How to Remove the Inner Primary Cover From a Harley

by Don Davis
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There are few reasons to remove the inner primary cover on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. However, the most common are: to install a wide drive belt and offset pulley, to remove the inner primary cover bearing or to replace both primary covers with flashier chrome ones. Removing the inner primary cover is an advanced Harley project. Do not try this at home unless you are completely confident that you can take your motorcycle apart and put it back together again.

Step 1

Raise your motorcycle completely off the ground with a motorcycle jack and ensure that the motorcycle is stable.

Step 2

Locate the primary fluid drain plug in the lower bottom of the outer primary cover. Put a drain pan under the plug, remove the plug with an Allen wrench and drain the primary fluid.

Step 3

Remove the gear shift lever and left foot rest with a socket or box wrench. Remove all five outer primary cover screws with a hex wrench.

Step 4

Use a clutch spring compressor to compress the clutch springs. Remove the nuts on the clutch studs with a wrench. Remove the clutch pressure plate, springs and releasing disc. Inspect the friction plates for dark streaks, which usually indicate warped clutch plates. Remove the friction plates and clutch plates.

Step 5

Locate the chain tensioner and remove the tensioner retaining bolt with a wrench. Remove the chain tensioner by hand. Locate the oiler pipe. Some Harleys do not have an oiler pipe. If yours does, remove it.

Step 6

Use a socket extension and socket to brace the engine and clutch sprockets.

Step 7

Remove the compensator nut with a breaker bar and socket. It may be helpful to extend the leverage of the breaker bar with a 3-foot length of steel pipe. Remove the starter solenoid and motor. In some Harleys, you may have to remove the exhaust pipes as well.

Step 8

Locate and remove the clutch hub nut with a wrench. Remove the primary chain, compensator, front sprocket and clutch hub. Remove any oil lines from the rear primary and remove any remaining oil lines with a pair of pliers and shop rags. The oil lines will be covered in motor oil.

Step 9

Use a wrench to remove the grounding line attached to one of the two retaining bolts near the gear box. Use a wrench to remove the six inner primary retaining bolts on both side of the inner primary.

Step 10

Remove the inner primary. Sometimes the primary may be removed after tapping it gently with a rubber mallet. It is accepted shop practice to use a 2-by-4 and a hammer to remove the inner primary cover if necessary.

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