Thinking Of Resurecting My '73 Sportster

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by lake_harley, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. fatfatboy

    fatfatboy Been here awhile

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    I'm with anotherguy. Fire it up. Nothing sounds better than a raped ape Sporty..
    My second street bike and first Harley was a 73 XLCH. Had a lot of good memories in the 10 years that I owned it. Regret selling it and wish I could get it back..

    I slapped a S&S carb on it and that really helped eliminate the Sportster knee. I hope you get her going.
    #41
  2. safetywire

    safetywire Been here awhile

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    Lake,

    There is a 73 sporty rolling chassis on the kansas city craigslist for $450 worth an email if you need any parts.
    #42
  3. Poacher Bob

    Poacher Bob Persona non grata

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    Once again...:ear








    :lol3
    #43
  4. lake_harley

    lake_harley Been here awhile

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    Still distracted from the Sportster. Maybe this Winter???

    FWIW....I did call the local HD dealer about a few parts. They basically said it'll be aftermarket stuff (front MC seal kit, caliper seal kit, air filter element, etc.) so I'll probably just get things online, rather than bothering with going into the dealership. The dealership (Used to be Minor's H-D, Cape Girardeau, MO) changed hands a few years ago. If that hadn't happened I'd go in just to say "HI" to the old owner, Sonny, who sold me the bike. Now, I have no loyalty to the place.

    Lynn
    #44
  5. Poacher Bob

    Poacher Bob Persona non grata

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    J+P Cycles is your friend......:deal Went into the local "Boutique" to get some oil for my Shovel and the sales lady wasn't sure she had oil for it! :puke1
    #45
  6. Growl

    Growl Adventurer

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    I rode an ole 73 XLCH for years, commuting to work, and weekend tours... It was a real labor of love to keep it running properly!
    I like the solid wheels by the way.
    The "banana" front disk brake was one year only, it worked well if you squeezed it hard enough... They are known to rattle when worn... Mine did... I rebushed the holes for the caliper mounting bolts... That helped.
    Yours has lot's of life in it, with so few miles - deserves to be ridden.
    Mine became a better machine when I replaced the Bendix carb. The later Kiehien CV carbs that Harley used on Evo model big twins and sportsters are a terrific upgrade... Easy to tune, very reliable and decent MPG (forty something) - but mostly, you get improved drivability.
    #46
  7. dancerdave

    dancerdave Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]I bought my 73 sportster new and still have it.. the last ride it was on was in 1985 when a friend of mine says "put a set of rings on that old bike and lets take a little trip" so i did and off we were.. he had a bmw r600 and we had the time of our life.. we left Kentucky headed for Front Royal Va and then down the Skyline Drive to the Blue Ridge Parkway to Cherokee North Carolina and then back to Kentucky.. that bike died as i pulled in the drive way so i pushed it to the garage and the corner it went.. i had other bikes to ride and was still trying to race motorcross so the bike wasn't important.. About 3 years ago i uncovered it and took a long-long look at it and decided to get the old thing back on the road and knowing i had lots of work to do to make that old bike run again and again time was a factor and had "other bikes to ride" but i will get it running this year and hopefully ride that old thing one more time.. it is still stock other than 4' forks extention and a king tank (3 gallon) and seat from a 1974 sporty.. i still have the original parts and owners manual and sales slip from Buds Harley Davidson in Evansville In.. gonna try to post a picture .. hope i do it right
    #47
  8. lake_harley

    lake_harley Been here awhile

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    I've actually made a bit of progress on the Sportster, but not ready to make any noise yet. Carb rebuilt, new spark plugs, new tires, new battery, glas bead blasted the rust off of the front brake rotor and sanded it, cleaned out the gas tank (actually it was still quite clean), drained oil tank as well as transmission and crankcase but still need to refill the tranny and tank, cleaned the back brakes and chain, put new seal(s) in the front brake master but still need to check out the caliper fill and bleed.

    Had a heck of a time trying to find a new air filter element. I contacted three H-D dealers and everyone could get what they thought would be the right filter but couldn't verify any dimensions (change was made mid-73 I guess). Since it would be an up-front payment on a special order I would be stuck with the filter if it wasn't right. Forget that. I went online and crossed the number over to K&N who had dimensions online, and ordered one through the warehouse that I deal with on circle track racing parts and will get it at wholesale to boot!

    I'm getting anxious to hear it again. I may do what I have to do to get it running, which isn't much anymore(oil, etc.) but will have to resist a ride till I get the front brake wrapped up. I wonder if my old knees are still up to kick starting a Sportster? :hmmmmmHere's a picture as of today. [​IMG]
    #48
  9. Poacher Bob

    Poacher Bob Persona non grata

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    :freaky
    #49
  10. lake_harley

    lake_harley Been here awhile

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    Refilled everything that was empty, put back on what was off, hooked up what was unhooked and..............it just about started on the 4th kick. Then, (based on my experience) in typical sportster tradition it wore me out three or four times until I got it to START!!!! Too much gas?....too little gas?....who knows..... but, like old times it finally starts when it's good and ready, or maybe when the alignment of the planets and stars are just right for an instant. Hopefully with a little tweaking and some run time it'll get back to being a 1 to 3 kick bike, like it once was.

    I called my son at college to share my excitement. He was only 2 1/2 years old when the bike was last ridden. He sounded pretty happy to hear it was running again and wasn't sure which he wanted to hear first, the Sportster or the 748 Ducati my wife bought me for my birthday in September. Maybe there's still hope he'll be a motorcycle enthusiast. He's been riding about 4 years now. I think he'll get a kick out of riding the old Sportster...maybe next week when he's home for Thanksgiving break. RH shifter might throw him a bit though:lol3

    Still work to do, but it was hard to resist the temptation to pull in the clutch, snick it into 1st.............

    Lynn
    #50
  11. motorjon68

    motorjon68 Been here awhile

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    Damn glad you are back at it!!
    #51
  12. c1skout

    c1skout Been here awhile

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    Glad to hear it. Now go wear out some tires!
    #52
  13. lake_harley

    lake_harley Been here awhile

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    My last report was in November - 2011, for those who don't care to look back. Had the Sportster started and actually rode it about 1 mile after my last post, but it did the same snorting, bucking and acting stupid when I gave it some throttle, just like it did 17 or 18 years ago.

    Unfortunately the bike got put to the side, again, for some other projects. Had to think this through, you know. Compression was good, as my right leg would testify. Fuel, maybe a bit of a suspect, but don't think that's the deal as it was flowing through the petcock OK when I checked and the carb just got cleaned and a rebuild kit. Spark, yup, but maybe....somethings happening to it under load???? How about I just replace the plug wires since they're only, what, 39 years old? I had some leftover plug wire ends and wire from a solid core 8MM Taylor race wire set from my hot rod, so today I got the Sportster out again, assembled a new pair of plug wires, put them on the bike and....................TOOK IT FOR A 6-8 MILE RIDE!!!!.

    What a kick! The noise, the vibes, the pull of the torque, the riding position (drag bars), even license plates that expired in 1992. No knocking any other bikes I have now or had in the last few years, but the Sportster took me back to being 25 years old again (I'm 59 now). I thought while I was riding it "I am really glad I never sold this bike"!

    Now, maybe in a couple months (just kidding), or better yet maybe later this week or next, I'll put some mufflers back on it - I have the stockers yet - and I'll get it state inspected and licensed again.:clap

    Oh, almost forgot to mention, after it started with the new plug wires I shut it off to get my helmet, gloves and riding jacket on, and it re-started on the first kick! One-kick is back in town!

    Today was a good day!

    Lynn
    #53
  14. dancerdave

    dancerdave Been here awhile

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    I am glad my old bike has an electric start.. i am too old for kick start anything especially my Sportster.. Hopefully i get to ride mine again this year even if just around the yard.. .. it is hard to ride now after getting use to the "wrong side" shifter and brake..
    #54
  15. lake_harley

    lake_harley Been here awhile

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    Yes, I forgot to mention the "wrong side" shifter and brake. I only downshifted with the brake pedal once on my ride, but it took a bit of conscious effort. I got on my FZ6 a little later to run an errand and found myself thinking about where the shifter was on it for a second:lol3

    Lynn
    #55
  16. dancerdave

    dancerdave Been here awhile

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    the biggtest reason for me keeping my old Sporty is the throttle dont return and the shift is on the wrong side..you would be supprised of the people that have never ridden a Harley without a spring loaded throttle cable and right side shift..
    #56
  17. lake_harley

    lake_harley Been here awhile

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    Since the last installment I took the 40" drag pipes off the bike, which I put on about two weeks after buying the bike in 1974, and re-installed the stock mufflers, that I've managed to keep all these years. Much louder than I would have expected and/or remember. Rode the bike again after the successful 6-8 mile trip a couple weeks ago. Blasted thing went back to the same snorting around and was really hard to start....again....Aargh!

    Had a little time today and checked and re-gapped the points that were off by a smidge. While I had the plugs out to make it easy to get to the high lobe on the point's cam, I plugged the spark plugs back into the wires and, with the ignition on, snapped the points a couple times just to see how good the spark was. Well, on one plug it was non-existant! Hmmm, new NGK plugs, what, 10 miles ago? Got the old HD plugs (good thing I never throw any "spares" away) hooked them up and, ta-da, sparking again! Guess I'll go get a spare pair of them. First time I ever had a problem with an NGK.

    Took it for about a 12 or 13 mile ride, still on the "expired in 1992" plates, Still not quite right, but it seemed to get better after a few miles. I'm thinking now I still have a carb issue, maybe plugged air vents and maybe the float a bit too high. Get some black puffs when I rev it. May make sure what jets it has in it too. I never wondered about it before, but I wonder if the first owner richened it up in it's first 1700 miles of life, before I bought it. Gas mileage always did stink, but I had attributed it to my right wrist.:D

    Oh, also sent off the paperwork for Missouri historic license today. One time $27.75 fee and I can ride 1K miles a year for pleasure, or to a show, etc. Maybe I'll start making up my own show flyers so, if I get stopped, I can show the LEO "here's the flyer for the show I'm heading to/returning from". Mid-week bike show anyone?

    Also finally gave it a good bath, which it really needed. It has more than it's share of scratches, peeling-off wrinkle finish, and the paint doesn't shine like it used to, but, like me, it's been around quite a while and we still seem pretty good together! Maybe I'll get a current picture in the next day or two.

    I think I know what got me going again, just recently, to work on the old Sportster. I've read through most of this thread http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=527966 and it sounded like fun. I'll just have to keep my trip under 1000 miles or find a show somewhere to satisfy my Sportster's historic license limitations.

    Lynn
    #57
  18. JGoody

    JGoody Been here awhile

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    I had a '64 XLCH which was magneto -- no battery and "wrong side" shifter like the Brit bikes of the day. This is making me nostalgic!
    #58
  19. lake_harley

    lake_harley Been here awhile

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    Went to the local HD dealer today to pick up a new pair of spark plugs. Simple enough, right? Nope! The first fellow at the parts counter struggled to find anything, much less a pair of HD #4 spark plugs. With the help of a co-worker they brought out 3 sets of plugs, with the closest thing to what I wanted being a pair of #3 plugs. They said the #4 plugs are discontinued. Could that be right? The other two pair they brought out were a slightly longer reach plug with a seemingly long protruding tip, and a plug with a way-too-long reach. Feeling I had stressed them excessively for the day, I thanked them for their time and left.

    Anyone with a 1000CC ironhead Sportster have any input on good spark plugs to use? Are HD #4 plugs still available? Thanks!

    Lynn
    #59
  20. Mista Vern

    Mista Vern Knows all - tells some.

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    I'm enjoying following this thread. I had a 72 Sportster (new) and rode the heck out of it until finally dropping it at a pretty good clip. So damn crude compared to bikes now but what you see is what you get, and I like that. Best of luck ironing out the kinks!
    #60