Sabre Tech & Modifications

Street-Rod Cool Twin-Plug Three-Valve Cylinder Heads Five-Speed Constant-Mesh Transmission Offset-Dual-Pin-Crankshaft Shaft Final Drive

Tick Fix Home Project
by: John (CycleJohn50 aka: 50¢)

Disclaimer: Any person who decides to perform any of the below listed modifications, does so at their own risk. The Sabre Group does not claim any responsibility for damage to your motorcycle or individual.

The Tick is clacking noise coming from one or both of ot the Shadow Sabre's cylinders. A little ticking noise is normal with the self adjusting valves but if the sound is more like two spoons hitting together then this can be a serious problem.

The hole in the base gasket between the crankcase and bottom of the cylinder head is the target of this blow out procedure. That hole is too small (less than 1/4", more like between 1/8 and 3/16) and doesn't mate well with the size of the oil galley on either side of it.

The following sound bytes demonstrate the difference of a normal Sabre engine with one that has the Tick.

Normal Sabre Engine (No Tick) Sabre Engine with the Tick

The at home remedy (actually the one they do at the Honda Shop) involves drilling out the oil galley access ports in the head and blowing compressed air through them to open back up the return hole in the base gasket (which is too small and can clog fairly easily from sludge buildup).

    Tools, Parts & Supplies needed:
  • 1/8" new drill bit
  • Variable speed drill
  • Hammer
  • Center punch (I used an automatic center punch)
  • 2 flat blade screwdrivers
  • Sheet metal screw at least 1" long
  • 1 mustard/ketchup plastic bottle ($1 at Walmart)
  • Air compressor with rubber tip blast nozzle
  • Seafoam
  • 2 New Port Plugs ( I wouldn't start without the plugs in hand )

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Tools, Parts & Supplies Used

*NOTE* This tip comes from TSG member Michla. "Prior to beginning work add 1/2 can of Seafoam to the crankcase, crank engine and let idle for 15-20 mins. Shut bike off and drain the oil. Now your ready to begin."


1. Remove the seat, gas tank (removing the tank gives you more elbow room and lets you see the areas better), and the chrome head covers on the upper right front and upper rear left of the engine. Drain the oil and remove the filter.

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Tank Removed

2. Locate the aluminum port plug (I'm pointing at it with a pick in the photo) for both heads. Using a punch with a sharp tip, center punch the plugs in the middle (this keeps your drill bit from "walking").

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Aluminum Port Plug

3. The plugs are .278 thousandths long or just short of 3/8" so measure down 1/4" from the tip of your new 1/8" drill bit and wrap tape around the bit as a guide for when to stop drilling. This will keep you from over drilling and keep waste metal out of the engine. Drill with a very slow speed (bit barely turning). If your doing it right you will have a long curl of waste metal coming out of the hole like in the attached photo. Drill to the edge of the tape you applied and then pull back out. At this point I used my shop vacuum and cleaned up any metal shavings around the engine. The accompanying pics show the plug being drilled, after it's been drilled, and after the plug is pulled out.

Plug Being Drilled

Plug Drilled and Before Pulled Out

4. Grind off the tapered leading point of the sheet metal screw to ensure enough of the threads get a good bite to pull the plug out. Insert the sheet metal screw into the hole and screw it in about 1/4". With the plug being .278 thousandths long it cannot be wiggled out. It has to be pulled out. I taped a piece of wood (I broke a piece off of a paint stirrer) in the valley between the camshaft access plugs (the large silver socket head plugs) and then stuck a flathead screwdriver behind the head of the screw on either side with the flat of the blade resting on the piece of wood and pulled both sides at the same time and the plug popped out (it's a tight fit, it has to be to seal, but it came out without too much effort). I then used my shop vac again on the hole just in case any metal fell to the inside.

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Plug Removed

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Sheet Metal Screw and Pulled Out Plug

ZAG (ZAGGER) came up with this method to remove the plugs from the Heads.

"I decided today that spring might eventually come so I took the afternoon off to install John's port plugs that he was so nice to make for me. I decided to make a small change to the removal procedure that turned out to make plug removal very easy. A couple of pictures are attached. I bought a couple of self tapping screws from the hardware store - these are screws which have little "cuts" in the threads down at the end of the screw. After drilling into the plugs per John's instructions, I screwed in the self tapping screws with the short length of 3/8 copper tubing, washer, and nut. Once the screw is tight, you simply have to turn the jacking nut (like you are tightening it) to push on the tube and pull out the plug. Of course, it is a good idea to make sure that the tube actually is positioned to go around the outside of the plug when the screw is tightened so that you don't pull the plug into the edge of the tube. Anyway, both plugs came out easily and John's plugs were a perfect press fit. I added a little gasket sealer to the new plugs since I'm a belt and suspenders kinda guy. Thanks again to John!!"

"I used a 3/4" long 10-24 self tapping (also called thread cutting) screw with a hex type head. Nothing sacred about the length of the screw - you could use a longer one but this was about as short as practical. You simply need enough length to hold the nut, washer, and tube. If you use a 3/4" screw like mine, you will also need a fairly thin open end wrench to turn the nut since it starts pretty close to the head of the screw. A 1" long screw would give a bit more room. My tube was 0.33" long - but any random length which is longer than the plug is ok. I used copper tube mostly because I happened to have some and it is easy to cut off straight with a tube cutter. Any tubing with an ID of 3/8" should be ok. If anyone has to buy this at a hardware store, you might want to take a look at their selection of bushings - no need to buy 10 ft. of tubing just to have a tiny piece."

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5. Now fill the Mustard/Ketchup bottle half full with seafoam (I used the bottle because it has a tip tapered just right for squirting fluid into the opening) and squirt into both openings and let sit for about 5 minutes. Now take your rubber tipped air nozzle (I used the rubber tip because it seals the opening well) or whatever you have and blow into the openings ( I had my compressor set on 100 psi). A word of caution here. Most of the air is going to come out of the center portion of the oil filter housing and the seafoam is coming out too so I used a piece of cardboard to position behind the oil filter housing to divert the stream down into the oil pan. Any oil left in the engine and the seafoam too are coming out of the oil drain plug opening and the oil filter housing opening so have a pan under both locations. I repeated the flush twice on both sides and at the end of the second flush I had clear liquid coming out so I knew the engine was clear. One other note, I stretched an old t-shirt over the oil catch pan so I could see if any debris came out. On the first cleanout of the front port 2 small pieces of rubbery material came out that felt like RTV sealant used in engine assemble. I don't have the tick but I may have just prevented a future tick by doing this procedure. Now stand over the bike and lean it left and right to help any residual fluid in engine find it's way out. Once it quits dripping replace the drain plug and oil filter.

6. I used the blue shop paper towels (like you get at Walmart) and alcohol to dry the holes before putting the new plugs in. The leading edge of the factory style port plug has a taper to help with insertion. For anyone wanting to make their own, the dimensions are: .2635 thousandths diameter x .278 thousandths length with a tapered leading edge. I made my own with the added feature of having a removable 10/24 screw in the middle to do a maintenance type blow-out at every oil change. To install the factory type plugs put the tapered leading edge into the port first and with a punch and hammer lightly tap on the back of the plug until it is just past being flush with the side of the head cover. Inside of the port is a machined lip that will keep you from going in to far but do use light taps on the punch to seat it in the correct position. After installing the plugs to the same depth before removal you can put the chrome covers, tank, and seat back on.

7. One thing I noticed was when blowing in the ports with air quite a bit of oil came out that doesn't usually come out on a regular oil change. When I refilled the system instead of it taking the 3.3 quarts of oil to fill, it took a full 4 quarts to fill my bike to the full mark on the dipstick. Naturally yours may be different.

8. For those that want to make their own plugs here is a PDF file with the deminsions.

Custom Port Plug Instructions

    Additional Parts Needed
  • Custom Made Port Plug (see PDF file)
  • Viton O-Ring (rated at a constant use of 400+ degrees)
  • 10/24 Nut
  • RTV Sealant (or Teflon Tape)

Take the O-Ring off the custom made port plug screw, hand tightened a 10/24 nut onto the screw, and then screw it back into the plug with the face of the nut up against the face of the modified plug.

When you tap the plug into the head cover the 10/24 nut prevents any force on the threads of the aluminum plug (aluminum is a soft metal and using the nut for installation protects the threads). Then, after you seat the plug, take the screw back out, remove the nut, put the O-Ring back on the screw, put RTV sealant (or teflon tape) on the threads of the screw, and snug the screw up against the face of the plug (not so tight it tries to force the oring out from under the screw head). Then repeat on the other head cover.

If you have any questions or concerns with your modified plugs please contact John at

That's how it's done. Hope this helps.
John (CycleJohn50 aka: 50¢)

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New Custom Made Port Plugs

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Custom Port Plug Ready to be installed

Custom Port Plug (with Removable Screw) In Place

Disclaimer: Any person who decides to perform any of the above listed modifications, does so at their own risk.
The Sabre Group does not claim any responsibility for damage to your motorcycle or individual.