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donniej
11th September 2007, 15:27
The XLH turtle tank seems to be the most sought after part for vintage sportsters.... But why are they so rare? Didn't all XLH's come with them? What happened to all of them?
And what is one in good shape worth?

langner91
11th September 2007, 15:31
I can't answer your questions, I just wanted to vote "I would give my left 'one' for an original turtle tank."

But, then I saw there was no poll.

good luck finding one.

IronMick
11th September 2007, 17:08
Sportys always came with peanut tanks i think. The Roadsters had a 3.2 gallon special tank. Is that what is called the Turtle, or is that another one.

donniej
11th September 2007, 17:15
As far as I know, all XLH models came with the larger tank. I've heard that a few XLH's came with peanut tanks but that was a special order or something like that...
I'm not sure what size it is but it's ~3.5 gallons. See the pic below, it is a 1965.

http://www.motormania.pl/grafiki/weterany/big/HD-XLH-1965.jpg

langner91
11th September 2007, 17:16
This is what I have always considered a Turtle Tank (http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/SURVIVOR-ORIGINAL-PAINT-27K-ORIG-MILES-ELECTRIC-START_W0QQitemZ270163408527QQihZ017QQcategoryZ4999 5QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)

I love this bike and would love to make it mine...

Weo
11th September 2007, 17:36
I can't answer your questions, I just wanted to vote "I would give my left 'one' for an original turtle tank."

But, then I saw there was no poll.

good luck finding one.

In another thread, I believe Jeffytune said he had a friend with a shop that had a dozen lying around. You might shoot him a PM.

83XLX
11th September 2007, 17:39
The turtle tank was standard on XLH's from about '61 - '72. There should be a bunch of them out there, but who knows how many were trash-canned for peanut tanks over the years? I like the nostalgic look - and it would make a cool cafe racer tank.

elmo4fun
11th September 2007, 18:11
i have a tank that i took off mine when i put the fat tanks on. its not the "turtle tank" but its not a peanut tank either... what do you call it?

langner91
11th September 2007, 18:14
i have a tank that i took off mine when i put the fat tanks on. its not the "turtle tank" but its not a peanut tank either... what do you call it?

Hmm, I would need to see a picture of it.

RRB
11th September 2007, 18:18
...... But why are they so rare?.....

Because they were UGLY, according to the standards of the late sixties and early seventies (they really were!). The peanut tank has always been the image that comes to mind when one thinks "Sportster Gas Tank". I think most people who ended up with XLHs with turtle tanks changed them out because they weren't stylish. Sportster paint schemes were also quickly changed back then. A lot of the people I knew back then snickered when they saw a bone-stock Sportster whose owner hadn't been cool enough to change the paint.

It wasn't until the 1980s that retro made the old Harley trim acceptable again. For a daily rider there is nothing as sensible as a tank that will give you decent mileage between fillups, or fenders that will keep the muddy racing stripes off your shirt, face, hair, and back when it rains.

The turtle tanks do appear with some frequency on ebay. One just sold for $184.50, + $22.95 shipping (a 1962 model). That is at least the third turtle tank that guy has sold in the last 2 - 3 months.

elmo4fun
11th September 2007, 18:51
you can see it in this pic....
http://xlforum.net/photopost/data/2/IMAG0009small.JPG

83XLX
11th September 2007, 18:58
i have a tank that i took off mine when i put the fat tanks on. its not the "turtle tank" but its not a peanut tank either... what do you call it?
It's a version of the old HD Sprint "off-road" tank that was later used on the early Superglides for a while, and then on the Sportster XLT and XLS, and on a few later model years of XLH Ironheads.

RRB
11th September 2007, 19:56
Here's another thread on Turtle Tanks:

http://xlforum.net/vbportal/forums/showthread.php?t=63701&highlight=Turtle+Tank

Moon Wolf
11th September 2007, 19:57
The "Sportster" tank (now called, for some bizarre reason, the peanut tank) was always an option on the XLH. The brochures from that era show them both ways.

To old timers like myself, a Sportster tank is a Sportster tank and a peanut is, well, a peanut tank because it is peanut shaped, which a Sportster tank is not. (sorry, but this is just one more thing in life that continues to irritate me).

That was a great deal on that red eBay turtle tank, by the way. It's a two year only tank, and has a slightly different (elongated, better, I think) shape than the later turtles.

My manual says they hold four gallons even.

There is a third, rounder tank, on the pre-sixty-one models. It is the same shape as the K tank, quite beautiful. Some people call those turtles as well (but not me).

83XLX
11th September 2007, 20:06
.....To old timers like myself, a Sportster tank is a Sportster tank and a peanut is, well, a peanut tank because it is peanut shaped, which a Sportster tank is not. (sorry, but this is just one more thing in life that continues to irritate me).....

Depends on the peanut - I'll bet I can find one shaped like a Sportster tank in this 3 lb can of nuts I'm looking at right now.:laugh

Seriously, you're right. The peanut tank is shaped more like the ones on the Easy Rider bikes. A Sportster tank is.......a Sportster tank.

Well, actually, a Sportster tank is a Hummer (not the SUV) tank, but we won't get into that.

langner91
11th September 2007, 20:25
you can see it in this pic....
http://xlforum.net/photopost/data/2/IMAG0009small.JPG

Is that the same tank as what they put on the XLCR? Sharp bike, btw!

Moon Wolf
11th September 2007, 21:51
You are absolutely right about the Hummer tank. That's the prototype.

MDT
11th September 2007, 22:13
Because they were UGLY, according to the standards of the late sixties and early seventies (they really were!). The peanut tank has always been the image that comes to mind when one thinks "Sportster Gas Tank". I think most people who ended up with XLHs with turtle tanks changed them out because they weren't stylish. Sportster paint schemes were also quickly changed back then. A lot of the people I knew back then snickered when they saw a bone-stock Sportster whose owner hadn't been cool enough to change the paint.


I agree. When somebody got their hands on an XLH the first thing they wanted to do was make a chopper out of it. Besides the tank; the windshield and the headlight cowling was thrown in the trash bin also.
You boys don't want to know what I used to pay for "H" tanks in the mid 70's
(10-15 bucks). But I put the one that is on TNT in 1976. It holds 4 gallons. The profile of the tank is very low. So it looks like the rider is sitting on top of the bike instead of "In" it. Hence they were not in style at all.
They were practical, they bolted right on an early frame, but they were homely. I'm glad I got one.

dashadow
11th September 2007, 22:13
I think the peanut tank was named for its small capacity, not its shape. Does anyone know for sure?

.

elmo4fun
12th September 2007, 00:12
that pic was taken before i started to revamp everything.

Moon Wolf
12th September 2007, 00:26
I can't claim to know the etymology, but in the sixties when we were first using them, we considered "peanut" a description of both the shape and capacity.

In those days a peanut tank was a very specific style. There were other small tanks--a lot of guys adapted the whizzer tank and so on--but we didn't call those tanks peanuts. There were even such things as large peanuts.

Here is a real peanut tank, of the low-tunnel variety:

http://i7.ebayimg.com/07/i/000/ag/fa/3dbf_1.JPG

RRB
12th September 2007, 03:55
I'd love to know where the appellation "peanut" came from. I remember it as far back as the sixties, too, but I don't know why it is referred to as such.

Pardon my digression, but I'd like to refer back to styling. In my humble opinion, the sixties version of the XLCH is what most people that know bikes think of when you say "Sportster". The diagonal lines contrasted with the horizontal lines are some of the most distinctive and striking in motorcycle imagery. The staggered duals, the V-Twin engine, the slightly diagonal oil lines & tappet towers, and the front and rear shocks. There is a true artistry there that becomes indelible in the mind of the viewer. The diagonals contrast with the horizontal mufflers, swing arm and the bottom of the peanut tank. One nice aspect of the Sporty is that it has offered the same lines for decades. That image is a true icon.

The Vincent had some of the same great lines, but it is long gone. The Triumphs were beautiful, too, but tended to be more verticals and horizontals. The Triumph pipes (especially the earlier large diameter) were particularly striking, going from a horizontal at the exhaust ports to a graceful blend of outward and downward curves, much like the upper body curves of a voluptuous woman.

Er...Sorry...back now to your locally scheduled programming.........

I love the "Turtle Tank", though, on older XLHs. Here's another one that sold recently:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=300144624391&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=020

Moon Wolf
12th September 2007, 05:26
Couldn't agree with you more, RRB. The mid-sixties XLCH is still, to my mind, not just a design icon but probably the coolest motorcycle ever made. And, as you point out, its style has stood the test of time. Anyone can look at a 57 model and then 2007 model and know they're both Sportsters. What other model of car or bike even approaches that?

Someone posted a link to that beautiful 59 XLH that's been on eBay in the past weeks. It's a gorgeous motorcycle, and I love the locomotive nacelle and the elegant luggage rack, but the casual observer probably wouldn't look at that bike and have the word "Sportster" come to mind. No, the classic image of the Sportster has a "Sportster" tank, dual pipes, that short rear fender, and the abbreviated eyebrow above the headlight that reeks of attitude.

The Sportster itself, of course, fills a far different niche than it once did. In many senses, the V-rod is a truer to the spirit of the 60s Sportster than an O7 Nightster, which is really just another cruiser (something a 60s XLCH never was) and not a true sport bike.

In fact, the first Sportster I remember seeing--a 65 XLCH--was being dirt raced at the time. The owner raced it on weekends then switched the wheels and road it on the street all week long. He also hill climbed it on occasion. Think about it--can you imagine someone bringing their Nightster to the Supercross?

I could, of course, digress further...

83XLX
12th September 2007, 06:04
I agree that the mid 60's XLCH is THE Sportster. I've always been fond of the 60's XLR factory racer as the purest form of a Sportster............I'll take one in Pepper Red, please.

http://xlforum.net/photopost/data/500/medium/HD-XLR-1962.jpg

RRB
12th September 2007, 06:35
In fact, the first Sportster I remember seeing--a 65 XLCH--was being dirt raced at the time.

I could, of course, digress further...

Digress away! You are dredging up old memories for me. I remember a motocross in the sixties (I'm thinking it was probably '66) Where 2 Sportsters had the edge in the unlimited class. It was an "L" shaped course, where the short leg of the "L" extended into a cypress swamp. The longer leg paralled a bayou. The most compact part of that leg was about 3' from a drop-off into the bayou. It hairpinned from there up an incline ("jump", at speed). The finish line was right past the incline. The 2 Sportys vied for first and second place. Coming out of the last hairpin on the last lap, they were neck and neck when they went slightly airborne. They banged together at one point, and one pulled away by a hair to win. It was an astounding race, particularly when you consider the weight, torque, and inertia of both bikes, and the narrow optimal stretches of track for which they were competing. It was balls-to-the-wall at the finish line. I will never forget that race. Those two riders had screaming bikes and the moxy to push them to the limit.

The Sportster is no longer king of the unlimited class. But any of us can pick and choose from fifty years of Sporty production, and still own a piece of the pedigree that was the first and perhaps the only true American superbike. They are classics. Both the old iron that still shows its mettle on the street and the new versions that are a continuation of the lineage.

Moon Wolf
12th September 2007, 06:42
To be clear, I did not mean to denigrate present-day Sportsters, only suggest they are a much different breed of cat. If you're giving them away, I'd like a red one.

I remember watching them race on the dirt oval. Hadn't replayed that one for forty years until your post:

"It was an astounding race, particularly when you consider the weight, torque, and inertia of both bikes..."

Nicely put. To that I'd add that gawd awful racket--terrifying and wonderful at the same time.

tprJJ49707
12th September 2007, 17:24
I sold a 63-65 vintage peanut tank with badges on ebay for $227 about eight weeks ago.

Nice, not perfect, inside needed some attention.

alleydude
13th September 2007, 01:43
The Turtle tank has also been refered to as the Walnut tank.

1983XLH
13th September 2007, 06:03
I purchased a 1983 XLH Sportster in June 1983 at my local dealer. Back then things were simple. A small showroom with two or three rows of new bikes, a glass case with some P&A stuff like gloves and belt buckles, and a dark, oily smelling back room where you could get a oil change or tune up. (I called their mechanic "Scratchy" because on my 500 mile service he ruined both plugs in the primary because he used a screwdriver to remove them. :doh )

Anyway, my XLH came with the 2.25 gallon peanut tank just like the XLX, but the brochure (and I have a copy in front of me now) showed a turtle shaped 3.3 gallon tank. I'm sure I would have asked the dealer why the tank in the brochure did not match the one on my bike, but can't remember any details. I liked the looks of the peanut tank so much, I never thought about it again until I began my restoration project - another 1983 XLH. The tank on the as-found bike is one of those aftermarket King peanut tanks, which is one step from the dump. I ordered an OEM 2.25 gallon tank painted exactly as the one on my original '83 XLH. It was expensive :yikes , but at least it should be the focal point of my bike once it is all said and done.

I'm sure some bikes from this period made it out of York with that turtle shaped tank, but I never seen one. They must be really rare now for sure!

Moon Wolf
13th September 2007, 06:36
For a lot of years, it worked both ways. The turtle tank was an option on the CH and the small tank an option on the H.

Some guys restore their CHs with the big tank--completely correct.

alleydude
13th September 2007, 11:27
Anyway, my XLH came with the 2.25 gallon peanut tank just like the XLX, but the brochure (and I have a copy in front of me now) showed a turtle shaped 3.3 gallon tank.

I'm sure some bikes from this period made it out of York with that turtle shaped tank, but I never seen one. They must be really rare now for sure!

What you are probably thinking of (and looking at) is the XLS Roadster, which in '83 came with a 3.3 gal. mini-bob.

http://home.twcny.rr.com/thomdr/Assets/images/roadster83a.gif

Crowbar
16th September 2007, 18:30
Turtle Tank, I like that name. Thats whats on my '70 XLH. Its 4 gallons I beleive. I havn't seen one for sale in JP or V-Twin. And yeah, sombody didn't like the look of it and when they painted it they tossed out the badges. I put new ones on, I like them but they look a little silly, big shiny emblems on a dirty old bike. Those big badges and that big tank are asking for a 2 tone paint job of some sort.
And no, the tank is not the "mini bob" from the 80's It looks more like a Triumph or BSA.

Hot Rod Sporty
16th September 2007, 18:41
Turtle Tank, I like that name. Thats whats on my '70 XLH. Its 4 gallons I beleive. I havn't seen one for sale in JP or V-Twin. And yeah, sombody didn't like the look of it and when they painted it they tossed out the badges. I put new ones on, I like them but they look a little silly, big shiny emblems on a dirty old bike. Those big badges and that big tank are asking for a 2 tone paint job of some sort.
And no, the tank is not the "mini bob" from the 80's It looks more like a Triumph or BSA.



Get to 15 posts and show us pics of that sucka!!! :smoke

Johnzee1
17th September 2007, 03:36
i like the turtle tank over the hummer tank. maybe thats why harley charged more for the bikes with the turtle tanks over the hummer tanked ones?

My 67 has the turtle tank. its not the original tank. the stock turtle tank had some dents in it so i used one off a wrecked sportster that didnt have any dents to paint. i could buy hummer style tanks for like 5$ all over the place. it took me a year to find a good turtle tank. WHY is that??

Why do people flag me down on the street and try to buy my 67??? why the turtle tank so popular?? i dont know.

its kinda like why someone would spend their time posting how much they hate turtle tanks???? why???

I know why i like it. cause i think its cool.

thaks John

Moon Wolf
17th September 2007, 03:42
Your 67 IS cool. Love the green paint.

Crowbar
22nd September 2007, 18:42
And come to thnk of it, I found a peanut tank in with the spare parts, like somone was thinking of changing it. Its the tank with the big "SPORTSTER" decal on it. I think I'll make a lamp out of it, the light out the filler cap and the cord out the gas line.
Crowbar

1983XLH
11th October 2007, 05:19
Here is a clear picture of an original stock Sportster that has what I think was the last of the turtle tanks. It's a 1982 25th Anniversary XLH (Wish I would have bought this one! It may be still available in Florida.) That is the tank shown on the XLH in the 1983 H-D sales brochure even thought the bike I bought back then had the peanut tank.

http://www.ironeaglepalmbeach.com/bike_pics/000_1098.JPG

Moon Wolf
11th October 2007, 05:28
No, but this is.


http://i229.photobucket.com/albums/ee256/mtroytaylor/63-65tankoriginalpaint.jpg

alleydude
11th October 2007, 11:13
Here is a clear picture of an original stock Sportster that has what I think was the last of the turtle tanks. It's a 1982 25th Anniversary XLH (Wish I would have bought this one! It may be still available in Florida.) That is the tank shown on the XLH in the 1983 H-D sales brochure even thought the bike I bought back then had the peanut tank.

http://www.ironeaglepalmbeach.com/bike_pics/000_1098.JPG

Nope. That's a Roadster, or Superglide tank. This is the tank I have on my '77. Moon Wolf has it right.

ironarch
11th October 2007, 21:09
Moon Wolf is RIGHT!

HacksawsGarage
27th July 2010, 16:22
despite what harley now says, and the myth that some of you are propagating,
Hummer tanks are NOT peanut tanks.

peanut tanks are 1.8 gallon, usually made by Wassel of UK, and used on brit bobbers and hillclimbers of the late 40's and 50's. they became popular with the chopper crowd. because sportster tanks were also popular with the 70's and 80's chopper guys, the names got perverted being to the small capacity of the hummer tank.

the identifying feature of a true peanut tank is its shape as well as diminutive size. it looks like one roasted peanut bean out of the shell. some are centerfill, and a few more sought after tanks are high side fill.

steve0suprem0
27th July 2010, 17:37
Holy resurrected thread, batman!

BOB ROSS
27th July 2010, 19:34
i thought i was the only one who knew the difference between the sportster and the peanut tanks.

bob