Thursday, March 19, 2015

Scarlett gets New Clutch Plates

Yesterday, I worked out of the shop at Unique Rides in Fort Collins, the nearest URAL dealer for me and owned by Randy and Tammy F.  Great shop/dealership for us URAL riders in Colorado!   My job allows me to work remotely so long as I've Internet access, so I could work and take notes/pictures of the work being done on Scarlett at the same time.

Scarlett, my 2014 URAL Patrol Sidecar Rig had developed a severe mechanical screeching noise whenever the clutch was engaged, especially when putting her into first gear.  This noise had led to me aborting the ride up to the top of Pikes Peak last week.

BLUF: (Bottom Line Up Front): Scarlett's clutch plates were toast.  Although a lot of the clutch material was still in place, the center spline "teeth" were gone on one and almost gone on the other.  I am surprised I was able to ride Scarlett back from Colorado Springs at all!

First step was to separate the tug from the sidecar.  No major issues here, and we found the bolt onto which the rear upper support arm bolts onto was loose.  (This was fixed during re-assembly)

 Here's sides of Scarlett one usually doesn't see in pictures.

 Quite helpful, the above dolly...

 On the bike lift, ready for the tear-down to begin in order
to get at the clutch plates. 

 The 2014 URALs don't have a lot of room between the rear of the transmission
and the front of the swing arm.  Randy wrestled with removing the donut for quite a 
while as he didn't want to move the swing arm backwards.

In the end, Randy ended up having to remove the engine mount bolts (supporting the engine from below using a jack and block of wood against the oil belly pan).  This involved removing the gas tank, all associated fuel lines, the throttle bodies, the coil and the fuel pump.  Quite the endeavour, there must be an easier way to gain that needed clearance.

Then, after we got the donut out, off came the air filter box, starter, clutch cable and clutch release lever and finally the transmission gearbox was removed, revealing the cover plate to the clutch pack.

 Here you can see Randy applying heat to each Allen head bolt
securing the cover plate on the clutch pack.  They come secured with
red Loctite from the factory now you see.

 A special tool to keep pressure on the cover place as the bolts are
removed.  There's springs, you see, keeping the clutch pack's components
under pressure, making sure they mate to each other.

 Sorry for the blurriness.  Here, Randy has the cover plate off, and
is removing the special tool from the clutch pack so he can pull the pack off.

 Lots of clutch material and crap remains in the flywheel, 
it would be cleaned out of course before the new clutch pack was installed.

 Above is the clutch plate closest to the flywheel.  As you can
plainly see, the "teeth" that should be there are completely gone.

Above is the clutch plate closest to the transmission.  
You can see the pointy remains of that used to be square cut teeth.

 Above is the transmission input spline, some minor damage but it 
looked OK to use to Randy and I.  Note: it was coated with Moly
Grease by Randy before re-assembly. 

Here's the new clutch pack installed and cover plate back on.
Randy went ahead and painted witness marks on all the
bolts so I can easily tell in the feature if they're coming loose.
Notice, the new clutch plate's square cut teeth, that's how they're 
supposed to look.

The re-assembly of engine components went pretty well after we got the engine securely mounted up again.  Next time the engine gets worked on at this level, I must ensure the fuel tank is empty, save on spilled fuel and mess.

We decided, after inspection, to re-use the donut. (We'd already put it in and didn't want to backtrack several onerous steps to put in a new one)  I really must learn if moving the swing arm back is easier to do than moving the engine forward.  Donut replacement is not easy due to space constraints!

I'll be closely monitoring the donut over the next few rides.

It was 7:35PM when we fired Scarlett back up and heard NO NOISE coming from the clutch area!  Success!!!  A short test ride and it was time to put her back on the trailer for the ride home.

My sincere thanks to Randy for doing this work and staying late to get it all done last evening!  It made for a really long day for all involved.

Mileage at time of clutch replacement: 17,138km.

All work done under warranty coverage, there's apparently been a couple or more cases of the clutch plates failing the way Scarlett's had done.  Yet another example of the great support provided not only by my dealer, Unique Rides of Fort Collins, CO but the great warranty coverage and support by URAL and IMWA!


Richard M said...

It looks like there is no easy way to see the condition of the clutch splines short of removing the transmission. This should be good enough evidence why the transmission input splines need to be regularly greased. Did you get a good look at the donut? Thanks for the pictures and the write-up.

Charlie6 said...

Yep, those clutch splines must be lubed every time the gearbox is off the engine! I need to figure out a way to do it without removing so much stuff to get the gearbox off! Donut looks hole deformations. will monitor.

BTW, the clutch splines on my 2011 didn't look much worse at 30K+ km w/o lube...but they should still be lubed!

I'm going to explore using similar process as with our airhead beemers, removing/backing off the swing arm so one can have room to remove both donut and gearbox in toto.

Richard M said...

Must be all of those jackrabbit starts, burnouts and wheelies you do with the additional power from the EFI… ;-)

Charlie6 said...

Trying to get me in trouble with URAL?

EFI or not, there's no such thing as excessive speed hooliganism with these rigs!

SonjaM said...

I admire people who can take stuff apart, and put it back together again for the better. I am good with the first one, but it always lacked at the latter...
and I am happy that my bike didn't develop such issues (yet).

Greybeard said...

We have much in common except, I HATE the cold.
Your blog motivated me to go ride an Ural. I was surprised how heavy the steering felt. I also realized how gingerly I'd have to ride to start in order to avoid busting my *** the first few miles/months.
Like you, I've owned and ridden many other bikes, including seemingly bulletproof Suzukis, Kaws, Hondas, etc..
From reading here it seems you're having to do a bunch of tinkering with Scarlet to keep her from stranding you. Am I getting the wrong impression? I know you indicate satisfaction with service when things DO go wrong.
Would you recommend buying a Ural to someone who doesn't want to constantly turn a wrench on the thing?
(I'm 68, and the idea of a future trike is not at all appealing to me.)

Charlie6 said...

SonjaM, the more I practice, the better and more dangerous I get at mechanical'd do fine.

Greybeard. Thanks for commenting. As to your question: "Would you recommend buying a Ural to someone who doesn't want to constantly turn a wrench on the thing?".

My answer is absolutely NOT. Even when nothing is wrong, these beasts require frequent maintenance and's not a gas and go vehicle....nothing really is but URALs are definitely not for folks who don't want to turn a wrench.

Such is the price one pays for year-round riding in all kinds of weather and conditions, the price to not be just another two-wheeled motorcycle (cagers dont know the difference in marques, they do notice sidecars though). The price for the ability to say "yeah, let's go explore that dirt road and see where it leads". Its the price one pays for a machine you can basically fix yourself most of the time. Modern bulletproof bikes? Not so easy to work on when they break and "all things wrought by man, will break, sooner or later".

There's plenty of other options out there for sidecaring. URAL is my choice since it's designed from the factory as a sidecar rig, it has reverse and its got personality. Sure, it's a love/hate thing but then again, who wants commonplace? :)

BMW HACKER said...

On a BMW, "freeing" the swingarm and moving it back for clearance is pretty easy. Much quicker than "freeing" the engine and moving it forward.....but then I'm not familiar with the Ural set up.

Arizona Harley Dude said...

That transmission spline looks a bit suspect. A lot of work involved to chance for me. I can see the fun of the Ural, but the tinkering would get old, the Harley rider said with a busted fairing mount sitting in the garage. LOL no matter what we ride it can break.

Charlie6 said...

BMW Hacker, I agree, having helped move the engine forward. I think I'll try moving the swing arm's not hard on my R80 when I lube its input spline, we'll see how it goes with the URAL. BMW input splines aren't as "beefy" as the URAL ones.

AZ HD. Yeah, there's some "wear" but it was looked at by both the dealer and the warranty guy at URAL so I must defer to their judgement. It's under warranty for two more years so if it fails....and yeah, all that is made by Man, will break, sooner or later.

Jim Dudley said...

It took me about 2 hours from time I jacked it up, to having the clutch out. It is much better to disconnect the swingarm. See Darrels (Albequerque) videos on soviet steeds. I didn't use any special tools, the clutch bolts came out without using torch. Parts are ordered and hope to have them by friday, about 550$ for everything.

Charlie6 said...

Jim Dudley, interesting that the clutch bolts came off without using heat...they're supposed to be red loctited in there. I would definitely apply red loctite upon installation.

Procedure is pretty simple as you saw.

Did you check your thrust bearing assembly for damage?

Justin Waller said...

I know this is a pretty old blog, but I just wanted to let you know I'm experiencing the same issue with my 2014 Patrol. I am just shy of 27,000 km and am on a ride from Texas, through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and back to Texas. I'm currently in Box Elder, SD, with my bike all torn down awaiting new clutch plates.

Your report here was helpful in diagnosing the issue with my bike and the reason I pulled my bike apart to inspect the clutch plates. Just like yours, there are no teeth left on the outer plate and the other plate has worn teeth.

Charlie6 said...

Thanks Justin Waller for your comments, glad to be of some help. Sometimes I think I'm here on this earth to serve as an example of what not to do....