View Full Version : engine building

Tom Lovejoy
01-23-2010, 12:57 AM
I was wondering, I have never rebuilt an engine myself - hope to someday, I have a power plus engine under my desk. I have heard alot of folks who do rebuild engines are now using brand new flywheels and such. Rods, pistons, pretty much everything thing but the cases are new. I can understand how this would tend to make it a much better engine, especially for real riding. What I was wondering though, especially given the age of some of our machines. When done and your teens something or twenties Indian, Excelsior or Harley, or any of the other grand old makes is all done. You take it out and fire it up for a ride, I know it would be a blast - but - would the machine feel or sound anything like it did new? would it loose it's soul, or maybe antique character is a better way to put it? Would it feel much closer to a sporster than to the way it did back in the day?
Just curious about the feel and sound of such machines. I might not even be able to tell, I have never ridden any but my own machines and have never had a real original of any make. My own machines are later for the most part and their engines have been updated, but again - I have never ridden a really stock model of the same years and type's. What have you guys found to be the case? Webbed flywheels, cast iron pistons, verse modern materials and brand new parts ?

01-23-2010, 08:53 AM
My experience is with a 1924 Indian Big Chief. We used Z metal flywheels and aluminum pistons from a later Chief. It worked out well and ran reliably but it didn't run like a late model Chief. . . . Well, maybe it would have run like a late model Chief but it rode on narrow clincher rims and had a wisp of a rear brake. Like they used to say; you need the whoa to match the go.

Personally, I like cast iron pistons and original bottom ends. Cast iron pistons are very gentle on cylinders and I don't expect cross county performance from my early bikes. Realistically, where are you going to ride a pre 1928 (no front brake) motorcycle? If your town is anything like my town, taking a 1916 Harley out for a spin in traffic would be equivilent to suicide. You need some consideration and respect from the cars around you, and where I live, that's in real short supply.

Strictly on their own, these old machines are reliable and will run quite well but they're out of their league with the performance and stupidity of modern motoring.

01-23-2010, 08:58 AM
By the way Tom; don't you ride around on a Henderson Deluxe and early Scout in Southern California? You should have plenty of wild stories about early bikes mixing it up with crazy SUV driving soccer moms.

Tom Lovejoy
01-24-2010, 10:33 PM
Right on Eric, well said as usual - yep, I have had several close calls. I just try to tell myself a miss don't count, once I get my nerves calmed back down. I am looking at your Henderson on this years calendar as I sit here, awesome machine! That's why I was thinking of the engine mod's being done and their effect's on the machines. My Scout sounds like your Chief, its got later Z metal flywheel's, aluminum pistons, seem's to run very well. Not like my SS, but quite well I think. My 25 was sticking pistons, we finally got that cleared up, but we had to give them - .010 clearance. They were old pistons out of a Hercules I was told, they were expanding allot! No more sticking and it's quite to our surprise.
My Deluxe had its flywheel lightend 8 pounds, careful balancing,kevlar clutch modifications and forged aluminum pistons. Even my bit's of teens, I am calling it a 14 twin has power plus flywheels and aluminum pistons and power plus trans. That's what got me wondering if there would be much of a difference in the machines I have.If you had totally stock machines of the same type right next to mine to compare. Would the differences be obvious? or only a real authority would be able to tell? just kind of fun thinking about it I thought.
I have all the original bits to my power plus engine, think I might try those early flywheels and cast iron pistons myself, thanks for your thought's .