1988 sportster Bad Crankshaft ... what now? HELP!

Discussion in 'Sportster Models' started by Maustarman, Jan 30, 2015.

  1. Maustarman

    Maustarman Active Member

    Well this my 88 sportster Basket case I picked up sometime ago with a 1200 upgrade and new transmission.
    When I got it I just had to mount the engine and put everything else back together.
    Since the first time I fired it up there was this ticking noise... Not good.. With help from people here, I checked everything we could think of but the noise was always there.

    New year resolution: bite the bullet take it the mechanic.
    After the mechanic spent 30 mns listening to it and brain storming he said that it sounded just like an old and loud valve train. (Me happy)
    We agree that he would double check valve clearances etc ...
    I got a call today with a definitive diagnosis :(
    After digging some more he found out that it is the crankshaft ... To much movement for the piston rod...
    He quoted me $4k to fix... Absolutely not worth it :(
    Pick it up and now trying to decide what to do.

    I like tinkering with bikes.. Is this something a DIYer can do or is it to much?
    I've done timings, cam replacement, valve adjustment and small stuff like that but never really inside their bikes belly.
    Any advise will be appreciated.

  2. vonh12

    vonh12 Member

    Yes you can do it!! You'll need tools, a service manual, parts book and take lots of pictures to guide you through the re-assemble. The group here are real good at helping those who ask!! And shop around for parts prices and ask here as well because most here have experience buying parts at the best prices. Waiting will slow you down a bit but save you lots of money. And lots of times advertisers will give forum members discounts so check here too!! Phoning parts people will give you good info on parts you'll need to do the job properly too!! Price it all out then decide if it's worth you doing the job yourself. gl!!
  3. fin_676

    fin_676 Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    Personally I would tackle this sort of job myself but that is part of my nature to diy almost everything
    Start point would be to read the service manual till you understand what is involved I use both hd service manual and Clymer service manual as different writers word things differently and when I get confused in one manual the other may be better worded for me to understand
    A full rebuild gasket and seal kit will be required and a good tool kit also a camera so that lots of photos can be taken for future reference and to keep us up to date with
    It is a time consuming job to do that is why it costs so much

  4. Maustarman

    Maustarman Active Member

    @vonj12. And @fin_76 Brian

    Gentlemen, thank you.
    Great advise to start with. Even though it seems overwhelming the DIY in me can't wait to tackle this project.
    I'm definitely not in a hurry, this is not my daily rider so, I got time for it.
    Money is a different history but I can be patient so I can find the right price.

    I got the shop manual and I will have to hunt down a clymer manual.

    I have a pretty decent set of tools but, are there any specialty tools I need to worry about?

    Also, another thought in the back of my mind is that the mechanic said that this late 80s engines aren't worth it and that I could get a newer engine to fit in there (up to a 03)
    I started surfing ebay and there are some "guaranteed" engines in there for $1700 or so... I don't have that kind of cash right now but I don't know how much a rebuilt will be etc.. (At least if rebuild... I can buy one part at the time)

    Thanks in advance for all the help you all can provide me

  5. Bodeen

    Bodeen Well-Known Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    I agree with the rest. You can do it if you want to. I would be very leery of a "guaranteed motor from Ebay". If I was going to do all that work and spend that money, I would shop with someone reputable for a rebuilt motor if that is the route traveled.
  6. fin_676

    fin_676 Experienced Member Staff Member Moderator Contributor

    Any sportster engine up to 2003 should fit, 93 and later have a 5 speed gearbox and setup for belt drive you may also have to replace the voltage regulator as the charging system changed and all the primary components are different in the later models as the charging system moved from being part of the clutch to being on the end of the crank shaft I think that was around 1990 so a wee bit of care may be needed when obtaining parts to ensure they will fit

  7. Jack Klarich

    Jack Klarich Expert Member

    Do it yourself, if you need any special tools they are available, you may need a press and possible send flywheels out for truing OR get Truett and Osbourne crank
    Truett Osborn Cycle
  8. Jeff Klarich

    Jeff Klarich Well-Known Member Contributor

    When you start your search for parts check Kutter Harley-Davidson for pricing. I've found that on many parts their price is hard to beat and they offer free shipping on orders over 99.00 dollars.
  9. Maustarman

    Maustarman Active Member

    Thank you guys..
    I'll be tackling this soon and most likely I will have lots of questions ...
  10. stray dog

    stray dog Junior Member

    I'm assuming the diagnosis is bad lower rod bearing. If so, how does a mechanic know this for sure? Are you confident in your mechanics diagnosis?
    You mentioned an upgrade to 1200, did someone do this work and then just not put it together? Could it be a sloppy top end job and the ticking is the piston skirt?
    In either case something needs to be done before failure.

    Before I bought any parts I would do a compression & leakdown test to get an idea where the top end is. And maybe before taking motor out of bike disassemble top end and measure jugs & pistons. At that point you can spin, push n pull on the rods to try to get a feel on the lower rod bearing.

    Well....I would take all apart and figure what's needed and cost. You can see if its worth it at that point.