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  1. #1
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    Default 74 74 74 A Shovelhead build

    preface:

    I started this build thread a little over 5 years ago on the Jockey Journal. Since that time Photobucket has found a couple different ways to fuck up all the pics in the thread, and the JJ has become a ghost town. Kind of reminds me of a few biker bars I've known. Things were great for a time, then something happens and the "scene" for want of a better word, moves somewhere else. I mentioned I was think about moving it and have been encouraged to do so. (Thanks!)

    So, I'm going to move this thread over here. If you read it on the JJ, some of it will be the same, some of it will be edited to reflect subsequent events, and some will be left out, like where I changed directions. Some pics were lost to Photobucket, but I have many of them still in the archives, so I'll fill them in as I go.

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    Thank you very much for bringing it over. I'm sure there are quite a few of us eager to see what you've been up to.

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    Chapter 1 In The Beginning God... oh wait, that's already taken.

    Don't get too excited. This is just the tale of a greybeard throwing together a rider Shovelhead mostly out of stuff laying around in his garage. But... this particular greybeard has a lot of stuff laying around in his garage. And now I'm going to stop talking about myself in the third person.

    There will be some tech stuff, what I did and how i did it. There may be some philosophy and history of particular parts and modifications. There will also be bad humor and outright bullshit. So let's get started.

    Way before. it's a 1974, 74 cu. in engine in a Paughco frame:

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    Again, don't get excited. The end product will look nothing like this. I bought this about a 20 years ago. I didn't need it, but the price was right and I had the money. I got to hear it run before I bought it. It sounded sweet and tight, no extraneous clanging, banging, knocking or ticking. I didn't ride it though, because the brakes were non operational.

    When I got it home, I looked in the spark plug holes with a light small enough to fit. There was fresh cross hatching on the walls and the piston tops were clean. The speedometer that was on it only had 55 miles on it, though it was a 2-1 speedometer where a 1-1 should have been. I can believe that this engine has, at the least, a fresh top end with only 110 miles on it.

    Over the years, from time to time I'd take it out and play with it. I'd also push the bike out of the back of the garage and do lightweight mockups on it. Below is a pic with only the white sheet metal removed and a set of 3½ gallon fatbobs put on, a big improvement.

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    Here's another. This one sports cast wheels, a too short front end, and an old Paughco tank.

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    And one last one. Longer forks and a 21, different pipes, seat and a sissy bar.

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    Chapter 2 Coming to Terms

    The biggest reason I never followed through on the mockups was that I got this thing with the promise of a title, and not an actual document I could hold in my hand and take to the BMV. (It's a Bureau in Ohio, not a Department.) There is a silver lining to that, however. After the seller and I had agreed on a price, and he was spending the money in his head, I suggested I give him most of the money, and take the bike, and give him the rest when he delivered the title. I also had him write out a Bill of Sale just in case I had to prove it was mine while he was chasing down the title. Do I need to mention that the promise was not kept?

    Maybe a year or so after I got the bike, I heard that the seller had been loud talking in a bar, saying he was gonna look me up and collect the rest of the money I owed him. But when I ran into him a few months after that, he was singing a different tune. He was apologetic even, offered to buy the bike back. I was in a financial situation where I gave him a price, what I had in it plus some for storage. He was OK with the price, but wanted to make payments. I told him to look me up when he had all the money together. That's been more than 10 years now. I don't think he's coming.

    But there was the matter of making it legal. In '74 the VIN is complete on both the engine and frame. I ran the number and found out not only was it titled to someone, it had a current license plate registered to it. Presumably, the guy who had the original frame, as it should be.

    I considered titling it as a special construction, but there are receipts to come up with, and turn signals to wire and inspections to pass. After all that, you end up with a bike that costs more to insure, and is worth less when you go to sell it.

    So, I took what seemed to me to be the most sensible road. I bought a titled frame. It was bent a little, and the paperwork was convoluted. (a bill of sale from a state that doesn't title older bikes and a signed off title from another New England state.) I took it to a Title office that was friendly to the Dealership where I was working, when they weren't busy, and I let the lady there be the expert, only giving information when asked. I walked out with a title to a 1974 FX 1200. (There's that third 74 from the thread title.) By the time I had it straightened, I had a little less in it than the going rate for titled frames, and I knew it was straight.

    Everybody knows what a Shovelhead 4 speed frame looks like, but here's a pic anyway. This was the seller's eBay pic.

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    Last edited by MOTher; 4 Weeks Ago at 1:47 PM.

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    Chapter 3 Application Parameters

    In a computer class I took a long time ago, they taught us to work from the application out. Figure out what you want to do, find the software that will best do it, then find the hardware that best runs that software. So what are the application parameters for this motorcycle?

    I hope to ride this thing a lot. By a lot, I mean often, not necessarily far. If I want to go far, I'll take the Geezer Glide. So I don't need luggage. And since the OL isn't interested on riding any more a passenger seat is unnecessary.

    I graduated from high school, and started riding and modifying motorcycles in 1965. This means two things. 1.) The basis of what I know about modifying motorcycles was formed in the mid to late '60s and early '70's. Stuff like what should and shouldn't be done, what's cool and what's not. The rest of what I've learned over the years is built on that foundation.

    2.)The other thing it means is that, if I graduated in the '60's, I'm old. 72 as of the move to CC. So by definition, this is an old man's motorcycle. That means the swingarm stays, as does the electric start. In fact, I'm going to delete the kicker. I don't need to prove I know how to kickstart a motorcycle. I don't need a kicker to baffle the newbie "bikers." They're baffled enough without my help.

    Since I intend to ride this thing a lot in 21st Century traffic, I'm going to run a front brake. Most people when they think about distracted drivers focus on cell phones, but it's part of a societal shift. When I started riding, cars didn't have cup holders and the Golden Arches was a Drive In, not a Drive Thru. The biggest distraction was guys driving one handed, the other arm around their girlfriend's shoulders while she sat right next to him on the bench seat.

    Since this chapter is pretty boring, and doesn't have any pictures yet, here's one of my high school graduation present from my folks. By this time I had already taken off the front fender. (Yes, it's Japanese, get over it.) For some reason (because I'm a hoarder) I still have the headlight badge from this thing. This was the start, but I think that once I had embraced the biker life, my folks came to regret their decision.

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    Awesome story so far. I love a good story with solid roots. I look forward to reading more and watching your vision for this bike materialize.

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    Keep on going ....
    Post lots of photos too ....

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    Got my attention

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    MOTher, thank you for documenting the build and taking us along, from one old cat to another

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    Really nice story. Keep going please.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MOTher View Post

    Chapter 1

    In The Beginning God... oh wait, that's already taken.

    .... Eve's Side of the Story ....

    New twist about that, according to Eve...!!!

    After three weeks in the Garden of Eden, God came to visit Eve. So, how is everything going?" inquired God.

    It's all so beautiful" she replied. "Everything is wonderful, but I have one problem. It's these breasts you've given me. The middle one pushes the other two out and I'm constantly knocking them with my arms."

    She went on to tell Him that since many other parts of her body came in pairs, such as her limbs, eyes, ears, etc .....she felt that having only two breasts might leave her body more"symmetrically balanced," as she put it.

    "That is a fair point, but it was my first shot at this, you know. I gave the animals six breasts, so I figured that you needed only half of those, but I see that you are right. I will fix it up right away." And He reached down, removed the middle breast and tossed it into the bushes.

    Three weeks passed and God once again visited Eve in the Garden of Eden.

    "Well, Eve, how is my favorite creation?"

    Just fantastic," she replied, "But for one oversight on your part. You see, all the animals are paired off. The ewe has a ram and the cow has her bull. All the animals have a mate except me. I feel so alone."

    God thought for a moment and said, "You know, Eve, you are right. How could I have overlooked this? You do need a mate and I will immediately create a man from a part of you. Now let's see ...........where did I put that useless boob ?"

    Now doesn't THAT make more sense than that stuff about the rib?

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    Man that is awesome, I'll be watching and helping if I can..........

    Very nice looking start by the way............

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    Chapter 4: These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

    No, I haven't gone all Julie Andrews. I'm talking about wheels, tires, forks and brakes. One of the things I'm doing with this bike is including a couple of "I've always wanted to...." In this case, I've always wanted to put together a bike with cast wheels. My favorite among those is the 18" 9 spoke AMF/Harley wheel. You don't see them as often, probably because they only used them for one year on a limited production bike, (the '78 XLCR), and half a year on some bikes on a production model (the early '79 Sportster XL and XLH, but not the XLS) There's one on the back of a mockup in the first post (3rd and 4th pic.) Since I couldn't decide whether I wanted to put it on the rear, with a matching 19" front, or put it on the front, with a matching 16" rear, I decided to compromise and put one in front and another one in back. And don't you think the perfect compliment to cast wheels is Raised White Letter tires? I managed to dig up a 130-90 18 Dunlop K181 RWL for the back and a 120/90 18 F11 RWL for the front. Here's a pic of an early mockup.

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    Some of what you see here is still part of the plan, and some of it has evolved into something else.

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    Chapter 5: Stop it!

    When I wrote that chapter title, a question came to mind. Did I hear that phrase more from my mother when I was growing up, or from a wife and various girlfriends when I was apparently not growing up?

    Regardless, Let's talk about brakes, specifically, the ones in the back. Guys used to come up with a lot of things to replace the banana caliper. There's a whole thread on it somewhere on the JJ and probably one here too. I haven't searched. I'll show you where I am first, then explain how I got there.

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    This is the brake setup from a '79-'81 Sportster, with a slightly modified bracket, flipped over and hung from the right side of the swingarm as opposed to sitting on top of the left side as it does on the Sporty.

    The 18" cast wheel is not a direct replacement for the stock Shovelhead wheels. The brake flange is farther offset from center. The best way I can think of to illustrate this point is to show you a '79-'81 Sportster rear hub for a laced wheel. Yup, that much.

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    Here's a shot of some brackets:

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    Right to left, yes I know that's backwards. The one on the right is a stock, unmodified bracket. If you're going to do this modification, look for a bracket where the steel axle sleeve does not turn in the aluminum. Sometimes they would wear and come loose. The second bracket from the right has a notch in it. I'm pretty sure this was done to clear the shock mounting block on a Shovelhead swingarm. Not a problem on this bike because of the modified rear fork. The third from the right... I don't know. There is a hole drilled through the far end. I think someone intended to anchor the brakes with a bolt through this and through the swingarm. Don't know what they had planned for when they had to adjust the chain.

    The one on the left is from an XLCR. You can see that the caliper mounting points are closer to the axle. The XLCR used a 10" rotor as opposed to the Sportster's 11½". This one isn't suitable for flipping. The little tab on the left side was engineered to hold the anti-rattle rubber plug, and maybe to anchor the brake if someone used it while backing up. Not only is it too small to use in the other direction, it's a lot closer to the axle, which gives the wheel more leverage on it.

    Below is a pic of the modified bracket vs. the stock one. You can see that it's been shortened, and material has been added in the anchor area. Some of the webbing in the middle was removed to allow for full chain adjustment, and the anti-rattle rubber plug moved to the (now) bottom.

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    I like where this is going.
    (Lee Ermey voice) "Holy Jesus! What have we here? A practical custom!"

    I love the cast wheels because I despise punctured tubes (instant flat most times), pitted chrome (chrome exists to pit ever since HazMat regs killed off old style horribly toxic plating processes and that shit eventually pitted too), and loose spokes locked to their nipples by corrosion. Fat tires up front work now as they did in the days when most US roads were dirt so if you like them that's pure win and also a bigger contact patch on the street.

    Split tanks hold useful amounts of fuel which is why when hogs were still mostly transportation they were more popular than today.

    I like the later Wide Glide. What bike donated the Nissin caliper and who makes that large rotor? Who made the lower fork boot clamps? (All my rides have narrow glides so my Wide Glide brain bank is modest...)

    I have bagger shocks on my Evo FXRs and will add 'em to my Shovels. (For those not familiar, NAPA stock Schrader valves with the 1/8" NPT threaded base that fits bagger air shocks.)

    What's your plan for controls? I run mids for better control and ability to stand on the pegs to save my back along with highway pegs to stretch out on. but if your back is perfect then forwards work. So do footboards but I prefer more cornering clearance.

    Not running a kicker when you already have the nice folding arm seemeth odd to me since it's useful backup and the stock starter is underpowered, hideous (external solenoids) amd mechanically awkward. I still run the stock style with All Balls motors on my Shovels but that was because all the NON-starter stock parts work fine (even the cowpie transmissions) and I have too many other projects to replace what's installed and working. OTOH if I were building another Shovel it would get a splined Evo Softy five speed with the late.much more powerful Denso starter. That opens up modern clutch choices (or cheap stock choices which are fine with a modest engine), reduced effort ball ramps for comfort and the ability to run the pushbutton solenoid end cover. Those Densos are so good a kicker is pointless.

    I think split tanks look cleaner without the late dash breaking the lines. Earlier cat's eye black repops are much sleeker than later dashes and can be painted to match other sheet metal. I just run plain covers and no speedo.

    I like Bar Enterprises seat pans similar to that solo because they're so convenient for maintenance yet wide enough for butt support.

    I like your latest version much better than the others, which are also respectable. As for being an old man's motorcycle all those mods were standard on young men's motorcycles though they seem to me to be more common on the East coast. Passage of time made all choppers retro so there are no "yound man's" versions, just choppers young men own.

    A strutless style rear fender would complement the lines while disposing of extra parts and weight. They also make for easy rear wheel R&I. While my two are original aftermarket strutless fenders the design could be improved for for sleeker looks by narrowing the sides of the fender then stitch welding some 1/8" TIG wire or gas welding rod down the edge for a tidy rolled look. It's a very old trick to get a rolled style edge. Shallow fenders with no external struts would accent the fat tires and you already own a fender to modify.

    That 2-into-1 exhaust header smokes drag pipes for power and mid-range torque while the rear pipe bend is maintenance friendly. Unlike drag pipes it's not the same old shit. A turnout muffler would complete the look. One rugged way to mount that is a bracket with two C-shaped sections to control the downpipes and protect those delicate exhaust ports. Pic shows my FXR Thunderheader bracket (the stock Barry mount abortion is famous for cracking pipes) but the outboard part is relevant. Pipe is retained by a stainless steel car muffler clamp (easy to bend to suit) which will go back on after polishing and with a more attractive pinch bolt. While mine picks up the trap door bolts as baggers do, a mounting block would be easy to weld to the frame.

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    farmall, the answers to your questions, well most of 'em, are in coming chapters. One that isn't answered is the question about the lower fork boot clamps. That's not what you see. The chrome piece is a Screamin' Eagle fork brace, which clamps to the sliders and has a lip on top of it for the fork boots. Those particular fork boots are from a Nightster. They're made for 39 mm Forks, but will work on 41 if you spray the inside with something slippery. I used food safe silicone spray because I had some and it wouldn't attack the rubber.

    Below is a pic of my previous Shovelhead. This was my everyday bike for probably 15 years, but the pic is a mock up I did not long before I sold it. It's got that same aftermarket 2 into 1, only with a tapered muffler section hose clamped to it. The strutless fender is a front from a Yamaha Royal Star turned around backwards. The pipe got sold to the guy who did the seat for the Panhead project, and the fender is gathering dust in the attic of the garage. The guy I sold this to wanted to put together something relatively stock, so I gave him stock parts and kept some of the other stuff, like the swingarm and the front wheel.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    One of my favorites on JJ, glad you brought it over.
    Last edited by Vinson; 4 Weeks Ago at 12:35 PM.

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    Chapter 5a: Stop it I said!

    So let's get back to the rear brakes and talk about the caliper. If you ever want to do this, there are choices, and you could end up with the wrong one. Here's what I mean:

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    On the left is the front dual disc caliper used on FX and XL models from '78 to about '83. It has a similar look, but won't fit the bracket. Second from left is the early casting for the XLCR and Sportster, and third from left is a later version of the casting. All of these calipers have a date stamp in them, as does the FLT. The caliper on the right is a right side from an '80-82 FLT front. I didn't have a left to photograph. The FLT caliper has a smaller piston, sized to be right running 2 of them on a 3/4" master cylinder. These three larger ones will all fit on the bracket, but it's the early one that I used because I'll eventually have to bleed it.

    The bleed port in the bore of the caliper for the FLT caliper is at 12:00 when mounted to the back of a 30° fork leg. For the late casting Sportster rear, which I suspect came raw out of the same mold as the left FLT, the bleed and feed fittings have been machined the opposite way. With the early casting, the way I have it mounted, the bleed port is at 6:00 but the feed port is at 12:00, which will allow me to bleed the brakes backwards, that is, fill a fat syringe like comes with a vacuum bleeder kit with brake fluid and push it in from the bottom, forcing all the air out the top and up the line to the master cylinder. With the late casting, an air pocket would remain in the caliper, as seen below.

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    This all works in theory, I've got the caliper all prettied up and mounted, but it's only plumbed as far forward as the brake light switch. We'll see how it works in practice when I get the master cylinder mounted and bleed the system. While I was at it, I found some brass tubing at the hardware store that was a nice sliding fit on the mounting pins, then bored the caliper mounting points and pressed the brass sections into the caliper. Almost all old calipers like these are sloppy where the aluminum has worn on the steel pins. I also greased up the threads on the pins, bolted them into the caliper with the nuts, and JB welded the nuts into the caliper. The hex cast into the caliper for the nuts gets sloppy as well with age. The grease was to make sure the pins didn't get JB welded to the nuts in the process.

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    Chapter 5b Stop it! I'm not going to say it again!

    Don't you wish they really weren't going to say it again? Even I'm gonna bring this stuff back up when it gets to master cylinders and plumbing.

    So this is the front version. I eventually ended up going a different way, but this setup is worth mentioning. It's a recycled idea, as this brake was originally set up for something else. Here's a pic of a mockup for which this brake set up was originally conceived.

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    I posted that pic and after looking at it for a while and listening to some of the feedback, I had to agree that that frame, an original Motor Shop frame, cried out for skinnier and smaller components.

    In order to set this up, I started with a set of already shaved early wide glide lowers. Shaved ones are easy enough to come by that there's no need to carve up a good original set. As it happens, the ones I had were from a right side drum brake model, ('69-'72,) and I had a right side caliper. It would be just as easy to use a left brake set of lowers and a left caliper. For me, it seemed easier to put the caliper on the non-clamp side of the forks. You could use any year sliders, as long as you have the tubes and guts to match. I prefer the FLH style because of the taper. It's not hard to shave them, even easier if you have a friend who has a taper attachment on his lathe. The caliper is a 4 piston unit from a 90's GSXR 750.

    The rotor is from a Buell. I forget which model. One of the earlier Buells used a rotor like this but with the iron part fastened to the aluminum carrier a different way. Those were recalled and the rotor you see here was fitted. This one came from a dealer recall kit that never got used. One of the advantages of working at a dealership.

    First thing to do was make the '70's disc brake axle fit the sliders. I made a couple aluminum sleeves , sliding fit, and JB welded them into either side of the bigger hole in the slider.

    Next step, assemble the fork dry and make the axle spacers to center the wheel in the fork. Bolt the wheel in place, rotor attached. Make a couple of aluminum tabs to hold the caliper to the slider, maybe leave them a little long. You'll need a couple shims to hold the caliper centered on the disc and maybe one to keep it from riding on the edge of the disc. I used a zip tie for this last shim, taped to the rotor. Bolt the tabs to the caliper, put the caliper where you want it and tack weld the tabs pretty good. Take the caliper off and refit it without any of the shims, make sure the wheel spins and the caliper is centered on the disc, then disassemble and finish weld, metal finish... you've done it.

    The original setup used a '72-'99 single flange hub. I had an aluminum one, but the earlier steel ones are the same dimensions. Fab Kevin did a piece in "The Horse" about converting front Fatboy wheels to rears. Good stuff. The gist of it was making the 5/16" threaded holes for the front rotors the right size for the rear rotor and sprocket, and doing it right. In this case we're turning a rear wheel into the front, so we have to make the threaded holes smaller. Enter the threaded insert:

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    I was able to get the wheel on the drill press, and drilled out the 7/16" sprocket holes with a letter X drill, as per the instructions with the inserts. This just takes out a little bit of the thread. I made the tool from a 1/2" bolt, head cut off and drilled 1/4" about 1/2" deep in the lathe. I then hacksawed the 2 cross cuts, about 1/4" deep and enlarged them with "cuts anything" diamond crusted blade that has a wider kerf. I cut a 1" piece of a 1/4" bolt and stuck it in the end. The burrs from the cross cuts hold it in, but if they hadn't I'd have put a drop of JB weld in the bottom of the hole. I used the tool to thread the inserts into the holes 'til they were just a little below flush, then I gave the tool 1/8 of a turn and tapped the locking tabs down.

    Tip: If you have a need to convert a rear wheel to a front, try to find someone who has already done it. (hint) They'll probably have 5 leftover inserts, since you have to buy them in a bag of 10, (hint) and they might even have a special tool that they're probably never gonna use again.(hint,hint.)

    This is what it looked like on the bike. Like I mentioned, I changed directions, kicking the front end out a little and using slightly longer forks. but on a stock rake, stock length fork, this looks pretty good.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Just as a teaser, this the direction the build went, although this might not be the final deal either.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  20. #20
    Senior Member

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    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    8,533

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    I'll copy that insert tool.

    Keyed inserts are the best hence their use throughout aviation where they have to hold up under many component removals and installations.

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