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Thread: 79 XLH Build

  1. #1
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    Default 79 XLH Build

    This is my first vintage Harley build. I started with a 1979 XLH bobber I bought for $1800. The PO said he was going for the "Mad Max" look, and by letting all the tins rust and not washing her for a few years had achieved just that! Apparently these old Ironheads leak pretty bad, and that, in itself, made the "Mad Max" look. The bike ran, but I wasn't too sure about the safety aspect, so I got it home and washed/degreased it. Not a bad looking bike under all of that oil and dirt.

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    Then I started tearing it down. The PO stored it outside, so the rubber was starting to dry rot, so I ordered new Avons. Took off the tank and front forks, the 9" wide rusted-out trailer fender. Yes, 9" wide fender over the stock rear rim - looked bizarre.

    Pulled the forks apart. First safety problem discovered - maybe 1/2 oz oil in each fork. The 79 forks use oil hydraulic pressure for fork tube rebound, so there's the first suspected safety issue! Also, I think the forks had never been disassembled or serviced, so the seals were literally fused to the lowers! Here's the original Showa lowers after dissassembly.

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    Sent the lowers off to Ryan at IronHeartCycles, since he's got a lathe, and here's what they looked like when he was done with them.

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    Nice, right? Re-assembled with 8" over tubes...

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    Fork back on and 21" with new tube/tire. Also replaced the bars with some chrome rabbit ears.

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    Last edited by mikekuy; 08-01-2017 at 1:56 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default

    Nice work so far. Have fun!

  3. #3
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    Thanks man! The one or two hours a week that I have to work on this are definitely fun!

    So next I re-installed the rear wheel with new rubber and set her down to see how she sits. I'm not so sure about the assortment of spacers on either side of the rear hub and on the right side between the frame before the axle nut, and how well the spacers work with the rear brake caliper mount, but put them back on anyways. The PO had two 1.5" spacers between the right side of the frame and the axle nut, I guess because the stock axle is just too long? Anyways, I like the way she sits. Works well with the 8" over tubes.

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    I got a great sissy bar from Jimmy at @kickerparts and trimmed and mounted it, then started drilling/cutting a narrow 5" fender.

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    She's starting to look like a bike again...

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    That 48" sissy bar looks really tall, but I think it will look fine with a narrow seat pulled all the way to the top.

    Finally finished cutting and grinding up the rear fender, drilled and tapped the sissy bar fender mounting holes and mounted it. Are 3/8-16 bolts too much bolt for mounting fender? All I know is they were fucking expensive for the chrome version at $1.80/pc!

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    I couldn't decide if I had enough clearance between the fender and chain at about 1", so I just cut the fender off above it. Saves more weight anyways. Got some nice, consistent fender clearance when mounted.

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    I installed throttle with a new cable. I was looking to replace the OEM clutch lever/perch since it was in bad condition and I wanted something less bulky. Checking ebay for a pre-79 lever/perch assy there were a bunch of used ones for +$30, but the MoCo has new ones for $18! So I just bought a new one.

    Really wanted to get her down off the lift, but I had noticed a few weeks ago that I had installed the fork tubes/lowers backwards, so I took the front end back off and swapped them.

    The OEM headlight housing was really bent up so I picked up a smaller 4.5" one from the good folks at Lowbrow. Looks nice.
    Last edited by mikekuy; 09-06-2017 at 7:57 AM.

  4. #4
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    Finally got her on her own two feet.

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    While waiting for the seat from Freakshow Fab, I rebuilt the Super E with kit from JP. Had a master rebuild kit sitting around, but didn't see much wear when I got the carb apart, so I just ordered a basic kit and replaced all the gaskets, seals and o-rings. Installed frisco'd sporty tank.

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    She's probably leaked a few oz of oil on the garage floor in the year it's taken me to get this far with the build, so I've started trying to find the source. Cleaned the lower part of the frame and the bottom of the cases and the oil is not coming from any seal I can find. There's a dirty mess of routed oil lines between the tranny and chain and I suspect there's either a hole in one of the oil lines there, or oil is leaking down from the tank on one of the lines. Gonna have to pull all the oil lines and replace/re-route to find it I think.

    Finally got a seat fully covered in reticulate leather by @kustomitch. Hit him up - he does great work. She's a runner! Whiskey Throttle is a good name, what do you think? Whiskey was the color I was looking for in the paint, and @bluemoonkustoms nailed it.

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    Only problem now is that I'm having so much fun riding her, I don't want to tear her back down to get everything plated and powder coated !
    Last edited by mikekuy; 08-28-2018 at 10:40 AM.

  5. #5
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    Over a year later and I still haven't tore her down to chrome the oil bag, fender and sissy bar. I'm having too much fun riding her! But, I did change out the bars last month. The clutch started slipping so I had to pull the primary. Besides the fact that the friction plates were toast, I thought I'd replace the clutch cable while I had access to it (since you gotta pull the primary cover to get the cable off). I had these 14" apes hanging on the wall, thought I'd see how they looked and picked up a longer clutch cable to match the bar height. Yeah, these bars are a keeper.

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    Last edited by mikekuy; 10-29-2019 at 6:03 AM.

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