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  1. #1

    Default Shovelhead disassmbly.... How difficult? Never torn down a bike before...

    Greetings. I recently acquired a '77 Shovelhead, and have been floating around some ideas for a chopper build. Most of the cosmetic work is done and where I like it, but have been thinking about painting the entire bike in the future with a crackle effect, as well as an image transfer tank design, etc. Being that this would involve tearing the entire bike down to paint the frame, I was wondering if anyone could give any insight or tips on this process. Tried to do a search on the topic, but wasn't really finding what I was looking for. I have never disassembled an entire motorcycle. I am pretty mechanically inclined, so I'm confident that I could accomplish this, but would like to hear from some of you with experience as to just how involved this process really is to make sure I'm not getting myself into serious trouble. Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Straightforward work. Most of the fasteners are inch denominated. You will need a clutch hub puller which is not expensive. Best to have a rattle gun to disassemble the primary drive (although you will want to assemble it with a torque wrench). You will need a frame jack to get the bike up to remove the wheels and front end and swingarm. (Do that after removing the motor and transmission.) And if you are going to do extensive work, a lift table would be nice to have. Also, a disassembled motorcycle needs a good bit of space to store the components.

    Good luck with it,
    Jim

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    I found that the "Tatro Machine" videos on youtube are a quick way to get familiar with a lot of different harleys if you're completely new to them.

    There's a real lack of info on older models. His various exploits help fill in the gaps.

    A factory service manual and the parts book (both downlodable as PDF's.) are a real help too. Particularly the parts book, as it contains exploded diagrams.

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    Download or buy the FACTORY service manual and parts catalog before taking anything apart, and take many photos. Also get the Donnie Petersen Shovelhead books (available on Kindle which can be converted to .pdf to end Amazon dependence or just get the hardcover versions).

    The Harley PDF manual trade and share Facebook group is a good source. Touch nothing with knowing fully in advance what you're doing (which is easy but a common noob mistake to neglect).

    Ensure the engine is as it should be (compression test, inspect tappet screen for chips also worth doing every oil change) before disassembly.

    Study tools and how to make homemade versions. If you can afford it THE tool for compensator nuts etc is a manual torque multiplier like an X-4. They also work with torque wrenches for installation (divide torque by the gear ratio.) They are far kinder to hardware than an impact and more controllable than a pipe on a breaker bar. I should have bought one decades ago.

    It's not hard work but stay organized (divided containers for hardware instead of buckets, take pics of everything) and it goes better. Buy a complete engine gasket and seal kit to work from then replace what you use. If in doubt, ASK!

    A great trick is keep some heavy cardboard handy and poke holes in it to store hardware in the correct patterns. I sometimes trace covers or gaskets on the cardboard to assist. Organization makes the job much faster.
    Last edited by farmall; 07-10-2021 at 2:55 PM.

  5. #5

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    I already have a Clymer service manual, so good to go on that front. Thanks everyone!

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillStickersIsInnocent View Post
    I already have a Clymer service manual, so good to go on that front. Thanks everyone!
    The Clymer books leave a lot to be desired, as do, frankly, the earlier factory service manuals. For your bike, the '78 - '84 H-D Big twin service manual is the most comprehensive, and you would be well advised to find one, paper or download.

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillStickersIsInnocent View Post

    I already have a Clymer service manual.
    What's better than a service manual ... ??

    Answer; The knowledgeable members of "ChopCult"
    ________________________________________

    My orange cat isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, but that’s okay, he’s still adorable!

    Last edited by Dragstews; 07-11-2021 at 9:14 AM.

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    Someone really should do a contemporary version of the old harley manuals. Complete with dimensions, interchange and helpful advice.

    The "Victory Library" books on the 45 are an attempt at this and they're valuable because of it.

    There's so much that isn't in the original manuals and couldn't be. Because it is the result of decades of experience with the parts and with aged parts.

    Frankly, there's another good bit of information that is the result of just decades and decades of thousands of people staring at those parts and thinking about them.

    I think the first person to do this will become E-Famous and will be rewarded richly for his efforts.
    Last edited by confab; 07-11-2021 at 9:26 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by confab View Post
    Someone really should do a contemporary version of the old harley manuals. Complete with dimensions, interchange and helpful advice.

    The "Victory Library" books on the 45 are an attempt at this and they're valuable because of it.

    There's so much that isn't in the original manuals and couldn't be. Because it is the result of decades of experience with the parts and with aged parts.

    Frankly, there's another good bit of information that is the result of just decades and decades of thousands of people staring at those parts and thinking about them.

    I think the first person to do this will become E-Famous and will be rewarded richly for his efforts.
    The "What Fits What" book (booklet?) was an attempt at that, at least as regards the motors and transmissions.

    Since the boundary between old and new designs is vague, the interchangeability of parts spans decades, a comprehensive book would be quite a project. And yes, the manuals do not give dimensions of the parts, except for the fastener schedules in the back of some of them. I have been taking notes of dimensions, of mostly chassis parts, for years, to help myself with piecing together components that were never meant to be mixed. But that endeavor is scattershot at best. No substitute for learning by doing, and no substitute on this earth for experience, no matter the field of endeavor. A library of books and magazines is invaluable if you are in it for the long haul. If you are just dabbling, as D. said above, ChopCult and other forums are a great resource. Think of how we had to do it in the old days, when a private line was a step up from a party line, and long distance calling was EXPENSIVE. I remember a man I helped a little with his drag bike telling me he spent $200/month on long distance calls to try to find people who really knew their shit.

    Jim

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    I've got that book. I guess there are some mistakes, but it was an attempt anyway. Worth having.


    And I agree, there's no substitute for experience. Which is hard to get now. Some of this stuff is so expensive. I've given up on any notion of ever having a knucklehead, for example. It's so much money, I'd be scared to ride it. It's like a C2 Corvette. A beautiful machine, but having a barn full of them to measure and toy with is out of the question today. Well, at least for most of us.

    The Victory Library stuff is more like a pamphlet. But I love it because there's all sorts of calculations in there. Gear ratios. Various specs. It is dated information, but you can't come up with all of that via original research today unless you're Jeff Bezos.

    CC is a fabulous place filled with really knowledgeable people. But, you don't know that as a noob and absent quality reference material, you turn to the internet. And there are many answers by people who have no idea what they're talking about. You almost have to join and read and compare what you see to the solutions offered to decide who knows what they're talking about and who does not.

    I'm sure Harleys were a very daunting thing before the communication age, and knowledge about them was hard won. But going forward, it will be difficult because the people who truly know have passed on and what remains are machines so valuable and so specialized that average people can't gain that knowledge easily, either. And in spite of the advantage of the intertubes.

    There's some people here who could do such a book and I think they would be rewarded for the effort.

    If I could do it? I would.

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    Back in the early 60's we had a party line ...
    I really enjoyed listening in on Betty-Lou (Built like a brick shithouse) and her boyfriends .. Better than "I love Lucy"
    (Didn't need sex education, it was all there and then some)


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    GenX is the last generation to experience the "Party Line" it was a fading thing when I was a kid. Quickly replaced. But I got a taste of it.

    "A barn raising" lol..

    More like two or three mouthy broads who wouldn't get the fuck off the phone so other people could use it!

    And they must have been vampires, because they never slept. It was hilarious.

    I'm really surprised the cops weren't investigating murders over it at least once a week.

    Blue haired lady found in her living room, choked to death with a phone cord and the receiver jammed down her throat. Errrr.. Maybe it was a robbery?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillStickersIsInnocent View Post
    I already have a Clymer service manual, so good to go on that front. Thanks everyone!
    They're trash. There is a reason I post links to the factory service manuals etc. They don't cost a dime to download. Do not depend on them. The combination of exploded views in the parts catalog and the text info and pics in the service manual work far better. The reason Clymer etc cost so much less in dead tree versions is reduced content.

    Your bike, your call but better tech data produces better outcomes and at zero cost it's hard to beat.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1465028990466294/ The "files" dropdown is on the right. Use a PC not a phone for best results.
    Last edited by farmall; 07-11-2021 at 11:45 AM.

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    You can also google "Carl Salter" for some stuff.

    A legitimate Harley saint.

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    Taking it apart is the easy part! Like Farmall wrote, take a lot of pictures and tag and bag everything as it comes off.

  16. #16

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    1 Year ago I made my first chopper from my shovelhead (FX-1200). Made a lot of pictures(!), did some research, often here on ChopCult, before taking apart the parts. Actually only parts of the engine and transmission.. Put a label on parts which I knew I was going to forget where it belongs :P And wrote some notitions on my phone. If I can do it, anyone can do it.

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    I really like Mike's Garage on youtube although his tone is slower and more deliberate and he misses some material in video sequence (shovelhead disassembly and then you have to reference his evo reassembly etc.) I can't watch Tatro, I fucking hate looking at his long nails! disgusting. Tatro also needs to speak up I can't hear for shit and Mike has a nice radio voice. There's also a good shovel bottom end disassembly for reference on youtube out of Australia, other than that yeah the factory manual, 3/8's 1/2in drive and a couple special tools you'll be fine.

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    Remember what shims went where. Fresh bolts on engine, new nuts for trans. Scrape paint from engine/trans mounts.

    Other than internal engine/trans work the only real bitch is getting the oil tank back on. Electric starter peripherals can be a bit of a pain when its worn out stuff.

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    The beginning of an addiction......Just turn the wrench.

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    https://www.carlsalter.com/mcpdf/Har...%20Service.pdf

    This should help a little

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