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  1. #1
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    Default Build: 1978 Shovelhead Chopper

    I'm diving into a ground up rebuild of my 1978 FXS and will try to document it fully here.

    Pictures of how it stood last week below. Teardown is now underway.

    What I currently have planned is the following, overall I'm going for a clean & simple build with some nice details that rides and handles well:

    - Hard-Tail: Looking to go for a OEM style hardtail, either VCP or Fab Kevin. I have a TIG, but prefer to leave the hardtail job to a Pro since I am still learning welding technique. If you have a recommendation for a shop in the San Francisco area that you'd recommend to do the hardtail conversion, let me know.
    - Mild motor rebuild: Compression is low, starts easy, but it clearly hasn't had real love in a while. It's my first engine build so I'm planning a mostly stock motor with minor enhancements for better oiling and engine life, I will be asking a lot of questions here and your help is much appreciated! Any must have mild mods you want to suggest are welcome I will also be putting an engine thread on shovelhead.us for that build specifically. I have a friend who builds aircraft mags and he's offered to hotrod a magneto for me, may go with a repop Burkhardt if my budget allows it. I'm currently planning on keeping the SU, but we'll see as things shape up, it's awesome but huge.
    - Belt Drive Conversion: Planning on switching to an open 2" Primo.
    - Narrowed Fatbobs or a Mustang Tank: I want to use the original tank if it makes sense and do the fab myself. Should be fun/frustrating.
    - Wheels: Mags, looking for an 18" Morris rear if you have one. will likely run the stock 19 up front. Disks front and rear.
    - Other: Looking at a 4" over 39mm front end, Sprung solo seat, Sissy bar, Mids, may build my own pipes and whatever else sounds good along the way.

    I'm shooting to get the bike done in bare metal by Mid-May in time for El Diablo 2015, the clock is ticking.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMAG0473.jpg   IMAG0472.jpg  
    Last edited by nowhitebelts; 11-10-2014 at 7:34 PM.

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    I'm almost through tear down but I'm getting my ass kicked by this Compensator Nut. Tried impact, heat multiple times and a two foot breaker bar. Any advice?

  3. #3

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    I assume your using a jam bar. Heat her up (not too hot so she glows red or anything) and apply steady pressure with your breaker bar. Might have to use a cheater pipe. When she starts coming loose it will be hardly noticeable. Keep the pressure up and don't give up. Most let up and give up too early. Keep the pressure on.

    Works for me. Good luck.

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    Thanks, will try again with a cheater bar and a friend. Once this MF'er is off I can pull the motor and get to work!

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    Just to repeat what Frog said, I had the same trouble with mine. Impact wouldn't work on account that I had a small compressor and my gun was only good for about 230 ft lbs or torque, so I applied heat and used a 4 foot cheater bar on my breaker bar. The only thing I had to lock the Compensator in place was an old sanding block, but the Compensator Nut came off with little effort. Heats the way to go!

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    I never bother with heat. Leverage is your friend. A 2ft breaker bar isn't enough though you do need one.

    I use a jam bar made from some 1/4" x 1.5" flat bar to lock everything in place. Then use a 2ft breaker bar but slide the handle from a car jack over it (it's at least 4ft long). Works effortlessly.

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    I had to hit mine a couple times w the bernzomatic to break it free....had a 4 foot cheater on my breaker bar too...those things are pretty tight

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    I bought a clutch compressor tool and all this other bullshit to pull my primary off, it took me about a half hour and I didn't use anything other than my cheap HF impact and a big washer to compress the clutch pack. I just grab the compensator with my hand and hit it with the impact until it frees, and don't use a jamb bar or anything to pull either end. To each their own but I didn't have any trouble.

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    What do you mean by jamb bar and pull either end? Did you think we meant a pry bar? Not sure what compressing the clutch has to do with the front pulley removal?

    To be clear, he's trying to remove the front pulley nut. Unless you somehow lock the primary, the motor is just going to turn over and spin when you try to take the nut off. It may come off if you hit it with an impact IF the nut wasn't on tight enough to begin with. If it is on to the proper torque, red loctite up the wahzoo, etc... you need to lock the primary in most cases to get it off. A jam bar (piece of metal to a specific length) is inserted between the front pulley teeth and the rear clutch basket teeth to lock everything in place and prevent it from spinning.


    Sorry if that was obvious and/or wasted typing but I was a bit confused at what you meant. Even if it was wasted typing, I'm sure someone who's never done it before is reading this.

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    Thanks all, will let you know how it goes once I get my hands on a length of pipe and some PCP so I can Hulk out on this nut.

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    Okay. Engine is out and teardown continues. For anyone reading this who is building a shovel there's a few things worth noting that I encountered.

    - Cheater pipe with a breaker bar totally worked on the compensator nut, slow constant pressure with a lot of leverage was the trick.
    - If you have a tapered mainshaft on your transmission there is a small key that needs to be removed before you can remove the inner primary, this was not in the manual or mentioned in anything I read / watched online. Use dykes to remove it.

    I got the heads off the motor to see what was what. Before pulling compression measured 85 in the front and 55 in the rear. The bike appears to have S&S 80" Cylinders, not sure if the heads are all a kit yet but it seems likely, anyone have an opinion on S&S 80's?

    Photos below, let me know if you spot anything or have tips, this is my first motor build:

    Front Piston, seems to be in pretty good shape:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Front Cylinder Wall, there doesn't seem to be any visible scoring, uneven wear or discoloration. Will be doing a more thorough inspection:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Front Head, one broken fin, a carbon build up, will be checking valves, seats, guides:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Rear Piston, low compression culprit found. This mismatched gasket became a diaper:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Rear Cylinder Wall:
    Seems pretty good, there's some carbon buildup at the top above where the piston peaks.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Rear Head, can't get the image to upload for some reason, but looks pretty comparable to the front.

    Let me know if you have any thoughts. I'm also going to take some photos of my lifters because they don't seem stock and I'd love some help ID'ing them.
    Last edited by nowhitebelts; 11-23-2014 at 2:00 AM.

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    I'ts nice to see someone doing it right, sounds like it will be a hell of a bike when ya finish it.

    Jessee (Dragstew) on here is a motor builder from hell, the man has forgotten more than I could ever hope to learn, ya might want to get up with him and pick his brain.

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    Man, I struggled with the compensator nut myself. I have heard every story about getting them off but when it comes down to it I guess every bike is different. Mine was stuck to the point where an impact, breaker bar(with a 4+ ft. cheater), and regular heat wouldn't work. Ended up taking the bike over to my buddies shop so he could operate. Basically torched the end off. When he was done all the pressure was relieved and the nut twisted off easily and the shaft was in perfect shape. Pretty extreme circumstance.

    This bike sounds like its gonna rule big time. I love Morris Mags, I am running a 19 with matching 16 combo on my shovel project. I don't have any extra 18" rear parts, but I do have an extra 19" morris if you interested.

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    Thanks, gonna be a long road but trying to take my time and do it right. Got a picture of the 16 + 19 mags in a hardtail? Curious to know what that looks like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nowhitebelts View Post

    Front Cylinder Wall, there doesn't seem to be any visible scoring, uneven wear or discoloration. Will be doing a more thorough inspection:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Rear Cylinder Wall:
    Seems pretty good, there's some carbon buildup at the top above where the piston peaks.
    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	53883


    Let me know if you have any thoughts.

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news but both of those cylinders show scoring. The rear one looks worse.

    One thing to keep in mind is that when things are oily, they always seem OK at first glance. Remove the cylinders and clean the insides up with brake cleaner and some rags. Anything you can feel with your finger tip or your nail is a problem. I can see in your pictures that you have the same type of scoring I had in my cylinders. I needed to bore mine out to .010" over and get new pistons as well.

    Might as well do it right and invest the money into it now.

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    Thanks for pointing that out boomboomthump. The advice is very welcome, keep it coming. Engine work is new territory for me so I'll be asking for a lot of help, need to get another thread up on shovelhead.us as well for this.

    Honestly, I expected worse when I opened it up. I will be doing a thorough inspection as you mentioned once I get the jugs off. Will definitely look into a bore, hone and fresh pistons. Any sense of what the cause of your scoring was? Just bad fitment or install? Given that this is an 80" kit with mismatched gaskets, I wouldn't be surprised if PO slapped it together himself and cut some corners... hopefully I don't make the same mistakes.

    In other news, I've been following your build thread, amazing work man. I'm learning TIG and while I won't be doing as much fab on this build as you did (baby steps), you've set a high bar. Definitely lighting a fire under my ass to keep things on point.
    Last edited by nowhitebelts; 11-24-2014 at 6:03 PM.

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    Na, my bike is a stock dropseat frame with earlier style pan/shov swing arm.

  18. #18
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    Okay, update time:

    ENGINE:
    - Motor is completely torn down and ready to send for machining. Folks have recommended JLK in the East Bay, if anyone has SF Bay Area machine shops that they highly recommend, let me know.

    - The motor has an Andrews #6 Grind Cam, does anyone have thoughts on this cam or other good cams for a mellow 80" build? Seems a little aggressive for what I'm going for. Motor has 80" barrels with .010 over S&S cast pistons, hydraulic lifters. Overall I'm trying to build for stability, easy starts and strong pull and performance through the typical road/Freeway RPM range. The bike seemed a bit sluggish and choppy on the low end when it was running, but there were a number of factors that could have been contributing to the jankiness.
    - Anyone got a good list of things I should have the machine shop do when I send the motor in? Right now my list is as follows: Inspect Rods, flywheels & Bottom End, Bore/Hone Cylinders, Inspect valve seats and guides (may upgrade to hardened seats), Deck any mating surfaces that have nicks/scratches that could compromise sealing, Bead blast urrythang, Inspect trans (I'm not messing with the trans myself on this build).

    FRAME:
    - Frame is almost bare, just need to pull the trans and the neck cups, BoomBoomThump, I will be using the split pipe tool you recommended.
    - Current plan is to ship the frame to Fab-Kevin for hardtailing

    WHILE EVERYTHING IS OUT:
    - Shave and polish forks
    - Blast cast wheels & get new tires so I can get a roller together quickly. I'm thinking Pirelli Night Dragons for tires, just because I love good grip.
    - Rebuild Oil Pump
    - Either rebuild SU Carb or swap for a CV. Any thoughts on this are welcome. My only grip with the SU is it's size, other than that I've been happy with performance.
    Last edited by nowhitebelts; 12-15-2014 at 12:09 PM.

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