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Playing In The Cat Box July 2017

By Danny Martin (American Cycle Auto & Truck)

The other day a gentleman came into my shop, looked like he had been a biker for quite some time. He was having a problem with his oil dipstick. It dawned on me then that I guess it’s not always wrenches and hard work. Well it’s the middle of summer, it’s kind of hot and we really don’t want to be working on our bikes. So, let’s just make sure that they’re going to stay going for you.

Checking the oil and transmission is pretty, easy and straightforward. First, almost every transmission has the 3/8 Allen bolt dipstick right on the front right side. On average, they take about 28 oz. of fluid. I prefer to run the 140 weight in most of the older bikes as it helps to firm up the shift. This won’t take long if you have a 3/8 Allen wrench, simply level your bike after it’s been running, take off the dipstick, unscrew it and look on the lines or hashtags, sometimes you can even smell it. With a visual inspection make sure that your fluid is not gray or dark, most fluids are a golden color. If it’s grey or dark you might want to change it. I’ll explain that to you in another installment, but if your fluid level is within the hashtags, simply snug it back up. You don’t have to Monkey Wrench it back on there and you’ll be set.


Next thing we’ll check is the oil. Sometimes checking the oil on some of the touring bikes can be a little more complicated, especially on the newer twin cams. On the right side, you will usually see a big round, sometimes square (depending on the year, make and model or if somebody changed yours) but that is where you will find your dipstick. Although some of them screw in, most of them that I have come across do not. Sometimes you unscrew the knurled or squared cap and it’ll come right off the rubber that pushes into the block, but sometimes with a little bit of wiggling and some persuasion you can get it out of there. I never found any success with gluing the cap back; I suggest you just get a new one, but once again with the bike warmed up and sitting level when you pull out the dipstick it pretty much says right between the hash tags at a quart whether you’re high or low on most bikes.


Takes about three and a half quarts of some good 20-50, but on a lot of the Softails and Wide Glides they have what’s called The Horseshoe tank and you’ll see a little knob or plug right underneath your right leg to check. You simply kind of pull it out, look in there, if you see oil you’re good. If you don’t think it’s close enough be careful pouring to not overfill it because it will squirt out, but once again most of the Horseshoe type oil bags as they’re called take approximately 3 quarts. I know it seems like we really didn’t do much here today but we really did. Those are two of the most important things you can check next to your Tires and Brakes. I thank you for visiting the Cat Box and as always if there’s something you feel that I can cover please contact me at the magazine if you’d like us to add something I will give it my best shot. Thanks again, AMCAT


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