If you own a 2007 or later Harley-Davidson FL bagger or a 2006 or newer H-D Dyna, you probably have grown tired of burning your hand when checking the oil while the engine is hot. For those of you who don’t know, the engine oil for these bikes resides in a reservoir within the six-speed transmission case, and the dipstick is on the end of a big, eight-sided aluminum cap that threads into the case. On some models, the cap itself not only gets as hot as the rest of the engine, it sits very close to a red-hot exhaust header pipe.
As a result, removing the cap without dry-roasting your hand either requires you to wait until the engine cools down (not a practical option when trying to check the oil during a gas stop), do it while wearing your riding gloves (not the best treatment for them on a 100-degree afternoon) or use this nifty little Dipstick Socket (part #759; $25.75) from JIMS Machining (www.jimsusa.com). It’s a black Delrin socket made to match the octagonal shape of the oil cap, but with part of one side cut away so it can clear the aforementioned pipe as it is slipped onto the cap. It has a hex molded on top to allow the use of a 7∕8-inch socket, and a square hole molded into the hex accepts a 3∕8-in.-drive ratchet or extension. Some H-D models will even allow the socket to be turned with an open-end wrench.
A friend who rides a late-model Electra Glide scoffed at the idea of needing a tool to remove the cap, so I loaned him the one I had. Two weeks later, he called me and asked where he could buy one. What’s more, another rider I know who already has one of these sockets told me that he frequently uses his without the aid of tools because the Delrin is sufficiently heat-resistant to let him unscrew the hot cap by hand without getting burned. Those two “endorsements” speak for themselves.