Words of advice: the best parts to look for

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Words of advice: the best parts to look for


Post by quickie » Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:35 am

Hello, I am new to panheads, and actually have not purchased one yet. My dream has been to build a nice pan bobber for about 20 years, and I am going to start this winter. I always loved the looks of the pan motor, and the sound of a pan with fishtails.

Anyway, I would like to know what when it comes to my dream bike.....

Here's what I have in mind, please let me know your thoughts and recommendations..
Pan engine (obviously), was thinking 56 - don't really know why, that year has be stuck in my head. rigid frame, wide glide front end with 21" wheel, spoked wheels front and rear, king queen seat with tall sissy bar, and upswept fishtail pipes.
also, anyone in Washington state that would be willing to get together and show me some stuff or just BS about bikes, let me know. I'm in Shelton, just north of Olympia on the olympic peninsula.
Thanks for your help!!!!

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Re: Words of advice: the best parts to look for


Post by fourthgear » Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:35 pm

My first HD was a 56 , good year , had Timken bearings in lower end and compensating sprocket system on primary drive. Stronger system and sprocket shaft. Some thing to look into . Good luck putting her together. Now all ya have to do is find one.

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Re: Words of advice: the best parts to look for


Post by panfreak » Fri Sep 09, 2005 3:26 pm

Everyone here could boggle your mind with talk of linkert tuning, tranny leaks, timing issues, sprocket combinations and on and on and on.... The best advice I think we could collectively give, would be to grab a few beers, and sit down for a couple hours scanning through all the previous posts everyone has discussed over the years. Literally every topic you can think of has been covered, with colorful anecdotes thrown in every now and then for a laugh. I admit, I am guilty of printing off the odd thread as a supplement to my well worn shop manual (the Bible) and referencing them periodically when it's 11:30 at night and I am trying to adjust something or other for the next days ride. The reading alone will give you insight into what works and what doesn't from the guys that are riding it, which will help when you decide what direction you will go. And the picture gallery will give you some ideas as well.
Have fun!

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Re: Words of advice: the best parts to look for


Post by Jack_Hester » Fri Sep 09, 2005 7:18 pm

Quickie -

Don't limit yourself to just a '56, even if it is your first. Personally, I wouldn't refuse any year Panhead. I actually prefer the '54 and earlier, just because I find them easier to build/rebuild. The '55 and later models with the left case Timkins are a major improvement. But, if you are building for the road, and not stoplight racing, you can have a very reliable non-Timkin model that will give you all the fun that you can stand. A 61" or 74" will run all day long, with plenty of power, in a totally stock configuration, complete with the Linkert carb (my favorite carb).


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Re: Words of advice: the best parts to look for


Post by Red55FL » Fri Sep 09, 2005 10:14 pm

Panfreak is exactly right. I have learned more about these old bikes from reading through the old posts from this forum & the new one than from all of the books that I have bought. In fact I would not have known what books to buy if it weren't for this forum. There are a lot of great guys here that are very knowledgeable about older HDs and are willing to share what they know.
Get a case of beer (it may take more than one case & several nights) and start reading, there is a lot of information and entertainment in these posts. I have read all of the old posts and it took a while and yes, I printed some of them for future reference myself.
Our host, Panhead, has done us all a great service in providing this forum & deserves our support.


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Re: Words of advice: the best parts to look for


Post by quickie » Sat Sep 10, 2005 3:02 am

I have read some of the posts, that's why I registered, you guys seem very knowledgable, and easy going. I have been on some boards in the past that was alot of bad mouthing, and gave up on the message board stuff for awhile.
I'm not dead set on the 56, that's just what has been in my head for many years, and still don't really know why. I have been drag racing motorcycles for years, and would like to build something that will take the occasional abuse at the track, then be ready to ride home. I'm not looking for a fast bike, but not slow either.
The easy part is done for me, I know the design, just need the parts to build with.... the hard part begins.
Thanks for the help!!! What are some good books to set me up with modified pans?? Even some books about the pan history.....

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Re: Words of advice: the best parts to look for


Post by panhead » Sat Sep 10, 2005 7:05 am

Check the books section: http://astore.amazon.com/panheadhomepage" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Re: Words of advice: the best parts to look for


Post by RideforHIM » Tue Sep 13, 2005 8:32 pm

If you go with a pre '54 model (tapered shaft drive), and stick with a chain drive primary, try to locate a compensator sprocket for these. You will go through a lot of primary chains if you don't. I put one on my '53 and it was the best thing I could have done. They were a "dealer option only" for those years, so they are rare, but worth the hunt!
Other than that, the '55 and up has a beefier lower end and compensator sprockets are readily available. The heads on the earlier models did not have the fin area as the later ones do, but as long as you re-work these for unleaded gas, they seem fine.
Most people run a 12 volt ('65 and later) system. The 12 volt generator fits all years, and batteries are easier to find.

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