC or Barnett? And what shim height (0.75?)

I'm a huge fan of the MTC, but if you want smooth then Barnett would be my recommendation. The MTC is a lot of fun by yourself tearing through gears, but it is unforgiving if your hand slips off the lever. If you go MTC, this is the link to the recommended shim pack:
viewtopic.php?f=86&t=194
The link is on my webpage and I always use the link because if changes ever get made again it's updating one place, not all over. MTC used to notify me when changes were made, and I'd push them out to the community. Of course, the bike is getting older so no changes have been made in awhile...

timtrace wrote:Whew, that's enough for now. If I get answers to half these questions I'll be incredibly happy and grateful. THANK YOU!

Let me ask you some questions. For starters, have you seen the link to my install write-up?
http://tech.bareasschoppers.com/clutch/ ... -vtx-1800/
Just making sure, lots of good info there.

Next question - you mention the word "maintenance" often here, I just want to be certain that you understand - the clutch is not really a "maintenance" item. If it's just a terminology conflict, no worries, but I want to be sure you understand and that no one is guiding you to remove your clutch and "service it" akin to changing your oil. Generally speaking, you leave it alone unless it's acting up (which yours obviously is).

Lastly, whichever direction you choose to go we can get you the parts. This isn't intended as a sales pitch, but this is what we do. We advise people and then, hopefully, they value the advise and we do business. I never advise anyone based on money, it's always about what fits them best - it's why I so often ask questions of our customers instead of just answering what's asked. My very honest suggestion is - skip all this nonsense with the stock clutch and just replace it. It's junk and even if you fix it now, it will likely slip again in the future. I love the MTC clutches, but I don't think it fits what you would want, so I'd recommend the Barnett. The Barnett comes as one package deal including steels, fibers, and springs. You install it, and I can almost guarantee that you'll never have to think about it again (unless you slip the clutch intentionally and tear it up). By the time you drop ~$20-$30 on springs, you can put that money towards the entire clutch pack.
http://www.barnettclutches.com/411/hond ... 1800c.html
It's just my honest opinion, regardless of trying to sell a product. I admire the guys who will tell you to throw the stocker back in the bike because they like to tinker, but I'm a believer that most of my customers would rather be riding their bike than wrenching on it.

If you want to discuss prices just drop us an email at sales@bareasschoppers.com and we'll be glad to advise.

PS - don't forget that you need new exhaust gaskets for when you put the exhaust back on the bike too! :thumb:
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Re: Clutch Qs

Postby timtrace » Wed Apr 12, 2017 1:35 pm

Bare, that is ONE HELL of an AWESOME response. THANK YOU. I'm so sorry that it's taken me this long to reply; I've been laid off and on vacation, and it's only now that I'm getting my rear in gear on my disassembled bike.

Yep, I've been all over your videos, and that's why my bike is disassembled in the carport ;)

This business about drilling the clutch basket - I'm not chasing the idea in response to "crowdthink," I've just seen posts by biglry and a few others who seem to know their sauce about bikes --- you included. I understand what you're saying about oil loss through centrifugal force. I'll think it over good and hard.

I'm having a basket tool like yours welded up by a local machine shop. This means I'm going to need a new set of steels and I might as well replace the fibers too. So! A whole new clutch pack for me :thumb:

Will that Barnett clutch bite harder than the OEM clutch? I'm assuming the original is in pretty good shape and it's just the springs causing the problem, but still, I'd want it to slip only when I tell it to slip. Does this make sense? :)

Please PM me quotes for the Barnett and MTC packs here on the board, or pull my email address off my account and send it there.

THANK YOU!
timtrace
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Mar 24, 2014 8:39 am
Bike: 2003 Honda VTX 1800 C

Re: Clutch Qs

Postby Bareass172 » Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:11 am

timtrace wrote:Bare, that is ONE HELL of an AWESOME response. THANK YOU. I'm so sorry that it's taken me this long to reply; I've been laid off and on vacation, and it's only now that I'm getting my rear in gear on my disassembled bike.

No worries, thanks for replying. Many times people come and ask questions never to return with results or even to say "thanks". :confused:

timtrace wrote:Will that Barnett clutch bite harder than the OEM clutch? I'm assuming the original is in pretty good shape and it's just the springs causing the problem, but still, I'd want it to slip only when I tell it to slip. Does this make sense? :)

If you ever had slip with the OEM then it's hard to say what condition it would be in until you dive in. Often the outer plates will be ok, but the inner are glazed. Regardless, the Barnett is a nice replacement while the MTC is definitely king for grabbing. Which you go with depends mostly on your riding style and preferences. The MTC grabs insanely well but some complain it sticks if the bike sits up too long. All this means (if it even happens) is you have to rock the bike before starting it or hold the brake for a second when you crank it, but many find that an inconvenience. The Barnett is closer to stock than the MTC so if you're not an overly aggressive rider who slips the clutch a lot then maybe it's a better choice. Barnett also makes 2 versions of clutch, kevlar and carbon fiber. The problem here is that I've never been able to get a consistent answer from Barnett about what the differences are. Basically every time I call and ask their techs I get a very different answer... Since I run an MTC on my bike I don't have extensive riding experience with either Barnett and customers only provide feedback based on their choice. I tell customers to dig around online for feedback - the opinions from riders of any bike should be consistent so you don't have to limit yourself to just the VTX. I also tell people to call Barnett and ask - even given my experiences - because you never know what they might tell you. Maybe you'd be the first person to get a technical answer! ;)

timtrace wrote:Please PM me quotes for the Barnett and MTC packs here on the board, or pull my email address off my account and send it there.

Check your email.
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