Author Topic: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question  (Read 15113 times)

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Offline C14Addict

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Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« on: August 19, 2013, 05:47:15 pm »
Hi all,
I have an 08 C14 non-ABS, that has been everything I could have expected in 103Kmiles. Basically stock, with only minor farkles (radiator guard, heated grips).  I do my own maintenance, including 4 valve lash checks (all requiring at least 1 shim change), all fluids, steering stem and wheel bearing replacement, most everything to keep her healthy. 
Been running Rotella T (non synthetic) since about 12K miles, mostly because I live in Texas, where low temperatures.... well they don't happen.
I have lived with the horrid cam chain rattle during "cold" start up, by simply accepting it. However, she has always had more than a few seconds during cold start. I have listened to other C14's, and she stays noisy much longer than any other, and some people have never had theirs make the noise. I have taken the tensioner out to inspect and reset several times, but there is no change. I will say that after as long as 15 seconds, she quiets down and runs great all around. Except, when oil is fresh, then the rattle is much less, and progresses as the oil ages at these starts. I did notice there is a small hole in the bottom of the CCT in addition to the supply hole, and there is some kind of pattern at the rear looking inside with springs and shaft removed that I cannot figure.

Starting in early summer, I noticed that when I would stop for a few minutes, like a gas stop, a similar, but not the same sound comes from the engine area. What I think to be according to the phase of the moon, this sound can be 10 seconds, and as long as 30 seconds, is very noisy, and eventually the sound diminishes, and everything is good again. It's like all the oil drained and has to build up the tensioner again. This is only when the engine is hot. If I start it again after only a few minutes of running in the morning, this particular "hot rattle" does not exist. Only seems to be there when engine is fully hot. Thinking it might be just oil, I have tried changing back to 10-w40 oil, but no difference. Have not tried 20-w50, but that would be extreme.

Since it has been so bloody hot throughout the summer here in Texas, I have been trying to "diagnose by speculation" rather than tear into it, to probably find nothing obvious. The garage is a torture test in the summer to work on things. The local service manager thinks it's the timing chain worn out with that many miles (just breakin-in). Not saying it couldn't be, but if that were the case, I would think the sound would be there all the time, even after the tensioner extends.  So, I am back to the tensioner, or the force behind it. It certainly needs oil pressure. Could the oil pump discharge be low???  Could the pressure relief valve be weak???  As I view the oil system, I think there is a separate supply directly next to the oil filter for the VVT circuit. I tend to think this is an unregulated high pressure supply, whereas the main lube lines would be limited to the specification 35-50 psig (or journal flooding occurs). 

As the cooler weather approaches, I will be able to stand the heat in the garage to pull things apart to inspect. It has been 25K since my last valve check, so it might be due (was not going to do it until winter), and I could just buy a chain and tensioner ($95 each.. ouch) to have it ready to replace. Until then, I continue to ride. In all other regards, this bike has been a brute for reliability. Other than these irritating noises, it runs great.  Tires and Gas makes her happy. Just don't like sounds developing that were not there for 6 years.

Opinions are encouraged and valued.

Thanks.





Don Frazier
79 GS1000 174K miles, Gone but not forgotten
08 ZG1400 118K miles, on way to next 100K

Offline Fred_Harmon_TX

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2013, 06:37:50 pm »
You might want to measure your cam chain for stretch next time you do the valves.
Fred H.


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Offline Pistole

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2013, 06:48:32 pm »
I have an 08 C14 non-ABS, that has been everything I could have expected in 103Kmiles

- at that mileage , perhaps a new chain & tensioner.

- what weight of oil is the Rotella T ?

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Offline BDF

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2013, 07:00:46 pm »
You should go easy with that opinion valued thing until you read them.... :-)

The only thing I can think of that would cause your start- up rattle to be significantly different than other C-14's would be the cam chain tensioner not coming up to full hydraulic pressure as quickly as the other bikes. It could be that your entire lube hydraulic system is not coming up to pressure or more likely IMO, your CCT itself has a bit of excessive clearance.

Changing the CCT may cure the problem but of course there is no guarantee. You could also put a manual CCT in place for about $50 and eliminate the cam chain looseness on start- up altogether. I put one in my bike a bunch of miles ago and don't miss the rattle, and the intervals for maintenance have been quite long (25K miles). A mechanical adjuster is also kinder on the cam chain because it prevents the chain from becoming loose without ever putting any additional pressure on it as any type of automatic CCT does.

Also starting the bike with straight vertical (not on the sidestand) usually eliminates the rattle as well. The cam chain is still loose but when the bike is vertical the chain doesn't slap the engine casting while it is loose enough to droop (easy boys!).

Any way you go, you should not have to be put off by anything noisy on a C-14 with merely 100K miles on it- that thing is just getting broken in and is now ready for some serious miles.

Brian

Hi all,

<snip>

I have lived with the horrid cam chain rattle during "cold" start up, by simply accepting it. However, she has always had more than a few seconds during cold start. I have listened to other C14's, and she stays noisy much longer than any other, and some people have never had theirs make the noise. I have taken the tensioner out to inspect and reset several times, but there is no change. I will say that after as long as 15 seconds, she quiets down and runs great all around. Except, when oil is fresh, then the rattle is much less, and progresses as the oil ages at these starts. I did notice there is a small hole in the bottom of the CCT in addition to the supply hole, and there is some kind of pattern at the rear looking inside with springs and shaft removed that I cannot figure.

<snip>

Opinions are encouraged and valued.

Thanks.
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Offline cott1352

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2013, 07:03:45 pm »
I just traded a 2010 zx14 for my 2012 c-14 & what you explained above was to a tee of what i was hearing on the zx14. I have had 2-zx14's & both made cam-chain noise on start up rather hot or cold, my pop has had 3-zx14's and all 3 of his bikes made noise as well. all of these zx14's have had 10,000mi or less too, id say if your over a 100k your bike is fine, just the typical noise iv come to expect from these motors

Offline C14Addict

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2013, 07:40:06 pm »
Really appreciate all the replies.  :)

Cott1352- Does your C14 make as much noise as the ZX-14's did?  Just seems that this hot engine noise started only this year.

Pistole-  Rotella T is 15W-40.  Non-synthetic version of Rotella T6

Fred - Yes, if I get a new chain, I will certainly compare. However, does anyone know what the stretch limit might be?
Can't find anything like it in the manual, and the only spec I can find is the description to buy one... CHAIN,92RH2015-130M.
Perhaps pulling the cam chain might answer the desciption number puzzle.
Don Frazier
79 GS1000 174K miles, Gone but not forgotten
08 ZG1400 118K miles, on way to next 100K

Offline Pistole

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2013, 01:26:30 am »
- yo.

- had a look at the Workshop Manual and yeah , you're right , it doesn't spec anything for cam chain wear nor length.

- an easy thing to do would be to replace the cam-chain tensioner with a new one and see what happens.

- 10W-40 is the usual grade specified , but if you're running in extremely hot environments , you can actually , as per manual , spec upwards to 50 (and maybe 60) weight oils. No harm testing.

- the startup rattling , imho , is not much of a concern. Its the rattling when the engine is all warmed up (and the oil is up to pressure) which is worrying.

.

Offline Gypsy JR

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2013, 03:20:10 pm »
We had the same issue with the ZX14. Since the C14 shares the basic engine, probably is the start up rattle we often heard.

With my ZX14, I got Carpenter Racing to take a ZX12R tensioner (mechanical) and modify it so it fit on the ZX14. Once installed, I never had another start up rattle. And no adjustment is needed until the chain itself has to be replaced, so probably never, or not for a decade or more.

My guess is this modified ZX12R tensioner would work fine on a C14, if you could find one. Carpenter puts them on all the race engines he builds (the ZX14 engine shows up in some strange vehicles) and really didn't want to sell me one. But an employee who shall remain unnamed contacted me and offered to sell me his "personal" modified tensioner.

If you go to zx14ninjaforum.com and search for "ZX12R cam chain tensioner" I bet you can get a lead on one again. If I was at home I'd post the email of my guy, he might have a couple since the ZX14 engine has been replaced by the ZX14R engine.
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Offline C14Addict

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2013, 05:06:58 pm »
Researching the manual cam chain tensioner gives only hearsay results. There is plenty of discussions, but have not found anyone come right out and say they installed a certain brand or model of manual CCT in a C14.
Krieger indicates on their web site they don't make one for the ZG14 due to the hydraulic assist. A thread on the ZX/ZG forum made this reference too, but with no conclusion other than "just get a mechanical CCT if you don't like the noise".
APE makes a KTZx14 for the ZX14. The ZX forum even lists it in the sticky parts list for use. Is the CCT much different on ZX14's? The fische part numbers apparently are different (12048-0034 vs 12048-0047).

I am leaning toward getting a cam chain, and a mechanical tensioner before beginning any maintenance at this point. But I don't want to make a stupid mistake (would rather learn from someone else who already made a stupid mistake). Perhaps changing the backpressure or flows on the oil system might be one of those stupid mistakes. 

So, I am asking if anyone actually did use a particular brand or model specifically in a C14?

Thanks.

Don Frazier
79 GS1000 174K miles, Gone but not forgotten
08 ZG1400 118K miles, on way to next 100K

Offline BDF

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2013, 07:15:38 pm »
I have an APE manual CCT for a ZX 14 in my '08 C-14 and have at least 60,000 miles and several years on that setup. It works, fits correctly and blocks off the oil galley passage that must be plugged by the CCT (whether it is used for hydraulic pressure or not). The only caveat is that the threads of the adjusting stud (easy boys!) do seep a bit of oil over time. It will not leak and it will not make drops of oil on the engine but it will get a film of oil and of course dirt on the tensioner.

As far as adjusting it, first of all throw all the instructions from APE away. Then remove the old CCT and DO NOT rotate or disturb the engine until the new CCT is in place and adjusted (because the cam chain is already tight). Install the new CCT with the adjustment far too loose, then using a socket and extension only (NO RATCHET OR WRENCH!), tighten the adjuster up as much as you can with your hand. Then back the adjuster off 1/2 turn and lock the lock nut. Do this same procedure again whenever you are 'in there tinkering' with anything anyway or every now and then not to exceed, say, 25K miles between adjustments.

I replaced mine just to definitively know that all this start- up rattle on a C-14 really was due to the CCT. At the time, there was a lot of speculation, arguing and guessing about what was causing it on the forums (if you can believe there is ever speculation, arguing and guessing on any topic at all on forums :-)  ) but no knowledge. Putting in a mechanical CCT eliminates the noise so the root problem is the CCT and I believe with certainty the hydraulic portion of the CCT.

Brian

Researching the manual cam chain tensioner gives only hearsay results. There is plenty of discussions, but have not found anyone come right out and say they installed a certain brand or model of manual CCT in a C14.
Krieger indicates on their web site they don't make one for the ZG14 due to the hydraulic assist. A thread on the ZX/ZG forum made this reference too, but with no conclusion other than "just get a mechanical CCT if you don't like the noise".
APE makes a KTZx14 for the ZX14. The ZX forum even lists it in the sticky parts list for use. Is the CCT much different on ZX14's? The fische part numbers apparently are different (12048-0034 vs 12048-0047).

I am leaning toward getting a cam chain, and a mechanical tensioner before beginning any maintenance at this point. But I don't want to make a stupid mistake (would rather learn from someone else who already made a stupid mistake). Perhaps changing the backpressure or flows on the oil system might be one of those stupid mistakes. 

So, I am asking if anyone actually did use a particular brand or model specifically in a C14?

Thanks.
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Offline C14Addict

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2013, 07:27:51 pm »
Thanks a bunch Brian  :beerchug:
I think 60K miles is sufficient to qualify it works.
Now if I can get Fred and MOB to agree to figure out how to seal the threads with o-rings.  :D :D

Don

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Offline BDF

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2013, 07:41:34 pm »
You cannot seal threads with O-Rings; that is the problem with the APE adjuster- they sealed the treads with an O-Ring :-)

The way to seal threads is with a rigid but pliable disk that covers at least two threads of the screw, items like nylon sleeves work pretty well for this. In the end though, a much better way to seal threads is to design in such a way as to not need to seal the threads; if the APE had the adjusting screw bearing on a ground rod riding in a solid bearing.... with an O-Ring on the solid rod to seal the device, it would not leak but it would be longer than the current devices and more expensive.

You can sorta' seal the threads by backing the shaft all the way out (easy boys!), cleaning the threads thoroughly with something like brake cleaner, acetone or gasoline to get rid of all oil, coating the entire screw with RTV sealant and then screwing it in and adjusting it. The sealant will probably seal the gap in the threads. You would have to do this each time you adjusted it but again, that is not very often. It all comes down IMO as to how much a little oil seepage and some road dust stuck in it bothers you personally. Some people like their bikes clean and tidy; others not so much. As I said, it will not drip and is NOT a leak, it is minor seepage at worst so it does not bother me.

By the way, this is what the innerds of the original C-14 CCT look like:



And this is the cause of the start up rattle: note the difference in the length of the CCT plunger when extended or pushed back: both positions are using the SAME GROOVE of the adjustment, meaning there is NO adjustment here, just the difference between a CCT with hydraulic pressure and one without:

No hydraulic pressure:


Hydraulic pressure:


Brian

Thanks a bunch Brian  :beerchug:
I think 60K miles is sufficient to qualify it works.
Now if I can get Fred and MOB to agree to figure out how to seal the threads with o-rings.  :D :D

Don
« Last Edit: August 20, 2013, 07:47:50 pm by BDF »
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Offline C14Addict

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2013, 08:08:41 pm »
I meant the epic o-ring thread.   
There is plenty of plastic covering both the CCT and the cam position sensors, so a little leak is hidden.

Thanks for the pictures that I can use later to say how much I miss the noise. I have had that thing apart numerous times. Even saw the retaining clip go flying across the garage last time. Just by luck I found it, then the ratchet spring wanted to do the same.
There is only one way this thing works. I saw some forum threads that possibly explained why it get's progressively worse. Appears the ratchet ridges get a little worn, not seen without high maginification that may causes the ratchet to skip more than the few mm per step. What I may have is a general wearing of the ratchet that appears to work when you play with it.

Nevermind, I am going with the MCCT.  If I get hot start rattle after that, I have somewhere else to look for.  Hopefully this will be the smoking gun by elimination.

Don
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Offline Mad River Marc

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2013, 08:51:52 pm »
What I find odd is that my bike (2010 with 28k on it) never had the startup rattle until after I had the valves adjusted and even now it's only a second or so....   

Did yours always have the rattle and it just got worse or is it a new noise?
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Offline BDF

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2013, 09:11:54 pm »
I did not really pay too much attention to that thread.

The problem with the automatic (OEM) CCT on a C14 is not that it fails or wears, it is that there is far too large a groove to capture the wire that engages the ratchet teeth. That is what allows the plunger to be pushed back so far, too far, and allows the loose cam chain on start- up when the hydraulic portion of the CCT is not yet functional.

Kawasaki has had their share of miss- designs on automatic CCTs including the famous KZ 1300 (the in-line six) with the extremely clever ball bearings acting as a linear sprag clutch. Truly a brilliant design- it would have been legendary had it only worked :-(  But the ball bearings Brinnelled the shaft (easy boys!) until the slipped entirely allowing the CCT to retract fully, the cam chain to skip teeth and the valves to jam between the pistons and the combustion chambers. A truly nasty failure that wiped out more than a couple of engines. But the problem we have on the C-14 is not an outright failure, merely a slightly annoying miss- sizing on the CCT dimensions.

The CCT's on C-14 do not, to the best of my knowledge, fail. The ratchet mechanism was actually the fix for the sprag design and goes way back. A few motorcycle mfg.s have made ratchet pawls that bind and again allow the CCT to fully retract and wipe out the engine but this design on the C-14 uses a piece of spring wire to catch the ratchet teeth- really quite a good design overall I think; it is clever, cheap, reliable and just a little 'trick'. If they had just made the slot in the CCT body that holds the wire a little smaller, it would not retract so far and the bike would not have the rattle. But I do want to be clear that the C-14 does not have anything in the valve train that is subject to failure that I know of, and that is very different than some other motorcycles.

As the cam chain and cam chain guides wear, the plunger will stick out further and further (easy boys!) until the wire skips into the next slot. Just before indexing to that next slot is when the bike will be the noisiest because the cam chain will be as loose as it can ever get. Once the wire actually gets to the next groove, the bike may still rattle on start- up but not as loudly until the cam stretches further and the CCT extends further. So the bike will have cycles of getting noisier and then quieting down only to repeat again. I suspect some people read this change as being associated with a particular oil, engine temperature (or seasonal temperature), etc., etc. when in reality it is just the normal sequence of a small amount of expected wear.

Brian

I meant the epic o-ring thread.   
There is plenty of plastic covering both the CCT and the cam position sensors, so a little leak is hidden.

Thanks for the pictures that I can use later to say how much I miss the noise. I have had that thing apart numerous times. Even saw the retaining clip go flying across the garage last time. Just by luck I found it, then the ratchet spring wanted to do the same.
There is only one way this thing works. I saw some forum threads that possibly explained why it get's progressively worse. Appears the ratchet ridges get a little worn, not seen without high maginification that may causes the ratchet to skip more than the few mm per step. What I may have is a general wearing of the ratchet that appears to work when you play with it.

Nevermind, I am going with the MCCT.  If I get hot start rattle after that, I have somewhere else to look for.  Hopefully this will be the smoking gun by elimination.

Don
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Offline LakeTrax

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2013, 09:57:50 pm »
I get what you're saying Brian... So, do you think that machining a new plunger(or piston) with narrower grooves would be a good/viable solution to the start-up rattle vs. simply converting to a mcct? From the photos it looks like the taper of the grooves and the size of the wire ring determine the groove spacing... I've got the lathe & the time, just need some specs & the material! However, I will have to let someone else try out the first prototype on their 1400! ;D

Offline BDF

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2013, 10:46:56 pm »
The piston is fine; the wire snaps into the bottom of the groove and stays there. The problem is in the housing which has a groove machined into it to accept the wire; the groove is far too wide and allows the wire, and hence the piston, to move back and forth about 3/16" which is ridiculously large. The 'fix' would be to use a stock piston with a new housing with a thinner groove. The problem with that is that the piston and housing form a hydraulic seal and so are held to very close tolerances and high finishes (the piston is cylindrically ground, the housing is honed and the OD is also cylindrically ground as well). Pretty involved job for the common machine shop that is not tooled up for a production run and a lot of small shops don't even have honing equipment (talking about a shaft based honing machine here, such as a Sunnen or equivalent, not a split body lap).

This photo shows (barely) the groove that the wire move inside; this is the groove that needs to be much narrower:



Some type of split shim <might> work to reduce the existing housing's groove width but it would have to be well secured. Perhaps a split ring made of spring steel would work but I would be concerned that the wire could get caught between the housing and the new spacer and actually bind the piston.

A much easier fix would be to adapt a different CCT into the bike- the ZX-11 automatic CCT has been a favorite to retrofit into many Kawasakis. I do not know if it would be a direct bolt- in but I doubt it because of the hydraulic aspect of the C-14 CCT. Not only does the new CCT have to physically fit but it must fit the cylinder block very precisely or the oil galley port will leak like the proverbial sieve and almost certainly prevent the oiling system from reaching full pressure, at least at low RPM.

Just my opinion but in the end there are only two viable choices: live with the start- up rattle knowing it is not doing any harm or dangerous in any way (or stand the bike up straight before starting it), or replace the factory, automatic CCT with a manual version and do the maintenance required. Frankly I could live with either one although to be honest, I do not miss that 'shaking coffee can full of ball bearing' start up commotion and the maintenance on the manual CCT just does not amount to anything because the bike requires other maintenance with the fairing off by the time the CCT needs a tweak anyway.

Brian

I get what you're saying Brian... So, do you think that machining a new plunger(or piston) with narrower grooves would be a good/viable solution to the start-up rattle vs. simply converting to a mcct? From the photos it looks like the taper of the grooves and the size of the wire ring determine the groove spacing... I've got the lathe & the time, just need some specs & the material! However, I will have to let someone else try out the first prototype on their 1400! ;D
« Last Edit: August 20, 2013, 11:02:35 pm by BDF »
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Offline Pistole

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2013, 12:18:06 am »
brian, excellent explanation. thanks.

.

Offline LakeTrax

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2013, 03:36:43 am »
brian, excellent explanation. thanks.
Agreed!

Now I'm intrigued to know what would happen if C14Addict were to install just a new cam chain or just a new tensioner...
If the cam chain has stretched far enough to require replacing(meaning the anti-backup clip is in the piston's final groove & the tensioner is still not able to extend far enough after proper oil pressure), why does this particular C14's rattle eventually go away after start-up? Wouldn't it continue to rattle whether there is proper oil pressure in the tensioner or not? It was also mentioned that the rattle goes away quicker when the engine has fresh oil, leading one to believe it really could be an oiling/pressurizing issue with the tensioner... With the amount of miles as stated on this engine, a new cam chain AND tensioner definitely can't hurt, but I wonder if installing a new mcct or new oem tensioner and leaving the cam chain alone could also possibly solve the problem.? :017: Either way, good luck with it C14Addict & lookin' forward to hear what you find out-
« Last Edit: August 21, 2013, 03:38:46 am by LakeTrax »

Offline C14Addict

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2013, 09:23:41 am »
Excellent food for thought Brian.
It’s going to be a while before I do anything due to an upcoming business trip, but I will certainly let you know how this pans out. It wasn’t until the hot rattle that I started to get concerned. Granted, I have quite a few miles on the bike, and as time goes on, I gather up a wealth of knowledge from everyone.
I think the cam chain is stretched. I think Brian is right about how much it must retract. And your question about why it eventually goes away at start-up is perhaps actually hydraulic pressure doing all the work at this point, and not as an assist for the spring loaded CCT that is not doing it’s part in the equation. I will also consider an oil pressure check too. It could be something not related, such as the pressure relief valve. Who knows until I start doing these checks.  Until then, I continue to commute each day, and frolic on the weekends because she still runs well after start.

But I go back to Marc’s question. Mine barely exhibited the noise before I did my first valve adjustment back (is it that long) 5 years ago. I've done 4 so far. Mine also makes the cold start up noise on side or center stand, but lasts less on center.

Only because I have not done anything to the bike in almost 25K miles, with a new symptom, I now have motivation. Besides, I will probably find more than a few bugs and birds in there to clean out when the plastic comes off.

Don Frazier
79 GS1000 174K miles, Gone but not forgotten
08 ZG1400 118K miles, on way to next 100K

Offline Gypsy JR

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2013, 12:37:25 pm »
Brian, looking at your photos of the disassembled CCT, I am pretty sure that is the same part number as the one on the ZX14.

That means if you take a ZX12R CCT and deck the flange down to the same thickness as OEM CCT, and turn off some of the barrel diameter to match, the manual self adjusting super-reliable ZX12R CCT would also work in modified form on a C14.

Maybe someone with a machine shop and at least a journeyman's skill could produce a couple. Pretty pricey, have to buy the 12R part and then machining costs, but much better than the APE or anything else being used.
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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question - Problem Solved
« Reply #21 on: September 21, 2013, 01:27:37 pm »
Having a long ride planned for October, I decided to dig into this problem far in advance. Figured I would check the valves, clean up under the Tupperware and generally check everything. Ordered a new cam chain, and an APE mechanical cam chain tensioner for a ZX14 based on Brian's suggestion and some of the posts on the ZX forums.
Bought a spanner, thinking I need one to remove the timing wheel (ending up not needing it), and some other necessities (rubber screw grommets, various screws, and a valve cover gasket), assuming if there were any valves out I could get it at the dealer. 
The usual long man-hours were well worth the effort. Having done 4 valve checks, the last one at 76K miles, I initially thought it would be unlikely any would have moved, but did find #2 exhaust tight, and #4 intake loose. Removing the chain, I see where the noise was coming from, the front case edge where it meets the cover gasket was slightly shiny (everything else is black). Did not need the spanner as a few hammer taps on the wrench removed the timing wheel nut.
The chain was only slightly stretched (I would guess less than 0.1" longer when pulled together side by side) and no real difference in axial sag. With 4 links each pin, I would not have expected much, and should be almost indestructible. Rather a precision assembly. 
Insertion was easy (but you have to get the little sleeve lined up on the crank just right with the chain looped), and the timing wheel went on as easy as taking off, but the tough part will be figuring out the exact way to get chain back on the cams right. Was able to swap one shim, and the dealer had the other one. The first time, the chain ended up being 1 tooth off when cams buttoned up.   :'(  2nd try was perfect. As Brian suggested, throw out the packaged instructions, hand tighten the MCCT, back off 1/2 turn, and lock in place. Too simple.
Replace gaskets, clean things up, hook up all the wiring. No errors when powering up was a good sign I got everything hooked up. Now the big test????
WOW  :)   No rattle, instantaneous start. 
As you all have experienced the new bike feel when you mount a new set of tires, this was the same feeling!
Could not wait, left the fairing and windshield off and took her out for a test.  Quieter, smoother, almost seems to be on steroids (probably just the naked bike feel). Stopped for gas after about 15 minutes and NO RESTART RATTLE that really worried me before that there was something more serious with the bike over the last few months. Just wish I did this a long time ago!
The smoking gun is most certainly a failed automatic cam chain tensioner since I noticed the start rattle was more pronounced after my first valve check at 15K miles (104K now), and progressively worsened. I have had that thing out several times, and it all seemed to be a simple mechanical device that has to work (yah, right). It's odd how some bikes don't have any noise, where others do. I think I could have used the old chain, but figured this will be good for the next 100K.  If you start getting prolonged rattle at start, this is probably your solution.







Don Frazier
79 GS1000 174K miles, Gone but not forgotten
08 ZG1400 118K miles, on way to next 100K

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #22 on: September 21, 2013, 02:05:35 pm »
thanks for that write up there.

.

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question
« Reply #23 on: September 21, 2013, 02:43:27 pm »
Glad it all worked out for you. I do suggest that now you go back, and turn the adjuster back out a half turn, start the engine, ride it and see if its still quiet. I say this because you installed a new chain, and Brians instructions only work if you remove the oem and install the mcct without disturbing the chain.... besides, most here know my opinions of mcct voodoo on getting them adjusted while not making them too tight.
Jmho.

As for the wide groove thing Brian, its my opinion that its that wide so at initial assembly it eases insertion without releasing the piston. I have always had to push hard on te tensioner when even fully retracted and held by the pinchy clip, to insert it. When it is inserted the pinchy clip releases and it has little further effect on the piston, the forward ring retains it from moving backwards at that time. No?

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Re: Cam Chain & Tensioner (I think) Question - Problem Solved
« Reply #24 on: September 21, 2013, 03:11:51 pm »
Nice write up, and glad to hear it worked well for you.

Yes, that first start sans commotion is almost Zen- like, isn't it? Like the first time you see a Prius (or similar) move away at low speed; the car is moving but there is NO engine noise. It is almost surreal. After getting used to such an obnoxious noise it is quite the surprise when it is NOT there and yet the engine is running. Kinda' amusing in retrospect.

Timing chains really are extremely tough. They are also extremely quiet and efficient too. Other than the high weight and the need for a clean, well lubricated environment (read: inside an engine or transmission) they are as close to bullet- proof as any moving part(s) get.

You also have verified what I always thought but did not really know- it is the chain rubbing (clanking?) against the engine case(s) when loose. Makes me wonder if another fix might be simply mounting a thin piece of polyethylene where the chain hits the case? That might be a great production solution for Kawasaki- the slightly loose cam chain isn't the problem, it is the chain being loose enough to contact other metal and make a racket. HDPE would cure that and should last the life of the engine.

Brian


<snip>

The chain was only slightly stretched (I would guess less than 0.1" longer when pulled together side by side) and no real difference in axial sag. With 4 links each pin, I would not have expected much, and should be almost indestructible. Rather a precision assembly. 

<snip>

WOW  :)   No rattle, instantaneous start. 
As you all have experienced the new bike feel when you mount a new set of tires, this was the same feeling!

<snip>

The smoking gun is most certainly a failed automatic cam chain tensioner since I noticed the start rattle was more pronounced after my first valve check at 15K miles (104K now), and progressively worsened. I have had that thing out several times, and it all seemed to be a simple mechanical device that has to work (yah, right). It's odd how some bikes don't have any noise, where others do. I think I could have used the old chain, but figured this will be good for the next 100K.  If you start getting prolonged rattle at start, this is probably your solution.
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