Nursing a 1979 Harley FXS Back to Life

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Harley FXS

Life got in the way of this Harley FXS rebuild once. But now it’s well on its way to a second lease on life!

As much as we love new bikes, nothing quite measures up to Harleys of old. Devoid of electronic nannies and modern do-dads, classic bikes bring nothing but pure character to the table. They might not be quite as reliable, but they are rather easy to work on. And fixing up an old bike like this 1979 Harley FXS is a very rewarding experience. One that today’s modern biker might not ever get to enjoy.

HD Forums member Joe12RK certainly is after picking up this classic Harley FXS a few years ago. Things were all peaches and cream at first, but after a while, the bike’s various leaks and electrical gremlins became pretty annoying. So shortly thereafter, a teardown began. Unfortunately, tearing the bike down also revealed the ugly truth – this old Harley had a bent frame. But that didn’t deter the OP from his mission.

Harley FXS

“I sent it out to Mike at 47Industries in NJ, and he did a great job straightening it. He cut out the bent tubes and replaced them, boring into the neck forging and using sleeves where he cut the tubes. You can’t even tell. I would recommend him any day. A little paint and I’m off to a good start.”

In the meantime, the OP began tearing the transmission down for a rebuild. But then a pesky rental property purchase put the project on hold for a full year and a half.

Harley FXS

Until late 2017, when things finally got back on track.

“Today I got deeper into the tranny and started on the countershaft. First thing I did was replace the 2nd gear bushing and put that back together. Then tried 1st gear, but the bushing won’t go onto the cluster gear. It could be forced and I know that’s wrong, but that will give you an idea of how close it is.”

With a little guidance from fellow HD Forums members, he continued moving forward with the build over the holidays.

“I bought a new main shaft, main shaft bearing, and two countershaft bearings, and they arrived this week. I am going to bring parts to the shop on Monday. Meanwhile, I started taking the front fork legs apart, because I want to use my father’s lathe to shave the reflector boss off when I’m there for Christmas. The 6mm screws at the bottom were not tight, so the legs came apart easy.”

Harley FXS

With a little elbow grease, the parts were looking great. And fitting even better.

“Here’s a picture of the parts back from the machine shop. He took his time and got a nice fit on everything. Main gear to main shaft needs to be 0.0007″ which he did. The kicker shaft needed cleanup, and with the new bushings and o-ring will fix that leak. The new kicker gear bushing will save my knee too. I also took the throwout bearing apart – one little c-clip does it. That’s on order now too. Waiting for some special tools to arrive, then I will put this baby together.”

Next, it was time to get working on the fork legs.

“Yesterday I spent time with my father’s lathe, removing the reflector bosses on the front fork legs. The leg isn’t perfectly round, so I had to do some file work, and left some marks. I’ll sand them out before polishing the legs.”

Harley FXS

At this point, work on this classic Harley FXS is progressing quite nicely. And we can’t wait to see how it turns out! Be sure and head over here to catch up on what’s been done so far, as well as keep up with future progress. And maybe even drop some encouraging words to keep the OP motivated on his resurrection project!

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Brett Foote has been covering the automotive industry for over five years and is a longtime contributor to Internet Brands’ Auto Group sites, including Chevrolet Forum, Rennlist, and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other popular sites.
He has been an automotive enthusiast since the day he came into this world and rode home from the hospital in a first-gen Mustang, and he's been wrenching on them nearly as long.

In addition to his expertise writing about cars, trucks, motorcycles, and every other type of automobile, Brett had spent several years running parts for local auto dealerships.

You can follow along with his builds and various automotive shenanigans on Instagram: @bfoote.

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