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

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ironhead, oil dipstick, oil level

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  #1  
Old 1st March 2021
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Default 1979 Ironhead oil level

1979 Ironhead oil level.

The owners manual (OM) and service (SM) manual say different things.
OM page 35: Bike on Jiffy stand. Nothing about oil temperature.
SM page 3-6: Bike upright and oil at operating temperature.

Which is it? How do y’all check your Ironhead oil.
The last Ironhead I owned was in the early eighties. I simply forgot.

Thanks much.
Harry
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Old 2nd March 2021
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either works, on stand cold, upright hot.
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Old 2nd March 2021
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Always check the oil level at operating temp.
Else half the tank could be in the case.

The owners manual also mentions a sight glass for the oil tank on the left side of the bike?
How would that hook up? Tee'd cross connect between the feed and return lines?
Never seen a picture of that until now.
I guess it makes sense due to the right cover hiding the filler cap and the battery.
But the piping never shows up in the parts books.

I've read many different numbers on tank capacity between the manuals and XLF members.

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Last edited by Hippysmack; 2nd March 2021 at 01:45..
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  #4  
Old 2nd March 2021
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippysmack View Post
Always check the oil level at operating temp.
Else half the tank could be in the case.

The owners manual also mentions a sight glass for the oil tank on the left side of the bike?
How would that hook up? Tee'd cross connect between the feed and return lines?
Never seen a picture of that until now.
I guess it makes sense due to the right cover hiding the filler cap and the battery.
But the piping never shows up in the parts books.

I've read many different numbers on tank capacity between the manuals and XLF members.

Interesting about the site glass. I have had several ironheads of the 70s era but never recall a site glass. Both my 79 restoration ironheads do not have a site glass. Which year owners manual is that picture from?
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Old 2nd March 2021
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randy3934 View Post
either works, on stand cold, upright hot.
Randy, thanks much.
Harry.
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Old 2nd March 2021
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1979 XL-1000/XLCH-1000 Owners Manual...… pgs 34, 35.

edit:
I'm building a page in the Sportsterpedia on IH oil tanks.
http://sportsterpedia.com/doku.php/techtalk:ihil04j\

I've noted that fact on the 79-81 tank page. I found it interesting that there were no primed tanks available until 1981
(no parts number in the book til then)
You could order painted tanks only until then. I assume the hardware came with them.
http://sportsterpedia.com/doku.php/techtalk:ihil04j

Last edited by Hippysmack; 2nd March 2021 at 06:43..
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Old 2nd March 2021
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippysmack View Post
1979 XL-1000/XLCH-1000 Owners Manual...… pgs 34, 35.
Interesting. I have exactly that same owners manual. I got it from the seller of the bike. On pages 34/35 it does show the dipstick picture, but it does not show the left side of the oil tank with a site glass. It shows the right side with the cover removed.

I wonder now if there’s a difference between the early 79 manual the late 79 manual. One of my bikes is an “early” version the other a “late” version.

Again very interesting.
Anyway, thanks so much for your reply.
Much appreciated.
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Old 2nd March 2021
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That is interesting.
No dates on the one I have. The bottom front cover is ratty though.

Wait..
Back of the book "Index" page 67, Part # 99466-79, orig. 1-78





You must have the -79A owners manual.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DDDDylan View Post
I'm going to take this opportunity to beat up on HD's poor documentation once again since the company can't defend itself.

1979 owner's manual 99466-79A page 6: oil tank = 3 quarts
1979 service manual 99484-79 page 1-1: oil tank = 4 quarts
1979 service manual 99484-79 page 3-2: "...oil tank capacity is 3-3/4 quarts..."
1985 service manual 99484-85 page 2-1: 1979 oil tank = 4 quarts

Actual capacity of my 1979 including filter change when bike is sitting nearly level: two quarts, start engine, shut her off, then add maybe ~8 more ounces to get to the top of the fill line.

I can add more if it is on the side stand, but obviously that's a good way to make it over flow when I stand the bike up straight.
Edit:
Just to add to confusion, it appears the sight tube was actually used on the 77-78 XLCR.
Don't know why it showed up in the XL/XLCH -79 owners manual.
The 79 tank is similar in shape but the filler tube is under the seat on the XLCR.
XLCR tank has (2) 90 degree fittings on the front left corner top and bottom to install the sight tube.

Last edited by Hippysmack; 4th March 2021 at 00:06..
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  #9  
Old 2nd March 2021
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On my 81 I put the bike in the upright position, as if I was sitting on it, fill the oil tank to the bottom of the neck on the filler spout, this gives the correct amount. I do it with the engine cold.

Hopes this helps.
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Old 2nd March 2021
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippysmack View Post
That is interesting.
No dates on the one I have. The bottom front cover is ratty though.

Wait..
Back of the book "Index" page 67, Part # 99466-79, orig. 1-78





You must have the -79A owners manual.
Thanks for that substantial and very informative reply.

Indeed, my owners manual is a -79A.

As suggested in the quote you posted, the capacity of my oil tank is definitely NOT larger than 3 quarts.

And as also suggested in that quote, after the full restore was complete it I put in 2 quarts of oil.

Next I ran the bike to operating temperature. That caused the level in the tank to drop.

I then added one more quart with the bike vertical.

The total level was just to the upper mark of the dipstick and about to the bottom of the fill opening.

So my oil filling questions have been answered.

Thanks everybody for your replies.
Much appreciated.

Harry
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