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Let's build a girl's bike: a 1967 Sportster XLH

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  • Let's build a girl's bike: a 1967 Sportster XLH

    A while ago, Mrs. Chuck started hinting she wanted her own motorbike. At roughly the same time a '67 XLH appeared on fleabay. I lost the auction; but the original "winner" didn't pay up. I wound up with rolling pile of parts with a clean '67 title and parts spanning 1967-1976.

    So, let's build a girls bike.

    First order of business was getting her home.


    The old Jag makes a pretty comfy tow vehicle. Considering this bike was 250 miles from home . . .it was nice to have heated seats.

  • #2
    Mrs. Chuck was serious about helping with her bike. At first I thought she was kidding. In many years of indulging my motorbike issues; she's never shown any interest in working on them -- not once. But, her grandfather was a heavy equipment mechanic and ran his own tractor/trailer repair shop in Illinois. She has many fond memories of bringing him tools while he worked and making coffee runs. She was excited to get out in the shop and was a quick study.

    By way of full confession -- we insulated the shop in October. It was a heck of an affair but transformed the place into a comfy work zone. Add a good heater and it's sweatshirt working temperatures. Yippee.

    So, we got down to stripping the bike. It took us about three hours to disassemble the beast. We made notes and took pictures along the way. We have a LOT of mismatched parts and we found a lot of really bad "repairs."

    Some of the good ones include a piece of black pipe for a seat mount, JB weld with RTV, Cork AND saran wrap for a primary gasket (not kidding), a 10mm deep socket for a rear brake adjuster, a big twin rear axle "turned down" with sand paper and the list goes on.

    We made a pile of stuff to sell on fleabay, a pile of stuff to clean up and reuse, and a pile of stuff to scrap. The biggest victim was hardware. The jackass and gorilla garage that worked on this bike rounded, stripped or otherwise destroyed 90% of the fasteners. Thank goodness only one set of moderatly easy to repair internal threads was damaged. IMG_5564.JPGIMG_5560.JPGIMG_5569.JPG

    At the end of the day, we will be able to use or repair everything from the head stock back. The front end is a mess of different things and we're just gonna start fresh with a Showa 35mm pie slice front end.

    Attached Files


    • #3
      One of the first things to sort out were all the odd things with the frame. This is a later replacement frame and not the original '67 frame . . .so right there this bike isn't going to be restored. Instead, we're gonna focus on doing this one well, but frugally. Our goal is to spend minimal bucks, but maximize enjoyment.

      Like many sportsters, this poor bike suffered from a chopper builder's dilemma. In this case, the frame was prepped for raking, but never completed. The neck was cut, the top reinforcement removed, the seat tabs cut off, and the foot pegs cut off. It doesn't appear the frame was raked -- and it was welded up. The pegs were replaced with round stock. And that is where the fun begins - the "repair person" then pounded the foot rests onto the stubs in what must have been a hell of a stoned stupor. I had to take a cold chisel and three pound mini sledge to the back side of the rests to get them off! At least the welds were good!



      I did some parts book cross referencing and learned the splines on 1983 and up FX something or another passenger pegs were the same as the ironhead, Yippee, we had a donor part. $20 saw a pair in my mail box.

      The fit is perfect and the central relief is in the right spot. The long shank means we can cut them down in the lathe to match our needs. And, no need for a spare frame to cut up for parts.




      • #4
        First thing was to cut off the stubs as close to the original forgings as possible. I then squared them up with a large file and center punched them.

        The frame was then set up in the drill press and center drilled.

        We then bored and reamed to .375 as deep as possible. It was slow going in the forgings -- they are tough :-) We then measured the "stick out" and cut down the new pegs as needed in the lathe. The shanks were turned to .376/377 and trimmed to length. I then pressed the new pegs into the forgings leaving a slight gap for full penetration welding.




        • #5
          I then turned my attention to recreating the neck reinforcement and blending the previous welds. I made a template out of thick acetate and cut a small triangle from 1/4" stock. That was shaped with a die grinder to fit the void with 1/32 gaps for full weld penetration. I then tacked in the reinforcement and completed the welds in two hot passes. Using a couple of different carbide burrs in a die grinder, I reduced the weldment and reshaped the area. During the final stages, I freely let the burr bounce over the neck surface to mimic the original texture. This won't fool a judge; but it will look pretty good from 5 feet away and most casual observers won't notice.


          I also welded up that mess of a tube in the back bone and textured it the same way. We have new seat tabs on the way from V twin and I'll weld those in later.



          • #6
            While I was at it . . .and knowing what I'm planning for this bike . . .I added a support tube to tie the head stock to the top motor mount. This is an old trick that stiffens up the frame fore and aft.

            I also welded up the tip of the side stand tab so that it stops in a more "straight" position vs. moving forward.

            As soon as the V Twin seat tabs come in, I'll weld those on and then strip the frame for painting. We're just rattle canning this frame -- and have an amazon gift card to spend.






            • #7
              Looking forward to another one of your builds. Thanks for taking to time to document this.
              Steve Slaminko


              • #8
                Nice work there Chuck ! Sure do enjoy looking at others handy work and ideas. Clever idea doing that "texture" feature, can I borrow that ? Good Luck to you and the Mrs. !!!


                • #9
                  Nice work Chuck. Too bad about not being the correct frame but I'm sure you will build it better and be a cool ride for Mrs. Chuck!
                  Craig (Delaware)
                  Perkiomen Chapter
                  AMCA Member #1011


                  • #10
                    I will follow the thread for sure.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Twister the fitter View Post
                      . Clever idea doing that "texture" feature, can I borrow that ?
                      Please do. I first learned this trick for castings during my auto apprenticeship. We used it for hiding repairs to alloy heads, blocks, and transmission cases. Most of that work was done on exotics and sports cars where the appearance was as important to the owner as the quality of the repair.

                      Later on bikes, we learned to use it to hide case repairs as well as fin repairs etc. If you use different types of blasting media; you can more or less make it look darn well near identical. I also use a tiny 100-year old pneumatic peining hammer, needle scaler, and big old sheets of 16 grit floor pads for texturing.

                      My other "secret" is SEM texture primer.

                      It's not wrinkle paint as advertised here; but rather more of a "pebble" surface that is really, really close to the texture of original bubble bags (I actually use this same texture primer when I'm repairing bubble bags). As such, when you use it on repaired castings that have been hit with a burr or needle scaler . . .it really clings and smooths it so that it is nearly invisible under the frame paint. I've never tried it with powder as the SEM isn't high heat . . .so if you're planning on coating I'm not sure how this would really look.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by craig (DE) View Post
                        Too bad about not being the correct frame but I'm sure you will build it better and be a cool ride for Mrs. Chuck!
                        Indeed, if we intended to restore this one I wouldn't have even bought it. There was enough wrong to ensure it would have been expensive to set right. In this case, once I got the generator off I learned why it was wearing a replacement frame. At some point, the bike had a MASSIVE front end collision. Massive enough to shear the generator nose right off the cases! It was repaired EXTREMELY well, but the welder did not bother hiding the welds behind the generator. I was actually really surprised when I found it . . .but then everything started to make sense why the bike was pretty correct from the neck back. Basically, everything was transferred to the donor frame . . .

                        The other cool thing about a 1967 is that it's the only year for kick and electric start from the factory. Starting in '68 the XLH was electric only. Plenty of dealers added kickers as did shade trees; but the factory was real confident about the electric foot. As such, the '67 XLH has a unique belly number. It starts with a "6" instead of a "7." This bike wears a "667" start to the belly and both sides match. So even after the huge off . . .the owner at the time wanted the bike saved as it was -- not with a replacement case half. How's that for interesting?

                        I'll share some photos of all this in future posts.

                        I'll also be able to use the cases to show what happens when you let your side stand bend :-) This bike had a cracked primary as a result -- but that too was welded correctly!

                        It's weird as heck because it's really clear someone loved this bike at one time and spent really good money on quality repairs. The last owner or two really f'ed it up with cosmetics and poor assembly.

                        As such, it's a great bike to share here for folks who like "fixing them up" but aren't into judging.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by slamiste View Post
                          Looking forward to another one of your builds. Thanks for taking to time to document this.
                          Steve Slaminko
                          Nice to hear from you, Steve. I was actually just talking with Mrs. Chuck about Jake and his Ariel. I have to make some inserts to repair stripped threads and will be using sleeve retaining loctite to secure them. Mrs. Chuck reminded me I hate loctite . . .and then I told her the story about the Ariel and the Badger Run this past August :-)

                          I'll make it south sometime this year to ride with you all -- and hope to see the "kids" on the Rocky Mountain Chapter's Road Run in June this year.


                          • #14
                            as an aside, you can see in a few photos that there are numbers written on the palm of my anti-cut gloves. When I'm doing work like this; I write critical dimensions on my left hand -- so when I'm grabbing stuff I have zero excuse for not triple checking the measurements. Relying on your memory or constantly stopping to reference a book kills flow . . .and when you're into repairs I find it better to just flow from start to finish.

                            Just another one of those shop kinks I was taught during my apprenticeship(s). We used to do it for set up on machinery, laying out bolt circles manually, etc. The biggest difference today is that I don't have to soak my hand in ethanol to remove the sharpie from my skin. Instead, I get gifted boxes of gloves by a relative that is the safety officer for a highway construction firm. Much more convenient and my hands stay "youthful" looking to boot.


                            • #15
                              "WOW" ! Even more great tips and secrets, Thanks Chuck ! I sure am glad I joined AMCA and this "Forum" as well, a "lifetime" of knowledge, tried and true !!!