Adjust A Shovelhead Push Rod

Keep your Harley humming with regular pushrod maintenance.

The Shovelhead is an engine found in Harley Davidson motorcycles manufactured between 1966 and 1984. The engine pushrods link the cams to the valve and form an integral part of the engine. The pushrods need to be adjusted from time to time to keep your hog functioning optimally. A ticking noise from the engine will indicate that the pushrods need to be adjusted. You need to decrease the length of the pushrods to eradicate the problem. This task is relatively simple and can be done as part of the motorcycle’s annual maintenance routine.


1. Locate the pushrods on the right hand side of the engine, just behind the air cleaner. Lift up the retainer clips that hold the cover tubes in place with a screwdriver.

2. Remove the cover tubes. You can now access the pushrods. Tighten the pushrods by turning them in a clockwise direction by hand. This will shorten the pushrods.

3. Rotate the engine. Jack up the motorcycle. Remove the spark plugs. Place the Harley in fourth gear and rotate the left wheel until the cam is at the lowest lift point. Tighten the pushrods more until you can move them from side to side but not up and down.

4. Place the two 7/16 wrenches over the locknut and tighten the pushrod as much as you can for solid lifters. For hydraulic lifters, turn the pushrods longer by three-and-a-half to four full turns before tightening the locknut. Repeat the steps for the other three pushrods.

5. Rotate the engine back to its original position. Replace the spark plugs and take the motorcycle off the jacks. Take your Harley for a test drive and listen to make sure that the ticking noise has stopped.