1978 Sportster 75th Anniversary Edition, Refurbish II





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Published on Feb 18, 2011

1978 Harley Davidson IronHead Sportster
75th Anniversary Edition
Refurbish by Mick "IronMick" Dawdy

To build a good looking, good sounding, good running IronHead -- specifically a 1978, 75th Anniversary Edition Sportster. This is a refurbish not a restoration -- to be ridden many miles each year, even thru storms and along gravel roads as we may come upon them. So we keep as many old, imperfect parts as is practical; and replace only where necessary, with OEM if available, but otherwise with similar, period, or re-pops.
I picked up the bike on October 6, 2009. The bike was in good condition but recently had not been well cared for. It had the original engine and frame with matching numbers, original wire harness, lights, and instruments, and some original and some period tins.

Part 1: Fall 2009 - Get It Running
Top end rebuild: .030 over, Wiseco 10:1 pistons, 170/170 static compression
Checked rods for up and down movement, and flywheel end play for sprocket shaft bearing wear -- passed both tests so no need to dismantle the bottom end
Replaced points with Ultima single fire electronic ignition; lubricated/greased cables
Kraft Tech forward controls, new oil and fuel lines properly routed, new K&N air filter
Replaced fluids, fork seals, oil pressure switch, battery, regulator, solenoid

Port Dover, Friday November 13: successful ride - nothing broke or fell off

Part 2: Winter Project 2009/2010
Gold wheels refurbished; hand painted frame, swing arm, battery box, horn, start relay
NOS OEM air cleaner back plate, drilled for better air flow
Cleaned up forks, shocks, tachometer & speedometer; complete wire harness inspection
Refurbished carburetor, generator, starter motor, brake calipers, rear brake system
Rebuilt brake master cylinder; freed up sticky choke wire
Replaced speedo drive & cable, brake rotors, rear brake cable, generator light, run switch
Replaced shock mount hardware & rubber bushings
New rubber mounts for oil tank and battery box
New headlight visor, oil cooler by-pass, petcock with filter for old style king fuel tank
OEM Harley Davidson tall eagle wing emblem for the sissy bar, re-chromed [eBay find]
Mike's Cycle Seats did the seat repair, and a modification to make it more comfortable
Rescued from my old bike: handlebar mounted cup holder & 1970s voltmeter, sissy bar bag, running lights, center stand, windscreen, Sportster script mirrors, #1 timing cover, and OEM generator with ACCEL armature and 60s/70s striped body and end covers

Part 3: Kicker Kit Installation
All parts are NOS OEM from eBay and NOSParts.nl, except new arm and pedal
Refurbish clutch and transmission -- replaced shift forks and top hats

Part 4: Paint, Stripes and Decals
Paint and stripes for all tins; NOS OEM decals for the king fuel and oil tanks, and for the air cleaner, brake calipers and battery box; re-pop decals for the front fork and primary cover

Part 5: Finalized Tune-Up
Running well with VOES and 35` ignition timing [set to just eliminate pinging], and with the original 38mm Harley Davidson Keihin carburetor with 180 main jet, 72 slow jet, and one turn out on the pilot screw

Part 6: Spring 2010
Rescued from my old bike: Tool bag, chrome tail light cover, 2, 1/2" pull back risers, rear muffler mount bracket [needed to install new mufflers], speedo and tach [same OEM style but work better], chrome war eagle emblem for front fender [gift from a friend]
Older style fork caps and instrument mounts [to mount the instruments with the new risers], nice used carry rack from the indie
New Cycle Shack taper tip mufflers for 1980 to 2003 [required purpose built front mount bracket] -- IMO these have the very best look and sound
Honda GB500 fork boots, new handlebar bushings, re-configured handlebar cables
New brake shoes and rear tire; rear wheel centered to fit the wider brand of 120 tire
#1 decals installed on sissy bar side plates, new chain guard
New start switch and front brake switch, four new circuit breakers
Used OEM headlight assembly with H4 bulb [to replace the sealed beam unit]
New and improved battery ground cable

Part 7: Summer, Fall, Winter 2010/2011
Fixed the oil leak; refurbished front brake T-fitting
New o-ring chain; new cube-type starter relay
Polished the aluminum; chromed the purpose built front muffler bracket
NOS OEM headers; Cycle Shack slash cut slip-fit mufflers with lollipop baffles [performance increase over taper tip mufflers]
Installed Sportster script rear fender tip [rescued from my old bike], chrome turn signal lens trim [swap meet find], and 60s/70s striped A/C trim [eBay find]
Prepared for install of NOS OEM hard bags and turn signal relocation bracket: Refurbished rear wire harness with bullet connectors, drilled rear fender for wires and bolts; grommets in wire holes, temporary plugs in bolt holes
Have a set of Andrews PB+ cams; install yet to come


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