VIN number questions

Identifaction of VIN, case numbers and cylinder heads
Post Reply
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jul 14, 2007 10:17 am

VIN number questions


Post by DougOhio » Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:05 am

I'm trying to get smart on VIN numbers and belly numbers. I looked through all the posts. I've heard horror stories about bikes being seized with good titles, but bad VIN numbers. How do I avoid this? Has anyone seen bikes seized at an event by a taskforce? What should I look for? Mismatched numbers, years, etc...?

Posts: 6913
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 9:09 am
Location: Central Illinois
Has thanked: 100 times
Been thanked: 280 times

Re: VIN number questions


Post by Cotten » Thu Jan 20, 2005 2:31 pm


The best reference on VIN changes from late '37 through the 60's is Bruce Palmer's How to Restore Your Harley-Davidson (Motorbooks International.

However, there is no substitute for a skilled eye at recognizing alterations. (Often I must compare enlarged photos with a certifiably authentic stamp of the same vintage to detect differences.)

Your bottom line with the authorities is papertrail. They only want perpetrators, not victims.

Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:36 am

Re: VIN number questions


Post by 65flh5326 » Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:37 pm

This is some of what I remember. The numbers on the crankcase bottom halfs are production #s, these are the one s that are most likely altered simply to screw a potential buyer onto thinking they are getting an original
engine/bike. These production#s are easy to forge as the # stamps are standard machine cut stamps. The production# are not factory tracable on pre 70s componants. The records were destroyed.
The actual VIN# on the left case is a differant story, these # stamps are special. Most easily noticed is the straight back 9 and 6. There are other features that I will not discus on the internet.
On old bikes with left case Vin#s the crooks could steal a bike and use a titled left case or an aftermarket case.
In WA state, the State Patrol has methods of lifting welded and restamped #s. If in doubt have the bike inspected.
Bikes are being ripped off in record numbers these days, with the crooks prefering new choppers, but will take factory bikes also.


1 star
Posts: 10
Joined: Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:07 pm

Re: VIN number questions


Post by 1 star » Thu Jan 20, 2005 9:32 pm

Actually HD in Milwaukee can trace Vins back to 1963
& Belly #'s for free just look up their # & call & follow the prompts. It's easy & free. I recently had them research some #'s for a potential project, before I bought it..

Well worth the time.. hope it helps.

Posts: 789
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2004 6:57 am
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: VIN number questions


Post by Billy » Fri Jan 21, 2005 6:27 am

I agree w/1star, as I have had HD do a VIN search for me. & on a recorded message they say they can only go back to '63. You leave your info including the VIN & your phone # & they will call U back..
The results were very enlightening. I was told what # in the production line it was & where it was
sent to (police bike) & the belly#'s & more..
All w/1 free phone call..

Posts: 15
Joined: Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:36 am

Re: VIN number questions


Post by 65flh5326 » Fri Jan 21, 2005 7:46 pm

Previously ( many years ago) HD could not find a Vin # by the crankcase belly#. Has that changed?


Post Reply

Return to “VIN / Cases / Heads”