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View Full Version : Ironhead Advice for a humble novice



TkilledJ
03-04-2011, 9:47 PM
Hey fellas. First off props to this board, you're all mad talented and extremely knowledgable... But more importantly ride amazing machines! Long story short, I've been snooping around here, and I've got the bug. Always wanted a bike, and finally have some money to burn on one.

::Break for jokes::

Anyway, I found an Ironhead that I really dig, for some reason... Maybe it's cause it looks skinny, and I'm not? :D haha. Spoke to the owner, and he seems very willing to negotiate, but tells me that the bikes been sitting for ten years, with old gas in it... I know that's terrible, so I'm just going to use that for leverage to drop the price; But, what do you guys suppose it would take to get her running again? If I go to a mechanic and they tell me I need to have it rebuilt would they be lying?

Heres the bike (Clean title) : http://fortmyers.craigslist.org/lee/mcy/2176398312.html

I plan on talking to a local mechanic and making a little trip to see the bike tomorrow... So no Bike Week for me heh.

I don't have the capabilities of rebuilding it, but I certainly intend to learn how to wrench on her!!

Thanks in advance guys! :killerjob::killerjob::killerjob::cheersmate:

PS, If I do go through with this, does anyone have a manual for a 74 Ironhead?

http://images.craigslist.org/3n13o73le5T45Z15U5b1n2e8aab65190e11ed.jpg
http://images.craigslist.org/3m53p33la5T45P65R3b1n9b97204d97711bd5.jpg
http://images.craigslist.org/3n93o73pa5V05Q35U3b1n8a2620471911120f.jpg

ridemore16
03-04-2011, 9:59 PM
I'm sure others with more knowledge than me will chime in. Good luck, I like the look of the bike. Definitely get a service manual (the Harley one, not Haynes). Let us know how it shakes out.

Loaf
03-04-2011, 10:23 PM
If you have a friend that wrenches bikes you could bring, that would help. Old gas gels or varnishes and will clog your petcock, fuel line, carburator, etc. So all of these will need to be cleaned, and the carb will probably need a rebuild. You want good compression and spark and fuel...it's hard to price a non-running bike, I personally feel $2500 is a lot, especially since you have no idea if anything is wrong inside the engine/trans. You might be better off waiting a little while and trying to find a running bike...Ironheads require alot of attention, but you also learn alot about wrenching. You can get a Harley manual on ebay for around $40. If it has good compression and shifts clean through all 4 gears i'd offer $1500 tops. That's just my opinion, good luck and let us know what happens.

HFMC
03-04-2011, 10:39 PM
I'd be really hesitant to buy a non-running ironhead as a first bike, especially if you don't feel like you are up to rebuilding it yourself. It could be as simple as some new gas and oil, or it could be......

I also think $2500 is REAL high for a non-running ironhead. You should be able to find a running one for less than that.

If you do decide to buy a non-running bike, you'll definitely know how to work on your own bike by the time you're riding it. It just depends on how soon you want to be riding, how patient you are, and what kind of luck you have.

Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

RichL
03-04-2011, 10:41 PM
^ +2

Ive been trying to think of advice for the OP but Loaf and HFMC summed it up nicely.

TkilledJ
03-04-2011, 11:17 PM
Hey guys, thanks for the advice so far. He initially dropped his price to $2000 already on the phone. I'm probably going to go speak to a local bike builder about it tomorrow, and possibly explore my options. I'll definitely be sure to keep you guys posted, and continue to bug you with more questions! Thanks again!

SMChewy
03-04-2011, 11:37 PM
Everyone has given great advice. Here is just a bit more. Why has the bike been sitting for 10 years??? He sure didn't park it cause it had old fuel in it, lol, that is due to it being parked. See if you can get something that feels like a honest answer (it was my _____'s and he is in the can, died, ect). Don't ever buy into, I just parked it cause I didn't want to ride it. If you have any running bike, you will want to ride it. Also looks like the guy who has it is at a shop. See if he has a compression tester as mentioned, and/or at least make sure it turns over (74 should have a kicker). From there offer him $1000 and maybe work up to $1500. Keep reminding him it doesn't run, and it could cost a lot to get running. But in all looks like a killer find. Dig the gooseneck and girder combo. If it falls through, just keep hunting. XS's are also good starter bikes that you can usually find running already. Good luck bruddah!

TkilledJ
03-04-2011, 11:46 PM
Everyone has given great advice. Here is just a bit more. Why has the bike been sitting for 10 years??? He sure didn't park it cause it had old fuel in it, lol, that is due to it being parked. See if you can get something that feels like a honest answer (it was my _____'s and he is in the can, died, ect). Don't ever buy into, I just parked it cause I didn't want to ride it. If you have any running bike, you will want to ride it. Also looks like the guy who has it is at a shop. See if he has a compression tester as mentioned, and/or at least make sure it turns over (74 should have a kicker). From there offer him $1000 and maybe work up to $1500. Keep reminding him it doesn't run, and it could cost a lot to get running. But in all looks like a killer find. Dig the gooseneck and girder combo. If it falls through, just keep hunting. XS's are also good starter bikes that you can usually find running already. Good luck bruddah!

Thanks for the input bro, much appreciated, I'll definitely ask about the compression tester. As for his reason of parking the bike he said "it takes a mule to kick that thing over, three times, and I need to take a break, this is a young guys bike." Not quite sure how to take that answer haha. That front end is what I think sold me on this sucker, definitely wasn't going to pay near the asking price once I heard it wasn't currently a runner. I do think this bike deserves a 2nd life... Only to be beaten to death again. haha.

northlandak
03-05-2011, 12:15 AM
Compression means ALOT . if it has good compression - you have a base as a newby to that motor - clutch problems and electrical will make some people park it - thats what i love to find.
Anyway - if you want to learn stuff - and your not beaten down easily over a problem - Buy It ! My first two bikes were fucked - (a triumph and an ironhead) but I didn't know any better. So i bought 'em and learned - now i know better .......but in the long run - i had a ball and put a shitload of miles on the junk i bought ! In my opinion - 1500 would be worth the fun ass time of resurection... Just dont get all down if it takes a bunch of work...

ironhead86
03-05-2011, 12:32 AM
I agree with everyone else. That frame ask who made it. Nice gerder paint ect. I would say running perfect with a little hop in it 2even. Patients is key man. I sit and wait came across a 91evo stock parked for a year for a grand. So shit works out the way it should. Good luck man Lots of Ironhead guys here. Share the wealth if i can. Late

TkilledJ
03-05-2011, 12:34 AM
Hey guys, I really appreciate all the input! I'll admit, some of it is over my head, as I really have no mechanical experience, but I want to learn. I was thinking of having a professional help me get the bike running, then getting my hands on that manual and burying my nose in there. As always I'll keep you guys posted with what happens tomorrow!

24Cycles
03-05-2011, 2:46 AM
Ironheads are my bread and butter. I havent read all the other advice so forgive me if I reapeat.

That said a few things that molded neck is a possible weak spot. A lot of stress can be created and biggest of all you dont know whats under there. I would assume no vin numbers.

The chassis may ride off with how high it sits due to the girder. It might have a great deal of flop without riding it you wont know but well turning the bars if its heavy and wants to drop thats a sign.
Not being ran in 10 years is not a big deal. I have had several relics that were not started in a decade or more. Be aware that the oil in the motor and oil tank will need to be drained. The oil bag will need to be cleaned as there will be sediment. To clean it you will need to remove it. If the oil was fresh you may just need to drain it all. When replacing it you will most lickely need to prime it via the oil pump untill the oil is running without bubbles in the line.

If it doesnt run it isnt a deal breaker. A couple things to check.
1 cases are they cracked do they have weld repairs is everything complete
2 look at the plugs how was it burning before? does it have compression if it hasnt ran you shouldnt be kicking it without fogging the cylinders wil light oil. Compression above 150 is good as long as it doesnt bleed off. It will take several kicks to get it there, Look for broken fins on the cylinder and heads. If they are broken well they look like shit and cool like shit. Carb what is it? If its a Super E your golden if its a Bendix or Zenith your going to have to buy a new carb.
3 Get it off the wheels with the plugs out of the heads. Shift it to 1st roll the wheel a couple of times in 1st do you notice anything like it wont go into gear. Does it stay in gear? Do this all gears. Its not full proof but if it does work your probably fine.
4 It will need new cork plates no matte what. It will also need primary oil changed. 60 weight straight oil will be used in both primary cover (1quart) And motor oil 3-4 quarts.
5 Look at the electrical is it all intact? Does it have keys? Look and match vin numbers both motor and frame. Frame is the important one.
6 Brakes do they work? Are rims straight all spokes there? Girder is it complete?
7. Make sure it isnt a 73' as you may be getting a early 73' and those are more expensive and harder to match parts up if you dont know what your doing.
.
Your concern list is the frame its molded does it have vins, ride height without riding you dont know if it has flop or not. Bikes not running and the motor has had work done to it who did the work and ?

Be confident and dont let him lead the sale. You are fact finding and if things are a miss you really dont want to buy it.
If it all checks out I would offer him 1200.00 cash hold the cash in your left hand so you can shake a deal with your right. Tell him the frame is a big concern due to the molding and unless the molding is off you dont know if it is safe or not. If the motor has weld repairs I would walk from it unless he drops to 800.00 due to the frame could be a issue.
If he says no way to your offer ask him what he will take cash right now. If he says 18-2g tell him you will meet him at 1400.00. After that it is a love thing. If you feel the love and you dont mind spending the dough dont go over 1800.00.
If you need advice by phone or a question before or well looking at the bike feel free to call me at 619-243-9858 Atom from www.beerbreed.com
Im always down to give advice if Im not in the middle of something anytime 9am - 5pm pacfic time

Good luck and dont be to worried. Ironheads get a bad wrap but they are very easy to work on if you need anything hit me up.

ridemore16
03-05-2011, 6:57 AM
I'm searching for answers to my generator problems. I found some good info stickied over at the XL forum. Lots of Ironhead information.

http://xlforum.net/vbportal/forums/showthread.php?t=465866

TkilledJ
03-05-2011, 8:36 AM
Ironheads are my bread and butter. I havent read all the other advice so forgive me if I reapeat.

That said a few things that molded neck is a possible weak spot. A lot of stress can be created and biggest of all you dont know whats under there. I would assume no vin numbers.

The chassis may ride off with how high it sits due to the girder. It might have a great deal of flop without riding it you wont know but well turning the bars if its heavy and wants to drop thats a sign.
Not being ran in 10 years is not a big deal. I have had several relics that were not started in a decade or more. Be aware that the oil in the motor and oil tank will need to be drained. The oil bag will need to be cleaned as there will be sediment. To clean it you will need to remove it. If the oil was fresh you may just need to drain it all. When replacing it you will most lickely need to prime it via the oil pump untill the oil is running without bubbles in the line.

If it doesnt run it isnt a deal breaker. A couple things to check.
1 cases are they cracked do they have weld repairs is everything complete
2 look at the plugs how was it burning before? does it have compression if it hasnt ran you shouldnt be kicking it without fogging the cylinders wil light oil. Compression above 150 is good as long as it doesnt bleed off. It will take several kicks to get it there, Look for broken fins on the cylinder and heads. If they are broken well they look like shit and cool like shit. Carb what is it? If its a Super E your golden if its a Bendix or Zenith your going to have to buy a new carb.
3 Get it off the wheels with the plugs out of the heads. Shift it to 1st roll the wheel a couple of times in 1st do you notice anything like it wont go into gear. Does it stay in gear? Do this all gears. Its not full proof but if it does work your probably fine.
4 It will need new cork plates no matte what. It will also need primary oil changed. 60 weight straight oil will be used in both primary cover (1quart) And motor oil 3-4 quarts.
5 Look at the electrical is it all intact? Does it have keys? Look and match vin numbers both motor and frame. Frame is the important one.
6 Brakes do they work? Are rims straight all spokes there? Girder is it complete?
7. Make sure it isnt a 73' as you may be getting a early 73' and those are more expensive and harder to match parts up if you dont know what your doing.
.
Your concern list is the frame its molded does it have vins, ride height without riding you dont know if it has flop or not. Bikes not running and the motor has had work done to it who did the work and ?

Be confident and dont let him lead the sale. You are fact finding and if things are a miss you really dont want to buy it.
If it all checks out I would offer him 1200.00 cash hold the cash in your left hand so you can shake a deal with your right. Tell him the frame is a big concern due to the molding and unless the molding is off you dont know if it is safe or not. If the motor has weld repairs I would walk from it unless he drops to 800.00 due to the frame could be a issue.
If he says no way to your offer ask him what he will take cash right now. If he says 18-2g tell him you will meet him at 1400.00. After that it is a love thing. If you feel the love and you dont mind spending the dough dont go over 1800.00.
If you need advice by phone or a question before or well looking at the bike feel free to call me at 619-243-9858 Atom from www.beerbreed.com
Im always down to give advice if Im not in the middle of something anytime 9am - 5pm pacfic time

Good luck and dont be to worried. Ironheads get a bad wrap but they are very easy to work on if you need anything hit me up.


Dude, thanks for taking the time to break it down for me like that, greatly appreciated, I'll definitely be referring back to these posts when I'm about to talk to the owner. ha. I'll keep you guys posted!

Jimbo
03-05-2011, 6:06 PM
check your vin numbers seeing how the frame looks to have a hardhead neck on it,, the frame vin number is more then likely gone??,, 74s are ok no big deal with them, right side shift (the way they should be) left side brake, its a XLCH so get used to kicking, :banghead: fun bike Needs to mantained some were pron to tranny problems (due to past owners) look for cracked case's weld repairs etc etc, There are some cool old parts on there though Good luck,

Jimbo
03-05-2011, 6:08 PM
ha bad rap Ironheads are fun !! we all know that!

TkilledJ
03-08-2011, 3:41 PM
Hey guys, just wanted to thank you all again for the advice. Went in to talk to a local bike builder, and I'm thinking I'm going to pull the trigger on this one! Going to go scope it out tomorrow, but it's not looking like I'll be able to bring him any lower than $2k, as his original asking price was $3k... But fuck, I'm dumb and in love, you all can understand that right? hah. Told me he picked up the frame in a swap back in '81, and put the bike together himself, was very knowledgable about the bike, and it has Mikuni carb. I'll definitely keep you guys posted. Thanks again, stay choppin' doods!!

ercle69
03-08-2011, 6:31 PM
cool, keep us updated!

turbonate
03-08-2011, 8:18 PM
the best advice i ever got about working on things was " if you can read, you can do anything, the information is out there, all you have to do is find it"

TkilledJ
03-08-2011, 11:01 PM
the best advice i ever got about working on things was " if you can read, you can do anything, the information is out there, all you have to do is find it"

Yep, definitely learned a lot just lurking around here, but figure now that i know what to look for I'll start to do some more research. I'm sure I'll probably just wind up being lazy and asking you guys, but what the hell? Gotta start somewhere hah.

fBrilliant
01-09-2015, 6:23 PM
And??? Lots of good advice.

TwoLaneFever
01-10-2015, 11:25 AM
ironhead advice, don't be afraid to work on these bikes, they were race bikes, so they where constantly worked on if a good owner had it, and the other thing is, don't expect it to be like any modern bike ,they are not .third get used to the bike ,it is a iron head they all have quirks about em (individual as a woman )55217.if that dosent scare you ,,cool,,,, ,,,and you will understand why iroheads are(" evil woman in iron")if the bike runs good we love em,, when running like crap we hate them ,,,,
figure to expect the worse ,,hope for the best , if you get it dialed in, they can be a good bike. just a lot of guys dog em till death.maintain it, do regular service ,and it can be as reliable as you can make it be, think of it is a thourabred ,,so ya gotta treat it like one ...ride, wrench, repeat ,it,s not just a saying dig?

jethro57
01-10-2015, 2:10 PM
I'm searching for answers to my generator problems. I found some good info stickied over at the XL forum. Lots of Ironhead information.

http://xlforum.net/vbportal/forums/showthread.php?t=465866

yea but the real knowledge is here, you want to solve generator problems??? do what I did, buy a poweraythor, they;re awesome