Classic Motorcycle Build

Harley 45 Scavenger Oil Pump Repair

Text and Pictures by Mark Trotta

Designed in the 1930's and in use into the 1970's, Harley 45 oil pumps rarely, if ever, go bad. Call it over-engineering, but aside from the flywheels, they'll likely outlive all other engine components.

Harley 45 oil pump repair

Feed Pump

There are two separate oil pumps on the Harley 45 flathead, and each has it's own function. The "feed" pump is the one mounted to the right-side of the engine on the cam cover. It is a vane-style pump which is gravity-fed oil from the tank, then delivers it to the engine under pressure.

Scavenger Pump

The lubrication cycle is completed by the "scavenger" oil pump. This is a gear-type pump and mounts to the bottom of the right-side engine case. It's job is to return engine oil back to the oil tank.

Harley flathead 45 oil pump install

There are two styles of scavenger oil pumps for the Harley 45 engine. One has a provision for an oil pressure switch and chain oiler.


The scavenger oil pump on my 1961 Servi-Car needed to be repaired due to a cracked cover, which was caused an over-tightened oil pressure switch.

Harley-Davidson 45 flathead scavenger pump

The part that cracked was a cheap chrome aftermarket piece.

cracked oil pump cover from Harley-Davidson 45 flathead

Remove Scavenger Oil Pump

The oil feed line needs to be removed from the oil tank. The pump is held up onto the engine with 1/4" studs and nuts.

Although I have a motorcycle work stand in my garage, it's not wide enough for a trike.

DIY motorcycle work stand

Lying on the concrete floor is never a favorite working position.

Harley 45 oil pump repair

Removing the scavenger pump with the engine in the frame was a bit of a challenge. In hindsight, I should've removed the exhaust system first. Famous last words, "This shouldn't take too long."

There are two flat paper gaskets that go in between the oil pump plates. These gaskets determine end play in the primary and scavenger oil pumps, so you don't want to add any thickness with any kind of sealer.

Instead of using messy silicone sealant, apply a light coat of engine oil to the gaskets, which will allow them to stick in place. Another option would be a light coat of grease or assembly lube.

Replacement Oil Pump Cover

There are two styles of scavenger pump covers. Harley #26232-38 has a provision for an oil pressure switch and chain oiler. The cover without provision for oil pressure switch is Harley #26231-37.

Replacement Scavenger Oil Pump Cover for Harley 45 flathead

Install Scavenger Oil Pump

Installation was the reverse of removal.

There is an adjusting screw for the chain oiler. If you don't ride much, you can plug this off and have a little less oil leaking on your garage floor. Just remember to oil the chain every now and again.

Oil Pressure Switch

The final step was installing a new oil pressure switch onto the pump and reconnecting the wire.

Harley 45 flathead oil pressure switch

I used a dab of Permatex 80631 thread sealant on all the oil line threads.

Permatex thread sealant


Related Articles:

Harley 45 Engine Teardown and Inspection
Harley 45 Bottom End Rebuild
Repair Stripped Threads In Aluminum
Harley 45 Drivetrain
Harley 45 Flathead History
Harley 45 gas and oil tanks

Read: Harley 45 Gas and Oil Tanks