Question about 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

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Valve adjustment - 1979 Harley Davidson XLH 1000 Sportster

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To adjust the valves on your Ironhead, the engine must be stone cold. You want to adjust the tappets so that you have zero backlash on the cold engine. As the engine heats up, the cylinder and heads expand upward creating valve lash in the valve train. This is why you want zero lash with the engine cold. If you get the valves set too tightly, it'll hold a valve open ever so slightly and make starting difficult.

To adjust the valves, bring one piston to TDC on the compression stroke, both valves closed with tappets in their lowest position. Pop the pushrod covers loose and loosen the lock nut on one of the tappets. Adjust the top part of the adjuster outwards until the pushrod can no longer be turned with your fingers. Turn the lock nut down but don't lock it yet. Gradually turn the top adjuster downward until you can spin the pushrod with your finger and finish locking the lock nut. Recheck the pushrod to see if it still spins but has no up and down movement. Do the same with the other pushrod on that cylinder. Remember, if's better to get the pushrods adjusted slightly loose rather than slightly tight. It might rattle a bit more but it'll start easier as well. Put the pushrod tubes back together and then do the same thing with the other cylinder.

Posted on May 21, 2011

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