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Thread: cam chain tensioners

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    Registered User hendriksgarage's Avatar
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    cam chain tensioners

    I have a 04 1150 GSA with 25k Should I be concerned about this cam chain tensioner thing? What are the symptoms?

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    Instigator cele0001's Avatar
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    Noise on startup when cold (overnight) is the most common. I guess in certain cases over time it beats the chain guide to the point of breaking. Left side is the one that makes the noise. It is on top behind the throttle. Parts are about $130 right now. I have replaced mine. There is no more noise (mine was a little noisy on startup before)
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    just hangin' out 2bikemike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cele0001 View Post
    Noise on startup when cold (overnight) is the most common. I guess in certain cases over time it beats the chain guide to the point of breaking. Left side is the one that makes the noise. It is on top behind the throttle. Parts are about $130 right now. I have replaced mine. There is no more noise (mine was a little noisy on startup before)
    Parts are less than $90 from Rubber Chicken Racing.
    keep it light enough to travel.....
    '04 R1150RT
    '81 Honda CB650 Custom

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bikemike View Post
    Parts are less than $90 from Rubber Chicken Racing.
    If you wear ear plugs, you might not hear the noise. Also, if you start up cold and ride away you may not ever hear the sound.

    To truely test for the sound you need a helper to start the bike. A rally or tech day would be a good place to have someone check. With your millage it is unlikely you need to do anything. Normally, only high millage bikes have issues with cam chain tensioners. To test for a cam chain tensioner failure you or your helper has to listen for the sound on the cyclinder head after the bike is warmed up. The flapping happens when oil pressure has not built up to the nominal rate. So, it is probably from 0-30 seconds after the bike is started. After that the flapping will go away and the bike should sound like a sewing machine. You will have to let the bike sit for at least 10-30 seconds for the oil pressure to drop back to zero after turning it off. You need to listen to both cyclinder heads, but the left side seems to fail more than the right for some reason it seems.

    Also, according to Chris Harris of 'affordable BMW repair' in NH cam chain tensioners don't fail until about 80K.
    I had 83K on my bike when mine failed.

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    best to fix it before it breaks. no great reason to wait, as the newer versions don't seem to wear out.

    http://rubberchickenracinggarage.com/chain.html

    easy enough to look at the bolt head to know if this job has been done or not- old version is 17mm bolt head, new one is 15mm.
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

  6. #6
    Left Coast Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by hendriksgarage View Post
    I have a 04 1150 GSA with 25k Should I be concerned about this cam chain tensioner thing? What are the symptoms?
    Symptoms are a racket coming from the left side of your motor on start up from cold (or after sitting for a hour or so which allows oil to drain out of the left-side tensioner) which disappears after a couple of seconds. I replaced mine at 30,000 kilometers. Do as Bikerfish has suggested and you'll be a happy camper/rider/person.

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    just hangin' out 2bikemike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuckyGrownup View Post
    If you wear ear plugs, you might not hear the noise. Also, if you start up cold and ride away you may not ever hear the sound.

    To truely test for the sound you need a helper to start the bike. A rally or tech day would be a good place to have someone check. With your millage it is unlikely you need to do anything. Normally, only high millage bikes have issues with cam chain tensioners. To test for a cam chain tensioner failure you or your helper has to listen for the sound on the cyclinder head after the bike is warmed up. The flapping happens when oil pressure has not built up to the nominal rate. So, it is probably from 0-30 seconds after the bike is started. After that the flapping will go away and the bike should sound like a sewing machine. You will have to let the bike sit for at least 10-30 seconds for the oil pressure to drop back to zero after turning it off. You need to listen to both cyclinder heads, but the left side seems to fail more than the right for some reason it seems.

    Also, according to Chris Harris of 'affordable BMW repair' in NH cam chain tensioners don't fail until about 80K.
    I had 83K on my bike when mine failed.
    I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that if the chain skips just one link, much less fail totally, it'll cost way more than $90.
    keep it light enough to travel.....
    '04 R1150RT
    '81 Honda CB650 Custom

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    Registered User hendriksgarage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bikemike View Post
    I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that if the chain skips just one link, much less fail totally, it'll cost way more than $90.
    Thanks for the info. I just changed the oil and filter so I guess thats when it should of been the loudest being the oil filter was empty. There was no noise so I'm probably ok for now. I plan to do clutch splines at 50k maybe I'll do tensioners then.

  9. #9
    Pepperfool GSAddict's Avatar
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    You may already have the new style - check the head size.
    Don't wait
    There are those that believe that the old style tensioners contribute to the chain guides breaking and that is real bad news. Replace if you have the old style.
    '
    Ufda happens..........

    It's all about the details.

  10. #10
    Registered User hendriksgarage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GSAddict View Post
    You may already have the new style - check the head size.
    Don't wait
    There are those that believe that the old style tensioners contribute to the chain guides breaking and that is real bad news. Replace if you have the old style.
    Head size? What do you mean exactly.

  11. #11
    Instigator cele0001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hendriksgarage View Post
    Head size? What do you mean exactly.
    Original part has 17mm head size, updated one has 15mm head size (top the the tensioner hex)
    I want to be unique, just like everybody else.

  12. #12
    Registered User ratze's Avatar
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    When i first scored my 02 1150 the start up noise was terribal, sounded like a main bearing in an old chevy. it was that bad, one of the first things i did was change out cam chain tensioner. quit as a sewing machine now. i would recomend it be done even if start up noise minimal. its not that hard to do once you get the throttle body ota the way. if i remember correctly parts wer 80 buks.
    The pursuit of reality at all cost.

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    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cele0001 View Post
    Original part has 17mm head size, updated one has 15mm head size (top the the tensioner hex)
    Indeed - the housing of the original tensioner took a 17mm wrench to install and tighten (or remove) the tensioner. The revised tensioner housing takes a smaller 15mm wrench to install and tighten (or remove).

    So if a 15mm wrench fits it is the new style. If a 17mm wrench fits it is an old style.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
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    Quote Originally Posted by hendriksgarage View Post
    Head size? What do you mean exactly.
    post #5
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

  15. #15
    Registered User lkchris's Avatar
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    I believe there may be at least two "new" versions with 15 mm hex, so if so this isn't evidence the latest version is installed.

    I post this to learn more.
    Kent Christensen
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    '12 R1200RT, '02 R1100S, '84 R80G/S

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