Ironhead Special Tools

So, you started tearing down your old Sportster motor, only to find out you need quite a few special tools. Aside from the basic hand tools, you'll need a piston ring installer, torque wrench, dial caliper, feeler gauge, and most likely some specialty tools. Before you give up and carry the pieces to a local shop, consider this: If you can cut, drill, and weld, many Ironhead special tools can be fabricated cheaply.

Ironhead special tools

Clutch Compressor Tool

To remove the nuts (and retainers on 1971-1974 Sportsters), a clutch spring compressing tool is needed to take pressure off the clutch assembly. This tool is easily made out of a piece of metal stock and some 1/4-20" threaded rod (same thread as primary cover bolts). Drill and tap a hole in the center of the metal stock, then drill holes in either end.

read Remove and Install Ironhead Clutch

Sprocket Locking Link Tool

To remove the primary chain on a Sportster, a tool is needed to keep the two sprockets from turning while you remove the hub nut. The tool fits in between the clutch hub and the front sprocket.

Ironhead Sportster locking link tool

The picture above shows a DIY sprocket locking link tool holding the compensating sprocket and clutch basket.

Ironhead special tools

read Primary Chain Remove and Install

Ironhead Sprocket Shaft Tool

To remove the compensating sprocket shaft nut (front pulley) another specialty tool is needed. This can also be made, but they're pretty cheap to buy.

Sportster sprocket shaft tool

A 1-1/2" socket is needed to remove the large nut in the clutch hub. Some bike shops use an impact gun on this nut, instead of using a locking tool. Either method will work.

air-powered motorcycle lift stand

shop Motorcycle Lift Table (Free Home Delivery)

Sportster Engine Stand

Having an engine stand makes working on the motor much easier. If you can weld, consider making one. Alternatively, you can lay the engine down on a couple of 4x4 blocks of wood.

Ironhead Sportster engine stand

Ironhead Bottom End Tools

All pre-2000 Sportsters have taper-shaft cranks that were designed to be rebuilt. This allows Ironhead bottom ends to be rebuilt several times.

read Ironhead Bottom End Build

Ironhead Sportster bottom end

Flywheel Shaft Nut Wrench

You can either buy the two-sided wrench (H-D part number 94546-41), or buy two impact sockets, sized 1-5/6" and 1-3/16". To hold the flywheel while tightening the nuts, you can fabricate a simple holding jig that uses the holes in the flywheel.

Ironhead Sportster engine tools

read Ironhead Engine Build

flywheel holding jig

Flywheel Holding Jig

Starting with a cardboard template, take a piece of steel and cut out the shape needed. The "V" needs to be big enough to clear the crank pin. You can find 1/2" round stock at hardware stores and home improvement stores.

flywheel holding jig

Sprocket Shaft Bearing Puller

For early Sportsters, the inner sprocket-shaft bearing Harley-Davidson tool number is 96015-52. For later models, H-D tool 96015-56 fits Sportsters 1967-1976. The later tool also removes sprocket shaft extensions.

Ironhead special tools

This is my version of the 96015-52 Harley tool. Materials needed were a piece of 2" metal tubing, a 7/16" SAE nut and bolt, and two heavy washers. This allowed me to remove the inner sprocket shaft bearing on my 1965 XLCH.

Pinion Shaft Honing/Lapping Tool

Honing/lapping motorcycle engine cases assures precision alignment of engine and transmission shafts. Early Sportsters (1957-1976) require the pinion shaft outer bearing race to be lapped in. The tool lines up with the sprocket-side case bearing to lap the pinion-bearing race to the proper size. If you're looking to buy this tool, it sells for about $850.

Ironhead special tools

Sprocket Shaft Bearing Installer

For 1957-76 Sportsters, the sprocket shaft bearing installer H-D part number is 97081-54. Jims Tools uses the same part number, which sells for about $75.00. The V-Twin part number is 16-0149. 1977-up Sportsters require a different tool.

Factory Manual

Knowledge is the best tool you can have, and having a shop manual that covers your year and model is invaluable. You'll end up referring to it over and over again.

Harley-Davidson Sportster factory manual

Tool Sources

Tool sources include Eastern Motorcycle Supply, Jims Tools, Kent-Moore and Harley-Davidson. Kent-Moore may not sell to you direct, and many H-D dealers also may not sell them to you. Thank goodness we have the internet.

read Motorcycle Engine Tools

1965 Ironhead Sportster Project

read Sportster History 1957-1965

read Sportster History 1966-1979

read Sportster History 1980-1985