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no oil to rocker boxes loud ticking

Started by Ccdan, August 11, 2021, 03:17:28 PM

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2017xl 883 converted to Harley stage 4 1200cc.
Had lifter failure front exhaust, installed new lifters with adjustable push rods. started bike bike had loud, abnormal valve train ticking.
Attached oil pressure guage, very low oil pressure. Installed new oil pump, now has 12-14 psi idle and 30+ running, still very noisy valve ticking.
Rechecked/set  pushrod adjustment several times adding 1 then two turns, four is spec,  lifters were always pumped right up and took 20 minutes or more to bleed down each time.
Removed rocker box covers and ran bike for ten minutes or more with no oil through rockers at all. All pushrods and rockers are clear with no obstructions. can push oil through rockers with old school oil can pump with shaft in place.
Why would the lifter be fully pumped up but not pass oil through pushrods?
when I reassembled rockers I added a lot of oil to rocker boxes and was quieter for a brief period.
I have oil returning to oil tank with steady flow, checked cam cover and gasket, no problems, correct gasket.
Have tried different oil filters and checked spring and check ball, all good.
Im out of ideas, anybody got any input on this? Thanks




Was the motor at compression TDC or overlap TDC when the pushrods were adjusted? Do you know how to tell the difference?


Did the 883 to 1200 kit have dished or flat top pistons.  Im pretty sure the combustion chamber is smaller on a 883 and flat top pistions will hit the valves.


Yes push rods were adjusted properly. have built many motors.
Pistons are domed from the SE stage four kit, Heads, pistons ,cylinders, cams, valve to piston clearance, squish, cylinder checked with dial bore guage and torque plates, heads  cc'd, no stone unturned. the problem is no oil to rockers, just don't know why.
when running bike no oil coming out rockers, lifters are pumped up solid, no excessive oil in sump, steady flow back to tank.


XL Oil flow is from pump to outside of filter, then center of filter to lifters, as well as the cam cover, to feed pinion shaft/main bearings.
It's possible, but not likely, there is a restriction/blockage between the output of the filter and the passage that feeds the lifters. Maybe some crud that caused the other failure, or resulted from it? I'd take the filter off, and the cam cover off, and force air through each passage to see where the issue is.
Ignorance is bliss, and accuracy expensive. How much of either can you afford?


Thanks for the input, I've done all that.
the lifters are getting oil and are pumped up solid, takes 20 min or so to bleed down.
This one has me baffled. Took the rocker covers off another Sporty and ran it, oil was coming out rockers, this one is dry ?
has great oil pressure .


Quoteand are pumped up solid

what does that mean ?

did you clean the PR centres before install ?


Yes, tubes are clear, pushed oil through rockers with shafts in place with old school oil pump can.
everything is clear able to flow oil, no restrictions.


We learn from history that we do not learn from history


Quote from: FSG on August 13, 2021, 02:51:31 PM
Quoteand are pumped up solid

what does that mean ?

did you clean the PR centres before install ?

still curious as to what that means ........ 

depending on how PRs are adjusted in some lifters there is the possibility of oil flow into the lifter is blocked off

as Hoss suggests try the old lifters


August 15, 2021, 06:53:20 AM #12 Last Edit: August 15, 2021, 06:58:13 AM by Dan89flstc
Quote from: Ccdan on August 13, 2021, 02:34:53 PMTook the rocker covers off another Sporty and ran it, oil was coming out rockers, this one is dry ?

A different set of rocker shaft supports flows oil normally on the problem engine?

Probably an obstruction in the rocker support oil path.

Although you were able to get oil to flow using a hand pump oil can, keep in mind that little oil can may deliver much more pressure than the engine oil pump does.
1989 FLSTC 2016 FLHR 2019 FLHT
US Navy Veteran


My Sportster had that loud tick from the rocker boxes.
One day I had had enough and ordered some Rocker Lockers.
That quietened things down enormously.
There was tell-tale wear on the rocker shafts where they had been happily rattling to and fro.

1942 WLA45 chop, 1999 FLTR(not I), 2000 1200S