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Monday, August 3, 2015

Kawasaki Vulcan 1500/1600 Camchain Tensioner Extender Install

This mod was written up by Snake(RIP) and put on Gadget's site a long time ago. The official manuals' explanations for how to reset camchain tensioners are extremely lacking. Without Snakes explanation, I doubt I would have been able to do the job at all the first time and I generally have to read about 3 times every time I do it. That being said, I wanted to re-do the write-up with more and larger pictures, videos and just a bit more of any explanation. When we nearly lost Gadget's site for Vulcan stuff a few weeks back, it really impressed upon me the need for another version of how to do this job.

First off, buy extenders from Chuckster's Customs.

Here is the basic diagram parts of the camchain tensioners on a 1500/1600 Classic/Nomad. The diagram is a bit misleading, the O-ring is large enough to fit over the threaded portion of the tensioner body and the bearing is small enough to fit inside the threaded portion of the tensioner body.  Another interesting thing is that all of the repair manuals do not show the inner spring. I'm not sure if there are other versions, but my old 2003, current 2002 model, and Snake's write-up show this spring. I kind of don't think it would work without it. I got this from a "microfiche" of the parts manual for a 2003 model.


I'm showing this write-up on a front camchain extender. This is the easiest to illustrate, but if you have a stock air box you're going to have to dig your way this deep first.The rear tensioner is basically a repeat of the steps for the front.

Loosen the lock bolt.

Break torque on the cap.

Loosen and remove the cap by hand, otherwise you get the ratcheting wrench stuck between the cap and rear cylinder.(Ooops.) The stuff inside is spring loaded, but not super spring loaded, so be cautious not to lose anything.

Cap and bearing retainer.

Springs and bearing.

Pull those out.

You can inspect and see if there is any travel left in the rod, but seriously, just go ahead and do the job. The extenders can safely be put into an engine with brand new camchains.

Two socket(allen) head bolts hold the body to the cylinder.

Time to remove the stock end rings from the rods. The rings are press fit onto the rod. I'm sure there's other ways, but this was my choice with the tools I had on hand.

Carefully use a dremel and cut off wheel. Don't cut into the rod.

I made two cuts.

The ring should break off.

Easy, peasy.

Clean the ends of the rods with brake cleaner.

The extenders I had were a loose fit on the rods I had. If I recall the last time the extenders fit my rods very tight and didn't need loctite. The goal of the loctite is to hold the extenders to the rods during installation. Once the tensioners are deployed, the extenders are captured.

Let the loctite set up for about 10 minutes.

Shake the tensioners to verify the loctite is holding things together.

Retract the tensioner.

Keep the lock bolt loose.

Install outer spring.

Lay bearing in place.

Push bearing all the way down into the body.

Fully tighten lock bolt.

Bearing should be held behind the lock bolt.

The following steps and video are a bench build for reference only. If you do not want to mess with this go to steps directly after the video to complete the installation.

BENCH BUILD ONLY: Place retainer into the body.

BENCH BUILD ONLY: Install inner spring.

BENCH BUILD ONLY: Install cap.


With rod fully retracted and the lock bolt holding the bearing and inner spring in place, install tensioner body onto cylinder with the socket head bolts. Fully tighten socket head bolts.

Drop retainer into the body.

Drop inner spring into the body.

Install cap onto the body while depressing inner spring. The rod will deploy and click some during this step.

Fully tighten cap.

Loosen lock bolt until a louder click is heard. Then fully tighten lock bolt.

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