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  1. #1

    Default Barn find shovel head

    What’s up everybody, new here. I have been wanting to build a shovelhead chopper for some time now but have been looking for the perfect project. Just so happens my aunt who lost her “common law” husband a few months ago has possession of his 1978 Fxe. One owner, it ran when he parked it many many years ago. My question to y’all is the condition and $ value of it. I know it would most likely need a complete rebuild of motor but looks like it could definitely need more. I plan to do a weld on hardtail so I would be selling everything but but motor, trans, frame. Also is there anything I should check for before getting this bike? Thanks in advance.
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    I’m assuming it has a clean title correct? If so that thing looks like it was stored rough and will need a good going through to say the least. Being a midwesterner I’m not much scared by rust but hot damn that thing has seen some moisture. Does it have compression?

    It’s family so I’m assuming they would give you a sweetheart deal, I’d be hesitant to pay more than $1500 without knowing the engine and trans are not seized. If your very mechanically inclined and have the resources to repair it not a big deal but price accordingly based on what it’s going to cost to get that thing back on the road. More pics and info would be appreciated and best of luck.

  3. #3

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    The title is another issue, she’s going through hoops to get it to where she can actually sell it to me. I have not seen it in person so compression is unknown.

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    Tis rough as a corn cob in it's present state ...

    Since you'll be making it yours and it will be seeing a full on rebuild ... Make it so !!

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    The good news is... if you're building a chopper... then there's probably not a whole lot of that bike that would be left on the build, right? I'd be curious to know what your vision of the finished product? Hard tail? Neck rake or mods? Open primary drive? Different wheels?

    With this much 'age' and 'patina', then engine internals are definitely suspect. But unless your aunt is cool with you pulling the engine apart first... before payment... you're going to have to assume a top end rebuild.

    Because if that's all the case - your biggest fight is probably going to be taking everything apart. I see a good bit of seized and stripped bolts in your future haha. But as for $, we can only really comment based on what we'd pay, right? To me... this would need to be in the sub-$2k category to make it worth it, for sure. Because usually I consider the sale prices of all the take-off parts, which won't be much with this donor.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk1996 View Post
    What’s up everybody, new here. I have been wanting to build a shovelhead chopper for some time now but have been looking for the perfect project. Just so happens my aunt who lost her “common law” husband a few months ago has possession of his 1978 Fxe. One owner, it ran when he parked it many many years ago. My question to y’all is the condition and $ value of it. I know it would most likely need a complete rebuild of motor but looks like it could definitely need more. I plan to do a weld on hardtail so I would be selling everything but but motor, trans, frame. Also is there anything I should check for before getting this bike? Thanks in advance.
    It's all there, Before I spent a lot of money building something out of it I would try to get it running and ride it for a while and evaluate what I've got. It appears to be a stock Lowrider.

    Get it to run, service it and try it out the way she sits. You might be happy with it.
    Just my opinion...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquaman View Post
    It's all there, Before I spent a lot of money building something out of it I would try to get it running and ride it for a while and evaluate what I've got. It appears to be a stock Lowrider.

    Get it to run, service it and try it out the way she sits. You might be happy with it.
    Just my opinion...
    And if it is a real '78 LowRider, it would be worth far more stock than it would ever be as a chopper. (But if you want to cut it up, go for it.)

    Jim

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    And if it is a real '78 LowRider, it would be worth far more stock than it would ever be as a chopper. (But if you want to cut it up, go for it.)

    Jim
    Exactly... There's no shame in riding an old motorcycle that looks like an old motorcycle.

    I bought this one for small money and ride it as is.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBinNC View Post
    And if it is a real '78 LowRider, it would be worth far more stock than it would ever be as a chopper. (But if you want to cut it up, go for it.)

    Jim
    Yeah, this... And it may just be me, but its sorta sad to see old frames like this get cut up for a weld-on. But, its his stuff.

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    I expect to rebuild these old machines axle to axle. Just firing it up then riding it is popular (new owner excitement) but does nothing good for the machinery. Evaluation by inspection and testing is how to know condition.

    Compression test, plug inspection, USB borescope the cylinders, inspect transmission to see if condensation got to it, inspect bottom end, pull tappet screen and look for chips under bright light, pull tappet blocks and inspect timing chest, flush oil tank with diesel, pull carb for strip/dip/rebuild, replace intake manifold seals etc. I use a test tank on an IV pole (handy as fuck and cheap new so I got a second one) with a Briggs and Stratton inline fuel valve so I've full engine access during test runs.

    It's a motorcycle-shaped object at the moment but it's all there. If there is a problem with the title it's still a parts bike but that would drop the price even lower.

    One way to get what you really want is treat the machine as what it is, a pile of saleable parts then keep what you want. If title cannot be had I'd buy a titled Evo Softail frame to hardtail (Fab Kevin has done many as have others) then set the stocker aside in case opportunity to title it knocks (got any buddies with a shop? Ask about magistrate titles). I'd sell the trans for a later five speed (I have stock drivetrain '78 and '82 Low Riders) which is a vastly better box much quicker to wrench on) or hang that on the wall too. The engine is the core of a Shovelhead after all.

    If ya get it for 1500 titled or say 900 without that leaves room to sell parts and have the engine left for your project.

  11. #11

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    Thanks for all of the input guys. It really depends on if she can get the title for it. If not it’s definitely a parts bike it sounds like. I’m not spending over $1000 for it, sell off everything I don’t want and rebuild the motor to put in full rigid frame and go from there. It’ll be a long process so I wouldn’t be in a hurry to get it done so money wouldn’t be an issue. She’s saying it’s a super glide and this was it brand new, of course alot of things he changed out over the years. Click image for larger version. 

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    If it was titled in his name and she has paperwork naming her executor she can transfer the bike to you. Best smoothest way would be you get with her and take her to the DMV with that paperwork so she can transfer title to you then you get a printed copy of the title in your hand (don't wait for the mail because shit happens, then stash title in safety deposit box etc because DMVs purge titles or lose them from databases sometimes.

    If you get title there is also nothing stopping you from using a different hardtail frame and keeping the stock frame for the future but remember to do it in a way that does not require you to surrender the original title. The frame with the original title will only continue to appreciate so it's automatic win with the bonus you can snatch the engine back out in future since title passes with frame.
    Last edited by farmall; 1 Week Ago at 9:46 PM.

  13. #13

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    I went and checked out the bike today. It’s in a little better shape than I thought but definitely still a project that requires a lot of attention. She’s wanting $2,000 if she can get the title for it. As far being an executor of the estate, she’s not going to have that. She has to prove they were common law married, then get them to approve her to transfer the title from him to her in order for her to sell it to me. Is there any legal way for her to bill of sale it to me or anything if I just wanted to use it as parts and not use the frame?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk1996 View Post
    I went and checked out the bike today. It’s in a little better shape than I thought but definitely still a project that requires a lot of attention. She’s wanting $2,000 if she can get the title for it. As far being an executor of the estate, she’s not going to have that. She has to prove they were common law married, then get them to approve her to transfer the title from him to her in order for her to sell it to me. Is there any legal way for her to bill of sale it to me or anything if I just wanted to use it as parts and not use the frame?
    You could Vermont title it with a bill of sale. I’m sure the numbers are clean but save yourself some possible grief and run the numbers.
    Last edited by ExplodingCoffinEmporium; 6 Days Ago at 7:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk1996 View Post
    I went and checked out the bike today. It’s in a little better shape than I thought but definitely still a project that requires a lot of attention. She’s wanting $2,000 if she can get the title for it. As far being an executor of the estate, she’s not going to have that. She has to prove they were common law married, then get them to approve her to transfer the title from him to her in order for her to sell it to me. Is there any legal way for her to bill of sale it to me or anything if I just wanted to use it as parts and not use the frame?
    Here's a link for a title service used by many in the AMCA - https://www.saintsengine.com/services/title-service/

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by LastCenturyMC View Post
    Here's a link for a title service used by many in the AMCA - https://www.saintsengine.com/services/title-service/
    This looks like it could work pretty easy. Do you know anyone who’s had success with it and what the wait time is?

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    $2000-2500 with the title situation. Then use a titling agency. Great platform, i have a 78 flh, it was a basket case, that i ride on the daily. as many months as i can a year, weather depending. Its set up like a fx though, mids 21 front etc. Its been a great bike to me for a long time(6 years) with minimal problems. I also have an 76 cone shovel chopper that i put lots of miles on every year, thats also been very reliable for me. I do stay up on the maintenance on them which is key. Anyways, i think either way you have a great platform there.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by shovel625 View Post
    $2000-2500 with the title situation. Then use a titling agency. Great platform, i have a 78 flh, it was a basket case, that i ride on the daily. as many months as i can a year, weather depending. Its set up like a fx though, mids 21 front etc. Its been a great bike to me for a long time(6 years) with minimal problems. I also have an 76 cone shovel chopper that i put lots of miles on every year, thats also been very reliable for me. I do stay up on the maintenance on them which is key. Anyways, i think either way you have a great platform there.
    Do you have any experiences with title agency’s? And I agree, it’s a great bike with everything and boxes more of parts. It’s just getting it to go and look pretty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk1996 View Post
    This looks like it could work pretty easy. Do you know anyone who’s had success with it and what the wait time is?
    The page that link goes to answers all those questions, just scroll down to FAQ, they used to be $300 for anything after 1930 they have probably gone up some with this BS economy like everything else. Usually takes 1-2 months they are on the up and up if there is anything fishy with the title they won't process it - stolen. salvage title

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackhawk1996 View Post
    Do you have any experiences with title agency’s? And I agree, it’s a great bike with everything and boxes more of parts. It’s just getting it to go and look pretty.
    personally i haven't had to use one yet, but there's a few states that offer them, Tennessee being one

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