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Bike of the Month
February 2023
1974 Harley-Davidson FLH
Electra Glide

By Rodd Lighthouse

As a young boy growing up, Dad was into British bikes, BSA, Triumph, Matchless, AJS and even a Vincent. For some reason he did not seem to give a crap about American made motorcycles, and being his son, I liked what Dad liked, British motorcycles. In fact, I despised Harley-Davidsons, so when he purchased a new H-D XLX Sportster in 1983, I was thoroughly disappointed.


Since 1983, Dad would own several Harley-Davidsons. Initially he owned Sportsters, XLX, XLH and XR 1000, but eventually graduated to the big twins, low riders, super glides, a sport touring FXRT, and an electra glide, his favorite. He told me on several occasions that if he could only have one motorcycle, it would be his 2001 electra glide.


Over the years of riding Dad’s Harleys, I became a fan of the marque as well. Approximately 2015, Dad started to appreciate the mid-70’s shovelhead electra glides. His initial big twins were shovels and I knew that he had good luck with them and liked them. Dad liked to reminisce and during a reminiscing episode, he decided that he needed a shovelhead. He ended up finding a couple of 1974 electra glides. The first one he found was an original paint motorcycle with a lot of patina that had some inappropriate ape hangars installed on it with a piss poor wiring job. He later found another that was cleaner and more original, but it had a custom paint job. Dad preferred the cleaner shovel so he gave me the original paint bike in 2019.


Shortly after Dad gave me the bike, Mark Lobsinger, then a teacher at Carson High School in Carson City, asked if I had any projects for his students. After hearing Mark’s spiel and approach to the project, I decided to let his students rebuild the Electra Glide.


The Electra Glide was delivered to Carson High School in the summer of 2019. Mark requested that I make a list of what I wanted the students to do. In preparation for the refurbishment, I purchased a wiring harness, tune up kit, tires, inner tubes, battery, handlebars, chain, countershaft sprocket, brake pads, master cylinder rebuild kits, wheel bearings, swing arm bearings, steering head bearings, fork seals, and cables.


Early in the 2019/2020 school year, the Electra Glide was stripped to the frame. Components were cleaned and parts to be changed were removed and replaced. Once cleaned up and new parts fitted to the subassemblies, reassembly began. Everything was moving along smoothly and on track for completion when COVID hit, and the world stopped. The bike sat for the remainder of the year in a state of partial completion. The following school year with the world still on hold, there was minimal progress on the bike. The 2021/2022 school year proved to be better, but the bike was not completed.


At the end of the 2021/2022 school year, Mark informed me that he had accepted a teaching job in Oklahoma and that he would be leaving town. Arrangements were made to retrieve the bike. Local shovelhead mechanic, David Funk, offered shop space and help to get the Electra Glide back on the road. After several weeks of going through the bike and inspecting what the students had done, completing the work that remained (wiring harness and terminal blocks, master cylinder rebuild kits, head light assembly, cables, and seat) and dealing with a few set backs (pulled clutch hub stud, leaking fuel tank shut off valve, dragging clutch), the mission was completed.


I have ridden the Electra Glide a few times and although it could use some fine tuning, it seems to run well. It could also leak less oil. As of now, it leaks more oil than my ’34 Harley which has a hole in the bottom of the primary cover. I’ll see if I can’t get some of the club’s oil leak experts to help me figure out how to seal her up in due time. I am going to have fun touring on my new ride.


Thanks, Dad, I love my new bike.

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