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Robyart 30th March 2020 00:19

Resto-Repair 84 ironhead
Hi, from N.Y., just acquired very nice looking 84 ironhead. Emptied all fluids except brake. Wet with oil under trans. Cleaning reveals leaks maybe several places (between cases in front, at oil tank tab weld, maybe elsewhere.) plugs Fowled. Bought bike from non rider. If it needs top end work, will it cause more damage by starting motor? Never wrenched my first bike, want to learn now. Any ideas? Thanks, Roby

lynnx 30th March 2020 00:44

What I,d do ………..

What state was drained oil like???
Clean? (good)
Average (well, okay)
Treacle? (hmmm)
Sparkly treacle with lumps in? (omg what have I done?)

If no real issues then pull the plugs and turn the motor over (slowly) and listen.

If sounds ok - no loose bits flying around - I,d motor it over faster and check compression (stick your thumb over the plughole) on compression it will blow off, on induction it will get sucked in.
That will check if there are valves in there!

Then I,d be tempted to pull the front rocker cover, fill the tank with new oil and motor it over and check if oil was getting to the top end.

Then its a question of cleaning the carb, checking you have a spark - then seeing if it will start!
That's when the fun starts.
I,m sure you will get many more opinions but good luck - exciting isn,t it.?

Robyart 30th March 2020 01:07

Thanks Lynnx, So the oil from front of case halves is honey color. From the area near and below oil tank it’s blackish. And, yes, it’s a rush, don’t care ‘bout my knuckles, just wanna do this! .....R

Folkie 30th March 2020 10:54

Hi Robyart, welcome to the Forum.

You started your thread in the 'Forum FAQ / How To' section, which is for posts about the Forum, and how to use the forum functions, so I've moved it to the 'Ironhead' section.

doodah man 30th March 2020 12:23


Originally Posted by Robyart (Post 5814353)
...If it needs top end work, will it cause more damage by starting motor?

Only if it has damaged piston rings or something. If you crank it over and it makes really bad metal on metal noises just shut it off and prepare to disassemble. Be forewarned, ironheads are way more mechanically noisier than just about any other bike on the planet, that is normal. Probably there is nothing wrong but a couple of small oil leaks. Another source of potential woe on an ‘84 model is the alternator if it has one. 84 was the cross over year for that. You either have a generator up in front of the front cylinder or an oil filter in that location. The original alternator can have problems with the magnets coming unglued and breaking all sorts of stuff in the clutch.
Here’s a little more info on that

Yochstein 30th March 2020 14:48

I acquired my 84 model several years ago as a basket case. She's back together and is a great running bike. Doodah Man hit the nail on the head. Mine is a late model 84 with an alternator vs a generator. My alternator had most of the magnets loose. That replacement part was probably one of the most expensive parts of my overhaul but well worth it. I hit multiple snags throughout the rebuild but the key here is patience and keep posting your issues on the forum. There is a wonderful group of guys here that will lead you on the right path. There is a lot of knowledge here on the forum. Ask any question no matter how dumb you may feel it may be. No one will hold that against you nor make you feel dumb for asking. There's a passion for these old Ironheads, more so than anywhere else I've ever seen.

My bike had 20k miles on it when I acquired it. I ended up doing a top end overhaul. The bore was within factory spec still so it got a simple hone. Engine gasket sets are reasonable and easy to install. My bike came with an aftermarket electronic ignition but I had to replace the coil. I replaced the rotor due to the magnet issue and the rest was just going over all points of the bike piece by piece until I had it right.

You'll get there. Patience is the key. Good luck with your restoration!

lynnx 30th March 2020 19:37

Robyart - did you have any oil in the tank?
Clean from the front drain is oil that's flooded the crank from the tank ( most will do this over time) and is probably a good sign.
The rear drain is the gearbox drain.
Do not make the mistake of thinking they are connected!
Same oil type tho (hmmmm check that - this bike is 24 years newer than mine , might have changed lol)
You really, REALLY need a manual !!!!!!

Robyart 30th March 2020 20:22

Thanks to all, yes oil tank had blackish oil, I drained I it. I believe it’s a late 84 for a couple reasons; spoke wheels, twist off oil filter in front, not sure what else. Got factory manual, but have great deal to learn including what tools I need, not a mechanic (yet) but was not a carpenter until I built my house and I’m loving this machine!

Robyart 30th March 2020 21:45

84 resto
Don’t know how many questions I’m allowed, but, here’s more: my “new” 84 ironhead feels much lower than my previous ‘70. Measured the rear shocks on the new one at 11 1/2 inches. I want ground clearance and good ride ability not a “Look” that doesn’t perform well. Have seen adverts for 14 inch shocks and wonder if those are the correct size and if the bike was lowered. Don’t know how to I.D. Front forks either?

rocketnorton 3rd April 2020 18:43

your shocks are farther back on frame/swingarm.
14" is for earlier style frame, like your 70.

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