Harley-Davidson India invited a group of journalists and motorcycle enthusiasts for the launch of the new Harley-Davidson University at Capital Harley-Davidson in Gurugram, India. But this was a launch with a twist – rather than just a ceremonious launch event, Harley-Davidson India invited us to roll up our sleeves and get greasy wrenching. The brief: to completely dismantle a brand new Harley-Davidson Milwaukee-Eight engine and then re-assemble it. Of course, we had expert help from a group of Harley-Davidson technicians, including John McEnaney, Regional Lead, Technical Support, Asia Pacific, Harley-Davidson.
It’s back to school for us, at the new Harley-Davidson University. The day started with a classroom session with introduction to the Harley-Davidson engines over the years, from the panheads, knuckleheads, and shovelheads and to the latest Milwaukee-Eight engines. John explained the different changes in the engines over the years, and about the latest four-valve engines. After the classroom session, it was time to get into the technical training area, where eight, brand-new Milwaukee-Eight engines were waiting for us. We were divided into groups of three, and each group was handed over a service manual, a complete tool cabinet with all possible necessary tools and instructed to get busy, dismantling the engine.
Also Read: Harley-Davidson University Launched In India
But we weren’t just auto journalists turning to Harley-Davidson technicians for a day. Harley-Davidson India invited enthusiasts and experts alike. In our group was Pooja Gor, a television actor and motorcycle enthusiast who had as much enthusiasm for working on an engine as any of us. And in our neighbouring work bench is Vijay Singh, of Rajputana Customs, who along with one of his team members, made every step of the dismantling and assembly look easy and completed with professional precision.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure working here on the Milwaukee-Eight. And with someone like John supervising the whole process, I just can’t seem to get enough of it. Now, I want to get into the wiring and electricals too,” said Vijay Singh.
The Milwaukee-Eight is available in the new 2018 Softail range and is available in two variants – the 107 cubic inches and the 114 cubic inches variant. The difference is in the cubic capacity – the 107 is the 1,745 cc v-twin which is used in the new Softail and Touring range in India, while the 117, which is the 1,923 cc v-twin is available in the CVO. And, the difference is also in the construction: the 107 has dual counter-balancers, while the 117 has a single counter-balancer. And we’re working on the new Milwaukee-Eight 107.
The dismantling of the engine started with the top end, first the rocker covers came off, then after ensuring the pistons are at top dead centre (TDC), it was time for the rockers to come off. Then the cylinder heads came off and after that the pistons, while ensuring the connecting rods are wrapped in rubber sheaths to ensure they don’t get damaged. Then it was time to get to the bottom end, taking out the cams and then prying open the crankcase. At the end of the day, mission accomplished! The Milwaukee-Eight has been completely dismantled.
Day 2 began with no classroom session, we immediately got down working, but bolting the engine components together is a different ball game altogether. Each bolt has to be tightened with specific torque, according to what the manual specifies, and this is where the torque wrenches come in handy. Of course, all throughout, John was around to guide us, give us a brief lowdown on how to go about each step, with meticulous precision.
But getting the cylinders on isn’t as simple as it looks. The piston rings have to be set in a correct sequence and pattern, and putting the cylinder over the piston isn’t as easy as it looks. After struggling for some time we do manage to install the front cylinder, but only when it was time to start installing the first cylinder we realise that we are in trouble. We swapped the cylinders and now have to re-install the cylinders all over again! And then, it’s time to ensure the pistons are at bottom dead centre (BDC) before we can install the pushrods and the rocker arms.
Eventually, it was time to wait out to let the pushrods ‘bleed’ so that they can rotate freely before we can put the top rocker covers on. The waiting is the difficult part with the clock ticking and the day beginning to come to an end. The second cylinder was installed as well, and finally it was time to call it a day.
Also Read: 2018 Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Review
What We Learnt?
Two days of wrenching, and understanding how the various parts of a v-twin, Milwaukee-Eight engine works are the stuff of dreams for a motorcycle enthusiast. And these two days at the Harley-Davidson University gave us a unique, one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience to what goes behind servicing, repairing and rebuilding an engine. Some of us have had the experience of tinkering with our own bikes, but taking an engine apart and then re-assembling it takes the wrenching experience to a whole new level. Now, the next part would be to start building a private work area and collect tools, to start doing minor repairs on my own motorcycle.