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  #1  
Unread 12-18-2011, 11:48 PM
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Default Timing Chain Replacement on the Kawasaki ZX-6R

** WHY you should replace the timing chain in your ZX-6R engine and not buy a manual chain tensioner **

Got some noise coming from your ZX-6R engine? It's a very common thing to hear a little too much noise coming from the engine of these bikes and my girlfriends 2005 ZX-6R 636cc is no exception. The bike had been taken to a motorcycle shop that told the owner that the automatic cam chain tensioner was worn out. Their "fix" was to sell and install an aftermarket manual tensioner in a manner that it was so tight that it prematurely wore down the chain and broke the guides. This nearly caused the sprockets to skip a tooth and cause massive engine damage. The owner shut down the engine instantly when the engine made a super loud noise. Upon disassembly I was shocked that valve to piston interference didn't occur.

The factory timing chain tensioner is spring loaded and designed to apply enough tension on the chain to keep things in check. If your timing chain is making noise you don't put a manual cam chain tensioner on it and crank it down until it stops making noise. You FIX the noise by changing the worn out chain! Chains wear out and it's obvious when you take them off and look at them. Yeah it's expensive to replace the chain but it must be done to keep the bike in good operating condition. These engines are extremely high performance and must be in great condition to get the performance out of them that they were designed for. If you are just trying to "get by" and don't want to spend any money to fix your bike then just ride it till it blows up. But please don't buy one of those silly manual chain tensioners and think you are fixing anything. I'll show you why if you will continue reading further here.



Now for the juicy pictures. When you're ready remove the 636cc engine from your ZX-6R and throw that sucker on the work bench. Taking the engine out of your Kawasaki is probably more of a nuisance than actually changing out the chain inside the engine!

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  #2  
Unread 12-19-2011, 12:34 AM
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First things first. Cut yourself some blocks so that your engine is sitting nice and straight. Don't mess around with your engine unless it's supported so it won't get damaged and you can easily break the bolts loose without it flopping around on you. It only takes a couple minutes and makes life a whole lot easier from here on out.



Step 1: Remove valve cover



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Unread 12-19-2011, 12:38 AM
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Looks like someone actually did check the valves at some point... or at least they put fancy marks on the cam sprockets. But we have a problem here in this picture. Try and spot what is wrong before continuing.

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Unread 12-19-2011, 12:49 AM
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Pretty obvious? I haven't taken the cam chain tensioner out yet and the chain is off the sprocket letting the exhuast cam rotate freely whenever it wants! Oh man you KNOW you have to take the cylinder head off and check for valve indents on the top of the pistons. So now it's time to take the cylinder head off to have a look at the valves and pistons. The worst thing that could happen is for the valves to be bent and the guides ruined as well. If this happened then I would be researching around for a big bore kit to punch this sucker out to 700cc or whatever I could get away with.

Here is a shot of the lower cover removed so you can see what's behind it. We can now see the crankshaft trigger wheel. Behind this is the small crank timing sprocket that is not removable.




To this point here is a look at all the tools I have brought out to work on this engine until this point. Not too much eh? It hardly takes any tools to do this kind of work but if you DON'T have one of these tools when you are in the process of taking it apart then you are stuck until you track them down as you need them.



Besides the normal metric wrenches and sockets I suggest a full set of metric Allen wrenches, a 12 point set of sockets (or at least the commons 10,14,17 are good to have while working on engines), an impact to remove the head bolts, a short and long extension. Don't forget the COFFEE and a good selection of music so that you lose track of time while you are doing the cleaning and detailing.


Last edited by Smithers; 12-19-2011 at 01:18 AM.
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Unread 12-19-2011, 12:55 AM
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Back to the work. Remove the cradle that holds down both camshafts. Set those aside somewhere then break all the cylinder head bolts free maybe one full revolution one by one. Don't forget the two that are on the left side of the engine which you cannot see in my pictures. Then you have one long allen bolt that is on the right side in the picture below.





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Unread 12-19-2011, 01:01 AM
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Remove the cylinder head and place it to the side carefully.





Here I took a picture immediately after the cylinder head was taken off. This is basically as far as I'm taking the engine apart here. You can choose the righteous patch and split the cases if you want but I've fallen to the dark side meaning I am cutting the timing chain retaining guard that is cast into the lower engine case. This guard keeps the chain from coming away from the lower timing sprocket in the case of a chain failure. Why? I guess so that the chain spits off the sprocket in a controlled manner? Who the heck knows. IMO it's so that the official repair calls for twice the time required to replace the timing chain.

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Unread 12-19-2011, 01:07 AM
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A closer look of things.



And here are the tools I have used up until this point. Note the impact on the floor. You really need one of these for the cylinder head bolts. It's pretty dirty here so you can bet that I'll have that engine shined up soon. Once it's clean it stays clean so much easier.



To remove the timing chain guides the Allen bolts much be taken out. You can see my wrench removing the bottom bolt from the longer guide. The black one is already removed and the o-ring is still in the groove where the Allen bolt goes through that one.


Last edited by Smithers; 12-19-2011 at 01:09 AM.
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Unread 12-19-2011, 01:16 AM
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Now comes the fun part! The pictures tell all. I have never heard of timing chain failure on any motorcycle in my life. Plus these engines can be found for sale for $500 with low miles on them so what's the big deal? If your timing chain breaks then you have a ruined engine on your hands anyhow so there is not harm at all in removing this obstruction. It's not like this guard actually keeps the chain in place during operation either. Does oil splash off of it as it flys off the chain at that turn? Well I'll leave a lip from the casting when I slice the majority of it off so that some oil will be deflected off of it in some manner if you like.



The line has been cut nearly all the way through here in this picture. Once you score the casting deep enough you can get a pair of pliers and snap it off.



And BAM now we have a timing chain that can be replace in a half hour from start to finish now (not including taking the Kawasaki 636 out and putting it back into the bike itself of course).

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Unread 12-19-2011, 01:20 AM
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More to come later this week. For now I need to order a couple gasket or two, o-rings and a new head gasket and that should be about it.
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Unread 12-25-2011, 11:57 PM
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Here is a look at the bike with the engine out of it. We got it cleaned up a bit and put a new throttle cable in. We're just waiting for a new head gasket to come in the mail right now.

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Unread 12-27-2011, 08:22 PM
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Tonight I spent a little quality time at the workbench cleaning up the cylinder head on this Kawasaki engine. The valves had some good buildup on them so it was a good hour scraping it all off. I also had to get to business on the exhuast valves with the Dremel tool pretty good. Then a scraper and a right angle grinder took care of the surfacing. It feels good having this part out of the way. My fingers are TIRED. :P



Here we are all nice and shiny. If we have it apart we might as well scrape every single spec off the head and out from around the valves.

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Unread 12-27-2011, 08:43 PM
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And of course don't lose the order that you remove and replace the valve buckets! I'll be checking the valve clearance when things are all back together but you don't want to make things really hard on yourself by mix and matching these little guys when you are putting them back in place!

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Unread 04-16-2013, 08:41 PM
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Shame on me for not finishing this thread! If you are contemplating this repair or are just curious MAKE SURE to check out my ZX-6R cam chain repair Youtube video I made for y'all.

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