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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 10-08-2004, 01:44 PM
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74 Ironhead Rebuild

I am rebuilding the motor off of my 74 ironhead sportster.I bought the Clymer manual for my bike,it`s very hard to understand.My question is if there are any tech articles with pictures on one of these rebuilds or if anyone has any tips or things that might be easily overlooked on one of these rebuilds?
Any help or insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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Old 10-08-2004, 11:05 PM
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raymeg, I think the only manual to have is the Factory manual.The clymer is lacking.
When a complete engine overhaul is nessasary, it would be best to find an experienced person to do it.
To repair the lower end requires special tools, The cost of the tools would be more than the cost of having somone do this for you.
Ironhead Sportsters can take considerable time to properly rebuild and can cost alot of money.
There are no hard valve seats in the cast iron heads, unless it has already be done, the heads should be machined for valve seat inserts.
The transmission is a weak point as 2nd and 3rd gears have only %50 contact, I would recomend replacing all of the stock gears and shafts with an Andrews transmission kit(spendy). However a transmission failure usually results in broken cases.
Unless you plan on running Race Gas, I would go low commpression and stock cams. These engines develop alot of heat with todays pump gas.
Somone that has experience builing these, will know to modify the old published tolerances, to cope with the higher heat of unleaded gas.

Don
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 10-09-2004, 12:26 AM
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Take HDfactory's advice, on the cams, keep them stock, and the andrews gears. if you want to make it go have a machine shop that specializes in working on harleys install the largest set of Ferrea racing valves that will fit in the heads, even though it doesn't have hardened valve seats, and though it would be better, pump gas ain't gonna hurt it none, I say this because I have a 76 XLCH that I have done what I mentioned to, it also has 0.040" over 10:1 pistons, and it has over 15,000 mi on the topend which was done in '90, and I run the dogs!#$t out of it, the bottomend is all original, and has over 30,000 on it, we split the cases in '85 and checked it all and it was so tight we left it alone, that may have changed now but if it ain't broke, don't fix it. It is still a one kick bike that will run in excess of 115 in 3rd gear!

Old sportsters are still cool! and the '74 was one of the best, a buddy of mine had one that in it's day to my knowledge was never outrun, but he had over 5g's in the motor and trans and that was in '80.
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Old 10-09-2004, 08:53 AM
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Ran on for years.......to the east coast and back .To stugis and back ect ect.......This is what worked for me ,,choose your eng. configuration (mostly pistons) ..seince it dose take a special operation to work on the botom end i highly recomend send it to some one that can set it up and DYNAMICLY ballance it all at the same time....(so smoooooooooooth....) You will love it
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Old 10-09-2004, 09:31 AM
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Welcome to the club, raymeg...

I have a '63 XLCH and I've found over the years that a factory manual is your best bet. Rebuilt mine 'bout 5 yrs ago had the heads done at a local machine shop. Other than for little piddly-crap things breakin', it's been a pretty reliable old bikeand still runs strong.

Good Luck on the rebuild.

BikerBronco
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Old 10-09-2004, 12:07 PM
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Mine's a '62 XLCH. You've been given some good advice here so far. I picked mine up in cardboard boxes. It was completely disassembled. All I had to put it back together was personal knowledge, my friends, and an HD Factory Manual. I highly recommend the HD Factory Manual.

As was recommended to you earlier, I farmed out the bottom end to a local, reputable machine shop that specializes in HD motors. The only things I kept were the cases, wheels, and rods. All bearings, races, bushings, etc.. were replaced. All the machine work, parts, and even boring the jugs and getting new pistons was under $900. That's money well spent when building an engine. Cams are fairly mild - "P" grind, nothing fancy there. The heads looked fine before the assembly, so I didn't even do a valve job. They're factory original as far as I can tell.

As for the Gas/Compression issue, I run 9.5:1 compression (Stock on the XLCH) and 91 octane pump gas. I'm using and old Keihin carb off a mid/late 70's sporty, butterfly valve, not CV. I don't seem to have a heat problem.

Here's a couple of pictures of the bike for you.



That was just before I tore it down for a complete remodelling of the bike. I was tired of the way it looked so I wanted to change a few things. Well, one thing led to another and some major changes have occurred. Here's what it looks like now.



Good luck with your rebuild. I think you'll be happy with an old Ironhead. They are fun bikes. Don't ever let anyone tell you that they are just 'Half-a-Harley", or "a girls bike". They're just as much a harley as any of the big twins.
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Last edited by Stick; 10-09-2004 at 12:12 PM..
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Old 10-10-2004, 04:01 AM
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Good advice you have gotten here. To give a little insight I decided mine was due for a freshen up since the insides were unknown so when getting the heads and jugs done I had Twin Jugs look at the bottom to be sure.
Previous owner had installed one of those magnetic plugs. It musta been too long and dragged into the flywheels and crap was all in the motor and the flywheels were gouged. The cam gears were pretty well shot and put in "P" cams. Found 8 cracks starting in the cases. Trans had a trock racing door in it that would not allow fluid from the primary in to the tranny. Silicone had invaded the insides a long time ago and minute pieces were everywhere. Someone who did not know what they were doing had been inside at one time.
The final price was a little expensive to restore but once in there I did not want iffy parts back in so everything new was put in along with fixing the cases. Only thing old on it were the cases , jugs and head castings and rocker boxes.
But it is what I wanted. Mine is probably a worse case scenario but you never know and is worth having someone that does know look at it. Peace of mind is a wonderfull thing.

Ken
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Old 10-10-2004, 04:45 PM
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Thanks for all the advice,it helps a lot.I`m gonna do the work myself still because I know I can do it.I have been an aircooled VW machanic for about ten years and a lot of this is the same.I`ll come here to you guys if I can`t figure something out.thanks again
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Old 10-10-2004, 07:53 PM
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Quote:
I know I can do it.I have been an aircooled VW machanic for about ten years and a lot of this is the same.I`ll come here to you guys if I can`t figure something out.thanks again
You're welcome.

Sounds like you have the experience to attempt it. Still, we are all here to help if you do have questions or run into something you are sure of. Just ask, and like so far, you'll get many replies from people willing to help. It's all about trying to help one another and pass on what knowledge we have. That's the sense of community here.

Good Luck and keep us posted as to your progress. Pictures too!
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Old 10-11-2004, 09:24 AM
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Will do,thanks a lot.
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Old 10-11-2004, 01:23 PM
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I have a 72 that I bought with a gernaded trans , I too know how to do all the wrench spinning work and I am a proficiant aluminum welder , but at this time I don't have the equipment to do a true overhaul so I priced out the tranny cases to a local indy , he gave me a real deal (in my mind ) then I asked him how much for the whole bottom end , still was a steal ($900 for andrews gears and welding the cases) he also threw in the bairings for the rods and flywheels

now I know for sure that the bottom of my sporty is bullit proof
I could have done the work myself too but this was a sweet deal

so you might want to check your local indys to see what kinda deal you might get (just a thought)
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Old 10-11-2004, 06:04 PM
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Thanks for the insight,I might check some locals just for shits and giggles.Who knows someone might do it cheaper than I can.
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Old 09-08-2005, 01:14 PM
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i am glad i ran across this thread. i am currently working on my 72 xlch....looking at doing most of the motor work myself. was going to get done what i was not able to do, such as the lower end and etc. again this will be my first build and i have been told to farm it out but hey it is getting where it is hard as hell to find a good harley mechanic that will work on older bikes, so i figure if i am going to ride it i might as well be able to work on it, i have been told by the local harley shop they want even let me bring it in the doors.....some shop uh.....oh well....like i said i didn't start this thread but thanks for the info and advice......
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Old 09-08-2005, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by ironhorse_24
i am glad i ran across this thread. i am currently working on my 72 xlch....like i said i didn't start this thread but thanks for the info and advice......
That's what most of us are here for. Swap stories, info, and help one another.
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Old 09-08-2005, 07:03 PM
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I still can`t find a shop around me that will even attempt to work on this thing.LOL,,,It`s just a matter of working out the small details.
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