Help converting foot shift to tank shift

Transmission, clutch, chains and belts
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Faustmill
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Help converting foot shift to tank shift

#1

Post by Faustmill » Sun Oct 14, 2007 2:21 am

This winter I want to convert my foot shift 65 FLH to a tank shift. I am confused about what, if anything, I have to do the the transmission. What is a "rachet top" -- do I have this already with the foot shift, or is this something I have to change? Thanks.



Cotten
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#2

Post by Cotten » Sun Oct 14, 2007 1:43 pm

Are you aiming at "correct", or just to make it a tankshift?

How much do your have already, such as tanks, footclutch, etc.?

Are you prepared to swap the mainshaft cluster and third gear inside the tranny to the bronze bushing design? (May, or may not, be necessary......but the Factory thought it was.)

....Cotten

45brit
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#3

Post by 45brit » Sun Oct 14, 2007 5:13 pm

you could get a 'Police Shifter' and keep the same mechanicals and tanks, you would just need the pedal assembly, don't forget that if it is an alloy chain-case the original rocker pedal won't fit, you need the later one

Faustmill
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#4

Post by Faustmill » Sun Oct 14, 2007 7:39 pm

I do not have anything right now. I am just starting to look into it, but at this point it looks like I will be getting everything from the J&P Cycle Vintage catalogue. If I can get away without changing the transmission, I am inclined to try it that way -- this is a cruiser, and I am pretty easy on a transmission and clutch. I would like to locate the shifter on the tank, as opposed to the "Police Shift" (which I think is the same as jockey shift with the shifter under the left side of the seat).
This raises another question -- my books say that the 65 FLH hand shift had a 3 3/4 gallon tank instead of the 5 gallon tank that came with the foot shift. Yet the J&P catalogue shows a 1947 - 1965 5 gal tank that has the shift gate mount holes and a hole for the reserve shut off rod. I like the larger 5 gallon tank, so I am also inclined to use this tank , even though I guess it is not "correct" for a tank shift. Thanks for the advice.

Faustmill
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#5

Post by Faustmill » Sun Oct 14, 2007 10:57 pm

And, by the way, if anyone has the parts I need to make this conversion, or some of them, I am willing to pay a fair price. I am still unclear on what I need to do to the transmission. Cotton, you said the change you mentioned "may or may not be necessary". Could you explain? Thanks.

Faustmill
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 3:56 am
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Faustmill

#6

Post by Faustmill » Mon Oct 15, 2007 1:01 am

Wait a minute -- I just figured out what you mean by the "Police Shift". I found a picture of a bike with this setup, with the shifter bracket mounted where the mousetrap normally is located. The shift knob is next to the tank, but there is no shift gate mounted on the tank. -- do I have this right?
So you are saying that if I go with a Police shift, I do not need to change anything on the transmission, correct? Assuming that is true, this is looking like a pretty good option to me. A fairly simple conversion and I can still get the hand shift I am looking for.

Cotten
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#7

Post by Cotten » Mon Oct 15, 2007 1:03 am

'65 tankshift models used the earlier '63-'64 tanks.
Any 5 gal tanks with a shift gate would be "custom".
'66 introduced the 'Police' shifter u-bolted to the frame downtube.

If you are not concerned with "correct", you can arrange a workable assembly from parts of other vintages. (The handshift lid itself was unique for '65 because of the return to the huge neutral switch that would disarm the electric start in all other positions.)

Whether or not footshift internal gears work well with a handshift is beyond my personal experience; hearsay has it both ways.
I cannot see why it would make much difference,...but I never took the chance.

....Cotten

45brit
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#8

Post by 45brit » Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:06 pm

if you have a footshift, electric start bike ( which I take it you do from various posts here ) then you can make a handshift using the later version of the police shift, which has a smooth gate specifically designed for positive stop transmissions - it was used on shovelheads supplied for police use after the factory stopped making the hand shift transmission

you will need the spacer block to move the pedal across to clear the aluminium chaincase. The clutch actuating arm, I'm not sure about, but there is one that will fit because bikes were supplied this way from the factory

you should be able to get the whole issue as a kit from V-twin

the lever is supplied curved to clear the 5-gallon shovelhead tanks, do you can use any tank you like

it does, as you say, bolt on the frame where the mousetrap goes and has no tank fittings of any kind

Faustmill
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#9

Post by Faustmill » Mon Oct 15, 2007 6:12 pm

I am starting to get the picture here. If I could ask another question -- I am thinking that with the Police shift the shift lever will return to its original position after every shift (just like the foot shifter does) and shifting will be a forward and back "ratchet" just like the foot shifter is an up and down "ratchet". But with the original shift gate, the shift lever is in a different position for each of the 4 gears. Is this right? Maybe this difference is the reason for the different tranny tops for the foot shift and the hand shift?? Thanks.

45brit
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#10

Post by 45brit » Mon Oct 15, 2007 6:54 pm

that's about the size of it, yes

the different tops have the differing types of shift mechanisms fitted, Cotten obviously knows all about this

anyway if you have a footshift bike, you can do one of two things;

1) fit the late type police shifter, with the smooth gate. This will bolt straight on and you won't have to modify your gearbox. You may need to find a clutch actuating lever to suit. You can use any tanks you like, 3.5 or 5 gallon, and don't need any tank fittings.

with this set-up, your gear lever will always come back to the same position after shifting. You can't look at your gear lever and see what gear you are in.


2) change the transmission top to a hand-change type, plus whatever internal changes are required. I can't comment on this. You will need either an early type police shifter ( with the notched gate ) or a set of tanks with a shift lever and the lever and gate to suit

this way you can see what gear you are in by looking at the lever

it's up to you, but personally I would suggest that you do the first one. You will be able to get everything as a kit from V-Twin and it's a bolt-on. You also get a quicker, smoother change because you still have the positive stop ( ratchet lid ) and if you don't like it, you can swap it back in an afternoon

for what it's worth I had a shovelhead with this set-up and liked it

45brit
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#11

Post by 45brit » Mon Oct 15, 2007 7:22 pm

I'll also open a whole fresh can of worms by cautioning you against 'suicide' clutch pedals.. these are a partisan subject with a strong support among a small group of riders!

I have at one time or another ridden a bike with a 'suicide pedal' of the usual chopper type, and didn't like it at all, and a bike with a pedal set down near the footboard so that you pivoted your heel on the footboard like a car clutch. This was actually rather good on the open road, but very awkward in traffic.

the key point is that you can't take your foot off the pedal unless you are in neutral, or your engine is stopped. If you have a stock front drum, which I guess you do, this will make your life un-necessarily complicated. The more chopper-influenced boards tend to stage stridently argued threads about this, often interwoven with arguments about the 'purist' qualities of having no front brake, and I'm really not going to say any more except that it just makes things harder than they are already, and who needs that?



anyway it's your bike and you can do what you like, but I will suggest that you go with the stock pedal - so you can take your foot off the clutch and it stays where it is. I don't suggest you make a habit of this, but it's very useful.

Also, the rocker pedal allows you to brace your foot on the pedal and progressively engage the clutch. It DOES put your ankle into a shape God never intended as you do so, and it DOES stick in your ankle as you ride along, but it's much safer than the other way.

Faustmill
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#12

Post by Faustmill » Mon Oct 15, 2007 7:45 pm

Hey 45brit, your comments are all most helpful and just the information I needed, including your last opinion on the clutch. I have owned several Harleys over the years, but have never ridden a hand shift, which is the reason I want to change my 65 FLH -- i.e., the pure hell of it to see what it is like. It looks like it would be fun to try. Thanks.

45brit
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Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2007 10:56 am

#13

Post by 45brit » Mon Oct 15, 2007 8:42 pm

well I had a shovel with a police shift and it was good fun. I also had the banana caliper discs on it, which made a big difference. It isn't the greatest brake in the world but it is far better than the drum

I really don't want to get involved in the 'if you don't have a jockey shifter, suicide clutch and no brakes you are a candyass only fit to ride Hondas' line of discussion. There are boards which have whole threads worrying this particular bone to death, without saying anything constructive in the process for the most part

the simple fact is that Harley went over to foot shift and hand clutch because it is easier to ride. Some police departments preferred the old system because it suited their particular requirements. So Harley made a 'fix' to keep their business.

my personal view is that if you have a positive stop change, you are better off with a foot shift because it's easier to find neutral. If you really want a correct hand change, the old type is better because you know what gear you are in all the time.

but the late style police shifter is ok, it is quite easy to swap over and it will give you the feel of a hand shift. If you can't get on with it, it's easy to put back

Cotten
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Location: Central Illinois

#14

Post by Cotten » Tue Oct 16, 2007 2:09 am

I have never ridden a machine with a handshift/ratchet-top combination, and can only assume that later production than my '65s were offered that way.
It seems like a recipe for panic.

To find neutral at an awkward moment, you must ratchet the lever accurately as well as quickly, perhaps three strokes, if you do not overstroke.
Traditional hand-shift machines always had the safety feature where you could easily just slap the knob out of gear. You might happen to be between third and fourth, but at least you weren't being propelled forward if your foot couldn't find the clutch.

Which brings us to the footclutch:
The dampener was designed for fording streams and muddy cowpaths.
On hard pavement, the assembly should be released to free-wheel, pulling itself into gear as you remove your foot.

(Relying upon the dampener to keep the clutch disengaged at stops not only robs all feel for the clutch, it shortens spring and clutch life, and it is dangerous: A pedal suddenly dropping the hammer can put you suddenly into an intersection without warning.)

To do one by-the-book,...the shift lid would have to look like the attachment. But any earlier lid with the post-47 shift drum should work.
Besides the short throwout lever mentioned already, the pedal itself must have a squaredrive on the end of its axle to for a bellcrank not used on earlier models.

....Cotten
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Faustmill
Posts: 80
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 3:56 am
Bikes: 65FLH 54FL
Location: MD

#15

Post by Faustmill » Tue Oct 16, 2007 3:25 am

Here is a quote from Greg Field's Panhead Restorer's Guide (p.79) that got me started on this whole foot shift to hand shift conversion thing: "Because there is no way to conclusively document that a given bike was delivered from the factory as a hand-shift bike (unless the owner possesses the original Harley delivery documents), don't get suckered into thinking that such a bike should be worth more than any other 1957 FLH. It is so easy to convert a bike from foot shift to hand shift that there could easily be more hand-shift 1958 FLHs today than Harley Davidson originally built." -- I guess what is "easy" is a relative term.

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