If you have a pre-2007 Harley Davidson with a five speed transmission, it is important to know how to make a correct shifter pawl adjustment. The only part of the shift pawl assembly that is seen on an assembled transmission is the shift shaft that exits from the left side transmission case and is secured into the transmission shift arm. This shift arm can be know as the last component of the shift linkage assembly.
The purpose of the shift pawl assembly is to push or pull, forward and back on the shift drum. This motion turns the shift drum which, in turn, moves the shift forks. Finally, the shift forks slide their corresponding transmission gears on the mainshaft and countershaft giving us gear change and neutral position. For a good visual example of a shift pawl assembly, Google JIMS #2384.
If your shift pawl assembly is ever in need of replacement due to a broken shaft weld or a stripped shaft spline, this is the best possible replacement part. Stronger than an OEM replacement. For correct shift operation, the shift pawl assembly needs to be correctly centered over the centering pin.
In order to check for correct shifter pawl adjustment; lift the rear wheel of the motorcycle and shift into third gear (it is best if the shift linkage is removed from the transmission shift arm). Now, gently (without up, or down shifting) push forward and back on the transmission shift arm. You should feel an equal amount of spring pressure forward and back. Of the movement, or spring pressure is not split equally, the assembly is in need of shifter pawl adjustment.
Adjustment is easiest to do in instances when the primary drive is removed. However, the adjustment can still be made with, either, a specialty tool or with modified 11/16″ and 1/4″ wrenches. Loosen the 11/16″ jam nut and make small adjustments with the 1/4″ wrench.
The pin will tend to move when re-tightening the jam nut. Even if the pin is held while tightening the nut, it may take a number of attempts before you are satisfied with your adjustment. Next time you are servicing your five speed Harley, take a few minutes and inspect your shift pawl adjustment. This is also an important inspection to make if you are having trouble shifting or finding neutral.