55 panhead title / numbers help please

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55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby dannycalderone » Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:24 am

As I'm new here, I'll start by introducing myself. My name is Danny Calderone and I'm looking into picking up my first panhead. I've wanted one for quite some time and I'm finally in the position to pick one up. I have looked at several mismatched piles lately but have now come across exactly what I'm looking for, but not without concern. I found a 55 rigid a couple hours from home and went to see it tonight. It looked pretty good with the exception of what I'm hoping is a little minor confusion on my part. The belly numbers were matching and in the proper orientation on the cases, but they indicated a 74 ci 1956 build (156xxx) whereas the number on the left case beneath the jugs was 55FLxxx indicating a 1955 model year. Does this make sense to anyone here?
On another note, the owner told me that when he bought the bike and took it to be titled here in Indiana he was given the run around because the frame wasn't stamped with a VIN. He claims they made him designate a VIN to that frame and it was then forced to be registered with a 2007 custom manufactured motor vehicle title.
I'd hate to miss out on this over some confusion, so does anyone have any input on this DMV fiasco? I would like to have the title reissued as a 1955 Harley Davidson if possible and this may be enough to keep me from buying it. If there is any funny business with the VIN I'd be willing to bet it was before this guy got it, he seems to be an honest, straight shooting guy. Any info or direction would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby Bosheff » Thu Feb 17, 2011 9:56 am

I can't ever remember buyin a hog from someone that wasn't an honest straight shootin guy. 69 and earlier H-D's were titled off the left side engine case number, no exceptions. You failed to say what make the frame is. Just because it's got some sort of assembled title or whatever, doesn't mean it cannot be titled by the engine number. More info is needed about this unit and the existing title. There are multiple reasons the engine could have 56 belly numbers and a 55 number on the left case half, but most of them would be bogus. Do some investigating before proceeding....bosheff
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby hplhd » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:42 am

do you have a pic of the vin numbers to post? laws are different from state to state about titles. i am about to title my pan this spring here in indiana and am curios to the laws. someone else told me they want to see a frame# also, even tho the frames arnt numbered for a title.
but 56 belly#'s with a 55 vin is another problem here.
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby dannycalderone » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:17 pm

I don't have any pics, but I have done a fair amount of research and the numbers appear to be factory stamped. I was under the impression that the years could be off, but in the opposite way. (line bored in 55 with a 56 model year vin) I can't wrap my head around how they can be machined a production year after being dated up top.
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby DaveSwanson » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:22 pm

We are suspecting a engine VIN restamp. No engine with 56 year line bore numbers should be wearing a 55 VIN. Perhaps this is the reason it is titled to the frame. Post a picture of the engine VIN.
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby dannycalderone » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:23 pm

Bosheff, the frame is a factory wishbone hardtail without any numbers as it should be. The sidecar loops have been carefully removed but you can very faintly make out where they were. It also has a flimsy tin vin place attached under the seat with the "state provided vin"
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby dannycalderone » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:25 pm

Dave, I'll see if the owner will send a pic of it for me as it's a couple hrs away.
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby DaveSwanson » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:28 pm

Dan, Try to get a clear photo of the VIN boss, and post to this thread using Photobucket or whatever you prefer. There are a number of board members that are expert at spotting non factory VIN stamps a mile away. It will be worth your trouble to do this. The value of a bike with bogus, or questionable VIN numbers plummets!
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby dannycalderone » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:38 pm

I will as soon as possible. Could it be at all possible that the factory sent out replacement cases to the dealer for corrective action (ie porosity/leak) to the dealer with the original vin restamped in the upper left case half?
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby DaveSwanson » Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:55 pm

dannycalderone wrote:I will as soon as possible. Could it be at all possible that the factory sent out replacement cases to the dealer for corrective action (ie porosity/leak) to the dealer with the original vin restamped in the upper left case half?


A theoretical possibility. The picture of the VIN boss will tell the tale. Use the Macro setting. :)
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby dannycalderone » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:41 pm

I'll post a pic of the vin when I can. The current owner was put through the ringer pretty good when he titled it. He has a police affidavit stating the bike is not on the hot list but for some reason the engine number is not on the title, only the Indiana provided manufactured vin. I would think this was a serious screw up at some point along the way with the licensing bureau. If I took a bike like this to NJ it would be impounded quickly on a roadside. My objective in this whole thing is to ensure if the bike comes up legitimate by engine number that it can be re titled as a 1955 FL and be legal in any state. If I can do that it's a sold bike for me. Otherwise I'm afraid it will be too risky of a deal. As it sits I can't see how the owner has a legal title if the true HD vin is not stated. I would think the title only establishes ownership of that frame. Any feedback?
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby indianut » Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:50 pm

dannycalderone wrote:Bosheff, the frame is a factory wishbone hardtail without any numbers as it should be.

I'm no HD guy, but wasn't a '55 a Straight leg frame?
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby dannycalderone » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:00 am

From what I have come across online it seems that the lines are pretty blurry about that. I don't have enough knowledge of them to know for sure. In any case, pre 70 it shouldn't matter anyway. (well, not to me) I'm looking for a good runner to put a lot of miles on. Been waiting a long time for a rigid pan to do it on.
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby dannycalderone » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:18 am

Looks like 54 was the last year of the wishbone. Just came across this in a search..........

1)The 1948 is a one year only frame. Skinny front motor mount. Round downtubes without any horn mounts.
(2)The Early1949's have round down tubes where the horn mounts attach. These horn mounts have square corners.
(3) The Later '49-'50 frame down tubes were flattened at the horn mounts. Still square corners on the horn mounts.
(4) The late 1951-1953 got horn mounts with round corners.
(5) The 1952 frames got the new short tool box bracket. They also got the new design top motor mount and seat mounting bracket.
(6) The 1953 frames received thicker front motor mount.
(7) There were three different frames used in 1954. The first 1954 had the flattened spots on the down tubes but no horn mount.
(8)The second 1954 had round down tubes like the 1948. No horn mounts.
After the first 3,000 frames were built in 1954 the rest were Straight Leg frames. So late 1954 wasn't a Wishbone frame.

This is what the judges use to identify some differences in frames from the Pan years
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Re: 55 panhead title / numbers help please

Postby john HD » Fri Feb 18, 2011 12:58 am

indianut wrote:
dannycalderone wrote:Bosheff, the frame is a factory wishbone hardtail without any numbers as it should be.

I'm no HD guy, but wasn't a '55 a Straight leg frame?



yes!

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