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

  1. #71
    Join Date
    Jun 2018


    and a couple more photos:


    the scratching in the headlamp bucket is not scratches -- that is some fur from my coat and from petting the yeti before I snapped the photos.

    Here's the reworked chain guard:


    And, finally, because the point of this series is sharing all the ups and downs of putting a basket case back together; here's a photo of the invoice:


  2. #72
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

    Default On the down hill slope -- aka putting it back together

    Taking advantage of the holiday weekend, we got down to putting the Q ship back together.

    The first order of business was parkerizing the hardware and hard parts that needed refinishing. Keep in mind that not all the parts were parkerized from the factory and that if your goal is judging - you really need to get this right. There are plenty of knowledgeable folks on the correct finishes -- Chuck is NOT one of them.

    In this case, we used the maganese parkerizing solution from Palmetto Enterprises. It's a lovely dark black and if you can boil water, you can parkerize. We won't give a tutorial here as many good resources exist across the net. Just google parkerizing and you'll be set.

    After oiling up all the fresh hardware, we laid things out on the bench and worked our way from the back to the front. We did so to help balance the weight on the high-position lift Chuck likes to use. Unlike a table lift, the high position gives you full access to both ends -- but it is not as stable as a table lift. So, weight balance is important -- even with straps.

    The only "special" thing we did in reassembling the chassis was to change out the springs and dampener oil on the vintage redwing shocks. The springs that came with the shocks were totally wrong for an ironhead and far, far too "soft." Thankfully, KONI/IKON springs fit straight on with almost no modification needed. By almost, we mean the lower spring collar was about .040 too large a diameter to fit neatly in the spring. We simply cut the collar in the lathe, parkerized it, and reassembled with #213 IKON springs. These are "middle of the road" and some claim they are still too "light" for an ironhead. Chuck has ridden a bike with 7610 Ikons and these springs on it . . .and it suited him just fine. If these prove too soft for the Q ship, we'll move up a bit in the range. Changing the springs is a 10 minute affair.

    Otherwise, there is nothing special going on here. If you have specific questions about reassembling the chassis, just ask. Otherwise, we'll just be posting up a bunch of photos.

    Four things you will notice about these photos:
    1) The foot rests are on the wrong side. No excuse, Chuck just wasn't paying attention.
    2) There are several parts that are "staged" on the bike, like the rear mount and lower oil tank mount, with hardware. This is so they are in a "known place" and we've found it speeds reassembly later on. Not to mention, it's hard to drop a part that is bolted to the bike.
    3) The finishes are not correct on many parts. We polished a lot of stuff and liberally used stainless hardware. Similarly, in most cases we followed A&P bolting protocol using plain and lock washers in sequence. This is not how most factory parts were bolted on. If you are after a 100% correct bike -- research all of this.
    4) The front tubes are totally installed without the sliders. Yes, you can do it this way, though many prefer bench assembly. In this case, the lowers are out for chroming.

    One final tip; the fork tubes look clean here because they were lightly polished in the lathe and then scrubbed in the parts washer. Original tubes are not chromed and need a layer of grease or oil to prevent corrosion. If you clean up the tubes -- please take the time to coat them with something to ward off corrosion.

    And, yes, the chrome in these pictures is all original. Just buffed out from swap meet scratch o matics. Even the head lamp rubber is of a certain "age." Sadly, one of the original fork boots tore on reassembly. A new set is on its way.






  3. #73
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

    Default more pictures


    PS -- don't fret; we'll wash the backing plate before shoes are assembled to it.





  4. #74
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

  5. #75
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

    Default So, what does this all cost?

    A little over a month ago, we shared the purchase list and expenditures on the Q ship so as to help others understand just how much money a basket case can consume. Here’s an update to that post, detailing all 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
    $40 – S&S cast alloy L series/Super B air cleaner and backing plate
    $40 – Manganese Parkerizing solution
    $30 – Zep-a-lume (1 Gallon w/ shipping)
    $312 – Powder coating
    $750 – Chrome plating, dechroming of items, and select polishing
    $20 – Stainless steel chafing pan for parkerizing parts
    $10 – Misc stainless steel hardware
    $25 – Front brake cam lever and clevis
    $65 – Front brake shoes
    $15 – Front brake springs
    $10 – 4 rubber bushes/donuts for the front fork covers
    $5 – fork dampner gaskets
    $10 – rear hub lock nut
    $10 – head lamp visor plug
    $10 – side stand spring (w/ shipping)
    $249 – Solo seat hardware (all Colony reproduction parts)
    $70 – Seat T-bar (correct for 65-70 XLCH “long”seat)
    $233 – WM3 19 and WM3 18 reproduction borranni-style rims
    $264 – Stainless Steel Spokes and Nipples for front and rear rims
    $19 – Handle bar switches
    $24 – Fork gaitors/boots
    $50 – Handle bar “inners” and control wires/coils
    $20 – Rear view mirror
    $7 – Tail lamp to mud guard/fender gasket (rubber)
    $15 – Rear mud guard/fender buffer
    $7 – 1 Gallon Muriatic Acid (for Parkerizing)
    $205 – Tires and Tubes (Shinko 712, 90/90-19 front; 110/90-18 rear; Bridgestone HD tubes)
    TOTAL - $7,668 – so far, with tax, title, tags, and insurance.

    We still have about $200 to spend on paint work; $1300 on some motor bits; and roughly $300 for the exhaust system. Call it another $2000.

    All in all, we will wind up darn close to our $10,000 budget – not including the national road run out in Colorado in June 2021. If we play our cards right, we might have just enough cheddar left to cover the registration fee for the road run. Not too bad for a SWAG (scientific, wild-assed guess).

    Still think basket cases are the bargain of the century? All the little parts just crush the economics.

    When we are talking “value” it is important to keep in mind that it would take another $1200 or so in parts and services to make this bike 100% correct. Those bikes that ARE restored to 100% correct will almost always be worth much more than a comparable bike that is not restored to the same caliber. However, the Q ship should appeal to a “different” type of rider – one that understands how much money it takes to build a correctly sorted stroker and that appreciates OE to aftermarket stuff.

    Does this mean we would immediately recoup our investment? Well, no. But it does mean that after a couple of years of riding, “if” we had to sell the Q ship we shouldn’t lose our shirts too badly. We won’t make money – but we won’t necessarily loose much either. Just this year, a very well sorted late 70s stroker owned by the same person for nearly 20 years went for just under $12,000 at Mecum . . . just saying, there is a small, but very real market for bikes like the Q ship that are neither bone stock nor 100% restored.

    For comparison, just where can you buy an all but brand new 56 year old motorbike complete with a few thousand bucks in vintage speed parts? You certainly can find crusty ones; but one that is sorted, titled, tagged, and ready to ride NOW is a wee bit more sparse on the ground.

    As for time; well, that’s the nice part. So far, we’ve invested a total of 54 hours from the moment we picked up the crate to the posting of this message. Not bad for what amounts to 1.25 working weeks (assuming no overtime, of course ;-) There is likely another 60 hours to be devoted to paint, wiring, and building the power train. All in, about 105-110 hours of labor. "If" we paid a shop for all this labor -- and we found someone cheap at roughly $50/hr; we'd be staring at a cool $5,250 to $5,500 in labor. This is where years of skill building and investment in tools pays off. The first bike or two you rebuild will see you spend MUCH more than if you keep at it. Tools pay for themselves quickly -- and we always seem to find a use for parts sitting on shelves.

  6. #76
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

    Default The on-going saga of "as the sprocket turns"

    In this installment of “as the sprocket turns” we’re going to discuss one of the most overlooked aspects of a motorbike – the hub. In this case, we’re going to be looking at the rear hub because it pulls a lot of duty on an ironhead.

    Like many older Harley products, the brake drum is bolted to the hub. On big twins, this allows for the drum to stay with the suspension whilst a wheel is removed – and on older twins, interchangeable front to rear. On an ironhead, the rear drum stays with the rear hub and is NOT interchangeable with the front. Adding to the fun; Harley specified shouldered bolts that are the locating member for the assembly. In other words, the drum does not register on the center bore of the hub or by a locating pin – it is fully free to move and the only thing that clamps it tightly are the shoulder bolts.

    These shoulder bolts are a light press into the hub and should NOT be replaced with standard, full thread bolts. This will allow the drum to shift its registration and can easily lead to an out-of-round assembly. As it is; it is difficult to find a stock hub that doesn’t reach the outer edge of allowable runout.

    On a normal bike, you may never notice this – especially if you keep your chain and your rear brake adjusted “loose.” Once you start tightening things up, you may find that you have multiple tight spots in the chain and or tight spots on the brake adjustment. Much of the time, these are due to worn parts, and some of the time they are due to the hub itself. And, the faster you go or the more power you put through the hub – the more you’ll notice issues. Vibration is certainly one of them; loping brakes is another; and the list goes on.

    In sum – you don’t likely have to do anything we’re about to describe on a stock street bike. As you go to silly land – or if you just like “blue printing” components – then you may want to deal with the hub.

    An excellent write up on this whole thing can be found here:

    So, let’s walk you through it.

    In the first photos, you can see the hub as it came back to Chuck from powder coating. The original registration surface for the drum has been coated – and 99% of people would just run the hub as is. For this build, we went a little further.



    First, we determined that the two bearing bores were within .005 of being concentric to centerline. We also took the time to mark out where the lowest run out was with the hub and drum assembled. Once we knew we could true the hub off a common centerline and have the bearings not kill themselves, we made up a mandrel and mounted the hub in the lathe. The left side of the hub was registered to a 4-jaw universal chuck and the mandrel was a light press fit into the right side of the hub and held to center by a live-center in the tail stock. The drum mating surface was then faced to dead true with the center line.

    The drum was also faced and the whole assembly put back in the lathe to cut the friction surface dead true. To do this, you will need at least a 10” lathe; 12” if you leave the sprocket attached (more on this later).



    One more thing – Chuck did have to clean up the powder coating in the hub holes for the shouldered bolts. DO NOT just scrape these out. Remember, the light press fit is all that holds the hub true to drum. So, we very, very carefully took out the excess powder with a letter drill just below the shoulder bolts OD. To do this, we mounted the drill bit in a spare Jacobs chuck and ran it through by hand. Take your time and do not remove material from the hub – just the layer of powder.


  7. #77
    Join Date
    Jun 2018


    With all that done, it was time to grease up the bearings and reassemble the hub. Please don’t be a caveman and chisel the lock nut on and off. Use the correct tool or a wide pin wrench. And, unless you hate yourself, try using Loctite instead of staking the hub. It makes wheel bearing service a lot easier in the future.

    Now, we have a clean and true running hub and drum assembly! Yippee. That’s a few hours work for a “problem” you may never have.

    Heck, we even have plenty of life left in the drum for at least one more clean up of the friction surface.






  8. #78
    Join Date
    Jun 2018

    Default sprockets!

    With that done, we moved on to reattaching the sprocket. The Q ship came with a sprocket that had sheared several rivets. This isn’t too uncommon on ironheads and the challenge is that as a rivet comes loose it usually “eggs” the hole. This means a new rivet of the same dimension can’t fill the hole properly and lock the bits together. There’s an easy way to solve this – simply drill the assembly for .187 big twin rivets 

    Before we do so, we need to take a quick look at the sprocket.



    On first glance at the photos, many will assume the sprocket is “worn out.” Many will say “look at those pointy teeth” and not realize that even NOS Harley sprockets start out with “pointy teeth.” In this case, we took the time to overlay an aftermarket sprocket on this “worn out” original.




    Notice they are identical except for the very tip of the teeth. Hmm, not so worn after all.

    But, the real reason we want the original sprocket is something that most folks don’t think of . . . hardness. An original sprocket features hardened teeth. When you take a file to them – they barely scratch in the tooth area. On almost all aftermarket sprockets, this step isn’t taken and the sprockets are VERY soft in comparison. A good HD sprocket will last decades and for 10s of thousands of miles. Many aftermarkets will be dead in 10-20K miles. Chuck hates replacing sprockets . . . so the original is going back.

    Anyways, register the sprocket using the convenient, factory drilled .187 registration holes (your sprocket has 16 .156 and 4 .187 holes). Then, drill out all 16 holes to an exact fit to the rivets in hand (they “should” be .187, but many aftermarket rivets are .181-.185). Then, grind the head of the rivets to fit properly in the space allotted, and rivet as you would any other sprocket. It’s a bit of work – but the sprocket is now going nowhere anytime soon.

    Last step is to clean up the drum and give it a coat of gloss black. Another given up for dead part rebuilt and back on the road.

    Yep – all this work just for the rear hub. And, we still have to lace up a new rim! We'll cover lacing in a future installment :-)

  9. #79
    Join Date
    Dec 2014


    Looking good. Greatly enjoying this thread. Thank you for taking the time to shoot and write... I know that can be tedious!

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