The Shovel & the Cannonball Harley Stealth Starter
Usually, wrenching on a Harley is a straightforward thing. Except in this very special case (pardon the pun). Here’s the tale of Jim and Richard of Skinnychopppers, North Yorkshire, UK, and what they did to the Shovelhead of their customer Willie. The way they integrated a Cannonball Stealth starter into this classy bike is definitely worth the Nobel prize for Advanced Wrenching, if there is such a thing :)
Here’s Jim’s tale:
"Our customer Willie from Newcastle had imported a Frisco style chopper from the US. Complete with a big 103 cu. in. S&S Shovel engine with compression release valves installed and a Baker 6/4 gearbox.So far so great, if the thing runs. Willie had an issue with starting the Shovel. Even with the compression release valves kicking the big engine was hard work, and he was afraid a kick back would ruin his knee. So he dialled our number and we talked the thing over with him. We quickly agreed that a Cannonball Stealth starter might just be what the doctor ordered.
When we got the bike,we noticed it had wet sumped as it had been stood for a while, so the first job we did was to drain the oil from the bottom of the engine.
It was vital the compression release valves were pressed prior to kick over. Even then it was a beast to kick-over and a backfire would probably give Willie a sore knee quite easily. Eventually it fired up but not without a lot of effort, it definitely needed the starter unit to make this bike usable. Something that wouldn’t spoil the overall look, almost invisible like a Cannonball Stealth Kick Drive starter.So we looked at the available space behind the gearbox. Hm, that was going to be a tight fit. Thanks to W&W’s Tommy’s help, and his excellent contacts to Baker Drivetrain, we were able to find out that this 1st generation Baker gearbox indeed had an S&S case, a very rare and challenging combination.
To squeeze the starter in,we had to shave the gearbox case to give it enough clearance, tricky, but no problem for us with our extensive experience of rebuilding gearboxes for many years. After carefully taking off excess material (well done, Richard!), everything was nicely polished before final assembly. Looking back on it, the integration seems easy enough, as easy as was the wiring. An amazingly small 16 cell Antigravity battery is all that’s needed to start Willie’s Shovel repeatedly. His knee will be grateful forever :)"
Vintage Harley Davidsons, Engine & Gearbox Rebuilds
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