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MmonizZ
05-30-2013, 10:34 AM
I'll be buying my first bike in over 2 decades. My 50th birthday is coming up fast so I'm looking at a 79 FLH and looking for info on how to get the most RELIABLE horsepower without spending a bunch of cash. The engine is 99% stock, been bored 30 over and top end rebuilt 500 miles ago, has an S&S E carb, rest is totally stock w/electric start. I don't want to go bigger really, just want to squeeze all the power I can out of what it is now, raise the compression to probably 9.5:1 replace cam to an Andrews A2, dunno what else I can do without moddifying anything.

UPDATE: After talking with a couple mechanics, think I'll leave the compression/pistons alone. I don't want to have to replace anything I don't need to, and don't want to teardown anything I don't have to.

So, any help would be greatly appreciated, and thanks in advance

Sarge
05-30-2013, 11:14 AM
I know 1979 is considered "antique," now, and most of us have/had at least one or two Shovels in our time, but even that's "new stuff." There's plenty of knowledge here.

Just let me suggest that while you're at it, take a look over here: http://www.shovelhead.us/forum/ Probably the be-all, end-all of Shovelhead information exchange today on the planet.

MmonizZ
05-30-2013, 11:16 AM
Thanks Sarge

Mr. Big
05-30-2013, 04:33 PM
Welcome to the club and good luck with your new scooter. Just my worthless opinion but for me the appeal of riding this old junk is truckin' along just like the bike was back in the day. I see folks take an old bike and hang newer carbs, disc brakes, etc. tryin' to make it smoother, faster, better and at some point you might as well just go buy a new one.

Bigincher
05-30-2013, 04:43 PM
I'm afraid Mr. Big has never ridden a 1970s shovelhead.......!

busboys
05-30-2013, 04:48 PM
I agree with "Big" the 79 80 inch is just fine stock. If you don't hang a fairing and crash bars it will do just fine as is. If you want reliable, leave it alone. As I stated in other posts the SandS carb is not the finest out there. I would go back to the Keihin and maybe the CV at that. A stock 80 inch shovel, well put together is stone ass reliable period. Oh yeah, don't be tempted with some lame primary belt drive system either. If you want to go fast - get a jap bike.

Bigincher
05-30-2013, 05:34 PM
(sigh.....)

Mmoniz, there's nothing wrong with waking up that stock shovelhead motor, which frankly, is something of a dog from the factory. I notice you've got an SnS on it, and that will work just fine-- in my opinion, just a little better than the Coughin' Keihin.
But if you really want to be able to pass trucks uphill, you want that motor to breathe. It's simple--- air in, air out. The proper cam selection will allow that, along with a somewhat more open exhaust system to allow the cam to work.
You don't need a jap back to experience a nice boost in performance over stock.

MmonizZ
05-30-2013, 05:37 PM
Thank you for that Bigincher, and I agree that I don't need no jap bike, for any reason haha! I talked with Andrews this morning and they suggest thier A2 grind for the cam. For exhaust, I like the fishtail look so dunno if that would be good to help it breathe as you say, and people been telling me replace that SnS carb with a mikuni and to change gears out for a 1-2 tooth more, that'll help with cruising speeds and passin peeps

Bigincher
05-30-2013, 05:48 PM
You're going to get a LOT of different opinions, Mmoniz, so get used to it...!
As for the carb, I've got an SnS on my shovel, and a Mikuni on my Evo. The basic design of the two are vastly different from each other, the SnS being a very refined version of the Linkert. By that I mean it is a fixed venture butterfly style carb, while the Mikuni has a variable venture in the form of flat slide. But don't get all hung up on which carb to run, the cam and the exhaust are more important. If you get the air in, you've got to get it out..!
(Personally, I think the Mikuni out-performs the SnS, and is much more 'tunable'.)

Rubone
05-30-2013, 05:55 PM
You need to be forced to ride a Jap bike just for suggesting putting fishtails on that thing.:rolleyes:

MmonizZ
05-30-2013, 05:56 PM
Bigincher,
I've noticed all the "opinions" and I take it all in and make my own rational, logical choices =) I'm a bit O.C.D. about research so that's what this is so to speak.

So what about the Fishtail exhaust? I'm assuming I'd want a baffle type not strait pipe type. And I know that as I ride it, I'll get more info from it and the feel of how it's performing much better, I just like to get other peoples experiences and such

I appreciate all your input, thanks again

MmonizZ
05-30-2013, 05:59 PM
You need to be forced to ride a Jap bike just for suggesting putting fishtails on that thing.:rolleyes:

LOL Rubone, I've rode plenty Jap bikes in my time, and I don't see the relation to Fishtails and jap bikes??? I happen to think they look good, although I like alot of different things, can't have em all at once, so I picked fishtails, they're low on the bike, get the exhaust behind me, and I'm pretty sure that I've only seen them on custom harleys, never on a jap, german, british bikes at all, so ......... WHAT? =)

Mr. Big
05-30-2013, 06:02 PM
Too bad I sold the Elvis Glide. It was you buddy.......:rolleyes:

http://i567.photobucket.com/albums/ss112/prostock101/20090809_4.jpg (http://s567.photobucket.com/user/prostock101/media/20090809_4.jpg.html)

Bigincher
05-30-2013, 06:08 PM
Bigincher,
I've noticed all the "opinions" and I take it all in and make my own rational, logical choices =) I'm a bit O.C.D. about research so that's what this is so to speak.

So what about the Fishtail exhaust? I'm assuming I'd want a baffle type not strait pipe type. And I know that as I ride it, I'll get more info from it and the feel of how it's performing much better, I just like to get other peoples experiences and such

I appreciate all your input, thanks again


You need a certain amount of back pressure for the cam to work effectively, of course. I don't know how much, but if you want to get into 'theory', you can dig around and see what you can find on tuning of the sonic pulses in the intake tract...... ;)

The length of the exhaust does make a difference....

Rubone
05-30-2013, 07:02 PM
Just messin' with you..
However, most exhaust changes do nothing to improve power and many reduce it. There are very few that actually work, and all that do are interconnected, tuned length, and generally heavily baffled such as Supertrapp stuff. Straight pipes and open mufflers tend to make lots of noise and no power.
Increased compression makes power. But it also makes heat, which is an issue on Shovelheads. The best mods you can make are in breathing. Carb, manifold, cam, and even porting and better springs, collars, etc. And exhaust, but a sensible power producing one.
The other thing to consider is an ignition system that does away with the factory mechanical advance which was crap when new and just gets worse. The stock '79 type electronic system is weak at best.
Everyone has an opinion on carbs. Just remember not to go too big as that is one of the major issues. Over carbureted bikes never produce good power. The opinion that bigger is better is flawed logic. Bigger is only necessary when all the rest of the parts dictate the need for more flow. Talk to the guys at Baisley Hi performance in Oregon. They have been doing Shovels since the '70s.

MmonizZ
05-30-2013, 07:08 PM
Great! Thanks Rubone, I appreciate the info

MmonizZ
05-30-2013, 07:33 PM
Hey Rubone,
Thanks for that info, I just called Baisley and they were awesome, answered my questions and made sense of it all, thanks again!

busboys
05-30-2013, 11:39 PM
and PLEASE leave the apes to the chopper crowd!

VPH-D
05-31-2013, 09:11 AM
I would suggest an Andrews J cam. It shows a small increase in power without creating a dead spot below 2500 rpm.
Since you already have a Super carb, use it, they work well.
You probably want some kind of high-end mufflers.
As was stated, the ignition system was always pretty worthless. We converted many back to points when they were new.
A 79 FL is a heavy bike that will never be fast. You either get used to everybody on newer stuff passing you or you'll need a newer bike.
VPH-D

droptopford
05-31-2013, 10:58 PM
Pretty much echoing what VPH-D said...I'm running an Andrews 'A' grind and an S&S shorty 'E' on my '78 Shovel. The carb is much better than the stock one in my opinion.
I love my Shovel. It's fun to ride and it's really been a dependable bike. It ain't fast though...and that's ok with me. It doesn't like to be rushed around any sharp turns anyway.;)

47knuknuk
05-31-2013, 11:10 PM
I had a 1973 FLH Shovelhead for my first Harley, I loved that bike, it never gave me any grief and moved along just fine.

twisted
06-02-2013, 01:30 PM
Yep My 1st big twin, was a 1979 flh. And everything said in the previous posts are true. But that was the most reliable, but heavy, bike I have owned. I guess you always have a soft spot for the bike you cut your teeth with. Great bikes.

Rubone
06-02-2013, 02:01 PM
I rode hundreds of Shovelheads through the '70s. As a mechanic for a fairly large dealership I rode multiples every day as well as setting up many hundreds of new ones. One thing about them was that no two were the same. Some were smooth and powerful right out of the box, some were total dogs, and it was a crap shoot as to what any one might be. Some went high mileage with no issues, and some blew up with low miles. The good thing is that most of the bad ones are no longer around or have been completely refurbished. Some of the good ones are still as sweet as ever.

VPH-D
06-04-2013, 09:17 AM
I've had my 73 FX since 78. It had about 3500 miles on it when I got it, and the motor was pretty much worn out, it appeared that the crank pin had not been hardened properly. This was discovered by accident during teardown for installation of a 4 5/8 stroker kit. After all the problems were ironed out, it has been a very reliable bike.
VPH-D

nucklheads
07-10-2013, 10:40 PM
That S and S carb is made for hauling it. I got one on my thousand CC Ironhead. One just has to learn how to adjust and jet it. One can even get rebuild parts for it.

busboys
07-10-2013, 11:54 PM
That S and S carb is made for hauling it. I got one on my thousand CC Ironhead. One just has to learn how to adjust and jet it. One can even get rebuild parts for it.

Jesus!!!!!

nmaineron
07-11-2013, 10:32 AM
I had an 80-80" that I put a ton of miles on but it took some work.Mine was what Robbie described as some were good and others weren't...I couldn't keep top motor mounts in mine so I had it balanced,the man said that it was the worst stock motor he had ever done.After it was balanced it was fine.I ran an S&S with muffled fishtails on a two into one header,no cam or other upgrades and it made 80,000 miles or better before I traded for the new EVO. I never had the stock carb on that bike and I bought it with an "L" series S&S that was so lean that it was useless,poor bike had a rough beginning.If I had that bike today I would put a mild cam and a CV on it and I believe that it would be really nice setup...

nucklheads
07-13-2013, 09:47 PM
Odly enough Tripps Harley Davidson in Amarillo still had an owners manual for the 79 Sportster. It includes a few years afterward. It might help to know that some old Ironhead parts are interchangable. I got a 1980 engine in a 1971 frame. Just had to modify the rear swing arm to use the side bolt on shocks. Went that way because Panhead shocks are shorter than the stock ones. That manual tells that the 1979 and 1980 Sportsters run fine fine on unleaded. The gas just needs to have more octain than plain regular. Premium makes them run better.

nucklheads
07-27-2013, 09:52 PM
I had a 71 rigid frame kick start shovel and ended up with my thousand CC Sportster. I tend to think old rides are tougher than brand new ones. They are easier to work on your self. One can even make some thing like an oil tank out of stainless steel themselves. Wrench skill counts. Good luck.

hyrax222
10-30-2013, 05:27 PM
I have a 79 FLH 80". HS 40 carburator, Ultima ignition, Iridium plugs, 2 into 2 fishtails (baffles drilled out), Primo Rivera clutch, Internal throttle cable, GMA brakes, Primo 1 1/2" belt primary (isolated), LED lights (dash, turn and brake), front mounted oil filter, chrome spoked wheels, etc. A work in progress. I love it...

scott379usa
10-30-2013, 05:50 PM
You are right there Robbie you do the crime you gotta do the time

nucklheads
11-09-2013, 04:26 PM
I've had my 80 Ironhead for some time. It will run on several different ignitions. See, when the stock electronic ignition went out I couldn't afford to replace it. I could find a used magneto.

One gets tired of advancing and retarding the ignition by hand as he rides around town. That made me get the points ignition.

I used to laugh at that ignition. All one needs is to know how to set the timing and how to adjust it back when it vibrates loose and gets out of adjustment.

When ethanol got added to gasoline I went ahead and got an electronic ignition. The custom cycle shop that had to help because I couldn't get the timing right set it so it doesn't just fire one time. The multi spark is supposed to help out.

HDpanman
11-09-2013, 06:07 PM
They make gas for cars. They also make gas for motorcycles. The gas for cars and the gas for motorcycles is the same. They make oil for cars. They make oil for motorcycles. Sometimes oil for cars and sometimes oil for motorcycles is the same. Sometimes oil for cars and sometimes oil for motorcycles is not the same. They make seats for asses. They don't make asses for seats. They make motorcycles for people. They don't make people for motorcycles. Some people shouldn't ride motorcycles. ^

Larry May
11-09-2013, 06:26 PM
Hey Sarge, got any advise on how to get registered on that shovelhead forum. I have been trying in vain for several months now. It keeps saying I am registered but I am not allowed to post messages, any clues? thanks, Larry

Sarge
11-09-2013, 08:36 PM
Hey Sarge, got any advise on how to get registered on that shovelhead forum. I have been trying in vain for several months now. It keeps saying I am registered but I am not allowed to post messages, any clues? thanks, Larry


I'll look into it, Larry. PM me