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Cajun Peauxseur
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I apologize if this is in the wrong place.

I am considering the purchase of a 1981 FLH. It belongs to a friends father. He bought it from the origianl owner years ago. Original paint - rootbeer brown - with 13k original miles. The engine was rebuilt 300 miles ago. No bags. I'm going to go take a look at it this weekend.

Is there anything special I should be paying attention to? Any suggestions on a fair value?

Thanks.
 

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My main concern is that Harley was owned by AMF from 1969 - 1981. Lots of cheap *** crap was factory installed on them.
Look at the inside of the lower legs and see if it says "Made in Japan" (No kidding.)
 

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XLIII
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Scooter said:
My main concern is that Harley was owned by AMF from 1969 - 1981. Lots of cheap *** crap was factory installed on them.
Look at the inside of the lower legs and see if it says "Made in Japan" (No kidding.)
Walk in to a dealership today and see if it doesn't say "Showa" on the forks...
 

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Look @ the overall condition of the bike. Most bikes that have been taken

care of look like it. Nothing wrong with the AMF years, quality control

was hit and miss but I've had AMF and post AMF shovelheads and couldn't

attest to any real difference. Do you know how much stuff on brand new

bikes and cars is Not made in the USA, forget about it.

It's an old bike be prepared to spend some $ to get it dependable.

Take someone who knows Shovels, what they should sound like etc.

81 was around the time Harley was screwing around with shorter valve guides

and had problems with them. You would like to know if the heads have been

done, if not count on it sometime in the future.

Easy to pull heads with engine in frame, cost: under $500

Value of bike depends alot on condition and originality.

Range probably 5000 to 10000.

If it's pretty straight and everything looks in order

probably 6500 to 8500.

Good luck. These are great old bikes and can be very dependable.

IKE
 

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My 80 FXS is out in the parking lot at work right now, 14000 original miles I'm the forth owner. I am concerned as to why the engine was rebuilt. One of the few known quality issues that are motor related was an early failure of the cam bearing in the case. This can be fixed without even pulling the motor and even then they didn't all fail, and certainly not within 13000 miles. I would inquire as to why someone was in a low mileage motor. Probably the biggest thing you will find is corrosion from sitting so long and not being ridden.

Most dealers will appraise the bike by opening a Kelly Blue Book without even seeing the bike. $7400 for an FLH, recalculate if it turns out to be a FLHC.

http://www.kbb.com/kb/ki.dll/ke.kb....idson;FLH Electra Glide;421340;17245;;;;&&&&&

Remember to subtract the cost at least mentally for expensive must-haves like new tires if it needs them. Lack of bags detracts value. IMHO, the more original parts right down to the nuts and bolts, the more value. I wouldn't pay for it what it would be appraised for.
 

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Highly Seasoned Rider!
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80FXS80 said:
My 80 FXS is out in the parking lot at work right now, 14000 original miles I'm the forth owner. I am concerned as to why the engine was rebuilt. One of the few known quality issues that are motor related was an early failure of the cam bearing in the case. This can be fixed without even pulling the motor and even then they didn't all fail, and certainly not within 13000 miles. I would inquire as to why someone was in a low mileage motor. Probably the biggest thing you will find is corrosion from sitting so long and not being ridden.

Most dealers will appraise the bike by opening a Kelly Blue Book without even seeing the bike. $7400 for an FLH, recalculate if it turns out to be a FLHC.

http://www.kbb.com/kb/ki.dll/ke.kb....idson;FLH Electra Glide;421340;17245;;;;&&&&&


Remember to subtract the cost at least mentally for expensive must-haves like new tires if it needs them. Lack of bags detracts value. IMHO, the more original parts right down to the nuts and bolts, the more value. I wouldn't pay for it what it would be appraised for.

I agree. I'd want to know more about exactly what was "rebuilt". At that mileage, it really shouldn't need anything.

People like to dump on AMF but for the most part, they were OK.

Good luck.
 

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AMF designed the 5 speed transmissions. AMF designed rubbermount baggers. AMF developed the FXR. AMF come out with the 80" Shovelhead engine. AMF started the EVO design. AMF developed the secondary belt drive. AMF is the reason Harley is still in business today. AMF made bowling balls.

:bowdwn: AMF
 

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1981 was the first year large guide the drilled oil pump and pressure lines from lifter blocks to cylinder base there where some issues but they should of been handled by now
 

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Scooter said:
My main concern is that Harley was owned by AMF from 1969 - 1981. Lots of cheap *** crap was factory installed on them.
Look at the inside of the lower legs and see if it says "Made in Japan" (No kidding.)
lots of japanese parts are on your bike too. i would rather have nippon denso than delco!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
changed the oil in your showa forks lately?
and how is that hitachi starter doiing?
 

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Those lines from the cylinder bases to the tappet blocks were called evacuators. The intent was to help scavage the oil from the top end, and they actually helped do that. They were discontinued in mid 81 when they figuered out that valve guide seals were the answer to oil burning on the exaust valve stems resulting in stuck valves.
They did however have the cast iron guides and Nitan valves.
The 81 did have improved aluminum castings in the cases and heads. Both material and machining.
1979 was the low point, these were the most problem engines of the Shovel era, some pretty poor machining.
I have a great example on my tear down bench now. This is one that had plain bolts instead of centerless ground locating studs in the two lower positions allowing the cases to shift more easily.
 

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Cajun Peauxseur
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the info, guys. I did not make the trip to see the bike yet. Unfortunately I am recovering from surgery and I was a bit ambitious with my plans to drive 65 miles to see the bike today. Hopefully, I will make it by the end of the week!
 

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Highly Seasoned Rider!
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L.Linkert said:
Those lines from the cylinder bases to the tappet blocks were called evacuators. The intent was to help scavage the oil from the top end, and they actually helped do that. They were discontinued in mid 81 when they figuered out that valve guide seals were the answer to oil burning on the exaust valve stems resulting in stuck valves.
They did however have the cast iron guides and Nitan valves.
The 81 did have improved aluminum castings in the cases and heads. Both material and machining.
1979 was the low point, these were the most problem engines of the Shovel era, some pretty poor machining.
I have a great example on my tear down bench now. This is one that had plain bolts instead of centerless ground locating studs in the two lower positions allowing the cases to shift more easily.
My 1982 Shovelhead had the lines running to the cylinder bases to the lifter blocks. I drilled the lifter blocks and plugged the holes in the cylinders. My bike also came with valve seals.

I wasn't aware that they were used as early as 1981. The only bikes I've ever seen them with were 1982's. I understand that those lines were more or less a nifty cure for a non-existant problem. HD has done this before.

Regarding AMF, I think that part of the poor sales in those years might have been quality-related but a great deal of it had to do with the Japanese motorcycle invasion. One of the bikes in particular put a huge dent in HD sales. The 750cc Honda four was a great seller in that era.
 

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Buy it. My last bike prior to my current ride was a 1981 FLHS and I would buy it back if I could find it. The only thing I would change would be to convert to a final belt drive, I hated replacing chains and sprockets and having little oil spots on my shirts from the chain oiler. Bike was soild and dependable and easy to work on. The tank graphic was unique also. Can't beat that Shovelhead sound. The price is what it is worth to you.
 

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Amf

I don't know the deep truth about the quality issues during the AMF years, but I have a '72 FLH that was purchased new. It now has 61,000 miles on it and never been rebuilt or had major work done. Heck, I ride it to work 2-3 times a week. I have changed tires, brakes, sprockets, hoses, points and a starter over the years, but that is about it. I am seriously considering a valve job, not because it needs, but because I am really tired of adding lead substitute.

Make sure to ask why it was rebuilt at 13K, strange to me. Value, from watching ebay I would guess in riding condition 6500-8500 and if it something really special it could go for 12-14,000.

Shovels are dependable and will run coast to coast, I done it twice! tictoe
 

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samsd said:
Buy it. My last bike prior to my current ride was a 1981 FLHS and I would buy it back if I could find it.

That was also my last shovel. It was the sharpest red I've ever seen. Would love to have it back. What color was yours?

Had a 750-4 too.
 
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