Saturday, March 29, 2014

Antique Ironhead Sportster Restoration

Antique Ironhead Sportster Restoration

Over the years I've done a lot to this old bike. When I got this old Ironhead it was in need of plenty of work to get it running. Being in mothballs way up In Virginia for who knows how long, it was mostly complete and came with bonus of extra parts. I didn't want to chop it, everyone was and is chopping these old Ironheads, I wanted to put it back as stock as possible but with some minor changes. Changes such as Harley might have done with off the shelf parts had they had the vision to do so. Riding range with the stock tank was under par for me, though I changed my mind about welding brackets to the frame to fit fatbobs on. The Super Glide tank of the same era is a bolt on although it does not have the Bob look I was after. Now the 1983 FXR tank was the ticket for me, slight mods to this particular tank had already been done to mount onto the stock original mounts. Preference would be to have a different dash but the filler neck rises above the tank so unless the neck is cut off, shortened, and welded flush with the top of the tank itself, I'm stuck with the dash it has. Several times people have seen me pass, at first glance thought it was an old Shovelhead, then caught up to me at a stopping point and gave a walk around. So far I have had only good comments about the look, even from the head of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America Bluegrass chapter pres. Things I'm still needing are XLCR pipes, these were an option even for this year, a center stand, a factory windshield, factory turn signals and a stock Ham Can Aircleaner backing plate. I might be able to repair the stock air cleaner backing plate but it is rough. Could also use some new Gauge lenses if I can't get these to clean up more. 
Old Rat Bastard isn't so ratty anymore and is in need of a new name. I'm not really into cleaning it because it's just going to get dirty and I don't like being afraid to ride it because it will get dirty. I prefer mechanically sound over clean and shiny. That's why I have not minded riding in the rain, knew it would be getting road grime on it. That said, look at the pictures below. Someone I know has asked me to help them with a used bike and restoration business and a possible future new bike dealership so I decided to try different products and ways to refurbish old parts. 

Went to work on the chrome and aluminum. I have not done this in awhile to this extreme. Was a time I took bikes apart, rebuilt them and put them back together, was easier because new parts to replace bent rusted or otherwise neglected pieces were easier to find. These same bikes today - Metric or American - are tougher to find bits and pieces for so you have to be more creative.

 Take a look at this front wheel and fork. I've spent a good four hours on just this side of things to get it looking better. Cleaning the spokes takes one solution while cleaning the rim itself takes another. The spokes are steel while the rim is aluminum. The pictures don't really do it justice taken with a flash at night in the garage. The outer ring of the rim is nice and shiny, so are the spokes and fender brace. The inside of the rim where the spoke nipples are has not been done yet because I still have to do the other side of the wheel. In the above picture the fork tube below the reflector is finished, above the reflector is not - well it is but not in the picture so you can see the difference. 
This side of the forks and rim are not done yet, it's all pretty dull. Look at the two wheel pictures and compare the differences. I could not get the polish I want to try locally and have to order it. I decided to try a different product so at least I can compare the working differences. It's like a mirror on the first side.  
On this side of things I'm pretty much done with the first two stages of cleaning and polishing the engine and bits, one more to go. Look back at the first picture in this article and back to this one. Look at those exhaust pipes shine too. Those things were grungy with all sorts of grease, grime and who knows what baked on. My wife had showed me a trick before for getting chrome to shine so I thought I'd try it on the bike. Must say I am pleased with the outcome. She showed me by doing one of my mirrors and it never looked so good in thirty plus years. I neglected to get pictures of the mirrors but will get more shots of the bike in daylight.  

 Just getting started on the polish side of things on this side. It's pretty clean just not finished with stage two of the process yet. The camera flash gets soaked up by the floor and walls and does not show the brightness of the bike as it looks in person.
And here is my new vintage OEM saddlebag bracket. My original was lost on rough roads in Greensboro and though we spent a long time searching for it never did find it. The section of road is not walker friendly and very dangerous so we called it quits after two different days of looking. I was so pissed off about losing that part, afraid I'd not find another for a long time or even at all. I tried my luck on calling Clete in Georgia and lo and behold he had the OEM new old parts in his old inventory. That brighten my day to no end and the part is installed back on the bike.


Trobairitz said...

That looks like a lot of cleaning and polishing, but it sure made a difference.

Of course with one clean part - does than mean you have to do the rest now?

WooleyBugger said...

Thanks Trobairitz,

I have not cleaned it even this well in years.

I began with the engine covers and it all just sort of got out of hand. I just kept going and going.

Dar said...

What a purty bike! Woolly its a labor of love. I try to give my bike a good clean before I put it away for winter hibernation and I usually end up putting a few coats of wax on it. I hate cleaning chrome blech. Its looking awesome!

KT Did said...

Long time since I have been here. I lost a lot of bloggers when google changed. Pretty bike and the shiny is wonderful!

WooleyBugger said...

Dar, thanks. I ride it when I can all year round and cleaning the chrome is a pain alright, actually, cleaning it at all is a pain. lol

Hey KT Did,
You should come round more often. I'm guessing I lost some bloggers when google changed as well. People will sometimes say "Your bike needs a good cleaning" I say it's a riding bike not a show bike. Besides, it seems to do better with a bit of grunge on it.

Biker Betty said...

I agree, this bike looks so nice. Your hours of hard work shows. Bummer about losing the saddlebag bracket, but glad you found another.

It's been a while since I've been around and glad to see you are still blogging. I'm trying to get back into it again. Got snowed under with college and a new job, but life is changing and I have more time :)

WooleyBugger said...

Biker Betty,
Thanks Betty, for an antique ride it shines up pretty good, but dern it's a lot of work. Rather be riding it. Sometimes cleaning the bike is like rubbing the Genies lamp.

Hope to see more of you around the blogs.

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