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

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  #1  
Old 2 Weeks Ago
odinolson odinolson is offline
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Default Nob question?

Does anyone use the case drain plug on a ironhead, or is that a no-no?
Thanks
GeneO
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First there is more than one drain plug in the case. Which one are you talking about?

If the drain plugs have not been mistreated and are not stuck go ahead and use them, be sure to replace the sealing washer and do not over-tighten. If they are stripped I tap them out for 1/4"pipe plugs

On some models there is also a 1/8" pipe plug in the crank case that plug is for the drilled passage for the scavenge pump. This plug can be very tight and pull threads if removed forcefully. Heat with a propane torch first.

Really though there is no reason to use the drain plugs at all. You are supposed to run the motor before servicing so the motor should have very little oil in it, it should all be in the tank. Don't be one of these anal guys who wants to squeegee every drop of oil out, your oil should not be so dirty that a little remaining oil will cause any harm, and secondly if there is debris/metal in the oil you have bigger problems. If your oil is that dirty it should be changed a second time after a hundered or two miles. In this case you should be looking at what is in the bottom of the oil tank, remove tank and rinse that out.

For the primary I use a pair of cookie sheets to catch the oil and just ease the cover off so you don't splash oil. You need the cover off anyway to adjust the chain, check the clutch cover nuts and look for metal in the bottom. I replace the clutch cover nuts every use so they don't come loose. I keep a full gasket kit on hand and replace the individual gaskets when I use them. Don't loose or forget the two washers inside the primary when you are in there.
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Thanks Rick, not at all that anal. I just got a 1972 xlh that has been sitting and will have to sit some more before I can get it fired up. The bike was in a crash so I have work to do. Most of the oil from the tank is in the cases and leaking all over the bench, I just thought I could save some mess by draining and starting over. GeneO
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I'm with Rick. It's easy to make them start leaking by monkeying with the plug.
A fresh gasket is a must.
If the plug won't break loose, try putting a socket or box end wrench on it and give the handle a couple of light taps with a hammer as if you're trying to tighten it, just enough to break it loose. Then try loosening it.
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Quote:
there is no reason to use the drain plugs at all.
+1

Quote:
I just got a 1972 xlh
My first Harley was a brand new 1973 XLCH, a lifetime ago. I broke it then bought a 1976 FLH.
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Mine was also a 73 but a basket, it had already had the cases welded and and andrews gearset. I tore it up a few more times, starting off by ruining brand new forged pistons when I let it slow idle to warm up. Don't know what cams were in it but that thing hauled ass! Drop it into third from 50mph and it would try to rip the bars from my hands! Sounded like a popcorn machine at 35/40mph in 3rd, it would buck if I tried to cruise 4th.
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I know it sounds risky, but on a tight drain bolt in an aluminum case (that you absolutely need to remove) can be removed using an impact driver. The impact will crack the plug loose without cracking the case. Just using a breaker bar and pulling hard is a good way to split the case.
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If it's leaking oil I would try to work out where it was coming from first. It may point to future issues.

I'm not sure which case drain plug you are talking about.

There are two. One for the engine and one for the gearbox.

Some IH's don't have the crankcase drilled and tapped for a drain plug. All of them have the gearbox drain plug.

Be careful with either one. You have to remember when your working upside down to loosen them in the correct direction. I suspect a LOT of people forget which way to turn and attempt to tighten them by mistake.

The drain for the gearbox has a "special" stepped washer for it. Most people don't realise that as it's generally covered in grime when they remove one. So they just throw it away and put any old washer on there. Buy one from HD. (or V-Twin or whoever - but get the correct washer)

If you do drain the oil this way, collect it and have a good look at it in the sunlight. Look for small particles of silver, grey or gold. That will tell you a lot about the engine.

In an unknown engine it's a good idea to do as Rick suggests. I refill with a very light oil and run the engine until warm. Then drain and refill with the correct oil. Which is Penrite HPR 40-70. (There's a can of worms for ya)

Whenever I change oil despite that reassuring oil light going dark I like to pull the oil cap and watch that nice frothy bubbly oil dribbling back into the tank.
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