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Checking and adjusting valve clearance DIY (with pics)

The valves should be checked cold, so you should leave the bike to cool overnight. it's easier to remove the tank if it's mostly empty.

I am assuming you know how to remove the fairings, as it's explained in the service manual and it's not hard to figure out (also see this http://www.kawasakininja300.com/forum/13-ninja-300-service-maintenance/429-fairing-removal-guide.html). Remove the front lower fairing, the U shaped front center fairing (above the front wheel) that connects the two big side fairing, the two wavy black things on the side of the tanks, and the side fairings below the seat. if you've never done it before, you need the allen keys provided with the bike and a small screwdriver to pop the plastic retainers.

There are two big retainers under the bike joining the two bottom fairing in front (one in front, one under), and 7 small retainers connecting the U shaped fairing with the two side fairing. The U shaped fairing also has 2 big screws. Some of the fairings have plugs that are inside rubber grommets. You'll have to exert some moderate force to pull them out of the grommets (and some force to push them back in). the ABS plastic of the fairing is flexible so it will not break unless you go at it with crazy force. I put the bolts close to each fairing to avoid confusion when re-assembling. The big side fairings have an electrical attachment for the left/right indicators. you have to unplug and replug those when re-assembling. The only really sneaky bolt is right under the center of the nose of the bike (between the lights). It attaches to the two big side fairings and you won't see it unless you look.

Here's a pic of the bike without fairings (CA version)


Fairings removed



Then we remove the CA scrubber: unplug rubber hoses A and B from the tank. unplug C from the scrubber. Unplug straps D and remove scrubber E. I think the the metal support that is holding the scrubber is also on the way of accessing the valves, so you can unbolt and remove that too.

Remove bolts F and unplug both connectors G (the right one might be a pain, you have to press the tab and pull apart).



The reason is we want to have space to access the valves.
 

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Thanks for posting a DIY on Valve adjusting. I never could find one on the internet for our 300. Hope when its done a mod will make it a sticky. Been thinking I want to try that my self sometime but it looks like a whole lot of work to do. Probably why it costs "a whole lot of money" to have the shop do it.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for posting a DIY on Valve adjusting. I never could find one on the internet for our 300. Hope when its done a mod will make it a sticky. Been thinking I want to try that my self sometime but it looks like a whole lot of work to do. Probably why it costs "a whole lot of money" to have the shop do it.
truth is it takes a few hours to do. I need to adjust the valves and I am considering whether to pay $180 at the local shop or buy the shims and do it myself, because there's only so much time in the weekend. if I didn't use the bike to commute it wouldn't be a big deal. a different mechanic wanted $400 which is probably the dealer's price.
 

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I am coming on 10k miles on mine and haven't done it yet. And wont for a bit more. I see no signs they are out of adjustment and after doing a lot of investigation on the subject most say that there really isn't that much of a need for one before 20k
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I am coming on 10k miles on mine and haven't done it yet. And wont for a bit more. I see no signs they are out of adjustment and after doing a lot of investigation on the subject most say that there really isn't that much of a need for one before 20k
I checked mine at 8k and the exhaust valves were tight and were adjusted. I checked them again at 17k and they are tight again. I haven't seen any external signs of the valves being out of spec.

I don't know if they would have been damaged or not if I had left them till 20k, but I read some opinion that if they show signs of being too tight they could already be damaged.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
next remove the seat (one bolt on each side and slide it away from the tank). once the seat is removed, you'll see two big bolts securing the tank, remove them, then lift the tank slightly. there are two connectors under it: one electrical A, and the fuel line B. The fuel line has this red thing you have to open to release the plug. be careful not to break it, but it's not superfragile.




you have to open the two flaps C and D and push the red bit to the side to remove the plug. once that's done you can remove the tank. it's just resting on some hooks in the front, just lift the tank and pull it away from the front.
be careful to snap the red thing back in place properly when reattaching the fuel line. the first time I did I thought it was snapped in, but I made it 100 yards from the house before the plug disconnected and the engine died. luckily the top seal of the tank prevented all the fuel from spilling out, and it was just a matter of 10 minutes to lift the tank and reattach it. put the tank somewhere. I leave it with the frontside on the floor, against the wall. a little fuel might spill out the fuel connector, just dry it up.

 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
now that the tank is off, we need to remove the airbox. you can either leave the airbox lid attached to the hose C or G and take everything out of the way (the big lump of rubber G slides off away from the tank), or remove the hose C from the lid. either way, the lid comes off with bolts A and B. the airbox may have some carbon powder deposit you can clean off, inside.

I like to clean everything before I open the valve cover so that dust and grit doesn't get into the engine.

Next remove the spark plug coils D, first the electric plug and then the coil. the coil is rather long and you may need to twist it a bit before it pops off the spark plug (when you push it back in later, make sure they are in all the way, they need to pop into the spark plug). if you need to change the spark plugs remove those too. they are quite recessed inside so you may need some long tool to fish them off once they are unscrewed.

bolts E and F are for the valve cover. when you put everything back together, they need to be tight enough so as not to come loose, but not too tight that they supercompress the rubber gasket. I used a torque wrench the first time around but the second I just tightened by 'feel'.






On the other side, you can see the rubber holder A (G in the previous picture), which can slide off. Now the service manual says to drain the coolant and remove the radiator. I don't do that. I just remove the two bolts C, and I gently push the coolant hose D so that the metal part is ABOVE the bolt bracket C instead of BELOW. this makes enough space to slide the valve cover off. However you see the hose E has a metal end which fits with the valve cover. when you remove the valve cover, you'll have to wiggle this metal end of the hose, so that it doesn't block the way of the lid. similarly, when you put the valve cover back in, you'll have to wiggle the hose E so that it fits together properly.

Remove the plug and the coil B, and then the bolts F (and the other is hidden behind the coolant hose in the picture). When you put everything back, make sure the coolant hoses haven't loosened up. take a screwdriver and check the retainer bands are tight on the hoses. check the coolant level a couple of times after you ride the bike to make sure there's no leak (you can also put your fingers in between the side fairing and see if the hoses are wet).



Now you are ready to slide the valve cover off. slide it toward the right side (the side of the coolant hose). you'll have to wiggle a few times and it may seem it's not possible but it is. be careful and look under the valve cover with a flashlight, you'll see that the chain tensioner is blocking the way. you have to push the valve cover up to go above the chain tensioner.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
once the cover is off, be careful not to drop anything inside. if a small bit falls in, it may end up lower inside the engine. if you can't fish it out with a magnet you may have to open the engine completely. if you're nervous, better to put some rags inside to make sure nothing falls in. in the close up view of the cams you can see where the three rubber gaskets A B and C are. the two rubber gaskets B and C look like two small circles joined together (that's where the spark plugs go through). there are two metal bits E and D that hold the two smaller rubber gaskets B and C in position, and these bits can come out and fall in if you're not careful. If you just want to check the clearance you can leave them in but you better know where they are before you work on the valves. if you take them out, put a rag in, first, in case you drop one.
the rubber gaskets you can reuse (till they start leaking, a mechanic told me), although some might say you should change them each time. I have new gaskets but I am reusing the old ones for now. even if the small ones look a little out of shape (mine did), the metal cover will hold them in place anyway. just make sure no grit falls on the gasket as that will prevent them from sealing.






now remove the two covers from A and B with a big flat screwdriver or something like a coin.



If you insert a socket in A and turn counterclockwise, you will see the cams C move. you'll see the lobes of the cams rotate. you want to check the valve clearance when the lobes of the cams for that cylinder point away from each other with the same angle.

the exhaust valves are in front (of the bike), the intake valves in the back, so you want the exhaust valves and intake valves to point away at the same angle. This position (TDC, top dead center) for cylinder 1 is also marked in the view port of B with a line or 1T.
in the position 1T you can check the two ex. valves for cylinder 1 and the two intake valves for cylinder 1. insert a feeler gauge in the gap. Now the tricky part is that the cam pushes onto the bucket below (you can see this as you rotate it). that means that if you push hard enough, you can insert a feeler gauge that is actually thicker of the clearance. So, the actually value of the valve clearance is a little imprecise in that it depends on how good you are at "feeling" the right amount of force to push it in. if it goes in without force, the gap is bigger than your gauge. if it goes in with too much force, the gap is smaller than your gauge. the right measurement for the gap is when the gauge goes in with a little force, but you can slide it off easily.

It's not a big deal if you're not precise to the 0.01 mm, as the gap has a range of correct values, so you just want to check that the gap is within that range.

now if you buy a cheap feeler gauge you'll probably have big intervals between your different gauges. the one I have, for example, had intervals 0.15, 0.20 and 0.25. that's enough for a rough measurement, but not ideal. so what I did was add two gauges, say 0.15+0.06=0.21. That's a little better, but adding two gauges is not ideal either. So now I want to buy a gauge that has all the intervals between 0.15 and 0.25 (0.15, 0.16...). [update. turns out such small intervals between blades are not manufactured, so I guess I'll keep my feeler gauge and use two blades together].

the intervals for the ex. valves, from the manual, are 0.22-0.29 mm. for the intake valves are 0.15-0.24 mm.

once you measure all 4 valves for cylinder 1, keep turning till you get to position T2. that's the position to measure the four valves of cylinder 2.

it's easy to measure the valves in front of you for cylinder 1, however the other valves are a bit hidden, and you can barely see the buckets with a flashlight. that's not a big problem, just find the right position by feel and insert the gauge. if you take a good look at the assembly, you'll understand where you have to measure.

in the next figure I'll show a closer view of the cams.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
and here's a close up view of the cams. I marked the four intake valves for cylinder 1, A and B, and cyl. 2, C and D. you can see that some of the valves are hard to see, you just have to put your gauge in there without a clear view. you cannot remove their covers (the caps) as it would modify the clearance by letting the cams be pushed up by the valve springs underneath. the shims are under the buckets (they are called buckets as they are literally shaped like a bucket).



this is the chain tensioner which is blocking the view, but you cannot remove that either as the gears are one-piece with the cams. you'll remove this if you want to adjust the valves. I'm thinking to do that myself, and I may post another DIY if I have the time and if people are interested.



that's it and take care when working! a relaxed mind is best for concentration : )
 

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Awesome write up - keep em coming!
 

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just finished my valve adjustment the other day. for you guys doing this yourselves, do yourself a favor and dont pay fuckin ridiculous prices on shims from kawi, it adds up to over $130 really quick. I got the exact individual sized shims for each lifter that i needed from https://www.denniskirk.com/

got the moose racing shims for like, $2 a piece as opposed to kawi's $13 or so.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
yes I myself didn't know about the individual shims deal so I bought Hot cams refill packs (NOT the general set), 1 pack from 2.70 to 2.95 and 1 pack from 2.40 to 2.65 mm I think, 5 for each size in 0.05 increment (same increment as original Kawasaki for the ninja), for less than $80 total. I might have just needed 1 pack but I wanted to be sure. that works out to a couple of dollars per shim.

the size is 7.48 mm OD, which is not written even in the service manual. it is the same as the 250 and the 500 ninja. I called Kawasaki to confirm the size and the guy would not tell me, he said he didn't know and I had to use Kawasaki shims to be safe, because you know, 'material'. Hardened steel is hardened steel, if Hot cams shims (or other good brands) failed inside the engine people would notice. what's next, use only Kawasaki oil? : )

I also bought a magnetic tool to lift the buckets and shims ($10), and a digital micrometer ($40) as it reads in mm. I don't want to bother with the crazy unit system used in USA (1/32 of an inch?).

I use the beautiful metric international system : ) where everything is on an easy decimal base.

PS: by the way, could a moderator add this thread to the DIY sticky list for for DIYs?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
So today I adjusted the valves. I started by dropping one of the small rubber gaskets down the camshaft chain hole. I'm grateful to God for my wife who gave me a long piece of metal wire, told me not to worry and to fish it out, which I did. so I didn't need to open the whole engine.

then I knocked the camshaft chain around a bit and spent a great deal of time figuring out whether I had realigned it properly or not (in the service manual there's actually a figure which tells you how to make sure of alignment).

the actual changing of shims took much less time than the above.

after remeasuring my valves are now in spec : )

I don't think there's a need for me to post a full walkthrough because I found this: valve adjustment for the nija 250J which has shim under buckets just like the 300. if you follow that guide after following this thread you'll be fine.

just make sure you put some rag in that camshaft hole just in case : ) I did take some pics and I'll probably post them here next week.
in the 250 guide, the guy uses a broken screwdriver to install the camshaft chain tensioner. I bought a small Al plate from pepboys and cut it to size and make my own push plate to hold the tensioner in place. the push plate dimensions you can eyeball them looking at the tensioner, but there's a diagram in the service manual as well.

my big rubber gasket, after 18k, was starting to fray at the seam so I installed a new one.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
continuing after checking the valve clearance, to adjust the valves, first make sure that the crankshaft is in the correct position so that the cams are not pushing on the lifters, or it will be impossible to remove the camshafts. then:

1. remove the camshaft tensioner. it has 2 pieces, loosen (and later tighten) 4 bolts in criss cross pattern (check the service manual if unsure of pattern). it has 2 aligning pins. I'm removing one in the pic with a magnetic tool.



2. mark the chain in correspondence with the camshaft sprockets, so you know the alignment. (if you lose it, the service manual shows there are 34 chain pins in the 180 degrees from one sprocket to the other sprocket).

3. remove the camshaft caps (see the exhaust one in the pic). it has 4 bolts, always criss cross pattern and gradual loosening. if you don't trust your hand with small torques, you'll need a decent torque wrench. I didn't want to spend $100 on a snap on, and I didn't trust the cheaper ones, so I trusted my hand. it is a small torque! you can cause significant damage here so be careful. the cap is Al it's soft.

 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
remove the camshaft chain tensioner (actually I removed the tensioner before removing the cap and the camshaft). alternate loosening the two outer bolts and remove the central bolt cap. when you want to put it back, you have to rotate the inner spring coil mechanism with a screwdriver that fits. then you want to hold it from rotating while you install the two outer bolts. you can either jam a short screwdriver or make a push plate like I did.

 

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Discussion Starter #20
finally, raise the buckets with a magnetic tool. the shim willstick to it by oil.



change the shim (just subtract/add the difference). measure the shims with a micrometer. put a dab of oil on the shim and put the shim on the valve stem, then put the bucket on top. close everything up. recheck the clearance. remember to put the chain tensioner before rotating the crankshaft.
close the head and anything else.
congratulations.
 

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