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Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Chandler, Arizona
It is very possible if it has been run with loose chains for a long time, the stock chain tensioners may not have enough reach even when fully extended to properly tension them. If that is the case, you could very well be looking at a broken chain in the near future. The fact that the tensioner nearly knocked the screwdriver out of your hand is positive proof that they are toast. The internal threads in the housing that the tensioner plunger turns will be beat to pieces. You can take the tensioner off and take it apart and see for yourself. As long as you don't turn the engine you can retract the tensioner and put it back in without doing any further damage.
I am by no means a fan of JB Weld, I've had it fail dozens of times. You can try it, if it stops the noise, ride around a few weeks, if the noise doesn't come back, then I would go ahead and get the TOC tensioners. They are strong enough to outlast several engines.
It is possible to replace the upper chains, but the engine has to come out, and the top end has to come off. If you take it down that far, you are likely to find the chain guides are damaged as well, and need replacement. These engines use a HyVo type cam chain that is supposed to run quieter than a normal cam chain, but I don't believe they are as strong.
I am a motorcyclist, NOT a biker.
1997 Vulcan 750, purchased about a week ago
2006 Sportster 1200 Low
2013 Royal Enfield Bullet 500, converted to carb
2001 Yamaha XT225, heavily modified
2004 Honda Rebel 250
1979 Vespa P200E
2002 Vulcan 750 parts bike
1994 Yamaha XT225 parts bike