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Thinking of rebuilding my engine

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panwars
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Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#1

Post by panwars » Sat Jan 21, 2006 5:00 am

Description: Is it wise to undertake an overhaul my self?

Hey everyone, the days are getting longer ;D
I have 35 years in auto repair and have built hundreds of stock and high performance engines, even high horse power Ford flatheads, old chev stovebolts and aircooled VWs, but never a harley engine. I have built my bike myself, a 61 pan in a 49 frame and I love it. The engine was a runner when purchased and still runs strong. Not having been through this engine I am worried. I push it kinda hard now and then and want to ride further than a couple hundred miles with confidence. I don't know who by, or how it was built.
Is it wise to undertake an overhaul my self? I have a lathe, mill, press etc. But no Harley specific tools. I know some are listed, but is every tool available I would need? and are the new tools up to the job quality, and performance wise? Is there any source that really can walk me through the process in great detail? I know I can do it, I just don't want to get stuck not being able to for lack of knowledge or tooling.
If I dive into this project should I step up to say..S&S flywheels and other mods for durability. Which ones are best...I can feel the opinions forming as I write this ;D any way let me have it, I am very impressed with the knowledge on this site and know you guys have the answers. Thanks.



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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#2

Post by Jack_Hester » Sat Jan 21, 2006 5:54 am

PWs -

Your lathe is your truing stand. I use a stock Harley stand, for truing, but use my lathe and two dead centers for individual flywheel runout on their shafts. But, it can all be done from the lathe centers. You can easily build a flywheel torquing fixture, if you have a small space to dedicate to bolting it down on the bench. With your lathe and mill, you can make most of the specialty tools that you don't have. We are not talking complicated tools. Just very job specific. Your heads can be treated as automotive heads, though your valve seats are poured bronze. I prefer to cut these seats (read that as very fine shaving) rather than a typical seat grinder. The worse thing that has happened to Panhead seats, over the many decades of rebuilds, is the heavy hands on these seats taking too much out. Don Sullivan, of Head Hog Inc, can repour your seats if yours are sunk too deep.
Anyway, judging by your brief statement of your automotive qualifications, you are well past being qualified to do a fine Panhead rebuild. The truing stand is one of the highest dollar aquisitions. And, you got the best replacement. You can add the other tools a piece at a time, as you get to the specific job. By making or buying an aftermarket. OEM tools are plumb rediculous in price, because of eBay. But, they are there from time to time. I'd say, it's time for you to plan your rebuild.
One more note. You must have an OEM service and parts manual, or reprint of each. No need to start without them. I'll let others step in and recommend things that I didn't. Glad you are interested in doing your own. I have always stressed that to customers. Only a few have shown more than a passing interest. Most never go there.

Jack

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#3

Post by Billy » Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:01 am

panwars-

I think Jack has it nailed down rather well.. (as usual) Go for it!!! Manuals are a Key Ingredient (as he mentioned)
S&S flywheels and other mods, for what ???
What are you wanting out of this build ??
More torque ?? or, more HP ?? More cubes ???
Stroking is more than a re-build, as I'm sure you know.
If you're not stroking it, I'd use the stock wheels, (if
re-usable)...
If you are, I think you'll find that T&O are lower priced, than S&S wheels. & Excellent quality.. http://www.truettandosborn.com/flywheels.htm

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#4

Post by Jack_Hester » Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:35 pm

Panwars -

My personal preference, too, it to stay with the stock flywheels. A good amount of mass, that will run smoother than the skinny S&S wheels. And, as Billy just stated, if it must be stroked, go with T&O. Good mass and more like the OEM's when it comes to building. If your engine is intact, and no signs of damage from a previous life, I'd say there are no other mods required for durability. I would say focus on a thorough rebuild that puts it to the close end of factory specs. And, plan on a easy break-in. When I say easy, I mean enjoy it on short trips that have plenty of cool-down stops. Lots of oil and filter changes while breaking in. Burnishing the rollers/races is as important as seating rings. When all is built to close specs, once burnished, the clearances are perfect for long life, long distance riding.

Jack

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#5

Post by fourthgear » Sat Jan 21, 2006 2:30 pm

panwars
I just got done rebuilding my motor last year and as has been said you can change just about anything you want but, a near stock motor has a lot going for it . Yours is about forty five years young and thats a long time . I did change some things , I was talked into Kieth Black forged pistons by a good machinist with a long history of building HDs for all the local shops. He also talked me into upping to I believe 9.5 to 1 compression pistons( I think thats how its written )I also went to a Crane 269A cam for the Jim's solid lifters that was recommended, Manley s/s valves and Crane spring set up.But all the rest is stock configuration. The only things I don't do is the fly wheel set up ( Not set up for it so I let some one here do them )I did all the rest, i.m.o, it takes a lot of experience to set the fly wheels up correctly and they are not like a crank shaft on any cage motor you have worked on. It can be done , people here are doing it all the time and ya got to start some where and it sounds like you have a great deal of experience .You can never have enough Tech. manuals to work with as has been said.Good luck.

panwars
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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#6

Post by panwars » Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:36 pm

I love this site!!! ;D
Well if this thing survives one more summer, I think I'll pull it down. I plan on keeping it stock. I don't know for sure that it is now, as it runs pretty strong with an S&S superE. I do have an in the box set of STD single plug shovel-intake style panheads. Would these be worth running, as my heads have missing fins and bad exhaust spigots?
I just pray all you guys are still around when I get stuck! This will be a step by step process. I have a factory manual, but it seems vague in many areas, such as torque specs and some procedures. There is talk of honing rod big ends to facilitate new bearing fit.??? Stuff like that is worrysome, as I assume it requires spot-on tooling and experience.
What, if any, are other good sources for overhaul info and specs? Books/ magazine articles/ etc?
Thanks guys, I know I can do this, I have to just bite the bullet and dive in. Hopefully it won't scatter this summer. It will be rough next winter as I usually ride quite a bit in the winter also, which means I'll have to climb on the girlfriends Honda 500 four for a fix, YIKES! Small bikes do scare the hell out of me ;D

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#7

Post by panhead » Sun Jan 22, 2006 9:45 pm

Do you have Bruce Palmer's 'How to restore'? http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/ ... adhomepage

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#8

Post by Jack_Hester » Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:18 am

I have a set of 45 rods, that I'm lapping for an engine build, right now. The rods are new, and had no races. I installed the races, which require a considerable about of metal be removed to bring them to stock. Most shops use a coarse grit compound to hog out the metal. Then, finish with fine grit. I don't. Though the lapping arbor is harder than the race, the process reduces it's size, too. So, I only use fine grit for the whole process, and keep the rods moving, as to keep my arbor smooth and true. Takes a long time on new races. But, the arbor fairs well in the process. I've never looked for arbors, outside the motorcycle world. I'm sure that any machine shop can tell you where to get them. You will need to resize your races to some oversized rollers. The rollers come in oversizes starting with std + 0.0002", and going up to std + 0.001", in 0.0002" increments. However, aftermarket oversizes jump two more steps, of std + 0.002" and std + 0.003", no steps in between. I just finished a set of Shovelhead rods using the std + 0.003" oversize. The good thing about sizing your existing races is that using fine lapping compound, it only takes an hour or two to finish. The reason it takes so long on new ones is that the get very warm, and I like to mic them at room temperature. Plus, it gives the hands a rest, as you have to use both hands to keep the rods true on the arbor.
The best place to get the info you need is to have more than one job going at a time. Then, when you get to a point where you need direction, pose the question here, and then move on to something else until you get an answer. Cleaning parts is always a good filler that can occupy your time, while waiting.
Also, if you don't have them, get a couple of dead centers for your lathe. Live centers are ok, but your flywheel assembly is very heavy. Dead centers hold up better. Just my opinion. And, they are much cheaper. Besides, an OEM truing stand only has them, too. You'll think you have one. Oh, and get two dial indicators, as you will place one on each shaft (pinion and sprocket) very close to the flywheel, for checking runout. Get a large leather or plastic head mallet for striking the flywheels off of the truing stand. A C-clamp and a smooth-edge wedge, for pinching or spreading the wheels, as the truing dictates.

Just thinking out loud, as to what you will have to plan for.

Jack

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#9

Post by Cotten » Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:31 am

I often wonder if the photos and instructions to use a hammer in the Factory manuals were a conspiracy.
Paranoid as always,

...Cotten

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#10

Post by Jack_Hester » Mon Jan 23, 2006 1:47 am

Great point! And, a scary one. The pictures that Cotten is talking about are the ones where the 'Factory' demonstrator (in the OEM manual) is smacking the flywheels on the truing stand. It is in the older manuals. Maybe even the one for your year model. Harley stopped putting this picture in the manuals. If you want to fracture your pinion shaft. And/or, damage your truing stand centers, then that is the way to do it. That's why I referenced striking the flywheels off of the stand. My mistake for forgetting the picture. You could have seen this and not remembered my brief reference. Thanks, Cotten, for pointing it out.

Jack

panwars
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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#11

Post by panwars » Mon Jan 23, 2006 3:44 am

Great info.

I do have Palmers book. I do have dead centers for the lathe and two dial indicators.
Jack, you are right, I will start and do one step at a time, and post here when I am stuck. Also I don't think I could bring myself to take a hammer to anything hanging between centers on my lathe, it's just not in my blood ;D

Thanks guys. All I have to do now is nurse it through another summer. I figure with my available time, lack of experience, and purchasing tools, an overhaul might take four to six months. I think I'll open her next October if she will wait that long.

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#12

Post by Billy » Mon Jan 23, 2006 6:05 am

panwars-

HD put a lot of R&D into "Stock" motors. They last!!!
Some just can't leave 'em stock.. :Smile (me)
I tried, 'honest'..

Meanwhile, after a good rebuild, & the 1st heat, a good Re-torque on everything, is always time well spent.....
(but U know that).... Wink

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#13

Post by Cotten » Mon Jan 23, 2006 12:16 pm

Another dangerous practice that has become taboo is the old straighten-the rods-in-the-cases routine.
(The female rod likes to tweak out of square at the races.)

....Cotten

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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#14

Post by jack moghrabi » Mon Jan 23, 2006 5:36 pm

Panwars, just a few thoughts you might want to consider.....

First, you wrote "The engine was a runner when purchased and still runs strong. Not having been through the engine I am worried (about taking long trips)." Panwars, I would be interested in knowing what the compression is? It also seems like your desire to rebuild the motor is being fueled by the uncertaintly you are experiencing because you haven't done the motor yourself. It just seems as though if the motor RUNS STRONG perhaps you might belay your uncertainties.....I've always been told by those who KNOW "If it's good leave it alone."
I guess the bottom line as to the point I'd like to make is this: Let the decision to rebuild be guided by the motor itself (is the motor really telling you it's time for a rebuild?) and not by the
UNCERTAINTY in your mind you feel because you yourself haven't been deep in the motor. If the motor is good you might consider breathing a little easier and letting back on the stick here.... At any rate, the compression would be interesting to know. Good luck with your future endeavours. JackMO!

panwars
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Re: Thinking of rebuilding my engine

#15

Post by panwars » Mon Jan 23, 2006 8:59 pm

Hey Jackmo, thanks for the input. compression is 100 pounds at four kicks. Like I said, it runs strong.

My desire to rebuild is fueled by many factors. The oil screen before the lifters was gone (don't know if that matters) I put one in. Red rtv silicone is showing every where and it still leaks a lot out of the valve covers, timing cover, cylinder base at rear cylinder, lifter housings etc. Some valve cover bolts are broken off in the head. Threads for timing plug were stripped. Some cylinder mounting studs protrude through the nuts and appear recessed in others. Case nuts have no room for washers on some studs, nuts are different thicknesses and grade I am sure. Engine mount bolts were loose, wrong lengths, mixed grade (8 and 5) etc. etc. etc. Over all if any of what I have found outside, is indicative of what was done inside, I want to do it over. I just don't feel good about it and would really hate to bust the cases to pieces if I can avoid it.

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