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Ironhead Sportster Motorcycle Talk (1957-1985) For all those that wanna talk about Ironhead Sportster Motorcycles

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  #21  
Old 5 Days Ago
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The old Harleys are very basic and easy to wrench on with mechanical skills.

2 Ironheads, 3 Panheads and 2 Shovelheads. Did almost all of my own work.

I've owned 12 Harleys over the last 46 years. My 1973 Sporty enjoyed being worked on as much as being ridden. Drum brakes will stop you. Carbs are easier/cheaper to work on. Chains work for a while. Generators work with maintenance, points are easier to work on than electronic ignitions (good think because they need maintained), Solid mounts won't kill you. The old scoots liked oil, breaking and wearing stuff out.

For the last 116 years Harley has put a lot of engineering into their products and MOST of it has been for the better.

My preference is rubber mounted Harleys, I've owned 4. I like belt drives, dual disc brakes, electric start, low maintenance, EFI, dependability, no oil usage, etc...

My 2¢.
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  #22  
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I agree with all. I bought a 79 Roadster (fancy Sportster) and the only problem I've had in the 3 years I've owned it that wasn't PO created, was shift fork need to be replaced, sprocket seal leaked and things got a bit dry. Before you buy, check the compression pressure and the rear sprocket....they are good indications of how well they've been maintained.
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  #23  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GA_Ironhead View Post
Not where I live. The dealership can barely be bothered to find parts. Service a magneto? Forget it. After having been sold the wrong part multiple times (with H-D part number in hand), I've pretty much given up on them as a useful resource.


Even the local indy doesn't want to work on anything older than mid-90's.
Allow me to clarify, I've yet to find a shop, factory or independent, that will work on ANY brand of bike older than 2000 unless they happen to be enthusiasts of that type of bike (I know a good local shop that works on old KZ Kawasakis because the owner and his son raced them for years). So yeah, the wrenching definitely needs to be a shadetree hobby for the owner.
However, since getting my IH the local HD dealer has been pretty good about having consumable maintenance parts on hand, though admittedly I haven't need anything more than a few gaskets and seals. I can imagine engine internals are a bit more difficult but again, from searching the 'nets I see way more OEM & repop vintage harley stuff than anything else.
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  #24  
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Buy a full gasket set off the internet for pennies, use/replace what you need.

Or pay 10 times the cost buying gaskets individually.

Buy 5/10 packs of the gaskets you use most frequently.

Grease your gaskets so they don't stick and can be reused.
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I've owned this one for 30 years and have had very few problems with it. It's extremely reliable and other than adjusting the valves and drive chain, it doesn't take much more maintenance than a modern Sportster does. Much simpler, too. When looking for one to buy, the more stock it is, the better. That usually means the previous owner hasn't screwed with it very much and it's probably been taken care of. Keep the oil changed regularly, keep everything adjusted, and don't abuse them, and they are great old machines.

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Bought my 74 XLCH new and out of all these years it has only left me were it had to be hauled was a wreck I had.That's with nothing but a tool bag.I've had some crazy things to happen but always managed to make it home
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All 3 of the Ironheads that I have owned (72 XLCH, 75XLH) and still own (77 XLH) have been f'd up by previous owners. Once I made the repairs, were great bikes. I am 69 years old and have been riding and wrenching on bikes since I was 16. So, YES I have the knowledge and experience. So as a 1st bike, ask yourself can I do the repairs? Take it to a HD store for the mechanic to fix? HD does not work on these old Irons. Most of the "tech's" were all born way after the End in 1985. Research Ironheads on Google. Gather all the info you can to make an educated decision. If ya really wanna do it, PLEASE get a Factory Service Manual and Parts manual, you will need it. There's a ton of great info right here on XL Forums.
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I'll add my own $.02...If you're not willing to push it five miles, don't buy an Ironhead...

I owned my 83 XR-1000 (not an ironhead motor, but the rest was the same) for twelve years, and I did push it five miles one night, to get it to a safe place from the bar I was at...I've never regretted it.

Now I have an 83 XLH, which is in very good condition. And I'm twenty years older now, and I'm not looking forward to pushing it...But I'll do it if it means losing it if I don't...

In the meantime, I'll repeat the old Harley saying..."The last person on the Harley-Davidson assembly line is the owner...and he has plenty to do"...
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  #29  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferretface View Post
I'll add my own $.02...If you're not willing to push it five miles, don't buy an Ironhead...
LOL. My '64 XLH did that to me 3 days after I bought it (in the 80's); just stopped running @ 30 MPH with no warning and wouldn't re-start. Took me 3 hours to push it home. Stripped the carb, nothing wrong (no float bowl on the Tillotson, figured later the nipple in the diaphram got mis-aligned with the plate hole) and put it back together - started right up, never did it again.

After it established that I was serious, never stranded me again. Including green lights clear across town with a dying clutch cable that I had thought had weeks more life in it (started acting up badly almost as soon as I stuffed the replacement into my jacket), finally stalled waiting to turn into my driveway as I held it on the brakes to stop the dragging clutch from pushing me into traffic. Or spluttering on fumes for 10 miles heading for the only gas station left open after I'd left it on reserve like a dumbass - only to stop running as the front wheel hit the ramp and coasting to the pump. Or waiting until it was in a secure place (with buddies to give me a lift to get tools) before cracking the sprocket cover. Or until it was 3 miles from home on a 175 mile jaunt (and right next to a garage with air) before letting me know the front puncture I thought I'd fixed wasn't.

Ironheads have soul. And manners.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ferretface View Post
I'll repeat the old Harley saying..."The last person on the Harley-Davidson assembly line is the owner...and he has plenty to do"...
I'd never heard that before... Awesome!
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  #30  
Old 15 Hours Ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spuggy View Post
LOL. My '64 XLH did that to me 3 days after I bought it (in the 80's); just stopped running @ 30 MPH with no warning and wouldn't re-start. Took me 3 hours to push it home. Stripped the carb, nothing wrong (no float bowl on the Tillotson, figured later the nipple in the diaphram got mis-aligned with the plate hole) and put it back together - started right up, never did it again.

After it established that I was serious, never stranded me again. Including green lights clear across town with a dying clutch cable that I had thought had weeks more life in it (started acting up badly almost as soon as I stuffed the replacement into my jacket), finally stalled waiting to turn into my driveway as I held it on the brakes to stop the dragging clutch from pushing me into traffic. Or spluttering on fumes for 10 miles heading for the only gas station left open after I'd left it on reserve like a dumbass - only to stop running as the front wheel hit the ramp and coasting to the pump. Or waiting until it was in a secure place (with buddies to give me a lift to get tools) before cracking the sprocket cover. Or until it was 3 miles from home on a 175 mile jaunt (and right next to a garage with air) before letting me know the front puncture I thought I'd fixed wasn't.

Ironheads have soul. And manners.



I'd never heard that before... Awesome!
Thats really funny, my '64, in the 80's, two days after getting it, on my way to Englishtown dragstrip. Started dumping fuel out of the Bendix overflow. Tried everything to clear the float on the side of te road with no tools. Either push it the 4 more miles to the track where I knew there were tools, or push it back home the 3 miles the other direction. Pushed it home and fixed it no problem. in 30 years, rode home in the pickup truck once. Blown head gasket on the way back from Vegas solo, in a town(?) called Nothing Az. No cell phones, no pay phones just one small gas station with a guy with a SAT phone. Cash only, $1 per minute. I had debit card and 2 $1 dollar bills. Called Mamma, said dont talk just listen only have two minutes, "grab truck, ramp and straps, come get me Hwy 93 in Nothing. 3 hrs later, here she comes with exactly what i needed. Good woman, still with her after 32 yrs and still got the IH.
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