Tanya and Tracy on the range

Now I’m not a professional motorcycle mechanic, nor have a played one on TV, but I’ve changed a light bulb before. With qualifications like these and a little less than the required amount of good sense, I’ve embarked on another motorcycle adventure. The ’77 Sportster wiggled from time to time. Once I even wondered if I had the rear tire going flat on me. But most times I’d notice it when the gyroscope slowed upon reaching a red light. These tires are before the days of wide 240’s and I blamed the dance on those ubiquitous heavily loaded logging trucks. Obviously they’ve rutted the hot summer asphalt over the years, and my skinny tires are riding from crest to trough and back again. Looking for confirmation of my scientific theory, I headed to the Ironhead forum where I found one or two of the Faithful to confirm my suspicion. But, I was also confronted with the wisdom of experience, “The tires could be the cause, but make sure everything’s tight back there...” Well surely everything’s tight back there, I never noticed it while replacing the shocks, or taking the wheel to get new rubber. But I’ll jack it up and check… Well, I’ll be. Sure enough. The swingarm shifts a little to the left, and a little to the right. Time to break out the ol’ FSM (Factory Service Manual) and see what I can do with a pair of pliers and a screwdriver.

Step 1: Remove the rear wheel as described in “REMOVING AND INSTALLING REAR WHEEL”. Take off this, that, and the other thing. Really? The other thing? What do they know? I should be able to remove the wheel without doing that… 30 minutes later… OK. Maybe the other thing does need to come off.

Step 2: Remove the swingarm pivot bolt. Rats! I need a ½ socket extension. Off to the store.

One week later: Remove the swingarm pivot bolt and the rear fork can now be dissembled from the frame. I said, can now be dissembled from the frame. Can now be dissembled from the frame! From the frame, you frickin’ frackin’ son-of-a- !!! Time to walk away. Enjoy a cool adult beverage. Enjoy another cool adult beverage…

Step 3: Come back the next day. Remove the muffler support, and move the fork up and down, wiggle side to side, and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Victory! Grab your prize and strut in to the living room to flaunt your spoils of war. Then promptly, and I quote, “Get that ugly greasy thing away from the good furniture!”

Step 4: Remove the bearings. It appears, what you need there is a big ol’ 1¼ socket. Back to the store to buy a big ol’ socket set.

One week later: Discover that the nut is too far recessed into the swing arm for the socket to grab on. At that point, I seek professional advice. A friend works on mechanical things for a living and I thought that he could tell me what kind of tool I was lacking. Next thing I know, he’s got it in the vice with a chisel in one hand and the BFH in the other. After a few precision knocks with that hammer, the locknuts are free, and the bearings are being pressed out.

Step 5: Order a new swingarm pivot kit. I just ordered it hours ago, and it’s still not here! Curse those microwave ovens. Ever since they entered my life, I want for instant gratification.

Maybe I’ll just go check the mail box one more time…


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Last revised: September 9, 2014
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