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Old 11-01-2010, 06:58 PM   #1
wathomas
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Default cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

I bought a Harley and the previous owner had fork tubes that were +4" in length. The Tech archives and the search function have a number of helpful postings and after reading several they convinced me there was an easy fix that I could tackle myself.
https://www.jockeyjournal.com/forum/s...ad.php?t=12391

https://www.jockeyjournal.com/forum/s...ing+fork+tubes

I do have a manual but the process is very simple. One thing I would have liked was some pictures before I started just to get a bit familar with whats inside the forks so I thought I would post for others who might be as unfamilar as I was when I started this little project.

Bike on a lift so front tire just clears and turns freely. Remove front fender. Loosen axle nut. Remove bottom screws on lower fork, remove axle, wheel comes free. I have a drum brake up front and had to remove from lower (it "hung from cable--no load --sat nicely balanced on milk crate. Remove top nut (mine just cleared bars when they were loosened).


Loosen lower triple clamp nuts both sides and tubes w lowers can be removed (mine came with twisting back and forth persuasion after I tapped a short metal wedge in the lower triple slot to ever so slightly spread it.) Dump oil , lift out spring. There is a nut in the bottom of the lower that once removed allows the tube to be removed from lower. Then in the bottom of tube there is a snap ring.


Take out the snap ring that lets the rest come apart and it looks like this:


On the far right in the picture above is the "threaded stud" that the nut on the bottom of the lower is threading onto that holds this "shock portion" (my term not necessarily what its called in your manual) tight to the lower. You have about 30 maybe 45 minutes invested so far.

[excuse the bench top]

Last edited by wathomas; 11-01-2010 at 07:58 PM.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:27 PM   #2
wathomas
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

Next step was cut the tubes. To make certain mine were really +4" over and to get back to "stock" I used a chart I found online (one of the JJ links has standard wideglide Harley lengths explained). Mine were confirmed+4" so that is what I wanted to but off. I chucked the threaded end of the tube into a vintage 1942 American Pacemaker 16" swing lathe. Used a 4 jaw chuck which I dialed in so the tube was true and protected the chrome tube under each jaw with some thin copper strips cur from some scrapped copper roofing flashing (scrap yard). Burned up a cut off insert getting thru the chrome (on the second tube I used a standard lathe bit which can be resharpened). Once thru the chrome skin cuts very easily.

Squared end. Then cut new internal threads. My lathe is 68 years old but can cut a very accurate thread using the thread dial, traveldial for the right hand start point (towards the tailstock) , dial indicator to monitor the cross feed and a dial indicator on the left side which is used to find the the "left side/headstock" axial stop point.



Measure your tubes with a thread gauge...mine were 28 TPI threadsper inch making it an easy job to cut on an old non metric American lathe.


Counting time to mount and zero the tube in the chuck, cutting and threading figure 15 or 20 minutes each. If you go to a local machine shop that wants to fool with a "one off" deal they will probably have less than an hour in the pair. If you go this route take your top nuts along with the tubes they can be handy as quick/dirty thread "gauges" and the shop can make the last couple light internal cuts until they just fit snuggly. I didn't jot down the size (actually I am sure I did but I can't find the pad with the scribble notes)...think they may have been 1.375...size was almost spot on the tube ID there is very little actual boring before cutting the thread.

Last edited by wathomas; 11-01-2010 at 08:33 PM.
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Old 11-01-2010, 07:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

Then as they say on the books "assemble in opposite order of dissassembly". Actually you might want to cut a new paper gasket for the end of the shock (thats what I am calling these parts which fit in the tube and are held in with the snap ring). These have a paper gasket which for me "stayed in the bottom of the lower" and are tightened against the lower tube by the nut that screws onto the threaded portion (shown on far left picture below). this is the nut that is recessed into the bottom of the lower. I didn't replace these paper gaskets and one of mine has a slight leak.


Another approach would be to cut the tube from the bottom and cut a new snap ring groove. I cut mine from the top however and rethreaded...had a internal threading tool ground in the drawer and would have had to grind a small boring style cutter to width of the snap ring and determine the snap ring depth to be certain it would stay securely in place...I elected it was easier/quicker to rethread. Ask your machinist his preference. My springs were "stock" and when the +4" tubes were fitted they reused the stock springs and added some thin steel tubing 4" long spacers which were omitted when I reassembled.

I am playing with fluid in the shosks...right now I am using ATF...not necessarily the right thing to do but left over from 30+ years ago cheap habit w dirt bikes. I am not not recomending ATF will work for you as I am not sure how it will hold up or react with the original seals...(weight is approimately right....the ride/action seems OK).

Last edited by wathomas; 11-01-2010 at 08:17 PM.
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Old 11-01-2010, 08:48 PM   #4
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

Looks like your dampers may be missing the springs between the valves. Maybe they are just compressed in your photos. But if not, you'll need these springs if you want the damper to operate correctly.

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Old 11-01-2010, 09:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

Thanks...I snapped the pictures and cut the tubes about 2 months ago...now I can't recall seeing those light gage springs...its possible I suppose they were compressed ..I didn't separate the dampers like in your photo. (which is really well done by the way compliments on photography/lighting).

I can pull it down (may have to as the front wheel has been off a couple times making & fitting an axle spacer and one fork lower is leaking on the bottom)...not dripping to the floor but "wet" under the axle each time I have pulled the lower cap to remove axle.

Is there an obvious way to know if the damper is not working (spring is actually missing)...would you expect/shouldn't there be a "clunk" sound when up hit a bump...more like spring not shock if the damper isn;t doing anything?
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:35 AM   #6
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

I've got some stock wide glide tubes I'm getting ready to tear down for a rebuild. Where in Detroit are you? You can take a look at them for comparison.
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Old 11-02-2010, 10:14 AM   #7
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

This is a great tech addition. I did this also. I got a set of tubes from a fellow JJ member that were way too long and cut them to fit. People buy tubes that won't work then sell them cheap so they can get the right ones all the time.
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:07 PM   #8
wathomas
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

Simple. , I might want to take you up on peeking what a "stock" pair of wide glides look like...I just got mine no real confidence they were "correct" this bike was not running when I go it and hadn't for some time

and I have never had a Harley fork apart until recently so I was flying sort of blind. Does seem I may be going back into mine...at least one of them to replace that paper gasket...and look for that fine wire damper spring.

Meanwhile we need caschnd1 to take the picture..his are much sharper than my attempts, but maybe mine are just clear enough to convince anyone on the sidelines these are not swiss watch complicated and no reason to fear if you want to modify or switch out a set forks tubes.
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:24 AM   #9
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

Pm me and we can hook up one day, or I can take some photos of my tear down. I'm in Troy, so not too far from ya. What ever works for ya.

- Jon

Quote:
Originally Posted by wathomas View Post
Simple. , I might want to take you up on peeking what a "stock" pair of wide glides look like...I just got mine no real confidence they were "correct" this bike was not running when I go it and hadn't for some time

and I have never had a Harley fork apart until recently so I was flying sort of blind. Does seem I may be going back into mine...at least one of them to replace that paper gasket...and look for that fine wire damper spring.

Meanwhile we need caschnd1 to take the picture..his are much sharper than my attempts, but maybe mine are just clear enough to convince anyone on the sidelines these are not swiss watch complicated and no reason to fear if you want to modify or switch out a set forks tubes.
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:40 AM   #10
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

Just what I was lookin for! I know this is an old thread but it's exactly what I need to cut my fork tubes down. Great job thanks!!
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:11 AM   #11
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Default Re: cutting wide glide tubes(whats inside w pics)

A couple notes:

When taking the fork tube assemblies out of the lower tree, I use the wedge, but I also douse the part that's going to slide through with a liberal amount of WD40 or some other light oil. (after cleaning any dirt and grit off) Saves on scratching up the fork tubes.

As long as the area where the seals would ride is in good shape, I shorten from the bottom. There are no threads to cut, just a counterbore and a snap ring groove. And since the chrome coating is cut, if it peels it won't show inside the slider. Moisture won't get in there are rust the cut area either.

This is on '49-e'77 41mm tubes. (technically, those pre metric tubes are 1 5/8")
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