Change The Oil On An 83 Shovel Head

The Shovelhead was Harley-Davidson’s primary engine model from 1966 to 1984, when it was replaced by the Evolution engine. The 1,208 cc V-twin Shovelhead engine could be seen in virtually every motorcycle built by Harley-Davidson during its 18-year reign. While very little of the engine changed since its introduction, the Shovelhead received an automotive-type spin-on oil filter in 1982, mounted under the rear of the crankcase, allowing the filter to be changed quickly. Oil changes should be performed every 1,500 to 2,000 miles to keep these older engines in peak condition.

Instructions

1. Unbolt the motorcycle’s seat, using a socket wrench and a 1/4-inch socket or a flat screwdriver. Pull the right frame cover, located below the right seat rail, by hand to expose the oil tank.

2. Start the motorcycle’s engine and let it idle in place for three minutes to warm the oil. Stop the engine and let the oil settle for another five minutes.

3. Unscrew the filler cap from the top of the oil tank by hand. Place a long funnel and an oil catch pan below the oil tank. Unscrew the drain plug from the bottom of the oil tank, using a socket wrench and a 5/8-inch socket. Allow the oil tank to drain for at least five minutes.

4. Remove the washer from the drain plug, then clean the drain plug threads with a shop rag. Slip a new washer onto the drain plug, then screw the plug into the oil tank by hand. Tighten the drain plug to 18 foot-pounds, using a torque wrench and a 5/8-inch socket.

5. Unscrew the oil filter from the bottom of the engine, facing the rear wheel, using an oil filter wrench or a strap wrench. Drain the oil filter and any oil remaining in the oil pump into your oil catch pan. Clean the oil pump and the oil pump threads with a shop rag.

6. Coat the new oil filter’s sealing gasket with SAE 20W-50 API SF or SE-Grade engine oil, then screw the filter onto the oil pump by hand until you feel resistance. Tighten the oil filter an additional two-thirds of a turn to seal the oil filter against the engine.

7. Fill the oil tank with 3.5 quarts of SAE 20W-50 engine oil, then screw the filler cap into place by hand. Start the engine and let it idle in place for three minutes to distribute the fresh oil throughout the engine. Stop the engine and let the oil settle slightly for another three minutes.

8. Lift the motorcycle off of its side stand and hold it in a level, upright position. Unscrew the filler cap and wipe its dipstick clean with a shop rag. Reinsert the dipstick until the filler cap is resting on top of the oil tank, then withdraw the dipstick. Ideally, the oil mark on the dipstick should be above the Fill line imprinted onto the bottom of the dipstick. Alternatively, the oil level should be one inch below the oil tank filler neck. Add oil, as needed, to raise the oil level above the Fill line. Screw the filler cap into place by hand and lower the motorcycle onto its side stand.

9. Push the right frame cover into place over the oil tank by hand. Reinstall the seat onto the motorcycle.

10. Seal your oil drain pan with a lid or empty the used engine oil into a sealable 1-gallon plastic container. Take the used engine oil to your nearest Harley-Davidson service center or auto parts store for disposal.