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Thread: Harley VL hanpump use

  1. #1

    Default Harley VL hanpump use

    Just got my 1931 VL running. My oil hand pump transfers approx 1 ounce per stroke. I have seen recommended amounts to be added to drained crankcase to be from 3 to 6 ounces. This is a wide range. What is minimum safe amount to pump into crankcase? I just want to be safe and not under oil at startup. Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2003


    The hand pump in good condition delivers about 50 ml or nearly 2 ounces per stroke. Three strokes into drained engine cases is about right for a VL. Check the leather washers, the strength of the spring under the check ball, the size and position of the suction hole at the bottom of the tube in the tank. Remove the hand oil pipe and pump into a can to check flow rate. The first 100 miles with a fresh VL is spent draining the oil after each run and worrying. Oil is cheap compared with engine rebuilds, but over about 6 ounces and oil comes out of the valve covers, generator or breather. The chain oiler on the VL was a big improvement for dirt roads, but today we tend to shut it off, so oil builds up slowly in the engine cases with the mechanical pump on factory settings. It takes confidence to turn the mechanical pump in the 'less' direction as you get experience, so use small increments and check by draining the cases after each run. The hand pump is only used for extra oiling when deep wading or on very long hills, so for me it is used just to put fresh oil in the cases after draining. Look forward to having a lot of fun with your bike, and being amazed at the performance...

  3. #3


    Thanks Steve.

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