Even with the well known quality of the James’ Gasket Company there is a gotcha in using their engine set.  The base gaskets do NOT have the necessary  holes in them to allow for the free return of top end oil to the crankcase!  Want to see a shovel puking smoke?  Use their gaskets without cutting the necessary holes!

 

In all fairness I should mention that when I went to my local Harley shop and asked them for a set of cylinder base gaskets, the ones they provided also did NOT have the required hole for the oil return….  Here is what you must do.  Get a plain old paper hole punch just like the ones you used when you were in grade school.  This tool will be used to actually cut the hole through the new gasket.  In 1982 and 1983 shovelheads, HD implemented an “oil consumption reduction package” in the design of the motor.  What this modification amounted to was the blocking of one and the addition of one hole through the cylinder.  On the primary side of the motor the original oil return (that would typically feed oil to the oil rings when the piston is down and let it dump to the case sump otherwise) has had a small tube inserted into it and a passage drilled through the base of the cylinder and the mating surface on the case.  This hole MUST be cut into new gasket or you will be sorry!

On the opposite side of the motor (cam side) there is originally plumbing installed that connects each cylinder a lifter block providing a third oil return patch (The afore mentioned hole, down through the push-rod tubes, and via this third hole.  If the plumbing between the cylinders and lifter blocks has been removed (very likely) then there is no need to be concerned with the cam side “missing hole.”  However, if your engine does still have the external plumbing to the lifter blocks you must also cut a hole in the gasket for this path.

This trap is easy to fall into since a cursory glance at the cylinder would lead one to believe that the oil return via the inside of the cylinder is the right path and as such the hole through the cylinder base and case can be blocked by the gasket.  Bottom line, the primary side hole can NOT be blocked off.  Check your gaskets and make sure you have all the holes you need – or see if you can get a job fogging for mosquitoes – it will really be that bad!

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