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Old 05-12-2012, 08:30 PM
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Doc Sprocket Doc Sprocket is offline
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Default Governor Removal Safety Reality Check

It is absolutely amazing how often we run into this here- and how often we find ourselves banging away on the keyboard, typing out the same old answers. So, I felt it was a good idea to write up a little blurb on the topic- If requested, I'll sticky it- to hopefully save us all some future work. Let's start by outlining the governor's job description. Everyone knows that the governor tries to limit engine speed to (usually) 3600 RPM. But wait- there's more. The reality of it is this- the governor's job is to try to MAINTAIN 3600, not just limit it. The governor reacts to changing loads on the engine- decreasing throttle if it starts to run too fast, and INCREASING throttle if it starts to bog. This is why it is called a "governor", and not simply a "rev limiter".

Now- On to the question: "If I take out my governor, is the flywheel gonna go off like an atom bomb, blowing semi-molten schmutz everywhere, and killing every living thing in a 15-block radius?"

The short answer is no. The long answer: There are many factors involved here, and each must be carefully considered.

1) I always advise people that IF they are going to run well above governed RPM, to do it by fully removing the governor's internal mechanisms, and NOT simply bypassing it externally. Many governors are designed in such a way that if over-revved, can suffer component interference inside the crankcase, and/or have internal parts forced right off the shaft and bounce around loose inside the crankcase. Either case can cause severe engine damage. NOT an "explosion", just largely F'd up internals.

2) IF you are going to run ungoverned with an otherwise stock engine, keep the factory spec valvesprings in place. At a high enough RPM, weaker springs will cause a condition known as "valve float" or "valve flutter". This occurs when the valves cannot slam closed fast enough before the next cycle. This cause compression losses, and as a result, prevents the engine from spinning faster than that point. Valve flutter tends to occur in our engines around 5000-5500RPM. Your results will vary, based on your individual engine, spring condition, etc. Valve flutter occurs at a lower RPM than it would normally take to cause a flywheel mishap.

3) IF you want to get into RPM ranges HIGHER than this (say 5500+), now is the time to go shopping for high-performance internals. A billet aluminum flywheel, connecting rod, and stiffer valve springs are what's called for. Stiffer springs allow the valves to react faster, so at higher RPM, the valves won't float- NOW things really do have the potential to get a little crazy, so it's time to reach into your pockets for better quality parts.

4) Your connecting rod is MUCH more likely to fail than your flywheel. I have witnessed MANY more conrod failures than flywheel failures. In fact, I have never seen a flywheel failure. Most here haven't.

5) Contrary to popular belief, a flywheel is NOT going to vapourize at 3601 RPM. This is NOT why your engine is governed to 3600 RPM. Your engine is governed to 3600 RPM because it is an industry-standard operating speed for all the implements these engines are designed to power. Let's NOT lose sight of the fact that these are industrial stationary engines- made and marketed with the primary purpose of powering equipment. Generators, pumps, power washers, welders, cement mixers, tillers, trenchers, tampers- you name it- and the implement are designed to run at 3600 RPM- So the engines are factory set to 3600 RPM. It's that simple. When a flywheel is manufactured, it is designed to run well above normal operating speed. It's called a safety margin.

6) NOTHING is 100% guaranteed. You can do everything completely properly, and have a flywheel fail at a "normal speed". OR, you can do everything wrong, and run the he// out of the engine at 7500 RPM on a stock 'wheel for a lifetime and never have a problem. Sometimes, there's just no accounting for "Spit Happens". Write that down.

7) IF you are running an otherwise stock, ungoverned engine, is it adviseable to avoid excessively free-revving the engine. Use proper gear ratios to keep a bit of a load on the engine at full speed, wide open throttle. Don't try to rev the wee out of the engine with the clutch, chain, or belt off. A load on the engine helps keep harmful vibrations (harmonics) in check. If you have an insanely long, steep downhill stretch in your riding route, back off the throttle going down it. If you hear the valves floating or the engine starting to over-rev, apply some brake force. Coasting too fast can force the engine to spin even faster than valve flutter can prevent.

8) Inspect your flywheel before removing your governor. A previously damaged flywheel can break apart at a completely unpredictable speed. Damage may not be visible (spit happens) but if it IS visible, replace it.

9) If you have to remove your flywheel for repair/maintenance, remove it properly. Do NOT beat the he// out of it with a BFH or pry on it. Invest in a flywheel puller. Failing that, try the following: Loosen the retaining nut until the nut is flush with the end of the shaft. Now, hit the nut squarely and sharply a couple times with a hammer. Most times, this will do it. You can also aid in loosening the flywheel with mutiple taps around the circumference with a soft-faced mallet or deadblow hammer. Do NOT beat on it with a steel hammer.

10) If you need to hold the engine from turning while you are tightening/loosening a crank bolt or clutch, do NOT wedge a screwdriver or bar in between the flywheel fins. Although this is not likely to crack the 'wheel, a fin could break off. This will throw the 'wheel's dynamic balance off. An out-of-balance 'wheel is just asking for trouble. Same goes for sawing off alternate cooling fins (an old performance trick). If your fins are cast into the 'wheel, don't do it. If you have a Honda, clone or other engine with plastic fins, go for it.

11) Handle with care. Once you have the 'wheel off, don't drop it...

So- Armed with the above information, go ahead and make an informed decision. This guide arms you with what you need to know, to decide whether removing your governor is a feasible idea, and how to handle things if you do. And remember (for all the "Armageddon-is-coming-prepare-to-meet-thy-maker-in-a-sintered-metal-flywheel-induced-world-war-3-esque-everybody's-gonna-die-including-the-cockroaches-in-the-cupboard"-nervous-nellies out there... Spit happens. On the one hand, your stock flywheel will very likely be fine. On the other hand, even a performance parts could fail. Spit happens.

One last point here- For those that may not yet be ready to dive into their engine and come out with a handful of governor parts- Some engines (most notably Hondas and clones) have a VERY user-friendly means of governor adjustment. This adjustment is designed to fine-tune the governed speed to spec, but makes it super easy to gain a few hundred RPM- usually you can bring your GOVERNED MAX to 4000-4200 RPM with the turn of a screw. Your governor will still do it's job, but you'll run a little faster. Locate the manual throttle control on your engine- the little lever you would slide to increase or decrease RPM if you didn't have a remote throtte (gas pedal). Behind that lever is a screw with a spring wrapped around it- Notice how the throttle rests against the tip of that screw when you move the lever to the "fastest" position? Great. Remove that screw. Presto- instant maximum RPM increase- no fuss, no muss.

It is also worth noting that these engines were designed to run at 3600 RPM, day in and day out. If you do run faster, the engine will wear faster. Fact of life. Treat it well, maintain it well, and you'll never notice the potentially shorter lifespan.
Treat it as you would an aircraft frame and you should have no problems. -Name Withheld
The Manual- "Just the manufacturer's opinion of how to put this together."- Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor
Put down the wrench, and come out with your hands up!- Me!
Wrench, Wheel, Wreck, Repeat...

Last edited by Doc Sprocket; 03-24-2013 at 07:48 AM.
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