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  1. #1

    Default Empringham's Shovelhead

    Hey.

    After nearly two years of looking for a shovel up here in Alberta I have finally committed to one.

    Its a '81 FLH. Drove an hour to go check it out, dident start. haggled with the guy for a bit, agreed on a price and I said if I see it run ill take it. Went out to his place again, he had it running for about ten seconds and then it would die out. For the 10 seconds it did run, it was very smoky. Assuming its got some wet sumping going on, but PO did say he thinks it needs rings. Even with this i thought, and still do, believe its a good deal. You dont see these bikes up here in Alberta, and with an Alberta title. This one has been an Alberta bike since '84 so that is a bonus for me as well. I bought it, and started getting into it as soon as I got it home. I can keep it running if its choked out and i pull the throttle a bit. The carb starts to pop and then the bike will die. I suspect it is a vacuum leak, or I need to adjust the accelerator pump. I also notice PO put on some aftermarket skull pushrod covers. Dont like em and im going to replace them with ones to match the other side. Im also curious if this may be related to the issues I am having. My main concern right now is getting the jugs off to inspect the condition of the top end and to do the rings. Is this where you guys would start as well? let me know what you guys would do.

    We got alot of snow up here right now so I havent rode it yet and I dont expect to until April at the earliest. Heres to hoping the tranny and clutch is in good condition too.

    Enough of me talkin, heres the bike. My plan is to get the motor running good and then I will start to do my build. I could tell you guys what I want it to be right now but theres no fun in that.

    Let me know if you guys think im starting in the right spot.

    Thanks guys.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails shovel6.jpg   Shovel7.jpg   Shovel8.jpg  

  2. #2
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    That’s a whole lot of potential you have sitting there, congrats!

    Do you know how long it’s been sitting? Judging by the sheet metal, at least it’s been in a good environment.

  3. #3
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    I always start on a barnfresh with cleaning the carb/fuel system good,fresh giggle juice then checking for good spark..getting it running consistent and blowing the cobwebs out of it then go from there.Congrats on the purchase!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by kmanator View Post
    I always start on a barnfresh with cleaning the carb/fuel system good,fresh giggle juice then checking for good spark..getting it running consistent and blowing the cobwebs out of it then go from there.Congrats on the purchase!
    ^This, plus pull the intake manifold and change the rubber band seals, and the clamps themselves if they are the least bit suspect. The stainless aviation style full circle band clamps are the most serviceable, and it may already have them.
    Get it running and warmed up, perhaps change the oil and filter, and ride it some would be best. Rings can get sticky from sitting, and a few heat cycles and some loading (riding) will often improve ring seal on motors that have been sitting. Then, a compression check and/or leak check will give you a good idea of the motor's condition. Running and riding, listen for knocks that might indicate the need for a complete rebuild, rather than a possible top end job only. I know the weather is not conducive to riding up there, but at least run the motor through a few heat cycles, and then the compression and leak checks.

    Jim

  5. #5

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    Hey guys. Thank you for the feed back, I appreciate it all.

    Working on the bike has been far and few between as the weather up here has been dipping past negative 30 for the last three weeks. Big problem with the weather being that cold is that the shovel is too smoky to have running at all and its too cold out to have the doors open. I got the carb and intake manifold off and gave everything a good clean. went through the carb and it looks fine. Intake manifold and rubber bands look great too.

    I was in the garage tonight and was trying to get it going and it was letting out some big back fires out of the carb. I dont think its a intake leak as the bike wont idle. Given that, i am suspecting that the timing has been played with and is too advanced. Going to pop the points cover off and see what I get. You may notice the rear has aftermarket pushrod covers. Aside from them not being my taste, it makes me think those have been fucked with too. Im gonna see how they are adjusted.

    Let me know if you guys think I am starting in the right spot. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Empringham View Post
    Hey guys. Thank you for the feed back, I appreciate it all.

    Working on the bike has been far and few between as the weather up here has been dipping past negative 30 for the last three weeks. Big problem with the weather being that cold is that the shovel is too smoky to have running at all and its too cold out to have the doors open. I got the carb and intake manifold off and gave everything a good clean. went through the carb and it looks fine. Intake manifold and rubber bands look great too.

    I was in the garage tonight and was trying to get it going and it was letting out some big back fires out of the carb. I dont think its a intake leak as the bike wont idle. Given that, i am suspecting that the timing has been played with and is too advanced. Going to pop the points cover off and see what I get. You may notice the rear has aftermarket pushrod covers. Aside from them not being my taste, it makes me think those have been fucked with too. Im gonna see how they are adjusted.

    Let me know if you guys think I am starting in the right spot. Thanks.
    Don't bother cranking it when it's that cold it's VERY hard on the motor with the oil that thick......

  7. #7

    Default

    Hey guys.

    Tattooo shes in a heated garage, so it should be fine. I haven't had a whole lot of reason to be cranking it as it wont run for very long without sputtering out, and even IF i could get it going it would let out some back fires out of the carb so I knew I had bigger issues.

    I wanted to have a look at the timing on this bike as it was my understanding that a backfire out of the carb may mean my timing is way too advanced. I popped off the cover and have included a photo of the sensor plate exactly as I found it. As you can see, it is pretty crusty in there. You can also see that sensor plate is indeed shifted clockwise. It is my understanding that if I were to bump it back counter clockwise this would retard the timing and could help my problem. Is it really this simple? what would you guys do? Should I look at a new ignition system such as the Dyna 2000S? they sure look like the have many bells and whistles that would make this process easier as well as many future benefits.

    I have also had a look at the pushrods. I popped the covers off and I could spin them incredibly freely. No play up and down though. It is my understanding that this means they are too loose. I have adjusted them to the point I can JUST hardly spin them with my hands when the pushrod is at it lowest point. I have included a photo of my front exhaust pushrod. It almost looks like mine is a little bent or something. I am not sure if it just needs to be like this as it is the longest one, or maybe this is just because of how the bolt on the bottom is Please have a look at the photo and let me know what you think. I have also included a video of me pulling the wheel to ensure the motor wasent making any bad noises or anything like that after my adjustment. This bike feels like it is pushing a TON of oil as you will see. It was not spitting oil like this prior to my adjustment. Also worth while to note I had a huge puddle of oil under the bike after just rotating the wheel with my hand. Really makes me wonder how much oil is sitting in the bottom of this motor as it has been sitting for so long. I think I should do an oil change for the general health of the motor and to try to get all the excess oil out of it to make it easier when I am cranking it. Does this make sense?

    The video was too big to upload on this website so I had to upload it on youtube. Check it out and let me know what you think. Link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xAKD3e1fdc

    This is my first time ever doing anything like this, please let me know if I am doing this wrong or could be doing it better or if I have over looked anything. Im having alot of fun and learning alot with this bike.

    Thanks guys,
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Capture1.jpg   Pushrod.jpg  

  8. #8
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    If it won't stay running, go back through the carb again. Intermediate jet is probably blocked. If so, the idle circuit won't get any fuel, and it will only run on choke and/or at enough rpm to get the main jet to come in. You should have REPLACED the intake bands, they tend to dry out, crack, and seal poorly with age.
    I like a free spin adjustment of the pushrods personally. The difference between that and snug to spin is only about .003 (half a flat).
    You will just be guessing at the timing until you can get it to run consistently, and check with a timing light. Backfiring, missing, and spitting back through the carb CAN be symptoms of a bad ignition module. Hard to condemn it not knowing the full condition of the motor. So many other factors in play .

    Jim

  9. #9

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    Clean the oil tank out. Fill with fresh oil and put the return line in a bucket and run it til you get fresh oil returning assuming you get it going

  10. #10

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    Hey guys. Went through the carb again and same story, still super hard starting and would not idle. For the short while it would idle, it would smoke super bad out of the exhaust for the front jug and eventually sputter out. Oil was even getting out of the pipe from the top as well which of course was very concerning as there would have to be a lot in the top to do this I was thinking. The motor also leaks from every nook and cranny so I made the decision to pull the motor and get serious.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Shovelout.jpg  

  11. #11

    Default

    Did not waste a whole lot of time getting into my motor. Here is a photo of the front jug. As you can see its full of oil, not good. Also, the front rocker box was absolutely full of oil as well. I tried to show it in a picture but it is hard to see.

    Im thinking the rings are shot or maybe a bad guide valve. What do you guys think?
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails front jug oil.jpg   Shovelheadrocker.jpg  

  12. #12

    Default

    I believe I will need rings and pistons for sure but the cylinders look pretty good. Naturally I cannot show this but the front piston has a ton of play on the rod and the rear has none. Also not helping my situation. The rods have a very very very small amount of play as well. It is my understanding this is how they should be. Have a look at the photos and let me know what you guys think.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails RearP.jpg   FrontP.jpg   Cylinder1.jpg   Cylinder2.jpg   Cylinder3.jpg  


  13. #13

    Default

    I am still pluggin away. Life got crazy for a bit there and I purchased my first home so naturally the bike had to go on the back burner for a bit. Got the frame welded into a hard tail and stacking some parts. Found a 16 inch star hub for the rear and a 21 spool for the front with a six over 33.4 front end.Click image for larger version. 

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  14. #14

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    Having a hard time with figuring out what to do for a break on the rear star hub. Ideally I would like to use a disc set up as I will not be using a front break. Did some research and it is looking like there are some timkin kits that may work, but I am having a hard time finding any of these conversion kits.

    I am also seeing some juice drum rear break set ups. looks like this would be easier as has the sprocket around the drum, but I am worried there would be bolt up issues with this hard tail.

    Any and all help is appricated... thanks guys.

  15. #15

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    Exile, Performance Machine and Wildwood all make a Sprocket/Brake rotor setup. If your stuck using the star hub you'll have to make an adapter.
    Last edited by Aquaman; 11-13-2022 at 7:54 PM.

  16. #16
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    Later disc brake conversions of Shovelheads have been common for decades. Bonus is greater sprocket choice vs drums.

    Find photos of one you like and the 33 hive mind can explain how to manage it. Softail four-piston rear calipers are popular as adding a mounting tang is so easy.

    Tiny pic but it gets the idea across. Not a star hub but I don't use parts just because I have them and any project has some leftovers while the builder figgers out what they like. Many a project has been slowed by trying to run what's on-hand so I don't unless it's the pragmatic call. I'd keep the hub even if I didn't use it immediately.

    https://www.hdforums.com/forum/shove...l#&gid=1&pid=1

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