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Old 04-17-2017, 01:48 PM   #1
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Default My first...'74 XLCH

Well, I live next to nothing in the middle of nowhere. I have other people who ride around but nobody that I think of as passionate about bikes, any and all bikes. As such I joined here looking for help and just as importantly I am looking for a sounding board to talk about ideas. Basically, I need to unload some of the motorcycle crap bouncing around in my head somewhere and you guys just might be the place. So if you don't care, then just ignore me, otherwise chime in.

ABout 8 months ago I bought a 1974 XLCH that "ran when parked" for $1500. It looked about like a $1500 Harley would look like but it was all there.

Now that I am taking it apart there are some bad things. The engine has blown up at some point and half-assed put back together. Two different pistons and a badly scored jug. Side to side play in the connecting rods(S&S heavy duty rods). A bolt backed out of the transmission plate but luckily still in. Play in the flywheel which I will pull tonight to split the cases. A tappet had surrendered its life. Plus, who knows what all after I finish dismantling this thing.

But the frame is good and the cases appear to be solid with no cracks I can find at this point.

The front forks need new tubes but I also have a set of '75 forks that look good but would need brake parts if I went that route. I am going to shave the fender tabs either way.

Originally I thought I would preserve the bike but now I realize it is not a candidate for restoration in my opinion with so much in a sad state. I restored a '68 Triumph before but it was all there and original.

I keep looking at custom bikes and always come back to hard tail bobbers. So even though I am way over my head I think that is what I will do...I think.

But now I am agonizing on the frame. Do I weld on a hard tail from LedSled or do I get an entire frame? I realize some of the advantages but I still just don't know. I was thinking of keeping a stock front end but...?

Up front let me just say I am not a mechanic except by necessity. But I have the manuals, the intelligence, and a guy that lives above my shop who is a mechanic and can make and fix anything. But what the hell, I don't care I will figure it out as I go, make mistakes, and do it again.

I do own an hydrodipping and Cerakote shop so at least I can do the painting and any ceramic coating. That's not to say I am a masterfully artistic painter and air brusher but I am going to push myself a bit on this project.

And that's it. right now its a mess of pieces and I am just striving to get the cases apart and get them cleaned so I can work in the right direction with a complete engine rebuild. In the meantime I need to make some decisions on the frame and forks.
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Old 04-17-2017, 03:16 PM   #2
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Default Re: My first...'74 XLCH

OK, so you have come to the right place. To start off, make sure you do a introduction, on the front page(Jockey Journal Board), under introductions, unless I missed yours. The Mod's like to see one, and we do too, even if you have told us a lot on this one.

Now, for the bike. You have just bought a dreamers nightmare. A Sportster. The bike that people buy, because they either can't, or won't, afford a big twin. These bikes in most cases, get worked on with hammers and chisels, until they either blow up, or don't run. Then, they are for sale. Ask me how I know....... But, my first was a 67 XLCH, and even though it was in decent shape, it was only a few years old, when I got it. But, it did have the hammer marks in places.

Just remember when you decide to REALLY get started. The deeper you dig, the more it will cost. Do the math. You are still not all the way apart, and your parts list already includes some expensive parts. The crank, can break the bank, unless you have someone with lower end experience, but it can be done, with just the book, the problem is, you need special tools, that cost more than your bike did. So, a outside shop may be needed. Most of the other stuff, is more simple. The trans can be intimidating to the novice. but, not impossible to set up.

But, for now, if it were me, I would stick my nose in that service manual, and read, then reread everything in the motor/transmission sections. After you just read them, then you will understand what I am saying about special tools. And, yes, the service manual, even shows you how to use a hammer. Really.....

As you move forward, post some photos. They get more people to read and help, and it gives us something to reference when we try to help.

Look at the heads, on the end near the rocker box's, and see what the numbers are. The earlier years, 71, 72, 73, had thinner cylinders, and could only be bored to .040 over. The way to tell, is by looking at the heads, and the casting numbers. If they are -71, or -72, they are the earlier cylinders/heads, and the head bolt pattern is exclusively set. If the heads are -73, then they are the newer and thicker castings. (The numbers on the cylinders and heads should both match, on the last two numbers, after the -) So, The good heads, would be 16674-73. The good cylinders(if stock) would be 16465-73. If they are the earlier years, make sure the pistons are .040, or smaller. Because you can buy the larger pistons, without getting the cylinders. If you put a .050 oversize in the earlier cylinders, it will run hot, and probably not enough to seize. And with so many old parts running around, and people not knowing this, the sellers will sell them to you, and you will get let down.

On the frame,,,,,,cross that road, after you decide about the cost of the motor. You may only have enough to run the swingarm, or add a rear section.
So, get going. PHOTOS are a must too............
Keep the Old Iron on the road.

72 Chevy C30 truck
73 Custom Shovel
72 XLH
70 XLH
69 XLH
68 XLCH *project*
66 FLH *Daily Rider*
66 Shovel/Pan/Pan
65 XLCH *project*
60 XLCH Doc Dytch*project*
51 FL *project*
42 UL*project*
Non Dated, S&S Panhead with 65 swingarm *project*

Last edited by shovithead; 04-17-2017 at 03:18 PM. Reason: leftoutimportantinformationfortheownertoread
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Old 04-17-2017, 03:17 PM   #3
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Default Re: My first...'74 XLCH

Welcome to the board. To me there are two kinds of good looking rigid Sportsters. A. the ones that use the factory KR racer styled hardtail that bolts onto the shock mounts and gives a bike that XLR flat rack racer look and B. for a chopper look nothing beats the Paughco S120A rigid frame because it is so well proportioned. Look at these pics from Boardmembers.

Have you hugged your motorcycle today?

Last edited by VonWegener; 04-17-2017 at 03:49 PM.
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Old 04-17-2017, 03:43 PM   #4
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Default Re: My first...'74 XLCH

Originally Posted by shovithead View Post
Now, for the bike. You have just bought a dreamers nightmare. A Sportster.
Hah! you got that right.

Luckily I have been riding for a few decades now and have had many projects come though my hands. At this point I think I am just saving it so it doesn't turn into scrap. I know all too well that working on old bikes is a great way to lose money. I expect to spend more than the end product is worth.

Truthfully I bought the thing just because I love Sportsters. After I get it done I may start looking for a Shovelhead low rider or who knows?

I am going to check the cylinders tonight and see what part # they are. I will try to get some pics of the gouges. I think someone had a piston grenade on them.
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Old 04-17-2017, 05:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: My first...'74 XLCH

There are lots of cool Ironhead threads on here, check them out before making any decisions on the frame.

The second pic VonWegener (an authority in these parts) posted, has a John Penner hardtail. I can find his details if you want them. Search 'Plunkinskid' for more pics.

Don't weld one on, try a bolt on first.

I just bought a running, riding, stopping (well, in a fashion), Sportster - I love it, and yet I envy you a little. At least you will know what's on the inside of the motor, and will gain a load of experience putting it together.

Pay close attention to Shovithead too, he knows stuff about these bikes.
'Well, I just threw my guns down and walked away. Little bastard shot me in the ass.' RIP Gene Wilder 1933-2016.
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Old 04-17-2017, 07:29 PM   #6
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Well, so here we go the first real problem I have found that's going to require some welding. There is a crack on the inside of the clutch case and a bit chipped off. It is all on the inside but I think it should be repaired. While we are at it here are some pics of the jugs. The only numbers I find don't match any part numbers so I am sure they are casting numbers. Thoughts?

Thanks for the comments so far guys. I love that top blue and white bike!
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