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Thread: Rebuilding the Q-ship; a 1964 Harley Davidson Sportster

  1. #41
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

    Default More cylinder musings

    In the early 60s, Dytch upped their game and introduced 60,000 psi grey iron cylinders. The overall castings are heavier than stock 900 castings, but not so much so that they are immediately noticeable. These cylinders were also cast by MOCASCO and are easy to spot by the “60” cast on them – and usually because they have thicker fins and cylinder bases. These cylinders were available in 3-3/16 or 3-1/4 with the latter being the most popular option. Many of these cylinders also have 3/8 instead of 7/16 head bolts. This allows for slightly more clamping surface at the head gasket to help prevent blown gaskets.

    Cylinder lengths were customizable and it is not unusual to find cylinders that are over-length. This allows the cylinder to be mounted directly without a stroker plate in some applications. These cylinders are also .060 longer than stock at 5.390 inches. This means that we may not need to use stroker plates depending on our stroke length. You can also see the major difference in the fire ring’s outer diameter. This means the cylinder heads must be counter-bored to suit.

    Above: notice the smaller head bolts . . .

    Above: measuring the OD of the fire ring on a brand new cylinder

    Above: measuring the OD of the Dytch big bore cylinder -- notice the difference?

    Above: to accomodate the big bore cylinders; both the heads and the engine cases must be suitably bored. Please ignore the "egging" of the head bolt holes -- we'll be fixing that poor piece of machine work later in the series.

    Above: the "over length" of the cylinder -- this extra length means we should not need stroker plates for the motor Chuck is planning.

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

    Default Even more cylinder musings

    The last set of cylinders we are examining are late Dytch/early Axtell cylinders. Long story made short, Axtell took over Dytch. They continued offering the earlier products, but also introduced even bigger bores. These are also cast in 60,000 psi grey iron by MOCASCO.

    Notice however, these cylinders have much thicker cylinder bases than stock, no fire ring, and 3/8 head bolts. These cylinders can be bored/sleeved with relative ease. They are also much longer than stock at 5.490 inches – meaning they can accommodate strokes approaching 5 inches. These are truly life-time buy cylinders and you are likely to outlive them.






  3. #43
    Join Date
    Jun 2018


    Chuck will be using a set of Dytch 60,000 psi cylinders shown in the middle pictures. These are 3.25 bore and just long enough to allow fitment without plates. This particular set came with heads machined to match. The next step in the process is measuring the spigot diameter and length so Dr. Dick can bore the cases to suit. With all that done – we send the cases off and wait for their return. And, while we are waiting; we will get back to assembling a chassis.

    Just for fun, we also pulled some stock pistons down off the shelf to show readers just how much bigger these are . . .and keep in mind even bigger bores are possible :-)

    Above: When working on strokers, a supply of cylinder plates/shims in various thicknesses is helpful. Please do not try to just use thick or doubled up base gaskets. The cylinder base ears are already highly stressed -- gasket distortion just makes it worse. Use metal shims and either thin .010 oem fibre gaskets or NO gaskets and your favorite non-hardening sealer (chuck is partial to yamabond).

    Above: Anyone remember Hap Jones? We had some sets of NOS 900 pistons on the shelf and pulled them down for the next few illustrative photos.




  4. #44
    Join Date
    Jun 2018


    One last set of hints and tips.

    Often when you find big bore cylinders, they have what appear to be really weird bore measurements. As in so odd it often has caused people to think a cylinder was worn out when in fact it was ready to go.

    Here's why -- the minimum piston clearance we are aiming for is .008. That is not a typo. Dytch began recommending this as a minimum clearance more than 50 years ago and it holds just as true today. Similarly, most stroker pistons were finished with this type of clearance in mind and many experienced builders aim for around .009/.010 piston to bore clearance as displacement goes up.

    When you are tootling around swap meets, a cheap pair of digital calipers is fine for getting a rough idea of the bore. For a better idea; we need to pull out some tools.

    The easiest way to get an accurate measurement is with an inside micrometer or bore gauge. In the picture below, Chuck is using a starret bore gauge.


    If you look closely, you will see this cylinder reads out at 3.249 inches -- right where it should be for this cylinder.

    We generally take several measurements down the length of the cylinder to look for taper and egg shaping. This cylinder was consistent top to bottom -- making it a perfect candidate for some light honing and piston fitting. The surface rust is just that -- on the surface and will disappear in the first few moments of honing.

    If you don't have a bore gauge/internal mic -- don't fret -- we can always turn to another tried and true method; telescoping gauges and an outside micrometer like the ones pictured below.

    It does take more skill to use telescoping gauges and get a consistent, accurate result. It is really a matter of learning how to use the tools properly and practicing. "old hands" certainly have "feel."

    So, what in the HECK does that even mean?

    Most folks don't use telescoping gauges correctly. They simply plop them in, twist the tension knob and measure away. Let's refine this a bit.

    To use the guage well, it must be handled with care. Start by feeling for when the tension knob fully locks down the arms. Do not be tempted to crank the knob -- just apply enough force to hold the arms in place. Loosen it just enough to compress the arms and insert it in the bore.

    Once you have the gauge in the bore, move it around a bit and make the arms perpendicular to the bore. Now, rock the gauge 10-20 degrees to one side and tighten the tension knob. In the below photo, Chuck has initially rocked the gauge to the left.

    In one, smooth, gentle motion -- rock the gauge the opposite way. This "sets" the size of the bore as the gauge comes over center. Carefully remove the gauge. In the photo below, Chuck has rocked the gauge to the right and is about to remove it from the bore.

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Jun 2018


    Now that we have our telescoping gauge set -- we can use an outside micrometer to make our measurement. Remember, gently hold the mic and slowly "rock" the gauge between the anvils until a slight drag is felt. If you go fast or too hard, you run the risk of compressing the gauge and ruining your measurement.

    Done correctly, this method should give you the same measurement as the bore gauge/inside mic. In the photo below, you can see the outside mic reads 3.249 -- same as our bore gauge.

    Don't expect to achieve the same result right away. It takes more time to build skill using telescoping gauges -- with holes below .500 giving the most trouble.

    Finally, the reason we avoid using digital or vernier calipers for these measurements is because they oft induce error. This error is compounded by many cheap digital calipers such as the harbor freight special shown in these pictures. According to the literature supplied with the caliper; it has a factory tolerance of +/- .001 inches -- but long experience says this is really more like .003 and very apparent if you do many back to back measurements against gauge blocks. Right before Chuck snapped these pictures, he "calibrated" the calipers against a one inch gauge block. As in the past, this check showed these particular calipers read on average .004 small. So, we are dealing with .004 small to begin with -- coupled with a .001-.003 tolerance swing. That means we can be .003-.007 off in our measurements . . . which is not acceptable for motor work.

    To illustrate -- see the below picture. That is the "best" measurement we could get with the cheap caliper -- note that at 3.242 it is a full .007 off the freshly calibrated, higher quality instruments.

    And, just to allay any fears; all measurements were taken at 73 degrees F and 52% humidity. The instruments, cylinders, and gauge blocks were normalized for 24 hours with one another before measuring. If you don't have gauge blocks; high quality 1-2-3 or 2-4-6 blocks can be used. Most of these are precision ground within .0005 of their target dimension -- which is below what these mics read.

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Jun 2018


    Despite a couple of week trip out to Wyoming and Colorado; we still found time to finish up the Q ship chassis before breaking it all back down for powder and chrome. At this time, the chassis is 99% complete; save the wheels which need some serious love; and making up of some spacers for the NOS Red Wing shocks to fit as I wish.

    For those of you interested in points judging -- there are several things quite incorrect on the rear half of the bike starting with the swing arm and chain guard, followed by the fender struts, tail lamp, and tag holder. None are the correct 64CH parts . . .but they fit and function fine for these purposes. Again, if your goal is a 100% correct restoration -- seek out guys who will help you find all the correct parts. In this case, if someone in the future wants the chassis at 100% -- it won't take but an afternoon to fit the correct parts.

    Here are some "progress" photos:





    Now for the not so fun part; Mrs. Chuck noticed just how much we have been spending on the Q ship and asked we take a little break and let ye olde bank account replenish before buying more stuff. Chuck smells overtime a comin’ to keep Mrs. Chuck happy at the holidays.

    Anyways, the beating over spending brought up an excellent point.

    One of the objects in doing this project series is sharing just what it costs and takes to put a basket case like this back together. We have a $10,000 total all in goal . . .and by all in I mean all in. Tax, title, parts, insurance, and the eventual trip out West to participate in an AMCA National Road Run with the Q ship.

    So, Chuck pulled out his log book and here are out total expenditures to date:

    $1,500 – Purchase price for about 80% of the bike, full motor, and clean title
    $450 – shipping from Denver to Chicago
    $500 – Dytch Big Bore Cylinders and matching heads
    $191 – title, registration, and plates
    $10 – insurance
    $115 – tax on purchase
    $75 – handlebars
    $100 – handlebar spirals, grips, and internal wires for the magneto and throttle
    $100 – Dr. Dick/Morris Magnetos “unbreakable” kicker shaft
    $75 – Steel rear motor mount
    $150 – Horn (trust me, this was a bargain)
    $80 – oil tank mounts and special bolts
    $60 – head lamp
    $75 – head lamp visor
    $25 – shift lever and rubber
    $50 – side stand, spring, pin, and top motor mount
    $45 – fuel tank decals
    $350 – complete front end (trees, sliders, tubes, tube covers, and front trim)
    $25 – rear brake rod and adjusting nut
    $20 – forged oe kicker arm
    $40 – swing arm and all internals
    $10 – foot peg rubber
    $80 – miscellaneous hardware (bolts, screws, lock washers, flex locs, and plain washers)
    $50 – Colony steering stem mounting kit
    $40 – NOS Red Wing shocks
    $40 – KONI progressive springs for the red wing shocks
    $12 – License holder
    $10 – NOS 22T countershaft sprocket
    $15 – Chain guard
    $25 – NOS front brake pivot
    $50 – Front wheel hub rebuild kit
    $24 – NOS front brake cam
    $11 – NOS Rear Axle collar
    $10 – Front axle, nut, and washer
    $20 – front brake cable tube, adjuster, and fender clamp
    $20 – Clutch Cable
    $20 – Brake Cable
    $30 – Tail lamp assembly
    $20 – OE kicker pedal and fresh rubber
    $20 – CS seal kit
    $25 – Clutch lever and perch
    $20 – Brake lever and perch
    $15 – Fuel Petcock
    $35 – NOS 51T rear sprocket and rivets
    $60 – Repo “smooth” fender struts
    $25 – Full motor gasket kit
    $25 – ’72-E73 head gaskets
    $40 – Repo solo seat (later style)
    $15 – NOS diamond drive chain
    $40 – NOS diamond primary chain
    $15 – NOS Raybestos clutch plates
    $250 – Fairbanks-Morse Magneto and rekey
    $10 – Dual muffler support
    $20 – Voltage regulator
    $5,138 – so far.

    Remember what we said earlier about basket cases costing more than you might think? Chuck's partner in crime, Will McGaughey, just picked up a running, mostly original 1966 XLCH for just about half this cost at the end of September and I know of several very clean and very original ironheads selling in the $2500-3000 range right now. Most are 70s to 80s models; but still AMCA eligible.

    In this case, we still aren’t done spending just for the Q ship chassis. Other parts that will come into the shop over the next 8 weeks include:
    $600 – Rims and Spokes
    $200 – Tires and tubes
    $75 – brakes and brake springs
    $100 – handlebar switches and mirrors
    $250 – solo seat mounts and t-bar
    $1,225 – yet to go on chassis.

    In addition, we are enlisting the help of two outside vendors – one to powder coat the chassis bits and one to rechrome the lower fork sliders. Together, this should be right around $500.

    This means we will be a bit under $6,900 into the project before we have even started in earnest on the drive train.

    This is partially why Will and Chuck gave the advice to seek the most complete bike you can -- basket cases rarely are the bargain of the century as all the little parts add up. Sure, 20s and 50s going out the door don't seem like a lot at the time -- until you sit down to add it all up. Then the picture becomes very clear. You can buy a LOT of really nice bikes for what we've already invested.

    But, then again, does anyone do this because they EXPECT to make $$?

    Anyways, to the other half of the equation -- as we stated almost everything has come via AMCA contacts.

    Vendors and Enthusiasts who have helped with parts or parts advice include:
    • Scott Lange (AMCA member)
    • Gerry Raino (AMCA member)
    • Jack Raino (AMCA member)
    • Dr. Dick (sportster guru)
    • Model H (AMCA member; sportster nut)
    • Legends MC (AMCA member)
    • Ted Borman (AMCA member)
    • Bills Custom Cycle (Pennyslvania)
    • Michael Taylor (AMCA member)
    • Rick’s Decals (AMCA member)

    Parts were acquired via email or phone calls – and also at the following swap meets:
    • AMCA Wauseon National Meet (Wauseon, OH – held every July)
    • Chief Blackhawk MC Swap Meet (Davenport, IA – held every Labor Day weekend)
    • Walneck’s Swap Meets (April = Woodstock, IL and Sept/Oct = Morris, IL)
    • AMCA Wolverine Chapter Swap Meet (Southeastern, MI – generally mid-May)
    • Gilmore Auto Museum motorcycle weekend and swap meet (Hickory Corners, MI – generally mid-June)

    As for our service providers:
    Precision Plating, Quincy, IL – chrome
    Land Air Express – pallet/crate shipping
    Advance Powder Coating, Rockdale, IL – powder coating

    I will share the invoices for the powder and plating when they come in.

    The end goal here is to share as much as possible to help folks decide on the direction of projects.

    Please don't hesitate to ask questions or post how you'd do things differently -- just be forewarned -- we'll ask for photographic evidence. Arm chair building or paper racing don't cut it :-)

  7. #47


    I paid 2100 for my 68 xlch, running and riding, only incorrect part is 21 front wheel w/ disc brake, but org front end came with it

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

    Default Sorting out the side stand tab, lean angle and other bits

    One of the last things we need to sort out before breaking down the Q ship chassis for powder coating is the side stand. Harley refers to this as a “jiffy” stand – though many of us refer to them as “kick” stands – and kicking is exactly what we are worried about.

    Until mid-1967, the side stand tab was welded to the frame tube with just a couple of beads.





    This makes for a rather weak stand tab and it is not uncommon to find early ironhead sportsters with bent or broken stand tabs. Sadly, if the tab bends badly or breaks, the resulting carnage can easily crack or break the left case half at the primary.

    To strengthen this weak point, HD began reinforcing the tab by adding material and welding it solid to the left foot peg mount. This helps to create a much more stable platform and avoid the issue described above. This is particularly important to sort out on a stroker motor as the amount of kicking force necessary to turn the motor over is significantly higher than a stock bike. We certainly don’t want to be breaking off chassis parts just trying to start the bike!

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Jun 2018


    However, before we can get to add the reinforcement on the Q ship, we need to check the lean angle. A very common misconception is that a bike is more “stable” on its side stand if it has a “large” lean angle. In general, excessive lean angles put more strain on the side stand and make it harder to kick the bike over. The more vertical the bike – the easier it is to get a boot into it. Many bikes that are notoriously “hard to start” are magically cured through the use of a center stand or a block of wood under the side stand – simply because the rider is more comfortable kicking in the upright position. Comfort kicking equals a higher kicking speed and a higher kicking speed usually results in more reliable starting. Psychology can be just as important in this game as mechanics.

    In most cases, Chuck likes a lean angle of between 5 and 10 degrees from vertical. Many stock ironheads are right around 10 degrees from the factory, though if you go to a meet you’ll see plenty of bikes with “owner induced” lean angles between 15 and 20 degrees. The “induction” is often the result of fitting longer side stand arms, bending them on purpose, or bending them from sitting on the bike like it is a barca-lounger. As a result, many guys entering the vintage world don’t realize the bikes weren’t so far over from the factory. It does take a little getting used to when seeing a bike so “upright” but decades of experience says they don’t just “fall over” and still require a pretty healthy bump to shift off the stand.

    The other thing few people think about is how the carburetor is affected by an excessive lean angle. If the angle is such that low speed metering is affected by a wonky float level, it can make the bike both hard to start as well as ragged on the idle. In the case of the Q ship, we are using an early S&S GBL carb – and a more upright angle is absolutely conducive to good starting and idling behavior.

    To check the lean angle, we simply set the chassis at axle height and leaned her over until the side stand was fully weighted.

    With the chassis at rest; we have zero degrees

    With the chassis at ride height and over on its stand, we have 9.5 degrees.


    With that sorted, Chuck cleaned the paint from the area and cut a small piece of ¼ inch mild steel plate (1040 steel) to slip between the stand tab and the foot peg mount. We then tacked it into place with a MIG welder, checked alignment, and ran beads on all the edges to securely weld things together. After cleaning the area with a carbide burr; additional beads were laid on top to “fill in” the gap. These extra beads don’t add strength – they simply help fill in the appearance. With all that ground smooth – the frame is ready to go for powder.




  10. #50
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

    Default shaping a filler piece and welding her in






    Chuck realized way too late that he was out of argon . . .and so the welds were made with flux core. The ugly surface in the last photo is not the actual weld beads. The beads themselves were full penetration, hot welds. What you see in the photos are much cooler beads run on top of the filler piece to fill it in. When ground with a carbide bit and allowed to be a bit rough after media blasting -- they tend to come back from paint/powder looking more like a rough forging than a diy weld job. In any case, the side stand tab ain't going anywhere anytime soon.

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