Resurrecting an Ironhead...

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by LookMaNoHands, Jun 7, 2018.

  1. LookMaNoHands

    LookMaNoHands Reformed pirate...

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    239
    Location:
    Front Range Colorado
    Deciding I have too much free time and too little stress in my life I went looking for a project. Enter this ‘84 XLH that turned up in my neighborhood... PO “rode it up until a year or two ago, until the transmission started making noises.”

    The good...
    • It’s a relatively clean, rust free, and straight XLH. Penultimate year for the ironhead motor.
    • PO had clear title, in his name, and all the numbers match. Truly seems to be a rarity among Sportsters
    • It hasn’t been chopped, nobody Sawzall-ed it into “bad azz bobber-dom (tm)”. Also a rarity
    • Cases belong to the frame and sport none of the cracks seen in abused Ironheads
    The bad...
    • That transmission noise? “I took it apart, couldn’t find the noise and lost interest”. Trans is in that big ol’ Rubbermaid tug o’ parts
    • Along those lines, “looked all over the garage, can’t find that back exhaust pipe”. Pretty sure that means there’s more bits floating around his garage
    • Can’t tell for sure if he painted the tins with a brush, or a roller.

    So I’m starting with a relatively clean, mostly original and somewhat intact sporty. I’ve got all the time in the world since my GSA is my main bike, and I got it cheap enough it’s worth putting a few parts and labor into resurrecting it.

    Plans
    1. P.O. “re-did” the engine less than 1,000 miles ago. It’s been sitting open since he tore it down. Fortunately CO is a dry enough climate that nothing really rots, but it needs to come back apart for a look-see
    2. That transmission in a tub... yeah. That’s gonna be fun. I love a good puzzle, and parts seem readily available.
    3. Freshen up the brakes and suspension, service all the bearings, and make sure the wiring isn’t too grotty. Get it safe and reliable (for a vintage HD)
    4. Paint and polish, clean it up a bit. Keep it close to factory without going overboard to “concourse restoration” land...
    I’m thinking it’ll make a nice run-about cruiser, something to putt about on and different enough from the fleet of recent HD’s

    3080FA47-6DB8-4437-9DAC-885B5BFE70C8.jpeg BB7D9A3F-E23C-4D4B-A948-5DBD043EF876.jpeg
    #1
  2. JagLite

    JagLite Long timer

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2010
    Oddometer:
    5,669
    Location:
    Anchorage Alaska
    Good plan and good fun
    :thumb
    #2
  3. flemsmith

    flemsmith lurk

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,091
    Location:
    Apache Junction, Az
    Some years ago, guessing about 12-15, Motorcycle classics did a very complete article on shimming the Ironhead Tranny. Used it when I rebuilt my long gone 73 basket case; it was a great help, and very clear. My cc went with the bike, but there may be someone on the XLlist who has one they'd share a cc from...

    Good luck, have fun.

    roy
    #3
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  4. LookMaNoHands

    LookMaNoHands Reformed pirate...

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    239
    Location:
    Front Range Colorado
    Thanks for the tip!
    #4
  5. LookMaNoHands

    LookMaNoHands Reformed pirate...

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    239
    Location:
    Front Range Colorado
    Dove into the basket o' parts, found a bunch of crap and what looks like the vast majority of the transmission. Spent a few hours sorting and cleaning to find all the major transmission pieces are there, though I'm sure I'll get nickel-and-dimed to death when it comes time to reassemble. Sorted into trash, maybe, and definite and turned one huge bin into four smaller organized ones...

    Engine came out this morning, it turns over by hand so I'm thrilled there. With it on the bench I can get it torn down properly and see what we're dealing with..

    Engine out.JPG Sorted.JPG
    #5
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  6. Zencyl

    Zencyl Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    East Texas
    Hate to be captain obvious but your no longer an "ex hog wrangler" :hide This is the kind or project I want to do when the hipsters move on from the builds you mentioned in your first post.
    #6
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  7. LookMaNoHands

    LookMaNoHands Reformed pirate...

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    239
    Location:
    Front Range Colorado
    Tear down is finished, off to the car wash to power wash away 35 years of “territory marking”. There’s a handful of bolts I haven’t identified yet, a trip to the machine shop for new bearings and then the rebuild can begin...

    So far pleasantly surprised. The P.O. didn’t bother to clean anything that he took apart but it looks like it’s 99% accounted for. I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth out of the HF ultrasonic cleaner and parts washer.

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    #7
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  8. Ozarkroadrunner

    Ozarkroadrunner Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    102
    Location:
    Between Georgia and Arkansas most of the time
    After the trip to the car wash, be sure to dry and clean any bearing surfaces. They rust quick, especially after the caustic soap used in commercial systems.
    #8
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