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All About Car Restoration
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All About Car Restoration

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The Harley Davidson Project is Done!

After rebuilding the carburetor we turned our attention to the overall assembly of the motor so we could get it to fire. The distributor was a mess so we took it out of the motor for disassembly. We found that the original distributor wire was shorted against the inside of the top cover, which explained why the bike stopped running years ago. We cleaned and polished the housing and installed an aftermarket electronic pickup to replace the old points.

With the ignition back in place and static-timed, we turned our attention to the installation and adjustment of the valve pushrods. Once these were set we test-fired the motor using starting spray and a battery charger for electric power. The motor kicked off strongly and that satisfied us that the bike would run once it was fully assembled.

Assembly

We pulled off the front forks and took them apart to verify that they were properly assembled (they weren't!) and then sanded and polished the aluminum housings to a bright finish. The same was done with the front brake assembly, after which we reassembled the front end and installed the fender.

Installing the electrical system.

Installing the electrical system.


The electrical system's harness was then routed through the frame and all connections made at the main switch. We tested each connection in succession to make sure there were no shorts or surprises later, using the battery charger as our source. The bike was converted to 12 volts during this phase by installing a proper generator, voltage regulator, coil, headlight/taillight and instrument bulbs.

We took a lot of time looking through boxes of parts (from three or more motorcycles) to find the correct - and best condition - pieces for the bike. The gas tanks were mounted carefully so that the paint wouldn't be scratched, and we discovered that we had to restore the original gas valve/feed/distribution assembly during the process.

The rear end of the bike was relatively easy to reassemble after the chain and wheel were properly adjusted. The fender slipped on without incident and we ran the wiring to the new taillight assembly.

The Seat

This seat was definitely got some use.

This seat was definitely got some use.


The original seat was too well worn to put back on the bike, so we carefully disassembled it to retain the intact plastic skirt and medallions. The foam rubber was shot, so we glued new foam over the steel base and carved a new seat from it. This was then covered tightly with muslin to allow easier stretching of the new leather cover. Using the original cover as a pattern we cranked up our old Singer foot-treadle leather sewing machine and made a new one with a fresh piece of black leather obtained off Ebay. This was stretched and glued over the new foam and the finished seat installed on the bike.

The foam in place and ready for covering.

The foam in place and ready for covering.


How Long Did It Take?

Overall, the project took a little over 60 hours from beginning to end. The time could have been cut by at least 8-10 hours if the owner had marked and inventoried all the parts during disassembly, not to mention taken photos. We had to guess a lot.

How Does It Run?

The finished bike.

The finished bike.


Once the bike was finished and all adjustments made the owner took it away to his garage. He got it running but the engine vibrated in an extreme way, literally shaking loose most of the fasteners holding it together (despite locknuts, split washers and proper tightening torques!) As things turned out, the front cylinder gasket blew out and he had to remove the head and replace the gasket. In doing so he did the research necessary to find out that the engine hadn't been rebuilt. Only the valves had been reground and re-seated.

We've consulted with him on the situation and ascertained that one of the rods is bent. This means that the engine must be removed and properly rebuilt, or a replacement engine fitted into the frame.

He's decided to sell the bike as-is.

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