ShadowDog500 posted a great video on adjusting points on the Ironhead Sportster. Messing with ignition systems on older bikes (or news ones) always sounds a bit intimidating to me, but ShadowDog500’s tutorial clears up a lot of the mystery and provides a concise explanation of how to get the job done, including dozens of tips and tricks you won’t find spelled out in your shop manual.
When I saw this 1977 Ironhead Sportster on Craigslist, I just couldn’t resist. Something about the black and white paint job made me think of Stormtroopers (from Star Wars, not Nazi Germany). It’s definitely been a technological terror (which apparently is common with AMF Harley-Davidsons), and I’ve already had fun troubleshooting electrical issues, whining clutch bearings, a rusted-out tachometer cables, a leaky brake master cylinder, and fouled plugs galore.
At one point, I was afraid I’d been sold a thirty-six year-old hunk of junk. And we all know where fear leads, right?
Well, I tried to go all Jedi-zen, and accept that this bike is just high maintenance, but Master Yoda wasn’t around to guide me. So yes, when my front cylinder stopped firing, my fear quickly lead to anger, and when my turn signals stopped working DURING the Virginia Motorcycle Safety Inspection, my anger lead to hate, and when my battery died and I had to roll start the bike back from the inspection station, rather than just give up and cry, I embraced the Darkside.
I am know bending this Ironhead to my will, forcing all pistons to fire, blasting electrical connections clean, and forcing the battery to charge under the watchful gaze of my minion, Admiral Battery Tender.
It may take this old Ironhead twelve parsecs to make the Kessel Run, but I’ve shown it who is the Learner and who is the Master!
The previous owner of the ’77 Ironhead replaced the stock peanut tank with a hard-to-find turtle tank common on Sportsters of the late 1960’s. The turtle tank certainly looks good when the bike is rigged like a cafe racer, but I’m leaning more towards a mild chopper or a bobber. With the nine inch risers I put on the bike (so I didn’t have to lean fat gut over the tankntomreach the drag bars), the turtle tank just doesn’t look right.
I like the extra fuel capacity, and the unique look combined with the rarity of the turtle tank are both big plusses, but I just don’t think it fits the “theme” of the bike.
I’ve reprinted the tank with black plastidip to keep the rust off the few areas where the original paint is chipping. If I keep it, I’ll give it a real paint job.
The previous owner did give me two peanut tanks with the bike, so I don’t have to come out of pocket for a new tank. I’ve actually had several offers on the turtle tank already, so I’m getting a bit incentivized to Del it.
Let me know your feedback (or if you want to buy one of the tanks) in the comments.
Oden Motor Shop doesn’t have much of a travel budget, so we don’t get to do the trade show circuit very often. When we do, it usually involves months of planning, loads of money, and lots of headaches. If Sturgis or Daytona are involved, there’s usually a pricey divorce shortly after. You can imagine my excitement when I learned the 2013 Progressive International Motorcycle Show was being held the first week of January in Washington, DC, right across the Potomac river from our shop in Alexandria, VA. All I had to do was find parking in downtown DC. Here is a sample of what I saw there.