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Discussion Starter #1
Hi, thanks again for welcoming me to the site.:smile2:

I'll begin with my history with the bike..I've had my 1985 Honda Rebel for about 12 years. It was given to me by a friend who got it from the original owner. When my friend got it, it had been sitting in a garage for about 9 years. He took it apart (carbs, top end, wiring etc) and just never did anything with it. When I got it the bike was in pieces. I put everything back together and to my surprise all the parts were there. All it needed was a battery and a new gas tank(old one rusted out) when I was done. Bike had 12k original miles on it at the time.

I purchased a battery and then a gas tank from a 2002 Rebel. I put new brakes on it, new clutch plates and springs (EBC kit) and cleaned it up. Thought I was ready to put it on the road but realized I never got a title with it. After exhausting every angle to track down the original owner (he moved and lost contact with my friend) I decided to just keep it and ride it around the neighborhood from time to time.. I ended up putting 2k miles on it in 8 years. It always ran perfect, until I parked it about 4 years ago.

I parked it because I thought the clutch went out(had put in a new clutch already at 12k miles). The clutch lever kept getting loose and I kept tightening it until I had no more adjustment. It eventually got to where the clutch lever was completely loose.. It wouldn't grab at all.. I would pull the lever in with no resistance and it got to the point where you couldn't even put it in gear(like how it would be if you tried to put it in gear without the clutch pulled in). So i parked it.

It's sat in my garage since until I recently decided to get it back running. I drained the carb and tank when I parked it. After hooking up my jumper pack (dead battery) I put gas in it and she fired right up. Always did run perfect. So a few days ago I put in all new clutch plates(fiber plates) and springs (EBC kit). Put on a new clutch cable, new oil (not energy conserving) the right kind, 10w-40 Valvoline motorcycle oil engineered for wet clutch. Soaked clutch plates beforehand in oil.

After putting it all back together to my dismay i had the SAME exact problem I did when I parked it. The clutch doesn't grab at all. I've tightened the cable and it's adjusted properly. The clutch arm on the clutch cover is also functioning properly. 4 clutch bolts are torqued to the right specification. Keep in mind I installed the first clutch at 12k (bike now has 14k) and noticed when I pulled the discs off they still looked new. So nothing burning up the discs. The clutch assembly looks good, no cracks, the friction plates look great. Spanner nut was locked in tight.

I'm pretty mechanically savvy but I'm starting to think it's something besides the clutch. It just doesn't seem to be actuating like it should. Is there thrust bushings or something on the other side of the engine that push or pull the clutch assembly or something? Any other ideas of what could be causing the problem? Everything with the clutch itself inside and out look good. I got nothing in the clutch lever. When I try and push the clutch in and out with the clutch cover off it doesn't really move. Any ideas?

Here's a YouTube video I have with new clutch installed.. You can see I got nothing in the clutch arm. (note the clutch cable is disconnected, even when it is I get nothing) https://youtu.be/LXQ-M1qTRiQ

Thanks in advance guys. (sorry for the long post).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the reply. Good eye you have. #15 in your diagram is actually broken. However I broke that pin off after trying for the 5th or 6th time to make it work. I left the 4 clutch bolts half way unscrewed trying to see if I could get the clutch to grab (thinking the springs may have been wrong size). When I put the clutch cover on and pulled the clutch lever I broke that pin (30 years old) which was a stupid last ditch effort to get some kind of resistance in the clutch lever. I've since ordered that piece.

But still before that happened I had nothing. #12 #13 and #9 are all in place. I took out 6 clutch plates (fiber plates). And I'm fairly certain thats how many I put back in. I'm going to pull it all back off tomorrow and post pictures and/or video showing assembly. Maybe that will shed some more light and reassurance that the clutch itself is installed properly.
 

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Did you stake the special lock nut?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yes the special lock nut was staked. If for some reason it had become loose I would still have something in the lever. I just feel like somethings sticking. Shouldn't you be able to push the rod with your hand (with clutch cover off) and see the plates free up. When I tighten the 4 clutch bolts I cant get any actuation in the clutch. Gonna pull it back off soon.
 

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I had that problem on a XL 350 Honda. It turned out that the lower, inner "bearing" for the actuator shaft was cracked (broken out) in the cover. Some might call this component a "boss" or "pocket." It is cast right into the cover when manufactured.
Anyway, this allowed the whole "cam shaft" to move to the riders right instead of pushing the release rod to the left. I could see that this could have worsened gradually as the shaft pushed, cracked and wore it's way out of the pocket.
I believe we ended up buying a used EBay cover.

PS. After looking the parts diagram over again, perhaps you don't have this exact system. But I did notice that part 8 (cam) is secured to shaft 4 with a pin, part 15. Clamp part 4 in a vise and make sure part 8 doesn't rotate, either way, on the shaft. Use a pliers or channel locks.
Perhaps the pin sheared, or the hole wore in one or both of the two pieces that are supposed to be fixed securely to each other. And make sure the bore in the cover that the shaft passes thru is not wore or cracked out.
Also, check the external lever on the outer, top end of the shaft to make sure it is not loose or otherwise rotating.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
@XLarry thanks for the advice. I actually broke that pin part #15 as I stated in my earlier post. However I fixed that. The clutch arm (that's attached to clutch cover) is working properly. It rotates like it should and part #8 does show a slight embezzled hole in it as you can see from my video below (video part 1). I figured that was supposed to be that way so the rod has something to sit in.

However I ran back through the clutch again. (see videos below in case you see something I missed) But everything with the entire clutch assembly and clutch cover look to be fine. I changed the clutch with 12k on it, I've since put 2k miles on it. It shouldn't been worn out. The clutch plates still looked new when I removed them.

Anyway, lets say for instance that the clutch assembly and cover are all perfect, the clutch cable is new as well. What other things could be affecting the clutch for not engaging and disengaging? When I tried to push the rod that the clutch cover arm pushes when the clutch lever is pulled it doesn't move. It's as if the clutch is locked tight.. There is no actuation. If I cant push it with my hand there's no way the lever is going to move it. When you push the center where the rod is the clutch should free up, but it doesn't budge at all.

Has to be something besides the clutch assembly that's causing the problem. See my videos for more of a visual diagnosis. And thanks again for your responses. They have helped me narrow things down and rule them out.

Video part 1
https://youtu.be/1b6q6qtN8xc

Video part 2
https://youtu.be/oOxXuYH9TcY

Video part 3
https://youtu.be/c8eGOkAZNz8
 

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I am pretty sure you will never move the actuating rod just by pushing it by hand. The lever that rotates is a cam, which GREATLY multiplies the force. I would guess that total movement of the rod would be less than 1/16 inch.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
@XLarry ok that is good to know. So is it possible that part #9 is worn on the inside and causing the rod to not extend out fully?
 

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So I watched your videos. You are right in that there is way too much free play before the clutch starts to release. It's like something inside has gotten shorter or slipped. You said you replaced pin 15. Is it a real tight fit, both in the shaft and in the actuator "cam?"
And I think you inspected the holes in the cover that guide and hold the shaft. These holes should be a pretty snug fit around the shaft, with no room to wiggle, even a little. Like I said, the whole push rod will move only a fraction of an inch, from fully engaged to fully disengaged.
Oh, and the tiny holes in the small spool are there for lubrication, as there is tremendous end pressure on the pushrod, which is also turning. Somewhere along the line, all that thrust has to be maintained, while rotating, while your clutch is disengaged. It must be lubed well with engine oil, or it will grind itself up. Inspect all those interfaces on the actuating rod, from the cam all the way into the clutch. There may be a button hidden deep in the hub that might be damaged or even missing.

When speaking of clutches, there is always a confusion in terms.
A clutch is "engaged" when it is propelling you down the road. It is "disengaged"or "released" when you are at a stoplight and not moving.
The lever on the handlebar seems to use the opposite terms. The lever is "engaged" when you squeeze it and "released" when you let it go to begin to move. Confusing. The same can be said of any clutch, like on a big truck or farm tractor.
 

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Yes, part 9 could be wore, as well as any of the parts that complete that unit, from the bearings that hold the external shaft in the cover all the way thru to the inner part of the clutch assembly. I repeat, I doubt that the clutch activating mechanism moves more than a 16th inch, full engaged to full released. Any small amount of extra play or slippage is multiplied in there.
I saw where you squeezed the clutch lever on the handlebar, and you were almost tight to the handlebars before any releasing action took place. And you are plumb out of adjustment on either end of the cable.
Look over the cable anchor points in each end. Did the outer cable jacket "slip" in its mounts on either end? Is a bracket bent or twisted that holds the outer cable housing in position? That would result in too much free play, which you are trying to adjust out.
How about the brass? knobs on either end of the inner cable-either one of them break loose and slip farther off the end of the cable? (Please don't weld anything in there, or in the cover yet. It makes things very unreversable)
An old-timer (and I'm 65 YO) once told me"it's only iron" meaning that there is a reason for the malfunction. There is no smoke, magic, levitations, or anything else that makes the clutch work. Only iron (OK, aluminum, plastic, cables, etc.) but there is a reason, and it WILL be found, sooner or later.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
@XLarry, Good insight here. Yes the actuator cam is tight and in place. The new pin (part #15) is very tight and there is no play in it. I figured the holes in part #9 where for oil to get in after further inspection. I'm just wondering if the inside of that piece (part #9) has wallowed out enough to keep the rod from sitting all the way out as it should.

But you are right something has gotten shorter because I have way to much play in the clutch arm. I took the clutch apart probably 6 times looking for a bearing or washer that may be out of place. Looking at the clutch assembly diagram every piece is in there and positioned in the right order. I think the next thing I will try is to add some kind of spacer into part #9 and see if it pushes the rod out further. Trial and error at this point until I can highlight the problem and replace. Thanks for your help!
 

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Perhaps another clue could be found by examining the position of the external clutch arm/shaft. Typically, they are designed so that the cable pulls the lever at an exact 90* angle to the arm. Not exact, but the arc of travel should be equidistant on each side the median stroke of the lever. If this interface angle is not this way, it might point to an internal malfunction, like you suspect.
If the cable is at 90*, it might point to an external linkage problem, like slipped/stretched cable.
If someone on the forum has a clutch disassembled, perhaps they could furnish you some dimensions of the different components that you suspect might be damaged. I would think that if damage had occurred, there should have been some metal particles or shavings evident when you removed the cover. And you aren't looking for very much wear, .020 or .030 reduction in length would be significant.
 

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Very interested in end resolution here. My son and I are resurrecting an 85 Rebel 250 and this is exactly where we are also. Trying to decide whether we need to spend the money on Cluthc kit or if it is something else.
 

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@DiamondJack Im still stuck at the same place. I've tried everything suggested and without seeing new parts I can't tell if the ones I have are worn to the point it's causing the problem. From inspection everything looks to be fine and nothing is missing and all in the right place according to the diagrams posted earlier in this thread.

I'm debating on buying another full clutch assembly and clutch cover from Ebay but I'm concerned and fairly certain I will be in the same boat. I'm worried that it's something internally with the shaft or something inside the engine, however it doesn't appear to be at glance. If you find any further information on this problem please post it here. I will continue to investigate and may even take the bike to a shop and see what they can find out. I'll post any other findings or solutions that I find out.
 

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UPDATE!!

My Rebel is back on the road running better than ever. Part 9 had worn slightly on the inside, this caused the rod to not extend out a fraction of an inch further causing part of the problem.

The other part of the problem was Part 15 had become loose and was not correctly turning part 8 quick enough. This was because the hole on Part 4 where the pin (part 15) goes into had wallowed out and was not catching the pin immediately when the clutch arm was pulled.

To fix that problem I drilled out the hole just slightly bigger and used a larger pin that I had in my shop that fit perfect.. You could also use a small screw if you needed to.. as long as the pin sits tight on part 4 and part 8 moves immediately when the arm is pulled you are fine.


For those diagnosing a clutch problem... here are a few things to check first and foremost. (besides obvious, clutch cable, clutch discs and springs).

1: When you put your clutch cover on your bike. If everything is correct your clutch arm (attached to clutch cover that the clutch cable connects to) should not move at all. There should be no play or movement in the arm. If there's even a fraction of an inch something is wrong or worn. It should be kinda tough if the clutch is new to stretch the clutch cable to it.

2: With the clutch cover off, try and move the arm on the clutch cover (the arm the clutch cable attaches to). If Part 8 does not IMMEDIATELY start to turn with the arm you have a problem. Either the pin has worn or the hole the pin goes in has worn.

2: Make sure all 4 bolts on the lifter plate (part 14) are completely tight and torqued to spec. If they are not tight you will get slippage.

I hope this helps future Rebel owners looking for a fix. Some of these things were mentioned to me earlier in this thread but without having anything to compare to they didn't look worn.. but like @XLarry said we are talking fractions of inches here.. millimeters! If you have questions please feel free to post here or message me.
 

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Clutch discs for me, tip from my Garbage man who saw our bike and after telling him where we were he suggested spraying brake cleaner on the plates and it might make them grab a little. They grabbed and moved the bike so I ordered the discs and reused the metal plates.
 

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General,
Good news, and great to hear.
To others who have a problem like this, you could remove the cover and hold the exterior lever in one hand, or better yet in a vise, and the internal lever in the other hand. Try to rotate those pieces against each other, both ways, and HARD! Shouldn't be the slightest sign of rotational looseness.
Slick fix general came up with! A roll pin from the local hardware store is the recommended pin to use, as they are super hard and resistant to wear. Make sure you use the minimum size reamer or drill bit to enlarge the hole. Just so the pin can be driven in, pressed in or squeezed in (best) with a channel lock pliers. Too big of a hole and you are back to the same problem, and you weakened your shaft with the bigger hole.
Also, when drilling or reaming, place the parts in their pre-stressed position, so you don't lose any "throw" by reaming the hole(s) in their worn position.
A threaded screw would be a very distant second choice.
 

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Very interested in end resolution here. My son and I are resurrecting an 85 Rebel 250 and this is exactly where we are also. Trying to decide whether we need to spend the money on Cluthc kit or if it is something else.
Funny, my son and I are also bringing a 250 Rebel back to life. Got it running, and sounds good, but it WILL NOT move. Pull clutch, drop into first, and it lunges forward and dies. Replaced clutch, as I figured plates had most likely stuck together, but now, there is ZERO clutch. Mind you, there was perfect tension in clutch prior to replacement. New clutch went in, in reverse order or old, but not there is zero tension on clutch. We have adjusted tension on cable (on handle and on case) but no luck... I've been reading this thread, and checked all suggestions, but, still, no luck. Please advise...
TIA
 
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