The 1978 Harley-Davidson Shovelhead Project

Shovelhead motor rebuild
I’ve been so busy working on Project Knucklehead I’ve ignored my Shovel motor

Someone recently asked me why I wasn’t taking my Knucklehead apart on my table lift. Embarrassed, I had to admit it was because my lift was covered with a half assembled 1978 Shovelhead motor. My ongoing project for the last couple years, the Shovel gets moved around put on the back burner, and at times ignored. Of  course now that the Knucklehead project is stalled until some parts come my way its time to put in some work on the Shovelhead and get it assembled.

1981 Harley-Davidson FXB Sturgis frame up rebuild
My 1981 FXB Sturgis shortly before I finished a frame up rebuild

My first bike was a 1981 FXB Sturgis Shovelhead. It was also the first motor I ever rebuilt. These motors have always had a place in my heart and I honestly don’t think you can beat the way a Shovelhead sounds. They define that “Harley Sound” people love. I’ve gone through a few of them and find with the right parts and knowledge, despite popular belief, they can be very good running, reliable bikes.

This particular bike, my 1978, has been my most ambitous project to date, rebuilt motor and transmission, new primary, hard tailed stock frame, late model front end, custom made tank and fender, and of course a hand tooled seat. At least that’s the plan, the bike is still in unfinished pieces and scattered across the country! Expect to see a Project Shovelhead feature as soon as the Knucklehead is finished (assuming another project doesn’t come up forcing the Shovel back to the corner!)


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