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December 12, 2017


Harley Davidson Shovelhead Chopper

by Harley D.

Harley Davidson Shovelhead Chopper 1979 swingarm build

 All the heavy fab, machining and welding were done by a friend at his shop. I did all the easy stuff like tighten bolts, build wheels, built motor and painting. Built mostly by me with a lot of guidance and help from friends. Build time was about 8-9 months.

Harley Davison shovelhead engine:

Harley Davidson Shovelhead Chopper

Harley Davison shovelhead engine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Shovelhead engine was created as the previous Panhead engine was becoming obsolete, with many Harley-Davidson owners demanding more power to compete with the more modern motorcycles. Throughout the Shovelhead’s run, the engine had many different changes made to it to improve power, cooling and oil consumption.

The engines had only 10 fins for cooling, which caused them to run hot. Another problem was that oil would pool in the cylinder heads, causing it to leak into the valves and burn oil. Another problem was that oil would pool in the crankcase rather than being pumped, causing the engine to overheat and seriously harm performance. Oil leakage and consumption became such a problem with the bikes, many owners reported losing as much as a quart of oil every 500 miles.

The excessive overheating in the motors also caused serious problems, which frequently led to failure. With a lack of oil and excessive heat, the valves were prone to sticking and destroying the top end. Numerous Harley technicians even stated that without necessary top-end modifications, the motors would often last only between 500 and 5,000 miles. With Harley-Davidson trying to fix the engine rather than research and develop, they fell far behind the competition of the cheaper and more reliable Japanese bikes taking control over the market.

Another problem that arose in 1979 was that the motors were fitted with electronic ignition units, which were prone to failure. Many owners would swap the units for an older point-ignition system for reliability


Harley Davidson Shovelhead Chopper
1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Jan 3 2018

    great build man! I thoroughly enjoyed watching, and man do I have some poorman polishing to do to my 1979 shovel.

    Quick question, looking to run similar exhaust, my rear head pipe matches yours, but i cant find a front one that wraps outward around the front frame leg and under my master cylinder and brake pedal mount like yours. whats that set up reffered to as (or where could i obtain an exhaust set like these?)

    Killer bike,she sounds rad!


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