Get XiED(tm)! Performance Parts

Don't let the Harley heat monster ruin your riding.
Reduce  Engine Surging
Improve Throttle Response
Reduce Engine Ping


HD 2007/2008 Engines

High Heat on 2007/08 HD engines

HD 2007/08 Performance Recommendations

Cool your exhaust temperature with the Wide Band O2 upgrade for 2007/08 HD

Harley Camshaft Specification Tables

HD Twin Cam Engine Builds
TC 128 HP 95 CID
TC 100HP Street Engine

The basics of Fuel Injection explained

Rammer Performance Air Cleaners
TC Performance Heads 100+HP

Pro Tuning on a Shade Tree Budget


XLH 883 to 1200 Upgrade
by Rick 'Rickko' Eliopoulos


The sections below describe the way to perform an  883 to 1200 upgrade. It can be done differently but my take on this is the more you read and familiarize yourself with information such as this the better prepared you are to tackle the task yourself so reading this should be a helpful guide into what you will experience.

This rebuild consists of choosing Wiseco dished 9.5:1 pistons, X-Hasting rings, Harley-Davidson base gaskets, Bartel’s .027 head gasket kit, Andrews N2 Cams, Yost Power Tube and normal Stage I modifications (i.e. Screamin’ Eagle (SE) air cleaner, slip-ons, 45/180 re-jet, SE coil, SE 1200 Ignition module and the Vance & Hines SS2R racing exhaust system).

The steps needed to upgrade an 883 to 1200

Installing a Yost Power Tube
Installing the Andrews N2 Cams
Determining My Compression Ratio & Squish
Installing New Pistons, Bored Cylinders & Heads
Buttoning It Up
The Road Test
Drags and Dyno Results
Parts & Costs

Copyright 1998 Rick Eliopoulos All rights reserved.
Project start date: 28 March 1998
Project end date: 12 April 1998

The Preparation


It was one of those normal NW Oregon kind of days; ugly gray and rainy on and off. The only difference between Oregon rainfall and San Diego rainfall is that between wettings, in San Diego the streets and sidewalks dry out. If you had been in San Diego this weekend and had an 883 sitting in your garage, you might have done what I'm about to tell ya' too.

Saturday, I moved my cage out of the garage to make room to begin my performance upgrade on my 49-state Victory Red '94 883. The plan on the performance side: Wiseco dished pistons, James base gaskets, Bartel's .027" head gaskets, Andrews N2 cams, Yost Power tube, SE Ignition module. On the poseur points side: Black H-D mirrors, black K&N Super Bars, Vance & Hines SS2r racing exhaust, black shocks (Progressive or Koni's), rear sets and much more (of course). I've already done Stage I modifications (i.e. SE air cleaner kit, re-jet carburetor, slip-ons, SE fork brace, etc.).

As the 883 sits, with its trademark classic H-D peanut tank and only 6,200 miles on the odometer, its perfect! Good power, nary a cough through its re-jetted CV, nimble handling, and narrow enough to split the tightest lanes in freeway stop and go traffic. But perfection can always be improved on, right?

After making a lot of room in the garage and laying an old white sheet down to put all the parts upon, I began stripping the scoot. I logged each step as I went along, for one reason, I'm kind of anal-retentive, for another, so I remember how to put it all back together again , and lastly, to type this story up so that some future 'wrench' can find it archived here for reference.

The good news is, I had every tool I needed to strip the scoot down and remove the jugs except a 12 pt 1/2" socket for the head bolts. The bad news, none really. Well, I was a little nervous when I came into the garage Sunday morning and found the scoot leaning over on its jiffy stand. No biggie you might be thinking' but when I left it Saturday night it was sitting on a Dunwel Lift about 6" off the ground! I'll elaborate on that in a later article.

Now its Monday. The heads and cylinders have been removed. All the parts are labeled and laying on that old sheet. Tomorrow I'm taking the cylinders in to be bored and honed and the heads to be ported and valves & seats reground a little for improved flow.

While I'm waiting to get 'them back I'll be doing the Yost Power Tube upgrade. Then, on another free night, I'll be pulling off the cam gear cover and begin swapping my stock cams with the Andrews N2 high torque cams.

While doing the Yost Power Tube upgrade I'll bump my main jet up to a #180 from the #170 I'm running now. The slow jet is a #45. If I notice pinging or poor higher RPM performance after the upgrade is done, I'll swap the #180 with a #185.

I just thought back and realize its been 38 years since me and my high school bud first tore into an old '50 Ford flathead. That was my first experience working on engines. Since then I've completely torn an old Renault 4CV down to its block replacing its innards. And along the way, fooled around with VW's and Mercedes engines and carburetors for many years. The only thing that's changed from those days is, I've got a creeper seat and a lift. In the old days I did all my work while the cars sat jacked up on the street at the curb.

It wasn't until home computers became popular that I realized you could have just as much fun tearing into them, modifying 'them (making' 'them go faster), then buttoning 'them up and never get your hands dirty. That's when I stopped working on cars but I must confess, I am enjoying getting a little dirty again working on this project.

It's always amazing to me to think as you see all the individual parts laying on the floor, that when put together (the right way), these inanimate pieces of metal and rubber can come to life creating that famous Harley sound, motion, and big grin on my face as I head into the wind!



Before putting the scoot on a lift I decided to do what seemed more convenient while it sat on its jiffy stand.

A few caveats before beginning this phase: Have a service manual nearby. Review copies of the Hot Rod Bike and HOT XL magazines that published articles on this (These would be 1997-98 issues). Read and re-read the service manual and these articles to familiarize yourself with what you are going see and do.

OK here goes: Put transmission in 5th gear.

  1. Remove air cleaner cover to reach rear heat shield clamp screws.
  2. Remove rear heat shield to make room for socket to reach upper exhaust manifold nut.
  3. Loosen front heat shield to allow access to front upper exhaust manifold nut.
  4. Remove front and rear exhaust manifold nuts (They were barely tight).
  5. Remove cotter pin & pin holding rear brake pedal lever to plunger shaft
  6. Remove nut holding rear muffler to frame. (1/2")
  7. Remove nut holding front muffler to case. (3/4")
  8. Remove exhaust system as one unit.
  9. Insure gas lever is off then remove lower gas line at inlet to carburetor.

Be careful here, the inlet is made of plastic. On the positive side of this choice is, you can easily drain gas from the inlet hose, and your replacement hose clamp will be hidden from view. The negative is, you might (but probably won't) break the plastic inlet either in removing the stock clamp or by over tightening the new hose clamp during re-assembly.

  1. Loosen the gas cap and drain the tank. But save some for reassembly.
  2. Disconnect Enrichner/Choke from mount by loosening nut on backside of mount.
  3. Per Maurice's instructions, rock the carburetor body up/down while pulling it outward.
  4. Loosen the throttle cable's (the one that pulls the throttle open on acceleration) adjuster nuts and thread them all the way to toward the black vinyl cable protection.
  5. Mark the throttle cable ends and where they connect at the carburetor so you know where they will go back.
  6. Note the routing of the cables under the tank on paper so you don't forget.
  7. Remove throttle cables from carburetor body.
  8. Remove spark plug wires from coil.

Jack up bike on a Dunwel lift and secure it to the lift with a tie-down. Then put 2x4's under the wheels and lower it so its just resting on them. This will stabilize the bike very nicely.

  1. Remove small wires from coil marking each where they go and taping them off.
  2. Remove wires from horn (mounted on front tank mount bolt on '94's).
  3. Remove tank mount bolts noting the order everything is attached to the front one.
  4. Remove tank.
  5. Remove coil.
  6. Remove seat.
  7. Remove battery.
  8. Remove ignition switch
  9. Loosen ignition motor mount
  10. Remove V.O.E.S. switch from motor mount
  11. Remove motor mount
  12. Remove carburetor intake manifold (Its VERY helpful to have a manifold tool at this point. It works well).
  13. Bungie up the ignition switch, V.O.E.S. and other wires that may be hanging under the frame above the rocker boxes.
  14. Pull spark plugs
  15. Remove front motor mount (9/16" through frame)

At this point I did the entire front cylinder since clearances are tighter on the rear and I didn't know what might be in store at each step.

  1. Loosen the allen screws holding rocker box covers to head.
  2. (A ball-end allen wrench is useful for the one allen head located on left side rear jug rocker box.)
  3. Lift and remove the top two rocker box covers.

With transmission in 5th gear, turn the rear wheel until BOTH valves are closed in front cylinder. Can be seen with a strong flashlight looking into manifold ports. This relieves pressure on the valve springs and makes removing the lower rocker box VERY easy.

  1. Loosen completely the rocker arm shaft nuts on right side of engine first. (24'-lbs)
  2. Loosen completely the rocker arm nuts on left side next. (24'-lbs)
  3. Loosen completely the two allen screws at the left side corners of the last rocker arm assembly (3rd rocker box).
  4. Loosen 3 inner rocker cover 7/16" bolts. (~5 lbs)
  5. Remove lower rocker box with rocker arms attached. (On the rear cylinder you may only be able to lift it enough to pull the push rods out first, then there will be room to remove it.)
  6. Remove push rods. (Mark them or be VERY careful where they came from. My Exhaust pushrod had 3 red rings painted on the upper part of it and the intake pushrod had a one brown ring painted in the same area)
  7. Loosen head bolts (12-pt. 1/2" socket required) per service manual instructions following the published pattern. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT or you may distort the cylinder.
  8. Remove head. Have a rag on the floor here. A little oil will leak from the head.
  9. Pull pushrod tubes out from their mountings on the case and mark them (i.e. FE- Front Exhaust, FI, etc.)

If you were only doing this disassembly to do headwork, then at this point it would be VERY CRITICAL that you not allow the cylinder to move while removing the head. It would be best to have another person to hold down the cylinder. Since this project requires removing the cylinder, this wasn't an issue for me.

  1. Remove head gasket & o-rings from around the two dowels (oil guides).

Now ensure the piston is at or very near BDC.

  1. Carefully rock and lift the cylinder out without hitting the four head studs. (Don't put ANY sideways pressure on those studs. Don't let the piston hit the cylinder case bore if possible. (A second person would help here).)
  2. Stuff clean rags down in cylinder bores of case right onto flywheel to keep debris like carbon from top of piston and wrist pin retainer-clips etc. from falling in case.
  3. Rotate rear tire forward to move piston back up.
  4. Use an awl or tiny screwdriver to remove wrist pin retaining clip (wire) from its groove. Hold thumb over it so it doesn't fly into your face.
  5. From opposite side, use something to hold up against wrist pin so you can tap it out. I had the handle side of a screwdriver that worked perfectly. I tapped on the business end of it and pushed the wrist pin out.
  6. Start on rear jug from step 33 above.

I took my jugs and heads to Tatro Machine Shop on India Street in San Diego. They didn't require me to clean up the heads or cylinders or remove any of the gasket material or have me remove the dowel/oil guides. They said they'd take care of all that. Just remember to get those dowels back when you pick up the finished cylinders.

Besides boring the cylinders, Tatro's is going to port the heads, install new valve seats, back-cut the valves and 3 angle cut 'them as well. The valve and seat work should improve flow 25-30% over a stock 883 head.


On the pushrod tube seal replacement question I had, Mike Irving pointed out its a no-brainer, the answer is yes. The seals only cost about $2 each from H-D.

If you buy the H-D top end gasket kit for about $70 I don't believe the pushrod tube base seals are included. The only thing I'm substituting from that kit is James base gaskets and the old style exhaust manifold gasket. It was very obvious how much the ones in my head were blocking exhaust flow out. They must have reduced the overall circumference of the ports by 1/8" or so (Lost flow = lost horsepower).

For the cam replacement, so far I find I'll have to buy a new cam cover gasket and some assembly lube.

In step 28 I mentioned a 'manifold tool'. It's advertised in catalogs and various places as an Intake manifold tool. Its an 'S' shaped allen wrench with a ball end on one end and normal hex on the other. Its ends are cut closer to the center shaft between them and they are NOT at a 90 degree angle to the center shaft. They are at about 110 degrees. In any case its designed to just fit and more importantly will work as required. I highly recommend buying one of these before you start your project.

Also, while I'm waiting to get my heads and cylinders back I topped off my battery and put it on the trickle charger for 24 hours. Its going to have a little more compression to deal with when its reinstalled.

Notes on using a hydraulic lift:

  1. Leave your jiffy stand down!
  2. Insert it from right-side of bike toward the jiffy stand.
  3. Don't push it so far under that a certain cross-member on the lift hits the jiffy stand spring.

After nearly a year of using my lift on many occasions, for some reason this time I didn't lock it. During the afternoon while I did the tear down, I didn't notice that it was imperceptibly lowering itself towards the ground. (I also didn't have the hydraulic control tight.)

Over the course of that evening after I finished my work and during the night, the lift finally compressed to the ground. When I went into the garage the next morning I was shocked to see my scoot sitting on its jiffy stand with the lift fully compressed! Thank god I had the jiffy stand down 'because the bike must have gently leaned over on it as the lift compressed.



Yost Power Tube Installation


The last article left off with me disassembling my engine down to the cases pulling the heads and cylinders and taking them off to the machine shop Tuesday. Since dropping them off I continued on with this new experience (God I hope this thing runs again!).

Thursday night (4/2/98) I decided to tackle the Yost Power Tube (YPT) installation. I thought I'd do it in the kitchen (since I live by myself and don't have someone to remind me not to do mechanical work where I make sandwiches etc. Even though there is such a thing as soap and water, some women just don't like the idea.) I pushed everything aside and made room for the carburetor., screw drivers, vice-grips, paper towels, electric drill, and a coffee cup to dump the gas into from the float bowl.

A long time back, Maurice wrote an article entitled Changing' Jets. I printed it back then and had it handy as I started this task. I also had the magazine article just published showing a pictorial step by step procedure for installing the YPT. One thing you can be sure of in doing after-market installations is, if you work from the manufacturers instructions, you won't be able to figure out what to do (One exception. S&S has the BEST manual on installing and tuning an S&S carburetor I've ever seen. That company is top-notch. From manuals to customer service, they are the best! IMO). Maurice's notes and the pictorial were invaluable aids to the project.

Tip: If you use Maurice's instructions, mine or the magazine article, be sure to read them completely once or twice so you are prepared for each step with the right tools and parts on hand.

OK, here goes,

  1. Remove the throttle cable plate by clamping the screw head going into the side of the carburetor body with vice-grips. A slight turn and it'll loosen. Unscrew it with normal Phillips screw driver.
  2. Unscrew the only other screw holding it on attached to the top of the carburetor (black plastic spring cover).
  3. Unscrew the four Phillip screws holding the float bowl to the carburetor. body while holding it straight up.
  4. Gently lower the float bowl watching the float slowly tilt downward. The accelerator pump rod will come out of the rubber bellows on the side of the carburetor. No problem. Just insure you slip it back in on re-assembly.
  5. Dump the gas from the float bowl into that coffee cup (the one without your coffee in it), pat the rubber o-ring type gasket dry and put the float bowl aside.
  6. Gently turn the carburetor body over take a small crescent wrench or a screwdriver large enough to fit the entire slot of the main jet (brass piece screwed into carburetor body.) and remove the main jet and the brass tube its screwed into. If the jet is stock, it should have a very tiny number stamped into it like 160 or 165.
  7. Insert the new power tube and #180 or #185 jet included with the YPT kit and screw it down, but not to tight. I'd try the #180 first.
  8. Right next to the main jet set deeply into a narrow shaft is the slow jet. Replace it with a #45 if you have one. Also be careful to use the right size flat blade screwdriver so you don't damage the inside surface of the shaft.
  9. Carefully replace the float bowl insuring that the chrome accelerator pump rod goes back into the rubber bellows. Replace the four screws.
  10. Looking down at the top of the carburetor (black plastic cover), remove the remaining three screws. That cover has a large diameter spring under it so keep your thumb on it to hold it down as you remove the last screw. Then slowly lift it off the carburetor body.
  11. Remove the large spring.
  12. Carefully remove the rubber diaphragm that encircles the bore of the carburetor body.
  13. Remove the white plastic spider retainer.
  14. Remove the stock silver needle
  15. Pull the throttle slide out of the carburetor. Don't worry it can only go back in one way.
  16. Follow the instructions for drilling the 1/8" hole in the bottom of the throttle slide. Carefully clean out any metal shavings from the drilling process.
  17. Replace the slide
  18. Insert the new needle supplied in the YPT kit.
  19. Replace the spider retainer making sure you don't block the hole you just drilled out. The spider is keyed and should drop into the right position automatically.
  20. Carefully replace the rubber diaphragm. Don't damage this! Its not easy to replace. If it doesn't fit, wait 24 hours or until it completely dries out, it'll shrink into the correct shape and will be easier to replace.
  21. Replace the big spring.
  22. Replace the black cap or, if you've already got one, install the new chrome cap in its place. As Maurice said, this is the best time to do it!
  23. Replace the throttle cable plate and cinch up that one screw that holds it to the side of the carburetor body with the vice-grips.

Done! Replacing the carburetor onto the intake manifold will be covered when I describe the entire engine re-assembly process.

Oh yeah, not quite done. Don't forget to clean the kitchen counter before your SO comes home

Installing Andrews N2 Cams

Its Saturday (4/4/98) and threatening to rain again. Another good day to wrench on the scoot.

Today, I'm going to break more new ground; replace the stock 883 cams with the Andrews N2 cams. My choice of cams was directly related to how I will be using this bike. It will be my commuter and errand bike. I'll rarely drive it more than 30 miles from my house and nearly always divide my riding between street and freeway conditions.

The N2 is a high torque (low end) cam (i.e. it should get you from one street light to next quicker than the old blue-hairs can move their foot from the brake to gas after it hits 'them the light turned green about 5 seconds earlier.). According to Maurice, this sucker will pull a heavy load too. Good to consider if you've tended to workout in such a way that you now emphasize your ass and belly as your most prominent features as the years are passing by. Or say, your SO happens to like to consume an inordinate amount of Twinkies but not quite enough to tip the scales past the 900 lb. GVWR for your scoot.

This procedure assumes you've already removed all three of your rocker boxes and push rods, push rod tubes, removed your brake pedal from the pushrod going into the master brake cylinder, and removed your front exhaust muffler.

Disassembly is very easy. Preparation for it is more time-consuming.


  1. Feel under the gear case cover directly and note where it butts up against the case. When you remove the cover, a small amount of oil will drip from this point so either put a rag, cardboard or thin long pan under that location to catch it. At the local grocery store I found I could by four aluminum foil 1" high by about 6" long oven baking pans for about $2. These are perfect for catching drips anywhere under your scoot.
  2. Read and re-read the service manual and any other reference on removing and replacing 883 cams. The first edition of "Hot XL" in 1996 had a 'How to Do' pictorial article on installing a cam called Yes You Cam". You should be familiar with which cam is #1, #2, etc. before you start.
  3. The gear case has 11 allen bolts that you'll remove in this process. They are four different sizes. They need to be replaced in the holes from which they were removed. Take a cardboard flap from a box and an awl and punch 11 holes into the flap. Number each hole. As you remove the Allen screws (I followed the torque sequence order in the service manual), stick 'them in the appropriate holes.
  4. Put the transmission in 5th gear.
  5. Have some assembly lube and a new cam gear cover gasket handy.


First remove your tappets. To do this you'll need a small paper clip straightened out with just a little bend at the very end. You can use your paper clip or some other means and stick it down into the tiny hole in the center of the top of the tappet. Don't scratch the surface trying to stick it into the hole. Hook it, then slowly lift the tappet out of its bore. Repeat this for the rear jug tappets.

Next, remove the Allen screws holding the plate that holds the lower pushrod tube seals and the pushrod tubes onto the case. These are VERY tight.

Now remove the smaller allen that is 90 degrees to the one you just removed (These aren't so tight). It secures a small triangular plate to the case. Behind the plate are two guide pins with tiny o-rings on their ends. Remove the plate, guide pins and o-rings.

I filled coffee cup about 2/3's full of 20-50 wt. oil. Then I cut two rectangular pieces of cardboard with widths equal to the inside diameter of the cup and about twice as high as the height of the cup, then fashioned them into a + divider then inserted the + into the oil. Now I marked the cup so that I could remember which tappet came from which hole in the block (i.e. FE, FI, RI, RE) and placed the respective tappet into the appropriate location in the cup (If you mark the cardboard, the next morning the oil will have absorbed itself onto it and obliterate your marks).

  1. Drill out the two rivets on the ignition cover and remove it. The ignition cover will have a BIG number 5 on it.
  2. Remove the dust plate and paper gasket backing.
  3. Mark the ignition plate and the gear case cover so that you can align it to the same location when you re-assemble everything later. Use the awl to mark (scratch) the gear case. If you use a pencil or something else that is easily cleaned off, you might inadvertently wipe it off in step 9; then you've lost all reference to where it goes upon re-assembly.
  4. Remove the two long nuts holding the Hall's ignition plate in place. Pull it out of the gear case so its hanging.
  5. Using a 5/16" socket, remove the nut holding the gold Hall's effect rotor onto the #2 cam’s shaft.
  6. Remove the rotor.
  7. Remove the Allen screws holding the gear case on. Remember, when you start to remove the case some oil will begin leaking (not enough to cup into the palm of your hand but enough to mess up the floor.
  8. Remember the order you removed the Allen screws and place them on that cardboard flap you prepared ahead of time.
  9. The gear case will most probably be stuck to the gasket. Using a rubber mallet to dislodge it or your hands carefully try to loosen it by pulling it from underneath. DON'T USE ANY TOOL TO PRY IT AWAY. The new gasket will NEVER seal at that point if you do. (A reminder here. The gear case bushing alignment with the cam gear shafts is VERY tight. That means the case will come straight out. There will be no side-to-side or up-down play in the case. You'll be amazed at how precise the alignment needs to be to ensure minimal wear on the bushings and the shafts.)
  10. Once the shafts are clear of the bushings, you'll have to pivot the cover back towards the rear of the bike. Its rear edge is being tightly held to the bike by an oil line and the ignition pickup wiring. I had a rag ready to put between its pivot point and the front edge of the aluminum belt protector so I wouldn't scratch the rear edge of the gear case as I pivoted it back. --At this point its easier if you have a helper.--
  11. Cause the engine to turn over buy moving the rear wheel such that the engraved line marking one tooth on the pinion gear (directly below the #2 cam gear (the largest gear) aligns itself into the gear cog that is marked by a dot on the #2 gear. When you've done that, you'll notice that all other lines and dots align themselves on the other three gears. Once you've got 'them all lined up, you can pull out the 4th gear (the rightmost gear, technically the front jug exhaust gear and cam, or the gear most forward of all the gears).
  12. Replace it with the new #4 gear applying a liberal amount of assembly lube on the gear shaft going into the engine and the perimeter of the entire cam lobe and aligning it to the dot on the #3 gear.
  13. Pull the #2 cam.
  14. Pull and replace the #3 cam aligning it to the dot on the number 4 gear. The #3 gear might have two dots. If so, the proper way to install it is so that the smaller angle made between the two dots to the shaft center is directed towards the ground.
  15. Pull the 1st gear and try to put the new gear in so that its aligned as the one you removed was. Might have to count some teeth and make a mark on the inner gear case to do this.
  16. Now the simple part (ha!). Insert the #2 cam into its bushing such that all three of its dots line up. One with the #3 gear, one with the #1 gear and most importantly, the last one with the marked tooth on the pinion gear. That's it! You might push the scoot back and forth a little to insure the gears don't bind. Another method is to place all the gears in the gear case first, then rotate the #2 gear insuring there isn't any binding. (The Andrews page below will explain how to over come a binding cam.)

Now you can put more assembly lube on the protruding cam shafts, put a new gear cover gasket in place and carefully slide the outer cam gear cover back onto the four cam shafts. Be very careful to keep the gasket properly aligned. Replace the allen bolts tightened to the proper torque and you're cam gear replacement is 99.9% done.

The last step insures your gear shafts are properly machined and set into the case correctly.

  1. Starting with the front jug's exhaust cam, rotate the engine (rear wheel) so that the high point of the cam lobe is point straight up into the tappet hole. Insert a flat screwdriver into the tappet hole in such a way that you can pry the cam lobe horizontally towards the outside gear case. Now insert the proper feeler gauge down the tappet hole to determine the end play is within service manual tolerances. You will be measuring the gap between the lobe journal and the inner brass gear bushing.
  2. Repeat above step on the remaining three cams.

(Andrews Cams has a great web site explaining all this. Mark Dotson informed me of this URL.)

  1. Properly install rotor and ignition plate according to your marks on the gear case (The rotor is notched and should only fit onto the #2 gear shaft in one location.
  2. Use new o-rings, seals and gaskets upon reassembly to ensure you'll remain leak free and follow the torque requirements and sequences as described in the service manual.

If, during road testing you detect pinging, especially under load, try a higher octane gas, if that doesn't resolve it, try retarding the ignition by rotating the ignition plate a degree or two at a time.

Determining My Compression Ratio & Squish

At this point the cylinders, heads, and pistons have been removed from the cases. The tappets are sitting in a cup of fresh 20-50 wt. oil waiting to be reinstalled. Now, being of the scientific ilk, I decided I'd burette test the heads and the forged dished pistons to determine my actual mechanical compression ratio before I re-installed the new pistons.

Compression ratio is the ratio of the volume of the cylinder when the piston is at BDC to the volume when its at TDC. The formula for finding the volume of a cylinder is written in every grade school primer. Besides that, if I'm building a 1200cc engine, then obviously one jug is going to be 600cc's. But using the formula to find a cylinder's volume: radius^2*pi*height, is not the only calculation that needs to be done. There are three additional volumetric areas that need to determined; the VERY small cylindrical area that is occupied by the thickness of the head gasket; the volume of the dome of the head where the valves open and close and the depressed space in the top of the Wiseco piston, called the dish area.

There are two ways to find the head's volume, either look in The V-Twin Tuner's Handbook by D. William Denish who calculated it to be 49.5cc's or find out for yourself if he is correct. I chose the later path.

My good buddy Zoom Rushing, a pharmacist by trade, brought me a 10cc syringe that I could use by filling with water and accurately measure the head's volume. First I inserted the spark plug and tightened it into the head, next I filled and refilled the syringe after squirting the water from it into the head chamber. On the forth refill I carefully squirted 8cc's into the head chamber. Then, laying a flat piece of glass from a 5x7 photo picture frame on top of the head I started to see if the water filled the chamber. It didn't. I added another cc of water. Still didn't fill it. I add 1/2 cc more and this time, the glass sealed the water filled chamber perfectly and without a bubble. Confirmation that Denish was right; 49.5cc's of volume in an 883 head.

Using the same method we filled the dished space atop the piston. It worked out to be 10.8cc's

Now I got two of the three calculations done: Head volume: 49.5cc's and dish volume: 10.8cc's. The last one is easy to calculate but takes a little research to get the figures to plug into the formula.

Figuring out the volume of that little slice of space between the top of the piston and the base of the head, sometimes referred to as the 'squish area', is a matter of determining how high the piston is at TDC relative to the cylinder. That means you need to know a few more facts. One, you'll need to know the UNCOMPRESSED and COMPRESSED thickness of base gasket you'll be using (That thickness will raise your cylinders that high above the case); two, you'll need to know the same dimensions for the head gasket you chose and; three, you'll need to know the relative difference between the top of the cylinder and the top of the piston at TDC. Got that? If not read it again and again. Draw a picture. Do whatever it takes to understand how to figure this out.

OK, a real life example. My uncompressed H-D paper base gasket is .017" thick (compressed its .012" thick) and my Bartel's copper head gasket compressed is .027" thick (copper doesn't squish with 35 ft-lbs of torque on the head bolts). Now, place that base gasket over the studs on your cases, then attach the piston to the rod (don't clip it in), then place the cylinder over the piston. Now lower the cylinder to the gasket, then rotate the engine (by putting the transmission in 5th and turning the back wheel) until the piston is at TDC. If you are doing this to the front cylinder, TDC can be found by pulling the huge timing plug allen screw found on the case just below and between the base of the two jugs on the right side of the engine and centering the vertical line on the flywheel in the viewing hole. If you are doing this to the rear cylinder, you'll just have to eyeball it.

With the piston is at TDC run your finger over edge of the piston and cylinder wall's bored edge. You'll notice one of three things. Either the piston is slightly lower than the bore, even with it, or slightly higher. If either the first or third case, you'll need a feeler gauge to determine how much. If its inside the bore, whatever you measure will be a negative number in the formula. If its above, it'll be positive. In my case I found the piston to be .0025" above the cylinder bore (+.0025").

Now remembering we put in an UNCOMPRESSED base gasket which raised the cylinder up .017" means that if it were under compression (i.e. heads bolted down), the piston would be .another .005" above the cylinder in addition to the .0025" it measured uncompressed making the piston extend above the cylinder height, +.0075" . Now if you lay a .027" head gasket on top the cylinder, that effectively raises the head deck height .027" above the cylinder top or .027-.0075" above the piston. This case would result in a deck height of +.0195". Denish calls for a safe range between .0200 and .0300. Since I was so close I decide to leave it be. From this information we can now figure out the volume of that slice of space remaining (.0195") created by the inclusion of a compressed base gasket and the head gasket.

We said that the head gasket is .027" thick. Since we know the piston extended above the top of the cylinder by .0025", our slice volume, or squish area will equal to (bore/2)^2*pi*height or (bore/2)^2*pi*(the thickness of the head gasket-the .0025" the piston is occupying at TDC of that head gasket's thickness). [(3.498/2)^2*3.14*.0195]= .187 CUBIC INCHES. Now convert that to cc's. [.187*16.38706]=3.1cc's.

Now we've got all the info we need to calculate the cold mechanical compression ratio of our new engine. Here's the formula:

(cylinder volume + dish volume + squish volume + head compression chamber volume)/(dish volume + squish volume + head compression chamber volume)

For our example: (600.321 + 10.8 + 3.1+4 9.5)/(10.8 + 3.1 + 49.5) = 10.477 or 10.5:1 Mechanical compression ratio with a cold engine. Others have researched and found that a hot head and cylinder will expand adding about .040 cu. in. to the squish area’s volume in the combustion chamber. With that in mind, if you increase the squish volume by that .040" or (6.3cc's) our formula would change to: (600.321 + 10.8 + 6.2 + 49.5)/(10.8 + 6.3 + 49.5)= 9.62; or 9.620:1 net mechanical compression ratio.

From all this you can conclude, if you narrow the gap between your cylinder and head (use a thinner head gasket) your compression ratio will increase. But at the same time, as your engine gets up to operating temperature, the compression ratio will lower because the heat will cause expansion within the combustion chamber.

With that example behind us, let me say, based on my final choice of gaskets (H-D base gaskets and Bartel's .027 copper head gaskets) my compression ratios ended up to be:

Compression Ratios Cold Hot
Front Cylinder 10.477 9.620
Rear Cylinder 10.418 9.571

Installing New Pistons, Bored Cylinders & Heads

At this point I have torn down the engine, determined what my mechanical compression ratio will be by setting the squish and am ready to put things back together. Its Sunday April 12th now.

Writing this with hindsight I'll begin by saying, this part is easier that I expected it would be. There are different schools of thought on how to install the pistons into the cylinders; you can either mount them on the connecting rods first, or; you can insert them into the cylinders BEFORE mounting them to the connecting rods. In the first case you'll probably need a ring compressor. In the second, you absolutely do not need one.

I had the benefit of getting advice from a couple of people locally on how to install the rings, pistons and cylinders. One guy, Keenan Tatro, a long time racer at Bonneville and engine builder and from Al Mativi who has rebuilt at least twenty or more big twins and Sportsters in his garage over the past eight years. They both recommended the latter option of installing the pistons into the cylinders BEFORE installing the cylinders onto the cases. Having no prior experience with this myself, I decided I'd give it a shot. I can tell you, by the time I bolted my heads down, I had inserted and pulled my pistons with new rings etc. out of the cylinders six times. Believe me, this method is VERY easy to do.

How is it done?

Your first step should be to insert one cir-clip into each piston's groove that locks the wrist pin into place. I inserted the clip that would eventually be on the left side of the engine as I wanted to do my re assembly from the right side. After completing the entire re assembly I now think it would be easier if I had put the cir-clip into the right side groove instead. Less chance of the other one falling into the tappet bores.

Before installing the rings you must check their end gap. For this step you'll need a feeler gauge. Wiseco says that the general rule to follow in checking the end gap is to insert each ring into the top of the cylinder by carefully, using the top of the piston, push it down into the cylinder about 1/2 inch insuring that it is level, or parallel with the circumference of the bore. Then insert your feeler gauge into the gap. They say the safe range should be "the min. ring end gap is .004 for every inch of bore , so in the case of installing 1200 pistons having a 3.498" bore, the ring end gap should be between .012 to .020." That's .004x3.498 or .014". When I measured mine they were all .015 and within Wiseco's specifications. If the gap is narrower than .014, you'll need to file them, BUT VERY CAREFULLY. Read the service manual first before attempting to file them.

Once your gaps are verified correct, you can install the rings onto your pistons. Your ring set will be comprised of 5 individual rings. Having only three grooves around your piston means you'll be inserting three rings into one groove and one ring into each other groove. If I've got this right, The rings are called from top to bottom; the compression ring, the middle ring, and into the third groove goes, in this order, a very thin retainer ring, and oil spring ring (looks corrugated), and another retainer ring. That means the oil spring ring has a retainer ring above and below it.

You start putting your rings on by installing the oil spring ring into the third (lowest) groove first. Then carefully, spread a retainer ring and install it in the same groove just below the oil spring ring. Next install the other retainer ring just above the oil spring ring, also into the lowest piston groove.

Next, insuring the middle ring is facing in the proper direction (i.e. dot up), with your thumbs you can carefully separate the space wide enough to put the ring over the piston head and into the 2nd groove. Once again, you repeat this for the compression ring as you allow it to fit into the top groove.

With all your rings in place, you now insure their gaps don't overlap, nor do they lay within 10 degrees of the piston skirt thrust faces. That is they should be offset from the center line of the piston as its installed in the scoot. That center line being an imaginary line drawn from the front to rear of your scoot. This is explained quite well in the service manual.

The service manual also gives H-D's recommended spacing of ring gaps as your rings lay in their grooves. I chose to use its recommendations. Basically it says space each gap 90 degrees from the next. When done the lowest retainer ring gap will be directly below the gap of the highest ring, the compression ring. So yes, as you imagined, there is one overlap of gaps, but neither will affect the other.

With the rings in place you can surprisingly, very easily slip your pistons into their cylinders. Here orientation is again important. Your piston manufacturer. will have indicated which thrust edge should face your exhaust port. Make sure, this is how the piston's end up in the cylinders.

Now, turn the cylinders so that the head of them is on your counter top (protected) and wipe some assembly lube around the lower 2" of the cylinder bore. You should be looking into the base of the cylinders now. Carefully insert the piston head into the bore so everything is resting on the compression ring. Now, with your thumbs pressing on each side of the ring and 90 degrees away from the gap compress the gap and tilt that part of the piston into the cylinder so the gap is below the edge of the they cylinder (inside the cylinder). Once you've got the gap inserted, its VERY EASY to continue compressing the ring as you slowly tilt the piston back to level. Follow this same procedure with the middle ring, then the oil rings. I found at times I had to lightly tap the piston to push it further into the cylinder as I moved to each succeeding ring.

Once you've got all rings inside the cylinder, make sure you don't push the piston in so far that you can't insert the wrist pin. This is critical so be very gentle when inserting the oil rings into the cylinders.

Now after wiping some assembly lube on your wrist pin and the groove the locking cir-clip will go into, insert the wrist pin far enough so that it won't interfere with the connecting rod when you lay this whole assembly over the studs and lower it to the connecting rod. At this point you can to install the cylinder/piston as one assembly.

First, remember to clean the top of your cases around the case bores and INSTALL YOUR BASE GASKET over the studs. Now, carefully lower the cylinder and piston over the studs until the piston wrist pin aligns with the connecting rod bushing. When aligned, using your fingers, just push the wrist pin through the connecting rod bushing until it is stopped by that cir-clip you installed at the beginning of these instructions.

Now insuring that there is NO POSSIBILITY that anything can fall into your cases by stuffing lots of rags or paper towels all around the connecting rods, insert the second cir-clip into its groove which ultimately locks the wrist pin into place. Make sure this cir-clip is seated properly into its groove, then sit back and imagine the damage that will be done if it isn't and the wrist pin comes (slides) out towards the cylinder wall during operation. After that scares ya' to death, check it again!

Putting your thumb over it during installation helps keeping it from flying across the garage in case it springs out before you have it totally locked into place. I found by inserting the edge of the clip at the gap all the way into the groove, and grabbing the other edge near the gap that was still sticking out with a needle nose pliers, I could easily force it into the hole. Then using a small flat blade screw drive I was able to push it from the teeth of the needle nose right into the groove. Make sure the clip gap is opposite the space that is molded for use during cir-clip removal. With the piston and wrist pin clipped in you can now gently lower the cylinder down to the base gasket by gently rocking it back and forth.

I did the rear cylinder first as its a little harder because of the room allowed by the frame. With the jug installed, I continued with that cylinder until I had the head installed and torqued to specifications. In my case, Bartel's recommended torquing the head bolts in three increments leading up to the last tightening being 35 ft-lbs. After torquing the rear head into place I repeated everything above for the front cylinder.

The next article, which is my next to last post on this project, I'll review how I decided to reassemble the rest of the engine and bike. I didn't exactly reassemble everything in the reverse order as my disassembly steps and in that post I'll tell ya' why.

Buttoning It Up

OK, its time put the scoot back together. At this point we've got the base gasket in place, the piston on the rod with cir-clip securely in place and the cylinder slid over the piston, resting on the base gasket.

Next I took the tappets (sometimes called lifters) that had been soaking in a coffee cup full of 20-50 wt. oil and dropped them back into their respective locations in the case. There is only one way they'll fit properly. First the roller rides on the cam, and secondly, they need to be rotated in their bores so you can reinsert the tiny chrome guide pins. Don't forget to install new rubber guide pin o-ring seals. Most assuredly, yours are compressed. Once the pins and o-rings are in place, replace the triangular guide pin retainer plate and torque it to manual specs.

Next the chrome down tubes are re installed. This is one of the more trying steps of the rebuild. You'll need new down-tube base seals. I used Harley's at $2 each. I was told that James makes them also for about double the price. One difference being, they install easier. I slid them into place on the down-tube, then slid the metal down-tube base holder into place over the seals, then placed the whole assembly onto the case over its respective the tappet hole and tightened the allen screw to specification. Some people will experience difficulty getting the base of the rubber seal that touches the case to align itself within the down-tube base holder.

At this point you'll lay the new head gasket onto the cylinder top and install the heads. Bartel’s does NOT recommend using any gasket sealer on their copper head gaskets.

Now place the upper down-tube o-ring seals into the head and soap them a little (I wet my finger and rubbed it on a bar of soap, then around the o-rings). That allows the top of the down-tubes to slip into their o-ring seals much easier as you place the head on the cylinder.

Now I'm about ready to replace the head. With the Gasgacinch setup on the gasket and the head, I lower it over the studs and carefully align it onto the dowels that are protruding from the cylinder. I replace the head bolts and follow the torque sequence recommended by Bartel's since I was using their gasket. Basically it said to torque the bolts in three increments to 35 ft.-lbs. So I did, 12, 24, 35.

With the head bolted into place I followed the same steps on the front cylinder and heads. Once they were both in place I completely finished up the rear cylinder assembly. The procedure here is a little different than on the front cylinder. You'd think the next step would be to insert the push rods into their tubes but its not. Because of clearance problems you'll need to lay your rear lower rocker box in place then insert your push rods, then readjust the position of the rocker box arms over the tops of the push rods. I should have mentioned earlier, before you do this, the crank should be rotated so that both tappets are at their lowest point (i.e. valves closed).

Now you tighten the lower box to specs. using the method mentioned in the service manual. Basically that means in a crossing pattern and not too quickly as the tappets will have to bleed out some of the oil in them as the rocker arms force the push rods down upon them while you tighten the rocker box to the head.

The last steps for this cylinder are to lay the middle rocker box cover into place, then the top one torquing it to spec. (11-14 ft-lbs).

Here's where I deviated from the tear down process. Instead of finishing the front cylinder I re installed the intake manifold. There is a lot more ‘elbow’ room at this point, with the front cylinder's rocker boxes still not installed. After the intake manifold was in place I installed the front motor mount, then the left side motor mount, then the V.O.E.S. and the ignition switch. This was all easier to do with the front rocker boxes still sitting on the side.

Now I finished the front cylinder's rocker boxes. With them done, I re attached the carburetor, but before I did that, I pulled the bowl and filled it with gas so I wouldn’t have to crank the engine for a long while before it would start.

After installing the carburetor and its associated throttle and idle cables I installed the horn, the coil and its associated wiring, then the gas tank, the fuel line going to the carburetor, the gas tank vent hose. Once everything was in place and torqued properly I re installed the exhaust system and re attached the brake pedal's arm to the master brake cylinder plunger completing the job, or was it? Nope, I still had the battery to install but once it was in place, the scoot was ready to be turned over.

The Ongoing Road Test

Finally! At 5 PM on April 12th 1998 the little red once upon a time 883 XLH is ready to crank over. All parts installed. No skinned knuckles. No parts left over either!

First I decided since everything is REAL TIGHT inside that I'd pull the plugs and crank it a few times without any compression to hold back the battery. It work! It cranked. Since I was standing on the left side of the scoot and reaching over to hit the start button, I can't tell ya' what it was like to feel the air being pumped out of the spark plug holes right up into my face.

OK, now it 5:05 PM. The plugs are in. The choke is full out (I'd filled the float bowl with gas before I mounted the carburetor so it wouldn't have to draw the gas into it during the initial start up. Here goes. I hit the start button and held it for the same amount of time which I've become accustom to when this puppy was an 883. It cranked a couple of revs, then when I released the starter, it sounded like it actually kicked backward for a second with kind of a metallic sound. I thought, hmmmm, turn the throttle once to give it a squirt of gas and hold the starter switch in longer.

Contact! It started. The first revolutions of a new engine. Unbelievable. I did it! It runs.

I kept the Enrichener out probably longer than I should have, about 30 seconds. As I pushed it in I gave it a little more throttle. Damn, you could just tell how tight this engine is. I turned the star-wheel throttle lock to hold the idle at about 1500 RPM and stood back admiring my accomplishment. Then it hit me! I better check the gasket seals for leaks.

With my drop light I carefully examined the perimeter of every gasket. No leaks, yet.

After letting it idle for about 20 minutes, I sat on it to take it for a spin. My first impression was that there seemed to be a slight stronger feel with each compression stroke explosion. It just felt bigger, or heavier.

As far as sound goes, it probably sounded just a tad lower. Its got the SE tapered slip-ons. The tappet noise cleared up in about 5 minutes. At that point I could hear better if there were any unusual sounds. None. Even the Andrews N2 cam sounded no different than the stock cam sounded. The expectation is that it would be louder. If it whined to much it would have meant that there is no gear lash and possibly that one or two cam gears were a bit too tight.

I carefully rode it out to a lightly traveled boulevard near my home. I kept it under 2500 RPM in each gear. I could feel there was a real difference on any incline I encountered.

Since I drained about a gallon of the two gallons (87 octane) I had in the peanut tank before I started the conversion, I thought I put a gallon of the mid-range gas (89 octane) in it to mix my load and get the average octane up a bit. Just in case I started to hear it ping.

When I pulled into the station, I was so excited the scoot was running I chose to just leave it that way. Let it run while I fill it up. This is easy to do 'because I always straddle it holding it upright when I fill it anyway. Boy it sounds good I thought.

Filled. Shift into first, take off! After the fill up I rode it for another hour. Since the boulevard was pretty much deserted I constantly cycled the scoot through the gears never going above 2500 in any gear. When I hit 50 MPH in 5th, I'd let it decelerate down to each shift point, then I shift down, decelerate, shift down etc. till 1st gear, then I'd accelerate back up to 50 going through the gears again.

By the time I got back to my home and shut it off I'd had it running constantly for 1 1/2 hours. During that time, occasionally I'd pull over letting it idle while I checked all the seals and gaskets for leaks. Still no signs of oil anywhere. Whew! Its still holding together. By the time I hit the kill switch I'd put a total of 30 miles on it. I couldn't seem to stop grinning inside me. I was excited.

When I first started riding it, I took a screwdriver with me in case I needed to adjust the idle. I did. It seemed as the idle was set for a broken in 883, that I had to turn the screw in 1 complete revolution to keep it idling at around 1000 RPM. But, by the time I finished my 1 1/2 hours of riding I'd readjusted it back 3/4 of a turn. I'm sure for the next few hundred miles I'll be fiddling with that but no biggie. Its so accessible.


Monday. Have to work day. I pushed the scoot out of the garage. Set the Enrichener and petcock and hit the START button. What's wrong! It sounds like it only turned a 1/2 a rev. Hit it again, another 1/2 rev. Oh no! It won't start. After many, many attempts, I decided to put it in 5th. I figured if I pushed it and got it to just crank over once or twice the starter would/could start it. I pushed, I popped the clutch; the engine spun once or twice.

Good, put it back in neutral. Hit the START button, crank, crank, it starts! Wow, what a relief. I was thinking' what if a piston seized or something.

After it ran for awhile I killed it and tried to restart it again. I couldn't. I pushed it and it started. I concluded that because the battery was 4 years old that with all this new compression and tight fitting parts etc. It just couldn't handle the new load. To confirm my thoughts I decided to hook up the charger for the morning, go to work, then come home at lunch and try the starter/battery again. If it starts, I know the battery is weak and I'll order a new on. If it doesn't, then I'd have to expect something else is wrong.

I got home at lunch as planned. I thought, I'll eat a sandwich or two and give the charger a few more minutes to charge. I did, then went to the garage, unhooked the charger and hit the start button. Wallah! It started! Good... now I've got to order a new battery.


I still haven't got my new battery. Ordered a WestCo ($88) sealed battery that should be here today 4/17/98. It is advertised to have 275 cold cranking amps. That should help a lot. Problem is, now that I've got a 120 miles on the new engine, its starting to crank over a little better. Oh well! Anyone want a good used battery?

The scoot has been running well. I put a temperature gauge into the oil filler spout and find I'm not heating up at all! The most I've seen so far is 170 degrees. This surprises me. My engine shop tells me I'm breaking it in too mildly. Has recommended I get into the 3000 and 3500 RPM ranges. They say only the first few miles, 20 to 30, you need to really baby the engine. Now is the time to start wearing down the potential high spots on the cylinder walls and get a good ring seat.

I did find the scoot running onto my reserve tank at 59 miles! That netted me 33.3 MPG over the first fill-up mileage. Boy I hope that changes. When I first bought it, I'd get about 90 miles to reserve, then I installed the basic Harley-Tax stuff and it dropped to 72 miles to reserve. I really hope I'll still be able to maintain that at a minimum. We'll see!

At idle I'm noticing an occasional random dull knock once every five to ten seconds. Hope that isn't a serious problem. Maybe my idle is too low.

As far as sound goes; now that I've been on it for over 100 miles, I believe it sounds no different than before.

On April 20th I picked up the WestCo and installed it. Its ever so slightly larger than the stock battery so it fit well, but tighter. Big question, will it make a difference? Yep, it kicks it over better now. I also picked up a Battery Tender since I have two scoots. Since obviously I can ride only one at a time, I'll be using it on idle one.

By April 21st I've run the mileage up to about 180. Leaving work I filled the peanut tank with gas. Again. my mileage is 32! I've got to hope this is because I'll I've been doing since the rebuild is varying the speed. I don't think I've held the scoot a constant RPM for more than 5 seconds. Yes, this gets a little tiring. After the fill-up I decide to put this puppy out onto the freeway for its first extending ride. I have this 50+ mile loop I can easily ride that take you around the city so I did it.

Being I'm only getting 30+ mpg I pulled into a station at the end of the loop. I had mistakenly forgot to move my petcock lever back to normal when I last filled up. I hate that when I forget. Especially if I run totally out of gas! Fortunately I didn't this time. After the refill I calculated my highway mileage.  It's now up to 42! I still varied my speed a lot but it sure makes a difference being in 5th rather than 1st, 2nd, and 3rd all the time.

My opinions to this point: Can't wait to get another 250 miles on it so I can really open it up more. Right now I'm foregoing my original break-in plan and am regularly running the RPMs up to 3,000 and 3,500. That pretty much means I'm within my normal 'sane' commuting RPM ranges of riding now.

Taking' it to the Drags

Don't know if you've ever been to the Bridgeport Jamboree in Bridgeport California or not but this year I was looking forward to it more than ever because I planned to tow my new monster there and enter it in their 1/8th mile drag race competition.

Let me clear up a couple of things. Yes I towed it because, a) Its a 460 mile 1 way ride through the Mojave Desert which reaches temperatures well above 100 this time of the year and b) my monster only goes 60 miles before hitting reserve. That would mean I'd have to make SEVEN gas stops just to get to Bridgeport!

OK, After a one year hiatus, the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce decided to incorporate run what ya' brung Drag Races in the weekend schedule again.

Besides getting' high on the view of the beautiful snow-capped Sierra's, getting a chance to run my monster at the drags was the other reason I went this year.

OK, down to the details. I'm not a professional drag racer but if you are, you'll probably get a lot more out of this than I do. I must say, I was REAL impressed with the performance I bolted together.

Here are the numbers. These runs were done over two days. The second day the temperature was about 10 degrees or more hotter than the first, thus the slower ET's and MPH figures. RT Stands for reaction time. Mine were about average for a newcomer although I did red-light once and another time I must of anticipated because I had an unbelievable .261!

One more point that is important for the serious drag racer to note; these drags where being held at an elevation of just over 7,000 feet.

FRIDAY, 26 JUNE 1998

Time of Day RT MPH ET

13:31:05 .934 80.63 8.783

13:35:52 .99780 .65 8.737

13:39:08 .904 82.17 8.651

13:41:49 .790 83.31 8.512

13:48:15 .900 82.79 8.532

13.53:49 .742 83.79 8.511

13:59:20 .735 82.46 8.732

14:04:23 .858 82.40 8.605

14:13:27 .855 75.60 * 9.539 *

* On the last run I started to run out of gas about 1/2 down the strip. That's why the MPH and ET are so poor.

FRIDAY, 26 JUNE 1998

Time of Day RT MPH ET

11:31:11 .707 80.48 8.811

11:36:35 .490 79.70 8.984

11:41:13 .713 80.70 8.712

11:51:42 .798 81.31 8.576

11:54:57 .695 80.63 8.793

12:33:16 .757 75.93** 8.710**

13:26:00 .700 82.46 8.8.455

13:59:11 .261 RL 82.38 8.983

14:16:45 .774 81.80** 8.526**


** These two runs were made during Bracket competition. I dialed in 8.800 and 8.650 respectively and 'broke out' both times unfortunately. I've got a lot more to learn about bracket racing.

To summarize the good numbers: My best reaction time was .261although it was a ‘red light’. My best ET- 8.455. And my best MPH- 83.79.

It's interesting to notice that at the end of the second day my MPH numbers started to fall into line with the numbers from the previous day. That might be because the time of day was approximately the same and thus the OAT was probably about the same on both days at that time.

The Dyno Results...

On Monday, August 23rd with 8,300 total miles on the scoot and about 2,000 miles on it since the rebuild I had the opportunity to have it dyno’d at San Diego Harley-Davidson. Here are the results:

HP: 73.4 @5,900 RPM
77.0 @3,800 RPM

Ask me if these numbers make me happy?




Screamin Eagle Air Cleaner Kit SC H-D 60.95 59.11

Re-jet carburetor SD H-D 55.00 55.00

Factory Maintenance Manual SD H-D 36.00 34.91

Andrews N2 Cams BBL 279.95 223.96

44, 170, 175 jets (spares) BBL 4.95 3.96

Top end gasket kit Internet 70.00 70.00

SE Coil Internet 30.00 30.00

SE Spark Plug wires SD H-D 12.95 11.86

YOST Power Tube BBL 83.95 67.16

Wiseco 1200 9.5:1 pistons BBL 199.95 159.96

Assembly lube CHIEF AUTO 4.99 5.38

Cam cover gasket TATRO 3.00 3.23

Valve seal set (4) TATRO 8.00 8.62

Cylinder dowels (4) TATRO 8.00 8.62

Misc. fluids TATRO 5.00 5.39

Port heads, valves & seats TATRO 350.00 350.00

Bore & torque plate hone cylinders TATRO 150.00 150.00

Crane 155# valve springs TATRO 62.00 66.81

Head & Base gasket kit (.027) BARTEL’S 32.45 34.54

Lower pushrod tube seals (4) SD H-D 5.00 5.00

Exhaust gaskets (2) SD H-D 6.40 6.90

Tappet guide pin o-rings (4) SD H-D .20 .22

V&H SS2R Racing Exhaust SD H-D 395.00 361.77

SE 1200 Ignition Module SD H-D 114.95 105.28

TOTAL PARTS: $ 1,826.91




12 pt 1/2" socket & 1/2" driver PEP BOYS 8.78 9.46

5/16"- 1/4" Drive socket PEP BOYS 2.50 2.04

Rocker cover allen screw SD H-D .80 .86

Locknut, Front muffler support SD H-D .90 .97

Cotter pin, Brake pedal SD H-D .10 .10

WestCo Sealed Battery (275 CCA) Clairemont Cycle 95.95 88.00

Oil Filter, Magnetic RevTech BBL 10.95 8.76

Oil, 1 gal. H-D 20-50 wt. SD H-D 11.30 10.35


GRAND TOTAL: $ 1,974.45

* This was the mfg. suggested retail price at the time I ordered the part.

** This is what I paid. Sometimes it'll be more than MSRP because I wasn't able to get a discount but CA state tax (7.75%) was added. When its lower than MSRP, either I got a discount, or didn't pay tax or both.

All parts were purchased between Jan. 1st, 1998 and April 18th, 1998.

Vendor References:

bulletSD H-D: San Diego Harley-Davidson, San Diego CA., (619) 616-6999. Ask for Al or Fred.
bulletSC H-D: South Coast Harley-Davidson, Chula Vista CA., (619) 420-7000. Ask for Ken.
bulletClairemont Cycle, San Diego CA., (619) 571-0155. Ask for Jamie (the owner).
bulletBBL: BBL Enterprises, Crosby MN. (218) 546-7757. Ask for Bob and tell him Rickko referred you. (10% off on all major catalog . prices + free shipping on orders over $100). I highly recommend them. They have a "No Questions Asked Return Policy"
bulletBartel's Harley-Davidson Marina Del Rey CA. (800) 227-3534. Ask for Jason.
bulletTATRO: Tatro's Machine Shop, San Diego CA. (619) 298-9005. Ask for Keenan Tatro.
bullet"Internet" refers to buying part from a private party via the Internet.

References & Credits

The following books, magazines and people assisted me in preparing for my upgrade or helped me during it. My appreciation and gratitude is extended to all of you. Thanks, I owe ya' a beer the next time we meet.

  1. 1993 & 1994 XLH Models Harley-Davidson Service Manual, Part Number: 99484-94
  2. Harley-Davidson Sportster Performance Handbook, Buzz Buzzelli, 1998 Edition *
  3. The V-Twin Tuner's Handbook, D. William Denish, Crystal Pubs. (800) 945-4890 *
  4. S & S Catalog - "Proper Engine Break-in"
  5. Hot XL Magazine, Issue #1, 1996, "Yes You Cam", Pages 50,51 **
  6. Hot XL Magazine, Issue #1, 1996, "883 to 1200 Conversion, Pages 52-57 **
  7. Hot XL Magazine, Winter 1998, "Installing a Yost Power Tube"
  8. Hot Rod Bikes Magazine, Mar. 1998, "Sportster 883 Project Bike; Part I: Bolt-on Power
  9. Hot Rod Bikes Magazine, Apr. 1998, "Sportster 883 Project Bike; Part I: More Cubic Inches
  10. Hot Rod Bikes Magazine, May. 1998, "Sportster 883 Project Bike; Part I: New Bolt-in Cams
  11. Thunder Press Magazine, Feb. 1998, Motorhead Memo, p. 28,29, "Building a Hyper-Sportster"
  12. Thunder Press Magazine, Apr. 1998, Motorhead Memo, p. 28,29, "Exhaust Systems"
  13. The Harley Tax, , Article by L. Maurice Riggins. Posted to the XL-Digest.
  14. Re-jetting , Article by L. Maurice Riggins. Posted to the XL-Digest.
  15. Setting Idle Mixture & Speed, Article by L. Maurice Riggins. Posted to the XL-Digest
  16. Phil 'Zoom' Rushing, Helped cc the heads & pistons. Helped me install the pistons into the cylinders the first time. And generally harassed me while drinking my beer.
  17. Ike Crouch, Helped rotate my rear wheel while I aligned the cams and drank my beer
  18. Al Mativi, San Diego, Advised me on using stronger 155-lb. Crane springs and various other steps of the rebuild
  19. Keenan Tatro, Tatro Machine Shop, San Diego, 619 298-9005, Did all the head, valve and cylinder work
  20. Maurice Riggins, Advice on many aspects of the rebuild and corroboration on determining compression ratio
  21. Iron Mike of Portland Oregon, Advised me on piston/cylinder assembly
  22. Todd -Cast Iron Customs- Advised me on many aspects of the rebuild. His emails were very helpful
  23. Scott Koplin, Advised me on forged vs. cast pistons and break-in miles.
  24. Steve Brantley, Advised me on 2-1 exhaust systems.

Since writing this page of references, Kip Woodring has come out with an excellent book on EVO projects with timesaving tips and fantastic photography. Its called 101 Harley-Davidson Performance Projects : For Evolution Big Twins and Sportsters***. I highly recommend you read it before beginning your rebuild, or ANY project for that matter. Included in it is an entire section on all the tools you’ll ever need to work your scoot. Its very well done.

Table of Contents
Search the site 
Nightrider COPYRIGHT

Ask us a Question

Modification, Installation, Maintenance and Tuning Index  will help you find most of the information you want on one page.

How to get Professional Tuning Results at home
Testing the Innovate Motorsport LM-1 portable air fuel meter

Profession Tuning on a Shade Tree Budget

Veypor VR2 Data Logger and Instrument Panel
Video Installation and Demo
Purchase VR2

Engine Performance
How to Build a
TC96 2007 Engines
TC88 70HP Stage1  
TC95 128HP Stage 3
TC95 100HP Street
TC96 2007 Stage 1/2
EVO 64 HP Stage 1
EVO 74 HP Stage 2
EVO 82 HP Stage 3
EVO 95 HP Stage 3
883 to 1200 Upgrade
Shovelhead Modifications

New EFI for EVO and TC

Performance Gallery
Horsepower Gallery
Evolution 80
Twin Cam 88/95
Evolution Unlimited
Sportster Unlimited
Drag Strip Gallery
Land Speed Racing Gallery
CV Carburetor
Modifying the CV carb
Tuning a CV carb
Selecting a cam
Install a TC 88/95 cam
Install a Big Twin cam
Install Sportster cams

Camshaft Specifications
Twin Cam

Exhaust Systems
EVO Exhaust Testing
TC Exhaust Testing
Khrome Werks AR100 test
Making Drag Pipes Work

Shop Manual
Carburetor Troubleshooting
Finding Manifold Leaks
Cylinder Heads
Pistons and Cylinders
Belt Drive
Shop Manual Appendix
$20 Bike Lift
Plug Wires
Spark Plugs
Engine Tuning
Nitrous Oxide
Motor Oil
Stutter Box
General Information
WEB Links
Buy Books and Manuals
Performance Calculations
Estimate Horsepower
Estimate 1/4 Mile Time
Estimate Top Speed

Engine Displacement
Exhaust Length
Gear Ratios
Air Density

The Nightrider Diaries
The ramblings of a genius a, a madman and something in between.

Where is Sifton Cams?

Autocom Active-7 tested

Harley-Davidson EFI
-EFI basics explained
-EFI modifications explained

183 HP, 2 carbs, 2680cc

Copyright 1997-2006  Stephen Mullen, Oldsmar, FL -+-