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  1. #1
    coachstorms
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    Default Ironhead Education

    I dont know a damn thing about older Harley motors, outside of my twincam and xs650 my knowledge ends. I had been looking for a low maintenance evo project but now I found a guy that wants to trade me his mostly finished 82 Ironhead project for my xs - so I need to get schooled up on the pros and cons of those motors before I make the drive to check that beast out. He said the motor and tranny have both been rebuilt. Broad question I know, but can you guys help me out on the pro and cons and shit of an Ironhead? Thanks...

  2. #2
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    I will say this. If you like to wrench and tinker, ironheads are your bag. They are finicky, stubborn and an all round pain in the ass. But when they run right, they are the shit.....

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    There is a lot to be done to make a Ironhead low maintenance, but besides papers, check the cases for cracks, compression test, run thru the gears, how "finished" is his project?

  4. #4
    LivingCanvas
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    Quote Originally Posted by 53rigid View Post
    I will say this. If you like to wrench and tinker, ironheads are your bag. They are finicky, stubborn and an all round pain in the ass. But when they run right, they are the shit.....
    Quoted for truth

  5. #5
    p8
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    I am starting an ironhead build and also dont know much harley. Does anyone know if I can put a kicker on a 77 motor and will early heads off a right side shift mount to my 77 barrels. The donor motor is a 62 with right side shift but my frame and motor are 77. I will have the heads and barrels machined obviously but dont know what size valves to run . Thanks for any help!

  6. #6
    azmotorhead
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    biggest problems i have found with ironheads is the lack of maintnance by previous owners so they usually have a ton of little problems to square away. good solid motors other than that. but putting a kicker on a 77 would be no problem, and what year heads are you using? sportsters switched to 1000cc in 72? and went to left right side break in 76.

  7. #7
    xllance
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    I don't think of Ironheads as finicky. Actually they are pretty forgiving and will tolerate alot of "almost right" tuning!! lol! Get the timing close and an electronic ignition with a good carb jetted right and you should be good. But yes as with any old iron you will have to do a little more tinkering.

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    There have been plenty of threads created on this very subject my friend.. Just by searching ironhead in google woulda brought you hours of articles to read.. Asking people on a forum about this sorta thing is awesome and shitty because half of them will tell ya that they love em, the other half hates them.. Its just your job to sort through the bull shit.. I once again will drop a reference to www.xlforum.net on some pretty awesome ironhead tech articles so our ironhead guys wont get badgered repeately with the same ones on here too often..

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by xllance View Post
    I don't think of Ironheads as finicky. Actually they are pretty forgiving and will tolerate alot of "almost right" tuning!! lol! Get the timing close and an electronic ignition with a good carb jetted right and you should be good. But yes as with any old iron you will have to do a little more tinkering.
    +1...

    Just make sure you get a decent engine that hasn't been beat to shit, and keep up the maintenance. They are awesome engines.

  10. #10
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    i have to agree with the fact that IH's are forgiving engines.
    as long as you got the important 3 in order.
    1- ignition timing. wrong timing will couse problems and overheating.
    2- carburation. get a good dailed in carb, wrong carb setup will give you headaches.
    3-PUSHROD ADJUSTMENT. paramount for a good working hassle free and long living IH. if the pushrods are adjusted wrong your plugs will foul the engine will overheat and burn it's valves. check pusrod adjustment often and with a COLD engine.

    with this three in your mind ih's are the titties!

    as for trading it with the XS.. don't think twice about it.. do it!

    81 engines are the second last step towards the evo XL, all amf and other problemems were sorted on these engines, better primary better clutch better oiling etc etc..

    things to check before the trade?
    is it complete?
    does it run?
    no (big) leaks?
    does it make moderate engine noise? (little rattle)

    if you had a "check" at all the above.. give the dude the XS and get the XL. you can't go wrong..

    just a pile of H parts and title are worth more than a nice build XS...
    it's a no brainer!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by p8 View Post
    I am starting an ironhead build and also dont know much harley. Does anyone know if I can put a kicker on a 77 motor and will early heads off a right side shift mount to my 77 barrels. The donor motor is a 62 with right side shift but my frame and motor are 77. I will have the heads and barrels machined obviously but dont know what size valves to run . Thanks for any help!
    The Sportster went to 1000cc in '72 so the earlier head wont work on the "newer" jugs. The 77 was a good year. The new cases put the oil pump accessable with the engine in frame. Kickers can be added through '79. Like weezil said, www.xlforum.net for the tech stuff. Probably collectively the most ironhead knowledge in the world.

    To coachstorms, get the Sporty. There is nothing like them. Cantankerous, tempermental bastards for sure but absolutly the most fun on two wheels. And by they way, if someone tells you they are supposed to leak, bullshit. My 77 only has one leak and that's the shift shaft seal. I'll get that one when the weather turns to crap this winter.

  12. #12
    gravitywerx
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    http://www.lowbrowcustoms.com/index...._detail&p=1547

    might want to get one of these if you get it

  13. #13
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    I have an '82 that was a barn find with 26,000 on the detached odometer. It had been sitting for god knows how long, but some fresh oil, plugs, battery, and fresh gas and it fired right up. +1 on the pushrod adjustment, do it often. Harley really did have most of the bugs worked out on the early 80's models, if you take care of it, it will take care of you. There is a wealth of knowledge available here, I'd also get familiar with the XL Forum if you get it, and get a factory manual. If it were me I'd do it, just my opinion.

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    The 77 is the 1st year real left side shift. As far as cross over parts on the top end your SOS with the exception of the Rocker Boxes and push tubes and rods.

    I have stuff for your motor and if your into horse trading I would be down for the 60s motor. Shoot me a pm.

  15. #15
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    i dont know coach, i say keep the xs650. or stop by when you get a chance and ill let you have a kick at my old ironturd.. stubborn old heap it is . but when it starts it does get the blood flowing faster :-)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackchop View Post
    i dont know coach, i say keep the xs650. or stop by when you get a chance and ill let you have a kick at my old ironturd.. stubborn old heap it is . but when it starts it does get the blood flowing faster :-)
    you need a better mechanic

  17. #17
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    You are replying to a spambot, not a person. Do not reply, just report for the admin to delete.

    It's either delete spammers or go to a Captcha authentication which is a pain for old folks and reduces useful posting.

  18. #18
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    where?

  19. #19
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    from XL Forum:

    Ironhead Technical Stickys Index - TuneUps, ReBuilds, Etc, Etc, Etc

    "Here is a collection of informative posts made by many of us here in the ironhead forum. If you have a question about your bike, or need to fix something, your probably not the first. To avoid common threads from popping up day after day, and to keep especially informative posts a few clicks away, this collection of threads has been organized for your use..."

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

  20. #20
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    Ironhead Engine Models ( 1957-1985 )

    Ironhead Technical Categories

    http://sportsterpedia.com/doku.php/t...cal_categories

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