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1957 XL sportster build

Moderators: Curt!, Pa

Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:27 pm

Posts: 217
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Hi everyone, just thought I'd share a couple of pics of a 1957 sportster engine that I'm playing around with at the moment.
Engine was in (or near) a shop fire which damaged part of it, and has since rusted somewhat solid.

Everyone has looked at me as though I'm half crazy wanting to put effort into this engine, but I view it as a learning experience.

I have some nice old Sifton Sportsman cams to replace those crusty items you see in the pics, and will try and post pics as it goes. Anyone have some nice stock bore (or close) -57 cylinders, and a 36-38mm Dellorto SSI?

Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:40 pm

Posts: 1642
Location: Interlaken, NY USA

Well, looks like a project, for sure... I had a shop fire many years ago and had lots of stuff come out looking like the pictures. For instance, the cases melted around the bottom end of a BTSV. reused rods/wheels with no problems. Also had a 3speed reverse gear set in the fire and wanted to reuse. Had them rockwell tested against a set of unburned gears, no difference! Ran those gears on and off for 20 years with no problems. Just a reminder that a part may look nasty, but might be just fine with a little cleanup.
Dr Dick

Post Tue Dec 11, 2007 9:31 pm

Posts: 607
Location: Menomonie, Wisconsin, USA
The trick with iron that has been thru a fire is to get it apart and fast. The caustic generated by fire soon make it just about impossible. Jerry

Post Wed Dec 12, 2007 1:50 pm

Posts: 1605
well, good luck...... I'm with the last couple of posts. Get it apart quickly, assess the condition, save the good stuff and don't waste time and effort on the scrap. Fire temperatures aren't high enough to damage the steel, but the subsequent chemical reactions will ruin stuff entirely given time.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...

Post Wed Dec 12, 2007 4:44 pm

Posts: 217
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Hi guys, thanks for the pointers. If only I had the luxury of a quick disassembly, however this motor's been sitting in its current state for a few years now. I was about to give up on it, but gave it one last go with some penetrating oil and an impact driver and got a few parts to budge, so took heart and lugged the engine down to the machine shop. The engine sprockets, clutch and transmission sprockets came away a little easier, but other parts are proving harder. I think the primary parts and flywheels will be reusable and await a view of the transmission.
I think a good welder like Don at Headhog or someone of that caliber should be able to do the case welds quite nicely with pieces from a donor case, but will await that verdict once I get that far!

Post Thu Dec 13, 2007 12:07 am

Posts: 1605
I would be seriously concerned about the overall state of any of the alloy parts, and their alignment. No use fixing case welds if the cases aren't true, and if the pistons have started to droop then the cases might have distorted as well. Personally, I wouldn't attempt something like that if it has sat for the sort of time you describe... well not unless it was unique, a Henderson 4 maybe or something like that which would be unobtainable anywhere else, and worth top money when it was done.. but a Sprotster, not really

just my two penn'orth
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...

Post Tue Dec 18, 2007 6:15 pm

Posts: 217
Location: Palo Alto, CA
Hi everyone, cases are apart now and pics are up on the flickr site. Looks better than expected, but the transmission is crusty!
All comments above noted; I'll see how I go once the cases are fully apart for detailed inspection.

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