Hardley Ableson

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Ok, so I took in my neighbor’s Harley – 1980 Sportster, it turns out – to try to get it operational again. I have partially succeeded. After disassembling/cleaning the carb, installing new points and plugs, I got the thing to fire. I am now trying to set the static timing and make fine-tune adjustments.

It would be really helpful if I could manually rotate the engine (timing) but this evil AMF SOB does not appear to have what every Jap bike I have ever had has: A bolt connected to the crank to let you turn the engine over with a breaker bar or whatever.

I do not have a book for this bike and thus am appealing to you.

I hear tell you are supposed to raise the back wheel and put the bike in fourth and then turn the wheel to turn the engine. This can’t possibly be the only way to rotate the engine.

Is it?

The electrics are a disaster. Someone did a true sexual chocolate number on this thing. There is a yellow wire hanging randomly off the side of the bike. Touch it to the positive terminal of the battery and the starter turns.


The rear caliper was locked up so tight I could barely even turn the back wheel with the back of the bike jacked up and the trans in neutral.

Managed to burn my left hand pretty good on the drag pipes, too.

And they ask me why I drink….






    • Thanks, Tor!

      How’d you like the blat-blat sounds?

      I admit the Harley sounds tough… but it’s a rude and crude thing!

      • Love it.

        I like something gruff and curmudgeony like that. Wasn’t worth much when you got it. Now it’s what, $3,000 or so? Probably be double or triple that or better when you’re done with it.

        Very cool.

        • It’s a fix-’em-up project I’m doing gratis for my neighbor, who is a friend (and poor).

          A diversion for me during a very stressful time in my life.

  1. eric, she must be a real good friend. I do know a couple guys who know Harley’s better than anyone else I know. They kept the top of the class in drag bikes for a few years, set some records and have been doing it since they got out of diapers it would appear.

    Baucom Motorcycle Maintenance
    Motorcycle Repair
    300 E Arizona Ave, Sweetwater, TX 79556
    Cross Streets: Between Runnels St and Campbell St
    (325) 236-9869

    • Thanks, Tor.

      I think something else is wrong with this bike. I found the procedure for rotating the engine: Remove spark plugs, jack the back wheel up so it can turn freely; clutch in, shift the trans to top gear and then turn the rear wheel to turn the engine (soul glo… seriously).

      But I can’t get the trans to engage other than first or neutral.

      This bike has not been on the road in years, by the way.

      And it has been sitting outside.

      For now, I am concentrating on getting it to hold a reasonable idle. I think the timing is way off and the carb is jetted way to rich (#175 on the main for a stock Sporty, anyone?)

      Addendum: Got-damned thing sucked a brand-new battery dry overnight. With key off. With battery on a trickle charger.

      • eric, I have gotten many things to operate correctly that had set up a long time by filling them with diesel…..and fill them above all the gears and shafts. It won’t hurt anything for it to sit there like that and may just loosen everything that’s gummed up and make it work perfectly….by hand. Done it on steering on boats and everything else on gearboxes. Setting it in the sun all day with diesel can make things turn loose, esp. all that gum that keeps gears from sliding on shafts. Every place it leaks will simply show you the ruined seals too. I once filled a JD 3010 with diesel in the crankcase and the cylinders and let it sit a long time, then fired it up after draining the cylinders and let it idle for a minute or two. The crap that came out of that engine was unbelievable when the plug was pulled. It drained completely for a few days. Put new oil and filter in it and it ran like a champ. I think a lot of the stuff that turned loose was the carbon on the pistons and it let the rings loosen and return to working like they should without the carbon. It wasn’t my tractor but I think it still runs and that was only about 50 years ago.

        • That is a damned fine idea, Eight!

          Meanwhile, I am trying to trace the weird electrical draw on the bike.

          I think I saved the battery… we shall see.

          This bike is a victim of severe neglect. Per the mortician in Godfather, I will use all my powers to at least make it look ok again…


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