Solid Mechanical Motorcycles (and Billy)

To the untrained eye, this bike is not reliable.  But if you know what you're doing, and don't cut corners during repairs or service - this motorcycle is as solid and maintenance free as a newer bike.  It's ready for many carefree miles of riding enjoyment.  I see a lot of built "custom" bikes with parts binding, cables twisting, shit not lined up, wires rubbing, space between washers, wrong bolts, shit on backwards, tires on backwards . . . all with cheesy Chinese crap and weird graphics and unfinished paint jobs (they thought were finished).  I don't mind rust and crud if the bike is solid and well put together.  The best is when I'm burning down the road and I get passed by a couple dudes on sweet running pans or knuckles - bolts tight, no trailer . . . ever.

PS. I think the above side valve was built by Billy Lane?  I like how Billy has changed his life, but he's still into building bikes.  Now he's doing Harley, Indian "teens and 20s" racers and thin, board style race bikes.  Stuff that smokes and leaks.  Billy Lane always had great skills welding and fabricating, and he's been workin' on improving his skills with carbs, valves, flywheels, etc . . . pushing himself to learn the rest.  I like the new Billy Lane even better.  Keep up the good work Billy - maybe see you again at Davenport this year ? 


david ervin said...

I've heard it a million times "Harleys are junk that will leave you stranded. They leak.
Build quality sucks, they say. I've got a 72 IronHead that runs great...not that I know what I'm doing...I DON'T! And the 72 is probably the worst year. Thin cylinders, speedo output from the tranny, drum brakes. Most of the classic Harleys on the road have been raped by every idiot (me) that got near them with a wrench. They look so inviting. Everything right there in sight. How hard could it be?

As it happens, it can be very hard, if you don't know the tricks, and own a machine shop. Yeah, it'll run; but, like you said "the nuts and bolts." Attention to detail. But every old bike has a history. A history you don't know about. Case in point, jerks like this: (tatro; buyer beware)

Who would ever expect this. As it happens the Ironhead I have had a similar treatment. The bottom end went out in Boles Ark in the middle of the night (yeah, I didn't know where that was either). The rod bearings were gone. When I pulled the gearcase cover and set it aside I found my rod bearings converted to sparkly residue everywhere. I picked back up the cover and the pinion bushing stayed on the floor. Someone before me had dimpled the inside of the hole where the bushing went and put the shifted crank (and bushing) back in. A shifted crank will run (vibrates a bit, Sportsters are supposed to, right?), but even a shifted crank needs SOME oil. I paid about a grand for that bike in the mid seventies from a Harley dealer in Texas. It ran okay, for awhile. Attention to detail and INTEGRITY.

Brad Ervin

Noot said...

Gotta love the '72 - The first 1000 - We may have some original cylinders and heads for one of those? Big Noot ran 13's with his at the strip all day long.

david ervin said...

I can do most things but I don't have a machine shop. From about 1983 my bike sat in various Iowan indoor/outdoor places as my Wife and I raised a few girls and lived in some other places where the bike couldn't go (my guns either). We returned and I dragged out my cycles. The SL175 was first. Then I got my Ironhead into the shop. It still had gas in it so I hooked up a jump battery and it started on the third kick (I did swap oil). I could not have been more elated. I would have ridden it but I didn't have my kamikaze suit on. I just sat there, totally AMAZED as she ran, and ran great. The front wheel was jumping up and down, almost off the floor. I guess she was happy too.

I took the gearcase cover off and found my pinion shaft runout was about 1/8". Mistake #1: I sent the lower end & cylinders to some guy named dragonman in Colorado. The runout was better, about 30 thousandths. Mistake #2: the Omaha Harley shops; they had never seen an Ironhead. I found an old guy at the Columbus HD that had done everything Harley and been doing it since the dawn of time. I think he goes by "Doc" and well he should. My crank was perfect, he welded and fixed the bosses that the pins for the sprocket cover go on (I use a 22). He replaced & set up the trany output shaft. I did most of the rest but Doc didn't want me to. He was justly proud of his work and didn't want me screwing it up.

No wonder Harley has a tough time, you only need to buy one.

Noot said...

Cool story Ervin ! That Dragonman - I've never really heard anything good about Dragons in Colorado !