Remove Shovelhead Rocker Boxes

The different styles of rocker boxes allow you to identify Harley engines.

Harley-Davidson introduced the Shovelhead engine configuration in 1966. Intended as a replacement for the long-serving Panhead configuration, it derives its name from the shovel-shaped rocker boxes at the top of its cylinders. The Shovelhead over newer engines allows you to perform practically any repair or maintenance task at home using only basic tools. Removing the rocker boxes to change the gaskets is one such task you can accomplish yourself without visiting a mechanic.


1. Check to ensure the motorcycle is cold; do not perform this task immediately after a ride. Turn off the fuel tap beneath the gas tank, and turn off the bike’s ignition. Lift the seat by releasing the catch, and use a Phillips screwdriver to remove both electrical contacts from the battery.

2. Loosen the clamp around the fuel hose with a slotted screwdriver, and detach the hose from the fuel tap. Drain the gas from the tank into a container. Remove the front and rear mounting bolts from the gas tank, and disconnect the fuel gauge line if your bike has one.

3. Lift the gas tank off the motorcycle, and set it down on a flat, level surface covered with a soft cloth or towel to prevent marking the finish. For best results, leave the gas tank in a cool, well-ventilated area.

4. Remove the bolts that connect the rocker cover to the rest of the engine using an Allen wrench. Work from front to back on one cylinder at a time. Once you have removed all the bolts, you should be able to lift off the cover and remove the gasket.