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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So about a month ago I came across an 84 FXST for 3k and decided to move on it. Bike looked great, started right up and shifted through all gears, ok, (sometimes had to bump throttle for it to go into second). Anyways, previous owner stated it had set for about a year. So within this last month I had been taking it on short, around town runs and to and from work to see if I had any issues. A month later now, I've had to replace a clutch cable it was literally on its last thread, replaced and adjusted it, worked great for about 8 miles. Came out of adjustment again. Got it home and popped the derby cover to find the clutch adjustment screw was broken in half. Replaced it today and took it for a spin around the block. Did great. When I got home, I had noticed the clutch cable had come loose a bit from when I took it out for its shakedown. If I continue to have adjustment issues, I'm going toward replacing the throw-out bearing. I'm going to drain the transmission fluid tonight to inspect for debris from needles. If that doesn't rectify the issue then I'll start tearing apart the clutch and go from there. Any input would be appreciated. Or other things I should be on the look out for. TIA
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Well drained the transmission, nothing to be found as far as debris is concerned, although did not have as much fluid as I was expecting 1 pint per the service manual. Will top off fluid and test ride tomorrow and continue to troubleshoot from there.
 

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If your bike is basically stock, you probably have a diamond in the rough. That said, when it was Brand New it was rough as well LOL. 84 is the first year Softail and has some things that are pretty unique to it. Some you know just because you have the bike but I'll list some of the stuff just because. All this applies to 84 and 85 FXST.

You have a 4 speed and in general that was crappy transmission, mostly because of the "cow patty" shifter top.
Chain rear drive for the original FXST.
Frame is "pre-castings". In 86 they started casting a lot of the frame parts, like the rear fender strut and swing arm supports.
Being a first year EVO the heads were crude sand castings. Some of the worst head casting they ever made. KEEP them on the bike if they are original. Even though they are "junk" they belong on that bike.

Opinion, anything you do to keep it stock or restore it to stock, is what makes that bike a Gem. Being what it is, it's not a great platform to do some bike build from. It is a classic piece of Harley History.

Your question, that clutch can be challenging. The best thing you can do IMO, is make it all right before trying to adjust it. No cheap aftermarket parts. The clutch pushrod design for example has heat treated rod ends. The stock adjuster doesn't have a ball bearing end etc. Aftermarket parts can seem better in some case but stick with the stock design and parts. It doesn't need improvement it just needs to be made right and adjusted. Follow the FACTORY service manual for clutch adjustment.

The clutch plates and steels should be checked and cleaned or replaced if required. That has a tapered main shaft and 3 finger clutch hub. Check the 10 pins for wear and grooves as they can and will cause the plates or steels to hang up. The stock pressure plate often deforms and affects clutch release.

The transmission "cow patty" might need to be checked and fixed. The shifting groove can become worn and affect shifting. Also the shift forks have "Hats" on them and they could be worn or just plain missing. This affects shifting significantly. Where you have a 1-2 shift issue, that fork might be missing the hat or have a worn groove.

The 4th gear bushing and seals probably need to be checked and addressed. I posted about this many years ago How to fix 4 speed tranny leaks It's important to prevent leaks here and to not let the clamp load loose on the sprocket. It all has to be right for any of it to work. Many people just chase their tails by adding bandaids and aftermarket "fixes" and never address the real problems.

3K is a steal if you truly appreciate that bake for what it is. There are few bikes throughout the history of Harley that had truly significant impact on the direction of the company and the 1984 FXST is one of them IMO.

These shaped the direction of Harley ...
1936 Knucklehead changed Harley engines forever
1958 Dou-Glide, front and rear suspension
1965 Electra Glide, electric start (thrown in for good measure)
1980 FLT, the grand father of ALL current touring bikes today
1984 FXST, first Softail and a new beginning of HD design and style

Many others are arguable because they are a derivative of one of the above in some way. As much as I LOVE my FXR and some would include an FXR in the above list, it really is the step brother of the 1980 FLT.

Edit: POST PICTURES PLEASE !!
 

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...35mm front end ....
You sure about that? The one I remember had a 41mm, basically a WG front end. I had an 85 FXSB with that little weenie 35mm front end.

... Bike looked great, started right up ....
Was that electric or kick? Electric start for that bike was pretty funky. Levers and plungers and solenoids and relays scattered all over the bike. I've seen them work just like a normal, modern type of starter, to all the way to "What a pita", never do the same thing twice. By 1984, Harley just about had the kick start figured out. Too bad it went away with the 4 speed.
 

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You sure about that? The one I remember had a 41mm, basically a WG front end. I had an 85 FXSB with that little weenie 35mm front end.
You are correct. I was picturing it wrong in my head. Thinking 4 speed FX and 35mm almost went hand in hand. The brakes were slightly better on the 41mm.

To add a little more history, Harley didn't develop the Softail Frame. A guy named Bill Davis was making them in the 70's and he partnered with a company to advertise and make them. That fell apart but Willie G. like the idea and Harley Davidson bought the design.

If you look in 1978-79 old Easyrider's you'll likely find an ad like this ... Look at that Beautiful Shovelhead Softail in the picture.
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
If your bike is basically stock, you probably have a diamond in the rough. That said, when it was Brand New it was rough as well LOL. 84 is the first year Softail and has some things that are pretty unique to it. Some you know just because you have the bike but I'll list some of the stuff just because. All this applies to 84 and 85 FXST.

You have a 4 speed and in general that was crappy transmission, mostly because of the "cow patty" shifter top.
Chain rear drive for the original FXST.
Frame is "pre-castings". In 86 they started casting a lot of the frame parts, like the rear fender strut and swing arm supports.
Being a first year EVO the heads were crude sand castings. Some of the worst head casting they ever made. KEEP them on the bike if they are original. Even though they are "junk" they belong on that bike.

Opinion, anything you do to keep it stock or restore it to stock, is what makes that bike a Gem. Being what it is, it's not a great platform to do some bike build from. It is a classic piece of Harley History.

Your question, that clutch can be challenging. The best thing you can do IMO, is make it all right before trying to adjust it. No cheap aftermarket parts. The clutch pushrod design for example has heat treated rod ends. The stock adjuster doesn't have a ball bearing end etc. Aftermarket parts can seem better in some case but stick with the stock design and parts. It doesn't need improvement it just needs to be made right and adjusted. Follow the FACTORY service manual for clutch adjustment.

The clutch plates and steels should be checked and cleaned or replaced if required. That has a tapered main shaft and 3 finger clutch hub. Check the 10 pins for wear and grooves as they can and will cause the plates or steels to hang up. The stock pressure plate often deforms and affects clutch release.

The transmission "cow patty" might need to be checked and fixed. The shifting groove can become worn and affect shifting. Also the shift forks have "Hats" on them and they could be worn or just plain missing. This affects shifting significantly. Where you have a 1-2 shift issue, that fork might be missing the hat or have a worn groove.

The 4th gear bushing and seals probably need to be checked and addressed. I posted about this many years ago How to fix 4 speed tranny leaks It's important to prevent leaks here and to not let the clamp load loose on the sprocket. It all has to be right for any of it to work. Many people just chase their tails by adding bandaids and aftermarket "fixes" and never address the real problems.

3K is a steal if you truly appreciate that bake for what it is. There are few bikes throughout the history of Harley that had truly significant impact on the direction of the company and the 1984 FXST is one of them IMO.

These shaped the direction of Harley ...
1936 Knucklehead changed Harley engines forever
1958 Dou-Glide, front and rear suspension
1965 Electra Glide, electric start (thrown in for good measure)
1980 FLT, the grand father of ALL current touring bikes today
1984 FXST, first Softail and a new beginning of HD design and style

Many others are arguable because they are a derivative of one of the above in some way. As much as I LOVE my FXR and some would include an FXR in the above list, it really is the step brother of the 1980 FLT.

Edit: POST PICTURES PLEASE !!
Thanks for all that great information. I'll definitely use that moving forward. Here are a few pics of it, the tank is definitely not stock, but other than that I believe everything to be original-ish. I.e. the s&s carb. And s&s cases. I have the full build sheet on the motor. P/O said the stock cases were shot.
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Thanks for all that great information. I'll definitely use that moving forward. Here are a few pics of it, the tank is definitely not stock, but other than that I believe everything to be original-ish. I.e. the s&s carb. And s&s cases. I have the full build sheet on the motor. P/O said the stock cases were shot.
This is what happens to many of them and the reason a stock original is so rare. Way too much isn't stock and never will be so it's a blank canvas. It's still unique in what it is and will be a nice ride. Keep posting your progress and asking questions.
 
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