View Full Version : 1977 Sportster Partial Rebuild

11-16-2016, 09:23 PM
Well, in terms of what many have provided as build threads this wouldn't be an extensive build - more like going back and fixing a bunch of things wrong. But what I would like to do is treat it as a build post for practice because I will start a build in the near future on a 1983 XLH that is a rolling frame and disassembled engine. I know that the 83 isn’t antique yet by our AMCA standards but I think by the time I get started on the build and then finish it, it will be within the required 35 years.

In March of 2016 after having completed a rebuild of an 1982 XLH I was wanting something to work on again so I started searching. I missed on a couple of 70s FXs that were in need of extensive rebuilding but had been sold just prior to me discovering their availability. I then came across a picture of a 1977 Harley Davidson XLH that looked pretty complete on what they call The Man's Yard Sale on Facebook. The advertisement also said that any sale included an 83 XLH with the motor disassembled. Price for the pair was just under $3,000. I went and looked at the bikes and early on was optimistic that the 77 XLH, which the owner said started ran then would not start again could be low hanging fruit to get it back going again. My only experience at rebuilding is the 82 XLH that was in pretty rough shape. My inexperienced eye though did not pick up on some things that I should have caught like significant oil on the cases and toward the rear of the bike and some significant wiring issues. Looking over the 83 XLH the rolling frame looked in pretty good shape, original and complete - the 83 engine looked pretty decent as well with what appeared to be major components all present and cylinders that looked good. I figured I could give these two projects a chance and gave the guy $2,800 for the two and a bunch of extras. Extras included some nice parts that included two S&S Super Bs, an S&S intake manifold, air cleaner cover and backing plate, a classic Pirelli MT53 flat-track or trail tire, a new NOS HD oil cooler, mid 70s FX fuel tank, Corbin-Gentry seat, etc. Many of the items I have sold already and used the funds to defray costs of purchasing missing items on the two bikes.

Here is a photo of the 77 XLH


Here are a couple of problems I found initially. As can be seen in the photo there is no seat. Some previous owner had come up short of a seat for the 77 so instead of making sure he had the right seat and mounting hardware he mad some modifications. I am hopeful to be able to reverse them. Here is one modification. The 77/78 and earlier XLH had a seat mount using basically two plates welded to the top frame bar just to the rear of the fuel tank. The most in this case was bent downward on each side and the holes in the plate I assume were used to secure bolts from a modified seat and through the plates and tightened into place with a nut. I will need to heat and bend these back up into a vertical configuration and I'll show more of that as I address the repair.


Here is a photo of another seat modification. This provides a static bolt through the fender to hold the back of the seat in place. Basically some scrap metal to hold the bolt in place. The previous owner put a lot of creative effort into rigging up a non-OEM seat configuration


I will provide a few more of the problems in next posts. Feel free to offer suggestions or helpful comments.


Mike Love'
AMCA # 19097