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Harley Riders USA Forums » Harley Davidson Wrenching Info, Tech Tips, and DIY Forums » Bike Building » shovel pros&cons


Bike Building Building a bike? Newbie? Seasoned pro? Here's where to get help or give advice.



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Old 01-12-2011, 11:28 AM Top   #1 (permalink)
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Default shovel pros&cons

ok so im seriously thinkin bout puttin together a bike, but the main thing im unsure of is what type of engine im gonna put in. i want a shovelhead but not too sure of the pros and cons of them. can anyone help me out with them?
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Old 01-12-2011, 11:33 AM Top   #2 (permalink)
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Go with an evo, last longer than the old cast cyls. Heads are much better design also. Bottom end is basiclly the same.
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:19 PM Top   #3 (permalink)
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thanks, yea an evo was my other choice, id like to find a kicker that i could install on an evo if i do go that route
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:25 PM Top   #4 (permalink)
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If I remember correctly, there is or was a kit for the old 5 speed tranny, but if you cant find a kit ,its the same parts the 4 speeds had. The mainshafts had a groove machined and threads on the end ,for kicker gears. Than its just a matter of the cover and internals.One of the pros of the shovel IMO was that stroker motors ran stronger than the Evo's.
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:36 PM Top   #5 (permalink)
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ok im gonna check it out and see if i can find that kit on the web. the shovelhead stroker is that another way of saying bored out?
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:45 PM Top   #6 (permalink)
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No "stroker" Implies different flywheels with a different crankshaft position , like S&S wheels, but if ya have stock cases, they will have to be relieved for the crank nut clearance , Stay away from Big Bore Kits, the results leave alot to be desired. If I remember right , 88" is good with stock cyls. anything over wiil need spacer plates on a true stroker. On shovels , stay away from the 1980- 80", lot of probs blowing head gaskets.
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Old 01-12-2011, 12:52 PM Top   #7 (permalink)
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go shovel,, evos are dull
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Old 01-12-2011, 01:16 PM Top   #8 (permalink)
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thanks for clearing up what stroker means i was told by someone to try and stay away from shovels that were produced when amf owned h-d but seems like most of them were made in that time frame
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Old 01-12-2011, 01:19 PM Top   #9 (permalink)
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yea man a shovel is what i want, but i havent been able to find one too reasonably priced yet compared to its condition
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Old 01-12-2011, 01:53 PM Top   #10 (permalink)
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Hey DC19, feel free to PM or e-mail me and I will help ya with the drive train questions. As far as chassis goes there are a few here better to advise ya, like Ric or pete and some others. My shop was a bench work, engine and tranny shop mainly and have not kept up with whats "now" with peripherals IE, frames wheels , etc. I'm willing to help ya any way I can, ask away, but please PM or e-mail.
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Old 01-12-2011, 03:51 PM Top   #11 (permalink)
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hey deathcard19, i say you get erics bike, bob it out, sell it then buy your shovel LOD style
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:51 PM Top   #12 (permalink)
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ahh man ,,the shovel,,,,im going build a shovel,,,in a couple of years unless i win the lottery first ,, i gotta get some things payed off,,,like my street bob,,,,,One pro for the shovel is it cast iron though out and evos has alum jugs alum,,,heat causes more distortion in alum and due to unequal distribution of stress around the head bolts they tend to change there shape so you get blow by and lose of power in the evo,,,that why the shovel is used in racing ,,plus there lots of high performance part you can get,,,,CON,,,,the evo is machined to one thousandth inch and the shovel is 5 thousandth,,,, CON evo is bolted from the case to the top of the head ,,,shovels uses two sets of shorter bolts - , one set secures the head to the cylinder and the other secures the cylinder to the case,,PRO ,but the shovel is so easy to work on it sick,,,no need for fancy tools ,,you can really fix your bike on side the road with limited tools,,it considered farmer friendly,,,,,But if you keep it torqued and oiled then you should be good,,,they say a shovel can be made more powerful and more reliable than any Evo even though it was originaly designed to be a outboard motor ,,,,PRO you never be cooler than riding vintage ,,,,,,and the shovel is beautiful ,,,note in 74 amf took over ,,so you know ,,,,shovels life 1966 ----1884--,,,in the 1970 upgrades where made to correct power problems,,,,thats just some things i learned from my dad and a lil research ,,,,but i feel in love with a shovel in 1977 ,,it was when i knew i would ride a harley at the tender age of 5 ,,,hope this helps,,,
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:00 AM Top   #13 (permalink)
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You thought about a shovel clone from S&S or the Ultima is a real sic one.

S&S make fcking awesome shit.
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:13 AM Top   #14 (permalink)
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You thought about a shovel clone from S&S or the Ultima is a real sic one.

S&S make fcking awesome shit.
I was gonna say... isn't S&S making clones of shovels, pans, and knuckles?

new school performance with old school looks don't think you can beat that
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:43 AM Top   #15 (permalink)
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Just a footnote; '66-'69 shovel was still a generater case bottom end. '69 was when AMF made the puchase of H-D with influx of cash to retool and the alternater case came out in '70. H-D was sold from '70 on , under the AMF badge. Early AMF's where plaqued by poor quality wookmanship and some sabotage at the plant by employee's. Another bit on Evo's, the early cases had problems cracking around the oil pressure switch threads and were allmost impossible to repair. I did a ton of case swaps (to S&S) back then.
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:44 AM Top   #16 (permalink)
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I was gonna say... isn't S&S making clones of shovels, pans, and knuckles?

new school performance with old school looks don't think you can beat that
but don't they cost a fortune.....
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Old 01-13-2011, 05:00 AM Top   #17 (permalink)
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but don't they cost a fortune.....
Yep, but the quality is tops.....If ya got the bucks its worth it.
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Old 01-13-2011, 05:01 AM Top   #18 (permalink)
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well I guess it would depend on what you plan on doing with the bike......is it a beater/bar hopper where you would plan on wrenching on it all the time then go with a original shovel..........if it's a daily ride then you might wanna spend the extra cash........just my opinion.........
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Old 01-13-2011, 05:06 AM Top   #19 (permalink)
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Your on da money,Bodie. He didnt specify what type of build he's doing, just asked about engine pros and cons. There also needs to be taken into account what type of riding and performance issues he might have, but again , he didnt state thet either.
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Old 01-13-2011, 05:25 AM Top   #20 (permalink)
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It just makes a big difference on the budget and the persons ability......
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:39 PM Top   #21 (permalink)
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this forum rocks
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:47 PM Top   #22 (permalink)
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this is the Ultima shovel ..

i cant look at it for long without dribbling

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Old 01-13-2011, 12:48 PM Top   #23 (permalink)
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that is cool......have ya ever installed one......
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:51 PM Top   #24 (permalink)
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nope,, believe me y'all will know when i do

i want one for myself,, but i am ever hopeful we will get a full ground up commission soon
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:53 PM Top   #25 (permalink)
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nope,, believe me y'all will know when i do

i want one for myself,, but i am ever hopeful we will get a full ground up commission soon

what's the cost for summin like that?
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:07 PM Top   #26 (permalink)
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what's the cost for summin like that?
fckin cheap Bud :

Ultima 96" Shovelhead Engine for Harley Davidsons - eBay (item 130387443514 end time Jan-25-11 06:49:21 PST)
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:20 PM Top   #27 (permalink)
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that's not as bad as I thought..........
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:10 PM Top   #28 (permalink)
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if you take into account finding an old shovel for less than that, all the $$$ to make it run right etc... I think you'd be better off just running on of those new shovels

idk... maybe its just me... If I wanted an old style engine, i'd just get one of the new clones.
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:22 PM Top   #29 (permalink)
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if you take into account finding an old shovel for less than that, all the $$$ to make it run right etc... I think you'd be better off just running on of those new shovels

idk... maybe its just me... If I wanted an old style engine, i'd just get one of the new clones.
Dam it , Streamy, I find myself agreeing with you way to much lately.But your on the money here, would be the right move and a better product. Now quick , say something to me to keep up the feudin. I'm a bagger rider!!!
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:25 PM Top   #30 (permalink)
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ahh man ,,the shovel,,,,im going build a shovel,,,in a couple of years unless i win the lottery first ,, i gotta get some things payed off,,,like my street bob,,,,,One pro for the shovel is it cast iron though out and evos has alum jugs alum,,,heat causes more distortion in alum and due to unequal distribution of stress around the head bolts they tend to change there shape so you get blow by and lose of power in the evo,,,that why the shovel is used in racing ,,plus there lots of high performance part you can get,,,,CON,,,,the evo is machined to one thousandth inch and the shovel is 5 thousandth,,,, CON evo is bolted from the case to the top of the head ,,,shovels uses two sets of shorter bolts - , one set secures the head to the cylinder and the other secures the cylinder to the case,,PRO ,but the shovel is so easy to work on it sick,,,no need for fancy tools ,,you can really fix your bike on side the road with limited tools,,it considered farmer friendly,,,,,But if you keep it torqued and oiled then you should be good,,,they say a shovel can be made more powerful and more reliable than any Evo even though it was originaly designed to be a outboard motor ,,,,PRO you never be cooler than riding vintage ,,,,,,and the shovel is beautiful ,,,note in 74 amf took over ,,so you know ,,,,shovels life 1966 ----1884--,,,in the 1970 upgrades where made to correct power problems,,,,thats just some things i learned from my dad and a lil research ,,,,but i feel in love with a shovel in 1977 ,,it was when i knew i would ride a harley at the tender age of 5 ,,,hope this helps,,,
Yes!! built rugged and simple, the shovelhead is and always has been the favorite of drag racers; built to tolerances of +-.005", the motor is very forgiving, imho!
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:28 PM Top   #31 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by FLHTom1948 View Post
Yes!! built rugged and simple, the shovelhead is and always has been the favorite of drag racers; built to tolerances of +-.005", the motor is very forgiving, imho!
What tolerances ya guys talking about?? Piston skirt clearance?
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:31 PM Top   #32 (permalink)
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Stay away from Ultima; go with the bes': S and S!!! worth the money, imho...
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:42 PM Top   #33 (permalink)
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Dam it , Streamy, I find myself agreeing with you way to much lately.But your on the money here, would be the right move and a better product. Now quick , say something to me to keep up the feudin. I'm a bagger rider!!!
your scoot looks like it has herpes!
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:30 PM Top   #34 (permalink)
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What tolerances ya guys talking about?? Piston skirt clearance?
Just talking about what was acceptable in machined parts ,,,like jugs ,,ect,,,,,evo is a much tighter engine ,,,,the s&s would be great for a no problem ride,,,,but if i get a shovel on a rigid frame im just cruising the town,,,and ,,,i want the motor i fell in love with when i was young ,,, I will love to opening up a vintage shovel and not have to worry about a motor that less forgiving ( evo) ,,,Cant go wrong with farmer friendly ,,,I love my streetbob and its twincam ,,,But the vintage shovel is classic American iron,,I want to pull it apart and feel the weight of the iron and see the ole school machining scars and imperfections ,,,and know that the engine has lived and survived in its own time ,,,I just really love this engine,,,
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:31 PM Top   #35 (permalink)
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your scoot looks like it has herpes!
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Thats better, now I'm feelin the love.
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:40 PM Top   #36 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by DirtNap View Post
Just talking about what was acceptable in machined parts ,,,like jugs ,,ect,,,,,evo is a much tighter engine ,,,,the s&s would be great for a no problem ride,,,,but if i get a shovel on a rigid frame im just cruising the town,,,and ,,,i want the motor i fell in love with when i was young ,,, I will love to opening up a vintage shovel and not have to worry about a motor that less forgiving ( evo) ,,,Cant go wrong with farmer friendly ,,,I love my streetbob and its twincam ,,,But the vintage shovel is classic American iron,,I want to pull it apart and feel the weight of the iron and see the ole school machining scars and imperfections ,,,and know that the engine has lived and survived in its own time ,,,I just really love this engine,,,
that was beautiful
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:55 PM Top   #37 (permalink)
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that was beautiful

I got all fuzzy and light headed when i wrote that
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Old 01-13-2011, 11:56 PM Top   #38 (permalink)
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Shovel's always been my #1 all time motor. Dirt just got me all misty there
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Old 01-14-2011, 09:57 AM Top   #39 (permalink)
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What tolerances ya guys talking about?? Piston skirt clearance?
This is a little late, and i apologize for the delay (I've been working), here goes: general manufacturing tolerances were looser on the shovelhead motors (not piston clearance; .005" would be max. for forged pistons in a race motor). According to Bonnie Truett and Paul Osborne of Truett and Osborne, of stroker flywheel fame (before there WAS an S&S), the more open tolerances of the shovel, versus the tighter Evo tol.s, was an advantage for drag racers. Bonnie Truett has passed on; he was one of the best Harley drag racers and a good person, too.

Quote: Bonnie retired from racing in 1984 but, as mentioned earlier, he still helps his son, Scott- “The Kid.” I asked Bonnie what racing was like now, compared to when he was riding.

“Well. for one thing, I don’t see the new racers struggling like we used to- there’s more knowledge. Everything you need to know about nitro is on the Internet, and parts are a lot better now. I would never have imagined that a fuel motor could be as reliable as they are today.

“Even if you had plenty of money, you couldn’t buy the parts or the knowledge it took to race with fuel, because they weren’t there- nobody knew. I try to help new people out and make it easier for them, I guess because there was no one there to help me. It’s a way to add something to the sport.”



Getting inducted into the Hall of Fame was a big honor. What do you see as your biggest contribution to the sport of drag racing?

“It makes you proud that people recognize you for something you did, whatever it was. I think I’ll be remembered for making drag racing more professional. I worked with the promoters to make it more legitimate.”

One story in closing. Bonnie rebuilt a Shovel engine not long before our talk. The owner brought it back because it didn’t run like it should. Bonnie disassembled it but couldn’t find anything wrong. After hours of work, he finally discovered that the cam manufacturer had pressed the cam gear on wrong- only two or three degrees, but enough to kill performance.

“Jeez,” I said. “That must have taken forever to find. How much did you have to charge the guy for that?”

“Nothing,” came the reply. “He already paid me once.” TJ
See the article at: Truett & Osborn
The only prob. with strokers, in my opinion, is they can't rev as much due to piston speed limitations, but low end "grunt" can be greatly increased.If you like shovelheads, check out their website!
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Old 01-14-2011, 10:19 AM Top   #40 (permalink)
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Yeah Tom , I know what skirt clearance is suppose to be (had an H-D eng. machine shop) , I just wanted to hear what .005 clearance some where refering to. Only thing on the eng with that kinda clearance would be a tight rocker arm shaft end play. Sometimes ya gotta just ask and see what people are talking about.Fun to hear some of it....
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