Need help with this Panhead on E-bay. Item number: 45505939

Identifaction of VIN, case numbers and cylinder heads
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A

Need help with this Panhead on E-bay. Item number: 45505939

#1

Post by A » Tue May 17, 2005 12:04 am

Was looking at the panhead facts and noticed that in '54 there was an FLE, which has a 61" cam and carb. Can some of the diehard panheads explain this setup and why they configured the engine this way? Also, any comments on the ebay item would be appreciated. How do the numbers look? Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks to everyone for their help.



Another guest

#2

Post by Another guest » Tue May 17, 2005 6:41 am

Post a link, to see this machine.
Too much trouble to look up the numbers.


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FLE

#4

Post by FlatHeadSix » Tue May 17, 2005 12:06 pm

The FLE was a package that the factory first offered in 1953, it was called a "Traffic Combination" package and it was supposed to provide a little more acceleration in city traffic when combined with the "medium gearing" also available. It was used mostly for Police bikes. The 2 main features of the FLE were some "hotter" cams and a bigger venturi on the Linkert carb, 1 1/8". All the FLE's were 74 ci, not 61. Don't get the "E" confused with the EL models which indicated 61 ci engines. Harley dropped the 61 ci EL model after 1952 and was no longer offering them in 1954.

hope this helps a little, the bike on ebay looks pretty neat.

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#5

Post by Cotten » Tue May 17, 2005 1:13 pm

The "E" wasn't supposed to be stamped into the VIN!

What's that big M to the right? These are obviously aftermarket replacement cases, so there had better be a manufacturer's serial somewhere that corresponds on the title.

Even if possibly legal, there is very very little "1954" about that machine; the frame is even raked. (ouch)

Just another catalog creation.

A

I was also wondering what that "M" was?

#6

Post by A » Tue May 17, 2005 1:57 pm

Thanks for the input, I was curious about the FL"E" stamping as well. If anyone knows of an original pan for sale, let me know. I really only need an engine and trans, but if the price is right I'll buy a complete bike. Thanks again to all that offered their opinion.

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#7

Post by BigMike » Tue May 17, 2005 5:02 pm

The "6" seems wrong too, shouldn't it be straight back?

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#8

Post by Cotten » Wed May 18, 2005 12:14 am

I believe so, but my Palmer's[ is always at the shop.

Some had curved digits for the year but straight-backed digits for the serial.

The E was enough to queer the deal!

I'm Looking too!

Another question regarding this e-bay item.

#9

Post by I'm Looking too! » Wed May 18, 2005 1:15 am

So if it was an FLE than the vin should only be FLXXXX(X)? Is that correct? What is that M on the case?

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#10

Post by Cotten » Wed May 18, 2005 2:01 am

My best guess is that it is some aftermarket replacement case, but I've been wrong before.

It 'could' be perfectly legal, but t'aint real as far as my experience goes.

(There are casting marks on many real motor parts that represent MOCASCO, or something like "Motor Casting Company": the legit source for the Factory. Often they are a rounded triangle with an MC inside. That isn't their's, to the best of my feeble knowledge.)

Perhaps they are still in business and are producing for aftermarket clients, but that sure seems unlikely.

The machine is still just a pile of off-the-shelf odds and ends, much of anything Factory on it is boogered. The pics aren't even definitive, so it leads one to suspect that flaws are being hidden.

That's the ePay game. I don't play it. And will try not to, until retirement time![/i]

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FLE

#11

Post by FlatHeadSix » Wed May 18, 2005 4:06 am

You're right again Cotten, I should have looked at the epay pictures before I posted the reply with the FLE info. The bike is definitely a pieced together bitsa, the beehive on the back fender and the raked frame should be enough to tip you off. The vin stamping is clean and the number style looks almost believable until you consider that the "E" shouldn't be included in the production number.

I have several bikes that I have either personally owned long enough or know enough about the actual history and lineage of the bike to be certain that stampings are original factory. Unfortunatley I do not have any that include both 6's and 9's in the same number. I do, however, have both straight leg 9's and curved tail 6's from the same period. I sure would like to see a number that someone can verify is original that contains both 9's and 6's. Can anyone post a pic?

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FLE VIN number

#12

Post by FlatHeadSix » Wed May 18, 2005 5:18 am

This is driving me nuts, I had to get Palmer's book out. According to Palmer (PG 4) The FLE was available from 1955-1965. But, when you jump to pg 603 you'll see that the FLE Traffic Combination first hit the streets in 1953. When you read the detailed VIN information starting on pg 6 he states that a 2 or 3 letter Model designation was stamped on the left engine case along with the year and sequential production number. Keep reading, he tells us "for the most part" between 1937 and 1964 the 6's and 9's were straight backed with some exceptions. To be really sure of authenticity you have to look at the machinists stamping on the belly of the cases, matched sets were stamped. Cases made after 1948 had a 3 digit number followed by a hyphen and then 4 or 5 additional numbers representing sequential machining production numbers. The first 3 numbers for a true 74 ci engine made in 1954 would be 154-XXXXX, the "1" indicating that it was a case for a 74 ci OHV engine.

Bottom line, it is possible that the factory stamped a VIN number exactly like that on an engine case in 1954, but, what's up with the big "M" cast into that case to the right of the VIN pad?

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#13

Post by Cotten » Wed May 18, 2005 12:30 pm

I have encountered a legitmate '59 with a curved 9 in the year, but straightbacks in the serial.

There were many 3-letter VINs of course ( RLD, VLD, ULH, WLA, WLC,WLD, FLH, etc.) and some 4-letter VINs (RLDR, WLDR), but to the best of my experience, no FLEs or FLFs or FLHFs, etc., that would have used the same letter twice or that of another similar model series (E was of course for 61" OHVs, so GE sidevalves would not be confused. Confused?)

I don't know about Shriner or dedicated Police VINS. Probably they they were issued after the Pan era.

Anything could happen (a batch of production in the early 70's were put out by an employee who grabbed the wrong stamps!), but the raised M is like nothing I have seen from the factory during the Pan era, or any other.

"The Motor Shop" of Oxnard, Ca. in the '70's is a possible source of the 'replacement' cases, but only an off-the-wall guess.

52EL

vin

#14

Post by 52EL » Mon May 23, 2005 2:39 pm

What about the number 4 before 1942 all 4's were closed top after 1942 all 4's were open topped so the top of the 4 should be open on this model.even without the other differances. Even if this was just a left case it is more than suspect. I would walk from it. We had a guy come in last week with a 49 left case for sale.Just one look and he was asked to take it out of the shop. 49el case with 53 belly numbers. Although i must add the alteration was a very good one just not legal. Heres a little advise to people that get caught up in the moment and find that knuckle motor they have been looking for. Dont let emotion overload your senses!!!! there are clues as to the legality of any set of cases you look at. Get a palmers book and read the section on VIN numbers and crankcases. A 25 dollar inverstment could save you thousands down the road. Be honest how many people would look at these numbers and think they had made the find of a lifetime!!! But in these few posts there are at least 5 inconcistanties that have been noted. Do yourself a favor and everyone else that owns a vintage machine and do not help create a market for stolen goods!!!!! Just say you bought this alledged legal panhead and put $5000 into it to get it the way you want it, you proud as can be riding down Main street in Daytona or Sturgis anywhere and you park it to go get a cold drink. Along comes the Police with there vin experts {yes they do have them} and you come out of the bar room and your bike is flipped over on the handlebars and they are cutting the skid plate out to check belly numbers. You lose!!!!!!!! everything. If anyone has ever been to any of these big rallys at one time or another has seen police looking at numbers they flock to old machines because they are so easy to change. Your better off with a evo or twin cam. too many numbers butr a knuckle or panhead new left case and your good. Save yourself the aggravation if buying a vintage bike take it or a digital picture to someone who knows what to look for. Most local shops would take a quick look and let you know something in just a few minutes. usually at no charge. Long winded i know but a very passonite subject!!!!

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#15

Post by Cotten » Mon May 23, 2005 2:53 pm

It is quite possible for a '53 case to have been assigned to a '49 as a legal replacement.
(It should at least have proper stamps, however! And the converse does not apply: a '49 case cannot be a replacement for a '53, although it may have happened in local dealerships.)

This is why there are other numbers stamped to denote whether it was dedicated as a 61" or 74".
A lack of dedication indicates such a replacement.
It would be a little more difficult on '53 replacements, as there were no longer 61"s produced.

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