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Inspecting the Harley V-Rod Engine


For the first time in their history Harley incorporated fuel injection, overhead cams, and liquid cooling into an engine (the Porsche design). The V-Rod 1130 cc engine was named the Revolution, and redlines at 9000 rpm. In 2008 Harley added an anti-lock braking system, increased the displacement of the engine to 1250 cc, and added a slipper clutch as standard equipment. The V-Rod is visually distinctive and easily identified by the 60 degree V-Twin engine, the radiator, and the hydroformed frame members that support the round air cleaner cover, which is typically where the gas tank would be.

The company used hydroforming as a cost effective way of shaping malleable metals into structurally strong pieces. This process is where a hollow tube of aluminum is placed into a negative mold that has the shape of the desired result. By injecting fluid at a very high pressure, the aluminum forms to fit the mold. The technique allows complex shapes and concavities to be formed easily.

Several manual operations were required to assemble the lower crank case, including some sub-assemblies. A system designed and manufactured by Bachelor Controls was used to confirm proper placement of the snap rings that hold in the bearings that support the balancer shaft. This is a critical operation, because if a snap ring was absent or improperly placed it would fail inside the engine. 

Bachelor Controls came up with a creative solution that provided a reliable, consistent, and accurate method for verifying the installation of the snap rings. They were able to do so without creating any additional cycle time. Plus, their system reduced the risk of failure and expensive repairs.

In developing the process for the V-rod’s snap ring inspection system, engineers were working with a limited 10 inch area. The camera had to make three separate inspections, moving to different locations to inspect each individual part. The company’s solution was to place a mirror at a 45 degree angle to the bearing location on the part. The mirror was mounted on a pneumatic track, which placed it into position between cycles of the press. The press inserted the first snap ring/bearing, then exited in time to move the mirror into position to obtain and process an image. This had to be repeated for three separate areas with varying depths, therefore the camera was mounted to a linear actuator, which enabled the camera to move to specific locations in the depth of...

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