The people who helped
Blog BOM Custom Design
Garage OSARM Repair Smörg


Publisher: Rako Studios

For 30 years Rako Studios have been serving the product design and media needs of a global audience. Stay tuned to Rako Studios for new exciting projects.

Editor-in-Chief: SportsterPaul

SportsterPaul has six Sportsters titled, registered and running down the highways. They range from a stock 1952 K-model to a show-bike XR-1000 to a 1962 XLCH.

Flat track editor: Roger Reed

Roger has built and raced every kind of Sportster there is. He let a lighter friend drive the drag bike, but he rode the hill climber himself.

Race Editor: Vance Breese

Vance is a well-known celebrity to everyone in the Harley community. He has raced at Bonneville and holds several land speed records. He road races in the vintage class. He has owned a Harley dealership and continues to be involved in the motorcycle world.

Tech Editor: Nitrous Jim

Jim has been hanging nitrous bottles on Buell-head Sportsters for a decade. If you want to see his credentials, he can show you the blown cases to prove it.

border bar
move up a little to the right move down to the left


Respect is a virtue that is in short supply. Companies will lay you off at a moment's notice. Even if they give you a job they will treat you like a child.

The politicians just lie to you to get your tax money so they can hand out jobs to their deadbeat relatives. Websites spy on you and take forever to load since they have so many ads.

We try to be different. We don't scrub your browsing history or your bookmarks or your Flash cookies. We don't drop or read any cookies, for that matter.

Our ads are all simple links. We never hold back showing you a page until the ad comes in. We know that your time is valuable and you don't want to get jacked around. There are enough bosses and politicians in the world for that.

We try not to use profanity, since even kids might like old Iron Sportsters. Since we don't let any other site put ads or content in, you can rest assured there won't be any security exploits that gives you a virus. This entire site is static HTML.

The new site is responsive. It should fit an HD TV as well as a smart phone. For those with vision problems, the Firefox page zoom will increase the size of images and text so you can read the content.

You can print the pages and there are pdf links should you want a hard-copy.

border bar
move up a little to the right move down to the left

Open systems

Experts have observed that Linux and the IBM PC were open systems. The design was published and well-know. We could all improve and contribute and mix-and-match.

Long before there were computers and software there was the Harley Davidson. The Sportster and its antecedent, the K-model, is the longest-running motorcycle model in history. The gears from a 1952 K-model will work in a 1983 iron Sportster.

This site is slowly but surely publishing the bill of materials (BOM) of the K-model and Iron Sportsters, from 1952 to 1984 when Harley introduced the Evo-head bikes.

We are also publishing and making all the CAD design files available for an alternate Sportster motor, the OSARM, an Open-Sport aftermarket replacement motor.

Many hands make light work, so please feel free to send in pictures of your bike or your garage. We also welcome well-written articles on modifying or maintaining Iron Sportsters.

Our fondest hope is that machinists and engineers will share and improve our OSARM open-system motorcycle motor. This site is for passionate bikers the world over.

border bar
move up a little to the right move down to the left


My first automotive debt is to Hot Rod magazine. I still remember Don McFarland writing that it is a shame they put carburetors on the top of the engine where everybody fiddles with it, when 90% of your problems well be electrical.

My second automotive debt is to General Motors Institute, now called Kettering University. It is the private co-op engineering school, now independent, previously run by General Motors. It is a lucky kid that gets to work in the engine design group of GMC Truck and Coach when he is 17 years old.

About that time I saw EasyRiders magazine, the earliest issues. They went from a hard-core biker mag, to a mag that had tech tips on how to use cheap wooden mousetraps to fling cocaine into your nose. Family are always rising and falling in America. They cleaned up their act, and then just seemed to fade away. I hope Joe Teresi is doing good.

Working at Ford Motor I met folks like Ken Letho, who had a drafting table in his basement. Joe Harvey, the climate control manager, taught me about keeping cool. And all the buffoonery of Ford in the 1980s taught me how to not des    ign a car.

A stint at military contractor ESL taught me about reliability. They showed me how  lock washers wear out. The gave me the proof that hermetic (sealed) glass components last longer than plastic chips. The best thing was teaching me that the
border bar
move up a little to the right move down to the left

fewer parts you have, the more reliable the system. That ethic informs this site, the designs, and the writing. They also understood vibration. They would put a Strobotac in sync with  a shaker table testing circuit boards. The parts looked like wheat stalks in a windy field. Understanding the rigors of vibration is key to designing Harley parts.

At KLA I met mechanical engineer Patrick Williams. He introduced me to AutoCAD and taught me a lot about design.

It was at Teledyne, another military contractor, that I met a brilliant mechanical engineer, Andy Masto. His uncle built Offenhauser engines. Andy went on to buy a speed shop. Andy taught me about engine combustion and balance. He explained the poor properties of castings. The VP,  John King, showed me how one guy with and Excel spreadsheet can replace a whole department. I met my mentor, John Massa at Teledyne. He asked about my chaps and when I told him I rode, he revealed he used to have an old PanHead called Jezebel that he road all over the country.

Teledyne was the place I learned about vacuum impreg and potting, and other tricky design subtleties.

Working at HP taught me project management, like scoping the work. I met great managers like Mike McCullough, programmers like Steve Abe, and young analog hot shots like Bob Thomas.

The 13 years in the semiconductor industry taught me writing and web design, as well as video production. There were so many brilliant people, Bob Pease
border bar
move up a little to the right move down to the left

the expert on troubleshooting. Jim Williams, the hacker who could build anything. Paul Grohe knew how to measure anything. There are dozens more, I will will fill in later.

All the company experience in engineering and marketing helped a lot, but when it comes to Sportsters, I owe a tremendous debt to Yankee Engineuity in San Jose. It is a great place to learn Sportster secrets. Owner Duncan Keller would gladly share everything he knew, and I started hanging around and helping out between my work contracts. It was there I met my Jerk Brother Roger Shaw, who showed me the innards of every engine. Bill Andrew was a master wrench. Carl taught me that Harleys have a soul, since no two run the same. Bill Johnson, a long-haired hard-core biker taught me to hate covers, since they only hide problems. He didn't even have a seat on his Shovel, he considered that another useless cover. A shop towel on top of the battery kept holes out of his jeans.

One of the best teachers I met at Yankee was Vance Breese. He taught me how Sportsters have way too much oil in the crankcase. He showed me how a girder front end can make a lot of sense. As a racer, he explained what a bike has to have in order to go fast, and that a few hours on the track can be a lot more beneficial than 5 more horsepower.

Vance taught me to never use an impact wrench unless I have to, and to love anti-sieze on all the fasteners. He also showed me how a racer will stop at nothing to get his bike ready for the race. Vance also has a lot of business sense,
border bar
move up a little to the right move down to the left

which he will also share with anyone, just for the asking.

Through Duncan I met Kenny Puccio the great welder, Art the machinist, and a ton of great people all willing to teach me something.

Bruce, the master tuner and mechanic at HorsePowerExpress also taught me a lot, and showed you can get good work if you are willing to pay for it.

My buddy Rafael Acevedo ended up owning SportTech, a bike shop in San Jose. He taught me a lot about Jap bikes, and life in general.

When I consulted at Velobind, I met Dale Ransom and Phil Crudo, two maintenance engineers that had worked at the GE electric motor plant in San Jose. Dale did experiments that proved too much oil makes roller or ball bearings run hot. Phil taught me to quit the job for the the day when you are up to the favorite part, so you will be raring to go the next day.

Mike Knepp, the artist, taught me the ethics of restoration, and the importance of art in the design of a motorcycle. I met him sorting through old parts at the Hog Farm. He did a fling with Indians, and now just paints and builds guitars.

I met Roger Reed through eBay, when he bought an old case half and picked it up at my work. He taught me about XR-750s, drag racing, hill-climbers and flat track. When I told him how Vance Breese taught me that Sportsters have too much oil in the crank case, Roger said "Shoot, flat-trackers have known that for years."

border bar
move up a little to the right move down to the left

Then there are the writing skills, Karl Hess said to love simple declarative sentences. Roy Childs mentioned the tendency to "endless talking." and Mike Markowitz explained you don't have to start at writing at the beginning of the article.

I owe the biggest writing debt to EDN's Fran Granville, who rewrote all my stuff to be clear clean and concise. I learned a lot from the other editors as well.

For video, it was Andy Aronson at National Semiconductor that showed me the ropes. Later Jeanette Atherton and Wil Klassen also taught me a lot.

Just like I thought I could write until I met real writers, I thought I knew about Sportsters until I met the fanatics on the forums. In particular, Dr. Dick. After 35 years, it was he that pointed out you can just slap the tranny in with no mainshaft bearings, and after a few times to get the end plays right, then you can put the rollers in from the outside, along with the washer and snap ring. I had developed neurosurgeon motor coordination skills to install a tranny without knocking out the bearings, and it was all for naught. Dave H. and Patrick the French Owl, and  JerryR, on the HarleyKmodel forum have also been a tremendous source of information.

I hope I am able to distill all the wisdom I was fortunate enough to be exposed to. I intend to spend a lot more time in the future to get even more information up here that you can use.

border bar
move up a little to the right This is the end.
All advertisements are complimentary. Neither Harley Davidson nor any other company supports or approves of this site.
Composed with Komposer 0.7.10 and BlueGriffon
Code cleaned up with HTML Tidy
CSS crafted in Stylizer
Pages intended to correctly render only in Firefox. To print, adjust scale to fit on a single page.