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Old 05-02-2011, 10:25 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Diagnosing clutching problems?

Hey all, newbie here. I've got a '98 TRX300FW and am trying to diagnose my clutch problem, by the way great site.

Couple years ago my bike started to loose power and eventually wouldn't move at all, so I figured it's probably time to get a clutch kit. I bought a centrifugal and mechanical clutch off ebay (probably not the best idea I've had but they were cheap and sold together). BTW - the used clutches sat in the box for about a year before being installed, and I didn't soak the used disks in oil, only coated everything before installation. After everything put back together my bike ran good for about 100 yards then lost power again. It's been sitting for the past year now and I want to get it up and running.

Here's what's happening: starts up fine (battery was new couple years ago and still has lotsa juice left), shifts into gear fine, idles in N and other gears fine, after shifting into R or 1st and just giving it a little throttle it acts like it wants to move (kinda like a sputtering, jerking movement) but then gives up and no amount of throttle will make it move under power.

Anyway, I'm thinking the used disks weren't oiled up enough and this is the result, or would the jerking,sputtering be a sign that maybe it could be because the weights or one-way clutch (sprang ?) in the centrifugal are the problems?? Any help in understanding how to diagnose this problem is appreciated.

Incidentally, I learned on this site that soaking fiber discs in oil designed for fiber discs is best, and to soak them until the bubbling stops. This stuff isn't covered in my repair manual - good info to know.
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Old 05-02-2011, 10:42 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forums. You can check the change clutch by measuring the thickness of the clutch discs. You can check the centrifugal clutch by measuring the thickness of the linings on the shoes and also measuring the inside diameter of the drum.

When you installed the change clutch, did you make sure the clutch discs were held tightly together in the basket? Sometimes when you install the discs and plates, one of the plates will hang in the basket and it will keep the clutch springs from holding the discs and plates tightly together. If this happens, the ATV will usually jerk like it's wanting to go, similar to what you described.

One more question, at any time, did you mess with the clutch free play adjustment on the crankcase cover? If so, you might need to adjust it again. To adjust, loosen the lock nut and slowly turn the adjusting screw counterclockwise until you feel resistance. Then, turn the adjusting screw clockwise 1/4 turn and hold the adjusting screw while tightening the lock nut. If you didn't mess with the clutch free play adjustment, it should be OK.

I would begin by pulling the crankcase cover back off and checking to make sure the clutch disc and plates are held tightly together in the basket. If they are loose, take them out and reinstall them. If they're tight, I would measure the linings on the shoes of the centrifugal clutch and also measure the inside diameter of the drum.
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Most 4-wheeler problems are caused by a loose nut connecting the handlebars and the seat!!

You only need two tools in life -- WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:16 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the quick reply Helmut. It's been about a year since I last dicked with the machine so I can't remember if I checked whether the discs and plates were held tightly. I've got the original clutch out and have been toying with it. I've removed and reinstalled the discs/plates on the center plate and pressure plate with the lifter plate, clutch springs and bolts all put together several times and they're either all tightly packed and when installed in the basket don't rotate at all, or loosely stacked with some play between the discs/plates and when installed they rotate within the basket. Am I correct in assuming that when everything is installed correctly on the engine that there should be no play between the discs/plates and the inner clutch assembly doesn't rotate within the outer basket/housing? That's the problem with my Clymer manual, it has great disassembly/reassembly instructions but no helpful tips, like how to adjust the adjustment screw.

I have played with the adjuster setting before. The first time was when my problems was starting two years ago. At first adjusting the screw would help when there would be some difficulty in accelerating/taking off. Eventually no amount of adjusting would help. Then I got the used clutches off ebay and those worked for a bit, then stopped, and now here I am. Since then I've tried adjusting the screw in and out and nada, nothing is helping.

I don't have a problem with pulling the crankcase cover, but I will need to get an impact wrench for the nuts holding both clutches. I borrowed one the last time I tore into the engine, but I'd like to get my own - you can't have too many power tools. I will also have to get a caliper so I can measure the thicknesses of the parts (plus I've been wanting one for reloading as well so that's a plus). I guess this little project is on hold until next payday. Thanks for your help, I'm sure I'll have more questions later.
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Old 05-03-2011, 12:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Yeah, when the clutch is installed on the ATV, the clutches and discs should be held tightly together by the spring pressure and the inner clutch piece shouldn't turn by itself, the whole clutch should turn together. When you shift the gears, the linkage pushes in on the lifter plate and the pressure plate and this disengages the clutch so you can shift. At this point, the springs will be compressed enough to let the discs and plates move away from each other enough for them to disengage. At this point the outer clutch basket will be turning, but not the inner clutch. As soon as you're done shifting and let the shifter return, the linkage allows the lifter plate to come back out and the springs put pressure on the discs and plates again and now the clutch will be engaged and the whole thing should be turning.

Since you've messed with the clutch free play adjustment, I would try adjusting it first before pulling the cover back off. If it's not adjusted properly, it can be adjusted in too far and this will cause it to push on the lifter plate and can disengage or partially disengage your clutches which can result in the clutch discs wearing out prematurely or even not pulling at all.
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Most 4-wheeler problems are caused by a loose nut connecting the handlebars and the seat!!

You only need two tools in life -- WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.

Last edited by Helmut; 05-03-2011 at 12:32 AM.
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well, great news.. installed my new clutch pack with springs, adjusted the clutch screw, and works.

Drained the oil (was new oil two weeks ago so still good), soaked the disc in the oil while started tearing into the rightside cover. My new air wrench and impact wrench were great - so much easier to remove the pipe, foot rest, and both clutch nuts. Bit of a mess putting the new discs/plates in but that's what GOJO is for. Thanks again to Helmut for your info - after putting the right cover back on, shifted and played with the adjusting screw. Then after all bolted on, adjusted CCW to tension, then 1/4 turn CW like instructed.

Good to be riding again. Now gotta track down my fuel/carb problem on my Polaris ATV
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Old 05-14-2011, 07:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Glad you got it fixed!!!
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Most 4-wheeler problems are caused by a loose nut connecting the handlebars and the seat!!

You only need two tools in life -- WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD-40. If it shouldn't move and does, use the duct tape.
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