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Project Ironhead – 77

So… A few months ago I picked up a 1977 ironhead. I’d been saving for a project bike for a while and after cruising Craig’s list like a stalker, found a few candidates. The one I ended up with was owned by the same woman since 1979. She showed me photos of her and the bike all over the country… Sturgis, New York etc. She was in the scene. She claims the new top end and bottom end only have about 5,000 miles on them and from what I’ve seen she’s probably right.

Here’s a photo…


Now look… I should probably take this moment to tell you I’m not a mechanic. I’ve done my share of wrenching and had plenty of busted knuckles but I’ve never torn a bike down to rebuild it. I am mechanically inclined but I have gotten myself into trouble already. Which ill cover later.

I picked up the bike along with a 1960s frame she had lying around, as well as a box full of spare parts she threw in. The idea was to trade the frame for a rigid Paughco frame. Well… I was basically going to hold it ransom… Threaten (the world of ironhead restorers) to chop my 77 frame and use the 60s frame as barter to get the rigid Paughco. Well, apparently the ironhead restorers are not that interested in preserving frames at the moment so my plan didn’t work. I did end up selling the frame on eBay and making a few bucks.

The bike had not been ridden in six years so I took a leap of faith buying it since it wasn’t in running shape. To get it running I cleaned out the gas tank and oil tank, rebuilt the carb, bled and filled the front brake (I had to make a new gasket for the master cylinder) and picked up a new battery. Oh… And replaced the oil and tranny oil.

In the following video you can see my first attempts to start it. At this point I had only cleaned the carb.

After this I rebuilt the carb and it fired up. I rode it around the block and everything was great. When I had a bit more time I decided to ride it to lunch one day. It made it to within a quarter mile of my destination and sputtered out. Andy, who was with me, had to tow me down the sidewalk with my right foot hooked to his passenger peg. I had read about this towing technique recently and was glad I did. It was awkward but it made a long push short. Anyhow… After lunch she fired right up and got me about 100 yards before dying again. A tow truck took us back to the office that time.

I’ve got quite a bit more but ill have to get to it in another post.

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