Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why does Teflon always try to lie to us?

Virgin Teflon? C'mon really... I can tell by the way you are sealing my threads, this isn't the first time you've done this.

Hey, I didn't say 'stop'!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

1978 XLCH Wiring PART 4 of ????

While tracing the wires from the bird's nest under the seat, I found this.
This is the wire that goes from the starter relay to the start solenoid. That's not a nick in the wire, it's a nice melted section where it was laying against the engine case.

The addition of the starter circuitry appears to have been done early on in this bikes life. Judging by the quality of workmanship, in particular the wiring and how it's routed, it looks like it was done by a legitimate HD technician or at the very least someone who had done it before. The only exception to this is that someone had wired in a new style relay in place of the original type at a later date. 

The starter installation certainly wasn't the work of the PO that did the ape hangers or rotary switch. This leads me to believe that the main starter circuitry is sound and that this melting was a result of the other substandard wiring. Either way, I'll still need to double check the rest of the starter wiring, just to make sure nothing else was affected.

At this point, if you are familiar with motorcycle electrical systems, you'll know that there are really only two portions of the wiring remaining: the rear lighting and the recharging circuitry.

For the rear lighting, I already knew that would need to be redone. One of the turn signals was completely missing and the other didn't work.  In addition, there was no license plate lamp on the side mounted plate bracket.  Plus, I hate the aftermarket rear fender that was on the bike so I knew that would get swapped along with the brake light.

So that just leaves the recharging circuitry. As long as I'm freshening the other wiring, might as well do it too.

<SIGH> How did changing handlebars turn into rewiring the entire bike?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Back to Bud's

I got a phone call yesterday from Bud's letting me know that the shifter lever came in if I still needed one. While there were a lot of things I should be doing in the garage and around the house, I decided I'd rather spend a couple hours on a nice Saturday rummaging through old motorcycle parts.

I had time to think since the last visit and, now knowing the type of stuff Bud's has, there were a couple things I wanted to look for to go on the XLCH during my next visit. 

The big thing on the list was a set of laced wheels. The mags I have are cool, but I always prefer spokes on older bikes. I'd done some searching on line for the correct wheels and, although I found several period correct 16 inch rear wheels available, I really wanted the 18 inch and those seem harder to find.

After about fifteen minutes of searching and finding a few of the proper 16 inch versions, I finally found the correct 18 inch. It was a little rough looking but the rim was good (read: still round and straight) and hopefully the spokes and hub will clean up decently. Or at least enough to be powder coated.

I wasn't so lucky with the front wheel. The correct one is 19 inches and has dual small front disks. While I found plenty of single disk wheels for the narrow front end as well as lots of double disks for big twins, I didn't have much luck finding specifically what I was looking for.

After about 30 additional minutes of searching, I'd found two. One of them had a bad flat spot on the rim so it would need to be rebuilt. The other was perfect but... it was attached to a complete bike (i.e. not for sale as a part). Oh well, I'll keep the flat rim in mind for the hub and spokes if I come across the correct rim at some point.

Now it was on to the fun part. I took the wheel downstairs to Aaron and asked what he wanted for it. Immediately he responded with, "Well... you beat me up pretty good last time over the flat track shoe...."

Wait, what!?!? First off, he remembered me so that was kind of cool, but beat him up? I reminded him that despite negotiations, he did not budge on the price of the shoe. To which he responded, "<chuckle> was a really cool piece."

Anyway, after a little less back and forth this time, I got the rear wheel for a price I think we're both happy with. Man, Aaron's a tough negotiator!

Friday, February 6, 2015

1978 XLCH Wiring PART 3 of ????

With the new handle bar wiring harness installed, it was time to tie it in to the remaining wiring.

One of the previous owners installed a larger gas tank complete with dash and rotary style switch like is used on the FL/FLH and many other big twin models. Great, I thought, this will be a good place to work to. I'll just redo the wiring as far as the gas tank switch.

Nope! Found this awesomeness under the cover. It's not wired anywhere close to factory spec. It seems the PO just found which contacts were connected when the switch was "on" and connected what he thought went there. (Spoiler alert: most of the wires weren't even fused that went though here though I hadn't found that yet.)

No big deal. I found a wiring diagram for a 1976/1977 FL/FLH, which was close enough to be "period" correct for my 1978. Using the switch positions and color codes from that diagram, I merged it with the diagram from the factory service manual for the XLH.

Wait... XLH??? Isn't this an XLCH? Good observation! Yes, based on the VIN and the presence of a kicker, it is indeed an XLCH.  However, at some point in it's life a PO added an electric starter which means I need to wire it based on the XLH diagram.  Really the only difference is the starter specific stuff: button, relay, solenoid, and starter motor. I'll post a copy of my hybrid XLCH/XLH/FLH diagram once the wiring is done and verified.

Now, to trace it back to the circuit breakers to make sure the to connect the switch correctly based on which breaker each wire goes through goes through. Ummm, breakers... breakers....? Found this.

Well crap! So this area will need to get cleaned up as well. You can't really see the extent of the horror in the pic. Almost every one of the splicing connectors had a short bit of exposed wire going before going into the connector.  Not to mention, I hate these types of connectors.

You may also notice, there are only two fuses in this entire bundle. From the factory there should be four. (Well, not fuses but circuit breakers.) One 30 amp straight off the battery and then three 15 amp; one each for the ignition, accessory, and lighting circuits. 

A PO replaced the circuit breakers during one of the "upgrades" but clearly cut corners by combining circuits. They really should be on separate circuits for convenience and safety. I'll be restoring them back to the original layout. 

In regards to circuit breakers versus fuses, I understand the arguments and merits for each. I don't have a preference in this application. If the PO would've left the factory clips for the CBs, I would rewire it using CBs. As such, they are gone so I'll just use fuses. I have a couple extra boots that I'll wire in to bring it up to the required number of circuits.

Before we get there though, I needed to trace out these wires and make sure everything goes to where I think it does.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

1978 XLCH Wiring PART 2 of ????

When I last left off with the wiring, I was waiting for the Drag Specialties re-pop harness to arrive which it did. As I mentioned before this is much more cost effective and time efficient than reusing the existing switches, even if I could repair them.

While my step dad was visiting this past weekend, I took the opportunity to get his help installing the buttons in the controls and routing the wires through the bars. It always seems like you need one more hand than you have when working with something like this so his help was definitely welcome.

The only trouble we had with the harness was trying to route it through the handlebars.  The bars I now have on the bike came from a late model Sportster, I believe. They're short enough that routing the wire through the bars doesn't really gain much. Still, I wanted to go that route even if it only was for a few inches to avoid using zip ties.

The issue we had was that the holes already in the bars were a little too small to fit the diameter of the bundle from each side. (Yes I know now, keep reading....) No problem, we enlarged them slightly using a step drill being careful to enlarge them just enough to fit the bundle but no more. That way we didn't compromise the structural integrity of the bars too much. We also were careful to chamfer/debur the holes so it wouldn't scrape the insulation or cause a wear point in the future.

We eventually got them routed through and the controls buttoned up. Everything looked nice and I was happy with the job we did. 

It wasn't until the next day that I saw a late model Sportster with the same bars. It was then I realized why the holes were so small. They're not for routing the wire bundle, they are for a tab on a zip cable which holds the bundle to the outside of the bars! Oops.

Oh well, I actually think it looks considerably better the way we did it. Having an exposed cable bundle like the stock configuration just looks unfinished to me.

I didn't get any pictures during our work nor did I get a decent after picture. Here's one that sort of shows one side....

I'd hoped we would be able to get it all wired in as well but I also didn't want to put him to work his entire visit. So this is where we stopped. The bars are remounted, wires run, and controls back together. It looks like a mess but there is order in this chaos.

Before removing the old wires to the controls, I labeled where they were connected to existing wires that would remain. The next opportunity I get to work on this it should just be a matter of making the connections into the headlight bucket, the rotary switch on the tank, and the few wires that pass through the frame.

Monday, February 2, 2015

First Trip to Bud's Motorcycle Shop - Part 2 of 2

I did manage to pick up on thing during our first visit to Bud's on Saturday. While poking around looking at parts, I saw a pile of boxes that hadn't been sorted just yet. In the top of one of the open boxes I found this.

My initial thought was that it was a hot shoe for dirt track racing. It was obviously handmade, probably by some amateur racer in his home garage/shop. I'm a total sucker for "vintage" hand made items like this and had to have it. My step dad cautioned me that they probably didn't want to sell it but I had to ask anyway.

I checked with another guy behind the counter who said, "Oh, we usually don't sell stuff like that. You'll have to check with Aaron." Great, Aaron, the guy who I had already "wowed" with my vast knowledge of Sportster shifters (see previous post).

I tracked down Aaron, who had finished helping another customer, and told him I wanted to buy this. He too said, "We don't sell things like that. We keep them to hang on the wall." I mentioned that I wanted it for just that, to hang on the wall in my man cave.  To which he responded, "Look around, this IS one big man cave."  I said, "Yeah, but it's soooo much cooler than mine. If you sell me this, mine will get just a little bit cooler."

Well he told me to throw out a number, so I did knowing that I was going to be pretty low.  He of course responded, "no way" and hit me with more than double my offer.  I countered in between and he said he'd need to think about it, that he didn't really want to sell it anyway.

So I eased off and went about browsing for other parts, while still holding onto the shoe. When I was done I approached him again and asked if he'd thought about. He said yeah, that it was a really cool piece, and he'd have to stay at his original number. I gave him the cash and kept my new treasure.  Keep in mind we're barely talking tens of dollars here, so it was silly to even do the back-and-forth... but I had to try.

After getting home and doing a little research on hot shoes, I'm not entirely sure that's what it is. I initially thought it was as did my step dad and all of the other guys hanging around at Bud's that day.

It's the correct foot (left), but there are a few things that I'm not sure about. Why the tire tread on the bottom? From what I could find on them, most are all metal because you want it to slide on the dirt. 

Also curious are the bolts. I get they are to attach the tread but why are a couple of them significantly longer than necessary. It seems to me that would be even worse (better?) than the tire tread and would cause the shoe to grab rather than slide.

So far, I haven't found any pictures of something similar so I'm not sure what I've got. Here are a couple additional pics, anyone else have ideas?

Sunday, February 1, 2015

First Trip to Bud's Motorcycle Shop - Part 1 of 2

My parents came for a visit this weekend. Along with working on the XLCH, my step dad and I took some time on Saturday to head down to Bud's Motorcycle Shop in Austin.

I'm sure most locals know about this place already but, with this being my first Harley, I haven't had a reason to stop by before now.  With my step dad in town, now seemed like as good of a time as any.

All I can say is, "WOW!" They have just about any Harley part someone like me could ever need. I didn't take any pictures inside (wasn't sure if they'd be cool about that) but there is way more in the building than you would think possible when looking at it from the street.

For starters, it's three stories.  The first floor is where the main counter is along with what appears to be shelves of small parts and new or NOS parts. All around the perimeter are complete bikes, frames, and rollers. On the second floor is shelf after shelf containing engine cases, covers, wheels, and suspension components. The third floor, which is more of a mezzanine, was mostly sheet metal: tanks, fenders, etc.

There seemed to be more stuff outside including several outbuildings with work stations complete with lift tables and tools. I assume they also employ mechanics to work on bikes I and this is where they work.

Despite the place being stuffed full of parts, it was fairly well organized. Every major component had its own section of shelves. You'd have to spend a little time looking through a section if you had a specific vintage you were looking for but it wouldn't be too hard.

I would love to have carte blanche to go into the place, start pulling things from the shelves, and bolting it all together. You could build some really cool stuff out of there.

I mentioned they have just about every part I'd need... I didn't have much of a list going in but one thing specific I was looking for was a shift lever for my 1978 XLCH. The man behind the counter said he sold the last one of that vintage earlier in the week but I was the second person since that had asked. 

He said he'd order some re-pops and would call me when they were in, if I was interested.  Now, I know I could've found it in the Interwebs myself, and probably for the price that he was going to pay for it. But, in cases like this, I don't mind paying a little extra for a part, in person, to a local establishment. Plus, by making a few purchases like this, hopefully they will remember me when I come back for additional purchases and will give me a little better deal when it comes time to haggle over price.

Just to be sure, he grabbed another shift lever/arm from the wall and said, "this is from a later model Sportster, late '80s, are you sure this isn't what you need?" I took it from him and looked it over.  Noting the way it bent and how it tapered towards where it fits on the shaft I said, "No, I think this actually goes to an earlier Sportster because it looks like it's made for a right-side shift." I handed it back to him, he quietly shook his head, and hung it back on the wall.

When I got back home, I happened to be browsing the Internet for other parts I might need and I saw the shift lever he had shown me. Sure enough, part number 34606-86A for 1986-1990 Sportsters. Lesson learned: don't try to impress the guy who buys and sells Harley parts for a living with your own "knowledge" of parts.