Project: 1977 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster XLH 1000

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Some opportunities are too good to pass up. When I saw this 1977 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster, I knew I had to buy it. Fortunately, I just sold the 1984 Honda Shadow VT700C Bobber, so I had the funds.

Mechanically, the Ironhead is in great condition. There’s a minor fuel leak at the petcock, which I plan to fix with a little torque and fuel resistant thread sealant.

When it really heats up, the clutch makes a loud whirring sound when the bike gets really hot. Some have suggested it’s a bad bearing, while others think the primary chain gets some slack as the bike warms up. It’s great under normal riding conditions around the neighborhood, but I’ll need to fix it before any longer rides.

I’ve already purchased forward controls and nine inch throwback risers. I’ll post install photos as the come.

Replacing the Brake Switch on a 1993 Heritage Softail Classic (FLSTC)

When cars behind me started laying on their horns every time I slowed down for a stop light, I was at first a bit pissed, but after three horn blasts in a five minute ride, I new something was wrong. My 1993 Harley-Davidson Heritage Softail Classic is in pretty good shape for a twenty-year-old bike, but things do start to wear out, usually at the least opportune moment. In the spirit of sage riding, I pulled into a parking lot to try an figure out why drivers suddenly hated me.

It only took me a moment to figure out that my front hand brake switch had failed. the rear foot brake pedal worked fine, causing the tail light to shine brightly, as expected. Upon closer examination of the front brake lever, I found that the switch was jammed in its housing. I tried loosening it with some electronics cleaner and tough love (aka pliers), but the switch button wouldn’t budge.

I rode over to Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax, VA (making sure to use my rear break in conjunction with the front brake) and picked up a replacement switch for about $30. It took about fifteen minutes to replace the broken switch . For the sake of posterity, I photographed the steps involved.

I Brake for Working Brake Lights

100_0114I was first alerted to a problem with the brakes on my bike when I started slowing down to make the left turn into my neighborhood and was suddenly assaulted by a blaring horn an obscenities from behind me. The guy driving the express delivery truck must have been pretty mad, because I could hear him clearly over the rumpling of my Screamin’ Eagle, and inside my half-face helmet. I made a quick check of my turn signals (I new I hadn’t forgotten to press the left turn button), and everything checked out.

A few minutes later, when I was back at home, I ran through a quick check:

  • Did something fall off my bike and hit the other car? — No. Everything was where it should be.
  • Did I have anything offensive written on my clothing?— Nothing that would elicit more than a disapproving glare from my grandmother (then again, she was very open minded and tolerant).
  • Were my tail lights out? No. When I pressed the footbrake, it all lit up.

But…

I check the brake again, using only the handbrake, and tail brake light stayed dark.

When I took off the break lever, the pressure-pin on the brake switch (which the brake releases when depressed) was stuck in its housing. No amount of coaxing could get it out.

So I headed down to Patriot Harley-Davidson in Fairfax, VA, and picked up a replacement switch for about $30.00 USD.

I was a bit nervous about replacing the switch myself: I can turn a wrench and change oil, but electrical troubleshooting is a bit beyond me. But the replacement switch came with good instructions with lots of drawings, so I decided to go for it.

Removing the brake lever was a simple task, since I’d already done it to check out the problem. Removing the electical switch housing and getting in to the bad switch proved challenging because my wiring is run inside the handlebars, and there really was no slack.

The brake switch was completely burnt out and had melted itself in a locked position. I had to gently muscle it out of the housing.

When I go the new switch in, I found that the release button (the part the brake pushes in and lets out to trigger the brake signal) was jamming. I loosed the screw holding the switch in to give it a little play, and jamming ceased to be an issue. I suspect this is what cause the earlier brake switch to burn out.

After some close wiring work (at least it was close to me), I got the new switch in and screwed and bolted everything back together.

When I tested the brakes using the hand lever, the brake light lit up instantly.

Hopefully the express delivery guy appreciates my effort and won’t drop my packages in the mud.

Z-Rod: Undead V-Rod

While it may be hard to believe, one of Big Daddy’s little buddies trashed his V-Rod, most likely as a result of doing something he shouldn’t have been doing, somewhere he shouldn’t have been, and probably with someone he knew better than to be doing anything with.

It’s funny how many Oden Motor Shop projects start out this way.

We’re not sure how Big Daddy ended up with the wreckage, although repayment for bailing the previously mentioned Little Buddy out of jail is a strong possibility.

For a while now, Big Daddy’s been wanting to get Son Number One off of his tiny 1980 Honda CX500 Custom, and onto something more suited to a man of great … stature.

Granted, the CX500 is a great motorcycle, but the circus clowns want their bike back.

So, for Son Number One, a junked out V-Rod is zombified by the mad geniuses of Oden Motor Shop. We give you: Z-Rod!