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    Default Ironhead engine rebuild in Portland

    I picked up a basketcase 73 ironhead for my next project and honestly know very little about Harley motors. I want to have the engine gone through and possibly rebuilt since it has been sitting for a while and don't know how it was run or taken care of. Can anyone recommend a good shop or mechanic in the the Portland Oregon area?

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    You ought to do some research to figure out more precisely what you want that engine to do for you before building it.

    What DO you want that engine to do for you?

    How do you see the completed machine?

    For what specific reason are you doing an Ironhead?


    Don't sell the Honda to fund it. Always keep a reliable backup bike if you go Ironhead. (Shit, always have more than one motorcycle anyway. )

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    Why not do it yourself? Buy a manual and follow the directions, Harley motors are primitive and simple.

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    I'd get someone REPUTABLE to do the bottom end for ya, and it should cost ya maybe a few hundred then you can do all the rest yourself if it's not a complete fucked motor.

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    Gotta learn somewhere.

    Keep in mind doing a Sporty will cost as much as doing a big twin in terms of parts prices and all you'll have is a Sporty.

    It will cost more than buying a running Sportster.

    Basket cases are particularly expensive to do (unless you have lots of spare parts and/or bros with lots of spare parts) as they tend to nickle-and-dime ya to death.

    I always warn basket-buyers to do the math first (that doesn't cost anything so there is no reason not to and it's the same research you'll do if you build it!).

    There are many people horny for parts so if you can part it out and make money always consider that.

    Does it have a clear title?

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    You said this is a basket case Sporty, but is the motor in a basket? I got the impression it is not. If you are just uncertain of its condition, tear it down far enough to get a good idea of what you are working with. If you pull the top end off, you can inspect the rods & crank pin for excessive bearing play and end play easily without splitting the case. If the bottom end is in spec, you're not going to gain much from a full rebuild.

    And get a manual!
    Last edited by maxcapacity; 07-19-2013 at 10:11 AM. Reason: Forgot to say "Get a manual"

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    Buying a second hand bike you never know how it was run or serviced.

    I agree with Max advice to pull the top end, check the crank and if it is fine, clean piston tops, combustion chamber and valves. Check valve guides, lap valve seats, new piston rings, assemble using James gaskets and it is ready to go.
    Geting an engine rebuild will cost you a minimum of 2000 and many parts will be replaced, that would have still lasted a lot of miles. Why? Because a rebuild means replacing all used parts that could fail! and thatīs everything!

    What I would do: turn engine over with the kicker, shift thru gears, if it works,assemble the bike to make it a runner. Ride it for a while, watch oil consumption, read your plugs.

    If engine does not turn over or shifts thru gears, strip it down and do what Johnny said.
    Problems? Welcome to ask! and more pics please!!

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    I rebuilt my Ironhead my self and had the machine work done at a reputable shop. These engines are really simple. Don't let anyone tell you all you have is a sportster. Ironheads are bad ass bikes.

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    Are they so "bad ass" you'd trade any big twin you had for the equivalent year and condition Sportster?

    What does "bad ass" mean? Not performance, certainly not comfort or suitability for anything but bar bike work nowadays, so it means something else.

    "Sounds great, looks good, pleasantly torquey, not expecially reliable in most cases without constant inspection and wrenching, buzzy on the highway unless fitted with tall gearing, doesn't shed heat very well but at least top end jobs are easy to do. Generally easy to wrench on. Generally beat to fuck by now so expect to go through any of them axle-to-axle. You will learn lots by doing this but it won't usually be cheap. Better than buying a same-year British grenade." isn't insulting and is accurate.

    Cool if that's what you dig, but new folks deserve a well-rounded picture instead of "I looooooooooooooove my Ironhead but can't express why it's better than alternatives." because they are often going to part with cold hard cash based on the recommendations of others.

    I ain't telling anyone to spend their money without knowing what they should EXPECT for that money. Then it's their call. There are enough motorcycle evangelists out there.

    I'll cheerfully list every fault I know of on any bike I've owned, own, or wrenched.

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    I'll never get rid of my honda. Those things run forever and with basic maintenance. plus it's my daily commuter. This Sporty fell into my lap at a very very good price. I was looking for a big twin but couldn't pass this up. I am already up double of what I paid for it from selling a couple parts. I have no problem working on motors and will probably end up doing it anyways, mainly cause I am cheap when it comes to people doing work for me when I can do it myself. . I've tore down and rebuilt a few honda and yamaha motors. Already have the book. A recommendation for a good machine shop would be nice to have though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GermanG View Post
    Buying a second hand bike you never know how it was run or serviced.

    I agree with Max advice to pull the top end, check the crank and if it is fine, clean piston tops, combustion chamber and valves. Check valve guides, lap valve seats, new piston rings, assemble using James gaskets and it is ready to go.
    Geting an engine rebuild will cost you a minimum of 2000 and many parts will be replaced, that would have still lasted a lot of miles. Why? Because a rebuild means replacing all used parts that could fail! and thatīs everything!

    What I would do: turn engine over with the kicker, shift thru gears, if it works,assemble the bike to make it a runner. Ride it for a while, watch oil consumption, read your plugs.

    If engine does not turn over or shifts thru gears, strip it down and do what Johnny said.
    Problems? Welcome to ask! and more pics please!!
    Thanks for the tips. Definatley not going to mess with the motor and transmission ( minus basic maintenance) unless I have to.. Just preparing myself for the worst. Pictures will be coming throughout.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maxcapacity View Post
    You said this is a basket case Sporty, but is the motor in a basket? I got the impression it is not. If you are just uncertain of its condition, tear it down far enough to get a good idea of what you are working with. If you pull the top end off, you can inspect the rods & crank pin for excessive bearing play and end play easily without splitting the case. If the bottom end is in spec, you're not going to gain much from a full rebuild.

    And get a manual!
    Motor is the only thing that is not in pieces. Just haven't got into it yet. Just trying to think ahead. Hopefully i will by next weekend. Thanks for the tips.

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