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Manual v automatic Cam chain tensioner

Discussion in 'Maintenance and Servicing' at netrider.net.au started by caferacer600, May 17, 2014.

  1. Hi Everyone,
    I have recently bought a Kawasaki 550 zephyr, unregistered and a little un loved with the intention of getting her on the road to do my learners. I have successfully cleaned the carbies and the bike will now run, albeit very rough and only on three cylinders (I suspect this will be rectified by balancing the carbies). Now that I have the bike running, I have noticed the engine is a little rattly. I am hoping that this is down to a worn cam chain tensioner. My Question is: am I better off just replacing with a stock auto tensioner or go for an aftermarket manual tensioner? I am a relative noob to this sort of thing, so also, is the manual option fairly easy to install and adjust to the correct tension?

    Any other tips pointers from other Zephyr owners would be greatly appreciated.


  2. Try adjusting the valves first, get everything running right, airfilter, possible carb clean,etc, then balance the carbs.
  3. As mentioned, check valve clearances first.

    I prefer the auto cam tensioner.... because, I did look at installing a manual tensioner, but I thought, how tight/loose do I wind it in?

    Recently, my bike has had an engine rattle... I checked the cam chain and found it worn.
    Easy to do, remove the head cover, grab hold of the chain and lift it, if it is worn the link will pull away from the sprocket (much the same as checking your main drive chain), also do a visual on the cam sprocket too.
  4. Cool, thanks guys. Sounds like a reasonable plan of attack. I've gotta do the fork seals as well so I think I'll do those and then send it in to the Pro's to get the valve tolerances done and have the carbs balanced. That should hopefully see the old girl back on the road!
  5. These days, auto camchain tensioners are pretty reliable. When the Zephyr's engine was designed, almost 40 years ago, and for a decade or two afterwards, this was not the case and buggered auto tensioners were a frequent cause of problems. If an aftermarket manual unit is available for a sensible price, I'd fit one and adjust it religiously at regular intervals.
  6. Could the cam chain need replacing? I replaced my Kwaka 1000 cam chain at 150,000km. I replaced the alternator chain at the same time. IT shut a lot of the "rattles" up.
    To check the tensioner, unbolt it form the motor one turn on each nut/stud at a time. If it still pushes out against the nuts/studs, then the tensioner and cam chain are ok.
    If it is ok, you will need to "reset" the tensioner before installing it back in it's position.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  7. This is actually another good point. Again, back in the mists of antiquity, a Kwak 550 camchain was considered to be doing OK if you got 50,000 kms out of it. Changing it was a skill most DIY mechanics developed (it's really not difficult). Depending on your bike's mileage and history, it may well be time for a new one.
  8. I knew there was a good reason why I prefer my noisy straight-cut gear-driven cams. No cam chain tensioning woes... EVER! ;)
  9. As someone with a VFR750 and a TE610, I'm definitely on the same page. Especially since I've just found out my preferred mechanic is currently booked out for a friggin' month :(. And I don't even have the option of doing it myself, as I have no suitable space.

    [/sadness vent]
    • Like Like x 1