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How To Build A Classic Harley-Davidson On A Budget

Welcome to Wolf's budget bike building 101. This site documents the rebuilding of my 1974 Harley-Davidson Electraglide. Since I am a grad student, sticking to a strict budget during this project was very important. With some patience and decent bargaining skills I think that anyone (who is mechanically inclined) could reproduce the same results that I have achieved without spending a small fortune. I hope that you find the photos and hints helpful. I will add to the site as the project progresses. Check back for more tips and tricks as well. I will even do a road test and let you know how it goes. Also, if you have any advice you would like to share about my site, or bike building feel free to e-mail me.

This is how it all started... With a worn out, 30 year old ex-police bike that had some slight modifications done before I bought it for about $4,500.00 USD

One of the most important things you should do when attempting any major mechanical project is having a system for keeping everything organized. I like to use Ziplock (TM) baggies to keep small parts in. They also can be written on with a permanant marker so you won't forget where that little part goes! I also use contrators flagging tape to tie to wires and cables. It is also easy to mark on and its bright color means you won't forget to reconnect that hidden oil line. Old coffee cans are great for sharp parts, or things that might leak, like an oil pump. It also pays to make diagrams of electrical circuits, oil lines and anything else you may not remember how to put back together a few weeks or months down the road. I can not stress this part of the process enough. A well organized tear down will save you much trouble and grief, not to mention money, when it comes time to put your project back together.

The tear down begins...

One of the questions that I get asked quite often is; Where can I find a good cheap Harley to build? The words good and cheap are almost never found together in front of the word Harley anymore. It is possible to find a fairly reasonable project bike though. I would suggest that anyone but the most experienced builders avoid anything that is not in one piece. ie: The bike that comes with the motor in several boxes. The parts are almost never "all there" and even if they are, they are hardly ever organized in a manner in which you could put them all back together by yourself.

Was that thing a motorcycle?

Another important thing to do is to buy a good manual. The original Harley-Davidson © manuals are great if you can still find them. Chiltons © are also very handy for this kind of project. Having the instructions will save you problems and busted knuckes. Read the manual and familiarize yourself with your bike before you tackle a project like this. Find out if you have the skills and tools to do the job. Almost anyone can take a bike apart, only a mechanic can put it back together and make it safe and fun. Do you have what it takes? If you have the skills, then determine if you also have the time money and willingness to complete the project at hand. If not, remember, a whole motorcycle is easier to sell than several boxes of greasy parts. Be honest with yourself.


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