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Discussion Starter #1
I've got to decide whether to dump this lemon or try one last time to get a usable clutch setup.

My 2000 LT has only 27,000 miles 'cause it's been so unreliable and is usually disassembled instead of usable. Right now it needs its fifth clutch. The last clutch was by Irv Seaver for $1100 and it started slipping again before 3,000 miles. Now at 4,000 if the windshield is up I can't reach highway speeds.

Every time they replace all the seals, o-ring & nut, clutch alumium basket, pressure plate, backing plate, spacer ring, diaphragm spring, slave...everything. It got the newer double-lip engine shaft seal the first time the clutch was replaced, and every time since. It got the revised clutch rod with the felt. Yet nobody can get the clutch to last.

Yes, I commute in stop/go expressway and I like to split lanes to the front of the line then accelerate away. There's a Rhinewest chip, no catalytic converter, a piece of large-diameter shop-vac extension wand inplace of the air intake muffler, and a huge +2 Cee Bailey pushing into the wind. And the 2000 has the final drive ratio that makes first a bit higher so you need to slip the clutch a bit more to launch. But I figure I've only added about 4 HP to the bike.

My use is admittedly a little harder on the clutch, but the thrid one went out in a single highway trip from Chicago to LA, new when I left and slipping when I arrived. I usually try to get it to lock up before I apply full power, except when I just split lanes to the front of the line (as is legal here in California). Yet I've never had any clutch trouble with any bike or car and I drive them all pretty hard. I figure my Saturn clutch only lasted 90,000 instead of 100,000 because of hard launches. All my (other) motorcycle clutches have alwasy been extremely reliable, the only one I ever wore out was on my first 2-stroke which we slipped like mad to get underway (and a '97 Suzuki TL1000S had the crummy early-model 5-spring clutch which slipped pretty early). But this LT clutch has been a huge problem for me.

One clutch I installed with dual diaphragm springs, and that one lasted longer and worked much much better, but then the friction disc didn't last 'cause I'd also drilled the pressure plate and back plate (much like you would a brake disc) and they had a bit of cheese-grater effect.

I got to inspect some parts when removed:
- the first clutch (everything inside the bell housing was covered with a nasty soot, but the friction material thickness still seemed OK)
- the second clutch had some signs of some seepage past the engine main seal, yet it looked like the bit that leaked shouldn't have been likely to have gotten to the friction surfaces anyhow.
- the third (which my cheese-grater drilled plates shaved).

I still have the same supsects as I had when the bike had only 3,000 miles:

1) The engine main seal. Perhaps the output shaft out of the engine, which has the driven gear of the primary set, has too much radial play and makes the seal leak.
2) The clutch spring is just too darn weak. Double clutch diaphragm springs work one heck of a lot better.
3) The early LT final drive gear ratio makes first gear too high, making my hard launches hard on the clutch.
4) I'm making just enough more power than the clutch can handle, and the very large +2 Cee bailey with its flip-lip makes a ton of drag.

Anyway, right now I really really hate my LT for the 5-6 thousand I've spent on clutches. But I polished the lower fork tubes and front wheel, installed a bunch of LED lights, HID lights, CB and linear, floorboards, LED taillight, stereo power amp and upgraded speakers and crossovers, BC-3, etc. etc. It's really way way too heavy for me to love, and way too hevy for the jackrabbit starts of my commuting. I can't see the radio display at all anymore. The cruise switch on the clutch master is flaky. The original shorty J-pegs aren't very usable and the left one catches my pants cuff. But if the darn clutch would just WORK for 50,000 instead of just 3,000 I would still get some fun out of it. The second and fourth clutches I really babied and they still didn't last.

So I'm really torn. This clutch problem has already cost me more time and trouble than any bike is worth. Now even to sell it I'd need to put in a clutch, so I'd spend $1000 and sell it for maybe 6,000. If I have 22,000 into it now, and I only got 27,000 out of it, this has been a terrible motorcycle for me. Right now I just wish I could trade it straight-up for a new R1. Or FJ or ST. But I'd need to come up with a clutch repair and throw in another 4K-5K.
 

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Is a certified dealer doing the repairs?

Just a couple of questions: If the clutch plate thickness is OK upon removal, does the plate look like it has been contaminated by any fluid? Have you ever had to add fluid to the clutch reservoir? I also wonder if you have had the "weephole" drilled in the engine cases?
 

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Unreliable clutch advice?

Well, if you're looking for unreliable advice, I'm here to help! ;)

I'd measure for specs every component that came out of your most recent failure. Spring length, friction plate thickness, etc. No contamination? I haven't done a KLT clutch but would wonder about spline lube (too much, wrong type applied), in addition to the ususl suspects (rear main, slave cylinder seepage). Sloppy assembly? Greasy fingers handling the components during assembly?

If you riding style (heavy on the clutch) is the cuplrit, I'd expect the clutch disk to be worn out of specs or severely glazed. After all, it could be that your clutch would have lasted in the hands of another, but your riding style and modifications to the bike combined to exceed its capacity. In that case I'd think an experienced mechanic could see the signs of wear on the components.
 

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How much fluid do you have in the clutch master cylinder? As the clutch wears the fluid level raises, and you have to remove some fluid.
Don
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Previously it always seemed to be a contamination problem from the engine main seal. You can tell by the symptoms, when it slips after a long highway drone. This time it just slips all the darn time. And the second clutch failed in just one light-use all-highway trip from Chicago to California, no posssibility of it wearing out when it was hardly used.

Too bad, 'cause the engine is making very good power and the SoCal weather should let me enjoy it all year round. But of the many, many, many bikes I've owned this recurring clutch problem has made this bike the least reliable vehicle I've ever encountered; my old BSA was reliable compared to this TL. And no, none of the repairs were covered under warranty, I've paid and paid and paid... An obsolete design terribly executed. Should have oil flinger discs on both sides of all seals, and the trans input shaft should have a weep hole EDM'd thru to the throwout rod so hydraulic fliud would fling out before reaching the clutch, the slave and master should both have bigger bores, there should be a drainhole at the slave mount, the slave should have a better throwout bearing at the rod socket, the diaphragm spring should be about twice as strong, first gear should be lower (final drive ratio is better in the newer ones), and the engine main seal should be a MUCH BETTER SEAL (even the improved one is just inadequate).
 

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cyclecamper said:
Previously it always seemed to be a contamination problem from the engine main seal. ---------).
Only a relatively small percentage have been from the engine main seal, the great majority are from slave cylinder failure.

The engine main oil seal/"O" ring failure can pass quite a bit of oil before it gets into the clutch. The clutch drive plate will sling nearly all of the oil out to the housing, where it will mostly end up at the bottom and drip out between the housings. It will eventually get bad enough to cause some to drip down through the holes in the drive plate where it can get on the clutch.

The slave cylinder leakage however only takes a fairly small amount of fluid to be forced down the small area between the clutch actuation rod and tranny main input shaft, where it is deposited right into the clutch area.
 

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I'm buying clutch and slave parts from Irv Seavers right now - their parts man says the clutch and slave is warranted even if you do the work yourself - might have been 1 year, but, I think for 2 years

I'd talk to the dealer about warranty replacement

If you do, let us know what happens.
 

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chenley said:
I'm buying clutch and slave parts from Irv Seavers right now - their parts man says the clutch and slave is warranted even if you do the work yourself - might have been 1 year, but, I think for 2 years

I'd talk to the dealer about warranty replacement

If you do, let us know what happens.
This thread started in Nov 2006. I'm hoping cyclecamper has his clutch fixed by now. :)
 

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I didn't notice that Charlie!

At first I thought, "Hey. Greg is back?!"

Wonder what he finally did?

Bob
 

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I live in N Cal. splitting traffic with an LT is way to much work, I've done it and have the mirror repair bills to prove it. Go get a beater for $2000 and save the LT for Sunday rides with the wife.

You may be on to something with the seal leak, the rear seal will leak if you dump four quarts into the bike. Keep your oil level down to 3.5 or 3.75.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Sold the LT nearly 9 months ago after Mitch (used to be head mechanic at Marty's BMW in Torrance before they closed) put in a new clutch. Figured I should sell it while it works good. Then I was working at Yamaha Motor Corp USA for a while, but without any bike at all. I'm building a 10-year old Suzuki TL1000R, but have no time to work on it. The only complete bike I have is an old non-running Cagiva 650 which is 2,000 miles away in my father's garage.
 
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