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Tig welding old Harley Case

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  • Tig welding old Harley Case

    I picked up an old Harley case to try to tig, about 50s' vintage. It has been repaired before but looks like it was tinned or silver soldered, could that be?

    When I tig it, I get a lot of porosity and lots of gas poping. There are also alot of impurities in the casting itself. The weld is just not good.

    SO, is tinning or soldering the thing to do on these old castings? Is it possible that they can't be tig welded do to the gasing?

    I tried going over it a few times but the gassing never seems to stop.

    Any help or words of advice?

    Thanks Bob

  • #2
    I never figured it out, the old cases are like sponges full of oil.

    I had a capshift (transmission) off my 58 I tried to weld three times. I bought a new one.

    Sorry, not more help. There was a recent post on this thou and some of the others said they had a cure.



    • #3
      Anyone ever try this? I wonder if it might work better than tig welding?


      • #4
        I think I saw that stuff at a swap meet, not sure since beer was .50 a cup.

        I tried to powdercoat some old cases. Now, that was a smokey project. Ran us out of the garage. It smoked at 400 degrees F till I got tired of it smoking.

        I am not sure. I think the old cases are full of blow holes, sand holes, and porous to boot.
        Set a new bike next to a very old one and look at the cases. I asked a guy on the first Evo I saw, how did you smoothe the motor that slick. He was the typical "new generation" harley rider with a glazed look in his eyes. He finally asked me if My old panhead was a harley?



        • #5
          Maybe the old repairs on your cases were done by gas welding? A good friend of mine did a TIG weld repair on a '48 panhead case for me, and it turned out great. I've also had cracks in the combustion chambers of pan heads repaired by TIG welding. Maybe the heads are a better casting than the cases though?


          • #6
            I know a guy who cooks cast iron for a day at 850 degrees to burn of the oil before welding. would this help here?


            • #7
              I have tig welded various oddball transmission, outboard motor, and auto parts, and they are always a big pain.
              The oil is definitely one problem. Baking might help, then again it might just bake it on. I have had success sandblasting the area to be welded in the past. Wire brushing doesnt seem to work real well- just moves the oil around.
              Some cast aluminum alloys just dont weld well- they make hundreds of different alloys, with lots of different "secret ingredients" and some of em are not very weldable.


              • #8
                I used to hear stories about how poorly old Harleys were built. New ones would leak oil all over the dealership showroom floors.

                Maybe they didn't leak through poorly fitting seams. Maybe they just leaked through castings made of porous metal.


                • #9
                  Bob,fwiw,i clean up model airplane engines that have dried up castor oil caked on by boiling them in an old pan with ordinary washing this an option with your c/case?my guess is old oil,etc.contaminating your weld,so you would need to find some way of cooking it out.Also,clean the weld area with a stainless steel brush that has NOT been used on steel.this would also contaminate any welding or brazing process.i have used "Ideal 120"brazing rod on aluminium up to 1/4" thick,but don't know if it would work on your case.If you can get at both sides,you could "vee"the area,then fill from each side.tig with argon seems to be your only other option.good luck with it.hans.


                  • #10

                    Real Old harleys had a total loss primary oiling system. Oil that went to the chains inside the big kidney shaped tin clutch-primary chain cover didn't go back to the motor, just out onto the ground. Clutch particles and other Junk got dumped that way. Planned it to leak.

                    Most people are unaware of that. The very first ones had no crankcase, a hand pump to lube the open bearings.

                    It must've been alright. The 58 I ran the dog crap out of, it had original rollers and shafts in the motor, Crankpin, Rods and rollers in the middle of the flywheels were replaced with S&S super when LakeShore HD built-balanced it. Pretty cool if you ask me. Something lasting that long under heavy abuse.

                    I can break a rock.

                    Machinery don't stand a chance. I have looked for the 4wheeler picture I built Kinda like 3Phases's gocart except mine had a Kawasaki 900 engine. (*I couldn't tell what he used) the knobs on the tires lasted about three minutes. (Honda big red rear axle)
                    I bet he is having so much fun with that cart. I'd like to have a insurance policy on him. (my wife does on me)



                    • #11
                      <font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by pgmrdan:
                      I used to hear stories about how poorly old Harleys were built. New ones would leak oil all over the dealership showroom floors.
                      Even so, it's a safe bet that every one of them that hasn't been destroyed in a wreck or stolen and broken up for parts is still on the road. The prize for showroom oil leakage has to go the BSA, who in the early seventies actually incorporated a shallow pan with an absorbent foam pad into the frame beneath the engine on at least one of their models!


                      • #12
                        What fame is there in leaking oil? It shows poor engineering or poor execution. Either way, it nothing to be proud of.


                        • #13

                          The real funny thing, My 58 sat in the kitchen of a small trailer I owned while the motor was "sent off" to be professionally built and balanced. It leaked without a motor on it. Now how in the heck did it do that I kept asking. Best I could tell it was coming out of the frame somewhere. A spot or two a week. You are right thou, the engineering is out of the stone age. Radial airplane technology. I located the crankcase vent hole with probes, determined it was level across the back of the block, drilled and tapped a hole in the back of the motor, inserted a 90 degree fitting, turned a piece of tubing down underneath and sealed the primary. I installed a belt drive on front then and a dry clutch. All the harley "experts" told me I had ruined the motor. I put a setscrew in the oiler line to this "vent" to seal it off forever. Little does the present owner know this probably. If he ever goes back to a chain he'll figure it out somehow. I re-engineer the things that piss me off.. Kinda like you do.

                          We have had to put "diapers" on old hysters to use them in the plants. A big plastic wrap with diapers in it to asorb the oil/fluids. I asked "what if" it catches fire. Reponse from plant manager? Let it burn.



                          • #14
                            What Iv'e heard you do is a combination of boiling the case in laundry detergent. Rinse well. Then let soak in lacquer thinner and then, after drying. You put it in the oven at about 350 degrees until it stops smoking.

                            One guy we have used welds them right after the oven treatment while there still hot. Have seen lovely welds on both the heads and cases from this guy. As to filler he cuts up old cases for that. He even tries to use stuff from the vintage he is repairing.



                            • #15
                              This cracks me up... As a small HD indy shop owner I can tell you they did leak thru the cases. Hell, my current project is a 76 shovelhead that leaked for weeks sitting on the bench with no oil in it! TUrned out that HD used to drill an oil passage thru the outside of the case and then plug weld it...poorly. I had to grind it down and have it retouched.
                              And the early cases were a sand casting so they did often leak right thru the case wall.
                              Most of the time to weld on it requires alot more cleaning than you would expect using acids and washing etc..

                              Check this guy out, he can give out pointers and has a rep for being one of the best.

                              or try "The Horse " forums here.


                              Alot of DIY thinking here and a great source for info sharing on older bikes.