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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Figured it's been long enough, I really should just start a build thread for my 1978 Shovel. This may at times be random and rambling, but that's pretty much how I go about bike building, and life in general 馃榿
My brother got a 2000-something Softail, so I needed to get a bike to keep up. Got on Craigslist, and stumbled on a Shovel almost as old as me. I never really believed in it, but this was love at first sight. Knew in my heart that this was my old lady, and immediately called the dude. Set up a date to look at it, and of course, boss man sends me out of town on that day. Nothing stops true love, so after a white knuckle drive down a mountain (sorry, coworkers!) I made it to check it out.
She was even prettier in person! Since it had been years since I was on a bike, and had never ridden anything as finicky as an AMF Shovel, I told the dude "Yeah, looks good. If it fires up, and you make around the block, I'll take it". She fires up, first try. Oh my God, what a sweet sound! He makes it back, and I'm sooooooo sold. Check the VIN with my "What fits what" book. The bike has FL bodywork and an electric start + kick, but the VIN says it's an FX kick. And the engine number matches the frame!
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Sounds good to me, let's do this!
He hands me a folder full of receipts from professional shops, so I figure, wow, must be totally good work (more on this foolish assumption later!!!). I let my brother ride her home, because I trust his riding skills ore than mine. And that is where my adventure begins...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Upon arriving home, bro said that it was running good, and not as vibey as he expected an old solid mount bike to be. Good start! Then I noticed the fuel hose looked a little cracked. I wiggled it, and it broke off! I apologized for having bro ride it, seeing as how he could have turned into Ghost Rider very easily! 馃槵
First order of business was getting rid of the unnecessary stuff. The dried out brittle saddle bags and the p-pad that was bungeed to the grab rail were the first to go.
I took off the seat, only to discover my first little bit of chopper shop engineering. This was when I started saying "math meets meth" to describe this phenomenon of sketchy but surprisingly functional design.
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At first I thought the shop just grabbed whatever random socket they had lying around. After Ratso's suggestion, I tried it on my spark plug. Yup, it fits! I am planning to redo those booger welds though...
Next up, the world's ugliest air cleaner base?
 

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> unscrewing sparkplugs
Yeah, practice so you can do it with style, with a stage magician's flourish. Facing away from your bike, whip the seat out of the pogo tube one-handed while pulling free the plug wire. Casually slap the seat socket down precisely on the plug. Now sit on the seat, pull your knees up to your chin, and spin around rapidly. Maybe while lighting a cigar, or maintaining a conversation with your audience.

You gotta make it look insouciant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
After looking under the seat, and laughing at the rats nest of wiring, I figured I'd see how dirty the air filter was. I was stoked to find a K&N cone, one less upgrade to buy. The bike has a Dellorto PHM40, which seemed pretty weird! But after a little reading, found that this was a not uncommon choice for Shovels back in the day. But the air filter base was a terrible contraption. Looked like a cob job of torch work and cheap paint, and certainly not very conducive to free breathing!
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I trimmed off the parts of the ring that weren't supporting the air filter element, and drilled several holes in the air cleaner lid (it's not a HD original, just a knockoff). After this I noticed some improvement in running 馃榿
Coming up next time: Next on my inspection list was the brakes, and here I found fab work that was far more meth than math!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Went to check rear brake free play, and noticed the master cylinder push rod looked a little funky. Took it out and found some scary fab work! Ordered a replacement right quick!
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Not sure if it was bent before or after they welded it together? Then I topped off the fluid level, but I fucked up and used Dot 3, even though the fluid looked a little purple. Realized my mistake, and bled the rear system with alcohol before putting in silicone dot 5. The front system looked like it had dot 3, so I topped it off. Since then, brakes work as good as 70's era brakes can be expected 馃槉
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
After the brakes, I set the shift lever height to fit my boots. Noticed that the shift rod end was missing its jam nut (explained the sloppy shift feel!). Fixed that, and adjusted the clutch lever freeplay. Finally, ready for some decent riding 馃榿
Rode it for a couple months, sorting out electrical gremlins as they surfaced. Blown bulbs, signal flasher, and a charging system that wasn't charging. Why, you ask?
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Smelled about as good as it looks馃ぎ Lucky we kept some bits from our Ironhead days. Dug up an XLCH regulator, and soldered on the Shovelhead connector. Been working like a charm since!
Next up, storage issues, spark plugs fuel fumes!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Haha, yeah, it was the PO who evidently didn't keep it topped off, leading to the meltdown. The electricals we're a bit wonky from the get go. I checked with a voltmeter and found it sat around 12.7, and wouldn't fluctuate with RPM, so I figured pretty quick that it wasn't charging. Backtracked through the wiring just to make sure it wasn't a loose wire or something, then investigated the black goop that was oozing onto my forward controls, ugh!
And I keep a tender on the battery every night 馃榿
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
After a few months of riding, I noticed my petcock was beginning to yellow with gas residue. I emailed Golan to see what size the o-rings were on their petcocks, so that I could pick some up locally. They insisted on sending me replacements for free, and a few days later they arrived. Great job, Golan! 馃榿
I also saw gas weeping around the tank-petick bung. So I used some Steel Stik epoxy around it, which has held up so far.
Also while I was waiting for the Golan bits, I made up some new spark plug wires with some leftover stuff from a Mooneyes kit for V8 engines. I don't know how many bikes I have kitted out just from one kit!
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I also threw on leather tool bag I made a while ago. I must've subliminally known I'd get a bike with maroon striping that would match it some day 馃槏
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
While reinstalling my starter solenoid, I figured out a tip. Probably been done before but I did think of it on my own 馃槀. After twenty minutes of cursing while trying to compress the solenoid shaft spring/cup with one hand while trying to stab in the roll pin with the other, I was ready to give up. That little bastard is stiff!!! So in a flash of wisdom from the Harley gods, I compressed the spring in my vise soft jaws, and slipped in a couple zip ties to keeps it tight. Worked just like I wanted, and easy to cut off once I got the pin and cup in place. Phew!
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