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New to Panheads. Rolling my own

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New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by MadMark » Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:52 pm

Building a 'basket case' panhead all summer. Started with a completely naked frame. Nearly complete but I've got a couple of questions.
First the bike. It's a 'swap meet special'. Titled as a '48 but the engine is a '58, "45" tranny - freshy rebuilt, '66 frame, '74 swingarm (for disk brakes), '85 "fat bob" front end and the rest is an assortment of new & used parts.
Got an S&S 'Super B' carb on it now. Hard to start (gotta hand choke it) and lots of jumping and cursing on the kicker. Have a Linkert M-74 that I need a manifold for to mount it.

Q1. Is the Linkert or the Super B a better choice?
Q2. I've heard several variations on the 'right' way to start a panhead. I need to minimize the jumping up and down and would *love* to get it tuned for 'one kick' starting.
Q3. Should I go to electronic ignition? I put a 'Franks' on the generator and all of the ignition besides the distributor itself is new (coil, points, plugs, condenser, wires, battery, wires)
Q4. How do you mount the pipes? I can only get one bracket mount that seems to fit and the exhaust port's don't seem to clamp tightly. I've tried several clamps and using wire braid as packing, but the pipes seem to want to rattle off.

I'm open to any other advice/suggestions that y'all might have.


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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by dereborn » Mon Feb 07, 2005 5:34 am

Hi Mark!

Welcome to the source of never-ending knowledge! Seriously.
Sounds like you're building "your own special" here! Cool.
Don't think you can even ask the question if the linkert or the Super B is the BETTER choice... It's like asking if A sunny day is better than a starry night, kinda... 2 different things.
Also the follownig question is colsely hooked up to which carb YOU choose to use! I think EVERY user on this board has his/her own recipy on staring their own bike. That's kinda the beauty of it. You have to get to know your friend, the pan...
I finally got to know mine so it always (...wel, almost - if noone's watching) starts right into idle at 1st kick! I use an old SU, and standard points / 6volt. OK, I put in a distributor with springs inside, but otherwise... Regarding the "Franks" unit, check recent topics!
As for the pipes, I used aluminium strips from a beer can to tighten up the mounting clamps. (A tip found on this board!) As for the pipes, It happened to be possible to fit a clamp on my passenger footrest mount for the rear pipe. Guess you have to find your own ways depending on what pipes you are planning to use.

Good Luck!

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Billy » Mon Feb 07, 2005 4:19 pm

Mad Mark-
Welcome, Hope the recent hurricanes were kind to ya..
The carb choice will get different opinions as Dereborn mentioned. I like CV's off the new HD's. But we're talking about your bike.
Either one & all set-up properly will start quickly.

Question; you got a 45" Flatty trans behind your Pan??
Is that what you said??

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by kell » Mon Feb 07, 2005 9:03 pm

About the starting, it sounds like you haven't had the engine up and running for very long, making it kind of hard to offer advice about starting procedure... it may not be starting "technique" you need at this point, but some improvements/adjustments to the engine. How well does it run when you do get it started? Are you actually riding it, and if so does it overheat, have you dialed in the carb yet, etc. Not sure but I seem to remember, doesn't the super B have a much the bigger throat than the super E? A super E works pretty well on a 74 inch engine, not sure how compatible the super B is, maybe somebody else will tell.
But as far as starting procedure, I'll just say a couple things. On mine (74" motor with a super E), I give it two or three priming kicks with the richener on and the ignition key off. This "wets its whistle," so to speak. Then turn the key on, and kick (I have manual advance, so obviously I have to retard it, but nowhere near the max travel). Starts reliably when cold, though not usually the first "hot" kick. As some of the people here will tell you, starting the motor when it is still hot from riding is another can of worms... we can get into that later.

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Cotten » Tue Feb 08, 2005 8:24 am


If you really have a '48 title with a '58 motor in a '66 frame, '85 forks (#'s intact I hope?),.. etc., I really suggest that you never ride it in Illinois. Or nearly any other State in the Union, except maybe Georgia where anything seems legal.
If you believe it is all somehow legit, then you had better add a tourpak to carry your papertrail, 'cos 'Barney Fife' is certain to try to nail you no matter what.

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by junker » Tue Feb 08, 2005 7:23 pm

Hey MadMark he is not kidding the biker task force will take your bike until you can prove you come up with paperwork for every piece or they will keep it.the will give you a hard time if your tittle does not match your frame and motor.hate to hear of someone losing there ride like carefull.

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Billy » Wed Feb 09, 2005 5:51 pm

Of course keeping in mind that HD did NOT put VIN #'s on frame's till late '69 for '70. Date codes yes.
But no VIN #'s
Which has been a source of problems w/Police because
many don't know this. I think the Daytona Task force knows this very well, as they regularly random check bikes at Bike Week, & BiketoberFest, this weekend, matter of fact..

Gotta keep the papers right!!

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Toymaster » Fri Feb 11, 2005 2:41 pm

Titled as a '48 but the engine is a '58, "45" tranny - freshy rebuilt, '66 frame, '74 swingarm (for disk brakes), '85 "fat bob" front end and the rest is an assortment of new & used parts.
Where I come from [NJ] this would have to be titled as a 58 [motor #'s = VIN, there are no frame #'s, and the rest is ancillary really..]
But how it's titled '48 is beyond me.. where you from?good luck..

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Cotten » Fri Feb 11, 2005 8:19 pm

Perhaps the frame has been VIN-stamped by the authorities?
(That happens occasionally in Illinois, if all other paperwork is in order, or they just feel sorry for a victim.)

MM has at least these concerns:
(1) Unwanted attention from the authorities, legit or not.
(2) Insurability, or at least collectibility upon the event of a claim.
(3) If the locktab (with #s) has been removed from the '85 fork, it's a felony.
(4) How will he keep from fragging the 45" tranny? (Not a legal concern, but one of horsepower, and running it upside-down/backwards?) Or did MM mean 1945 tranny?

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Plain » Sat Feb 12, 2005 1:24 pm

Aside from the registration/insurability problems that you face.
Which is the best carb is like asking which is the best cam. Sure to elicit a lot of "strong" opinions. On a basically stock 74" engine, just about any of the carbs mentioned and a lot of others will work well for you. As you begin to modify the engine, the Linkert does not lend itself to modification and will quickly hit the wall.
A properly rebuilt Linkert that solves the soggy float problem will serve you well on a stock engine. Very simple carburetor. Very easy to adjust. The S&S "B" has the same internal dimensions as the S&S "E" - 1-9/16" venturi, 1-7/8" throat. One drawback to the "B", as you may have discovered, is that it is 1-1/2" longer than the "E". The "B" really sticks out into your right leg. The Linkert will not. The "B" does not have an accelerator pump. Tuning characteristics of the "B" and "E" are similar but the longer intake tract and shape of the throat require a somewhat different approach.
Besides the importance of checking for an intake manifold leak, have you rebuilt the "B"? You need to carefully check the throttle shaft bushings. If the throttle shaft does not fit tightly into the bushings, you will have an air leak that will lead you to misery. Proper S&S rebuild kit will contain new bushings. Record your main jet and intermediate jet sizes. If the "B" was set up for a larger engine, or who knows what, you will have problems.
S&S carbs are well built and fairly straight forward to work on. Easy to dial in.


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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Cotten » Sat Feb 12, 2005 9:04 pm

I guess I must again defend the immortal Linkert!
Totally independent of any motor mods such as cams, displacement, gross over-sized valves, etc., the limit to airflow on a true Panhead is the intake ports and not the carb!
Linkerts can easily be modified to over-flow even the post -'56 ports, with no outward appearance changes!
(I have only flowbenched 1-1/4" models, so for all I know, an un-modifiied M74B may already be overkill.)
Modern carbs are only a convenience for personalized Pans, in that they offer an easy means of achieving fuel economy, and mechanics who are skilled with them can be found on a barstool nearly anywhere. You only need a large sack o' cash for the altered aircleaner, manifold, supports, linkage, handlebars, etc., etc., etc.
For a restoration, or even for preserving the value of your investment into a stock-appearance machine, nothing else but a Linkert will do. Often it is the most economical approach as well.
But hey,... If the Man is gonna confiscate it anyway, modern CV's are cheap as dirt, and I hear they are delightful.

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Plain » Sun Feb 13, 2005 2:15 pm

Now, now, Cotten. Let's not get our shorts all bunched up in a tight knot.
The man has two carbs. I tried to give an honest appraisal of both. This does not demean the Linkert. My statement that it will quickly hit the wall may have been misinterpreted. We could pick nits on this all day, but I will say that the Linkert is not easily modified and because of its simplicity, does not give a good tuner as many options to really dial in the carburetor throughout the rpm range when modifications start pushing the envelope. Flow is only one of the variables. But again, this is picking at nits to some extent. I do not disagree that the Linkert, properly rebuilt and setup, is a fine carburetor over a wide range of Panhead engines.
I somewhat agree with you on the intake ports, but not completely. The Panhead entire induction system is tortuous! Air does not like to bend. Intake manifold is a dead "T". Then a hard 90 at the head. Intake port is overly large and odd shaped. Pressure distribution is really variable. This is not a design for a system that lends itself to going fast. Or, maybe I should say that if I were to design a system for going fast and pushing the envelope it would not be the one found on a Panhead.
I really like an S&S carb because I am familiar with them, and on a good day I can tune the snot out of them. If that makes me a barstool mechanic, well, I have certainly been called worse. Heck, I aspire to barstool mechanic.


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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Cotten » Sun Feb 13, 2005 10:52 pm

Please, let none of us take any of this too personal... we are talking hardware.
I apologize if barstools are a stigma; I spent decades on them. If I hadn't gotten married, I'd still be on one instead of pecking this keyboard.
Who can deny that there are multitudes who tinker daily with Bendix, Keihins, S&S, etc., but only scattered silly dinosaurs who seek to master an extinct technology?
Are not Panheads themselves archaic and distained by the modern mechanic? How many Dealerships these days will even service a Chubblehead?
And no, it wasn't Billy that I was responding to, but Plain's assertion that Linkerts were a dead end.
Simplicity has its advantages, and the complications of many modern carbs have their disadvantages. I believe I have posted here before (or somewhere in cyberspace) that there are no really bad carbs, only difficult ones.
Many innovations that you may consider "modern", such as accellerator pumps, were wide spread in the automotive world long before the Panhead era. Yet American motorcycles used the Linkert design faithfully until the manufacturer was consolidated into corporate oblivion.
Harley could have put anything from an Amal to a Zenith on the first ElectraGlides. Something with a potmetal body would certainly have been cheaper to produce, and the public was obviously ready for something higher tech (The USA was only four years away from putting a man on the moon).
Why was the Linkert so successfull?
More bigger is not always more better. If the intake ports will not support the cfm of a modern 'performance' carb's optimum range for horsepower, why spend the money for potential that cannot be used?

By that logic,... a CV makes sense. Anything else is just convenient, or maybe just kewl.
Whaddayamean I can't get a Kuryakin that fits my Police Special?!?!
(I ran S&S, Mikuni, and Keihin on my 88" Pan, and all did fine. But no better than a common M74B. And my right leg was a lot more comfortable.)
So MM, how did you use a 45'" tranny, anyway?

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by MadMark » Tue Feb 15, 2005 2:06 pm

Heres some pics of my beast:

First, the state of Florida issued me a clean title as a '48. I think that they considered that given age of the bike that VIN's just wern't an issue. It had a previous title issued back in '91. They didn't even *LOOK* at the frame. I keep a fistfull of receipts in a baggie in my vest.
The frame has NO #'s on it that I've found. It's been slightly raked and there is no indication that there were ever any numbers on it. It was a '66 frame so it'll accept either a panhead or shovelhead engine. It has the tabs for floorboards and I've got a pair of NOS (new old stock) HD floorboards mounted.
Here in Florida (Daytona) there is no requirement for insurance. So that isn't an issue.
I assume it was a '45 transmission as that what' the V-twin book called the one that looked like what was installed. 4 speeds, no electric start mounts, linkage attaches to the bottom. It was given to me direct from the rebuilder.
My pipes are just straight pipes. No NOTHING. I've got one clamp on each pipe and the band clamps on the motor, but the manifold mounts don't seem to want to tighten. We used grounding strap braid (instead of a beer can) to fill the slop between the end of the pipes and the manifold, but when the engine fired the front pipe rattled off.
The bike is not yet moving. We've fired the engine a couple of times and it runs strong, but the carb isn't dialed in yet. Hence the questions about should we fiddle with the Super B and jets or go for the Linkert (found a manifold for it saturday).
Both the Linkert and Super B carbs are freshly rebuilt so they should be mechanically correct. The S&S is mounted now and I found the Linkert manifold this weekend so for the cost of a couple of gaskets I can change over.
We're not expecting this to be a screamer, but we do want it to be easy starting (I had my first heart attack three weeks ago and can't do a bunch of jumping on the kiker every time I need to fire it.) I've put an extra long kicker on it to help.
The issue with the S&S was the lack of a choke and the PITA of having to swap the jets to tune it is. The S&S manual gives a HUGE spread in the orifice diameters and basically says "Use what works".
I'm not really a wrench turner and am at the mercy of folx that 'supposedly' know what they're doing.

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Re: New to Panheads. Rolling my own


Post by Plain » Wed Feb 16, 2005 4:21 pm


Respondent here. I took it personally, but in the positive sense. I see no stigma whatsoever in Barstool Mechanic. I consider it a significant upgrade from my current nom de guerre - Barnyard Mechanic. I like the ring of it, it fits well, and I see additional benefits. If I now fall off the barstool I will not be just an Old Drunk, but a Fallen Mechanic. This is a promotion. No apology necessary.
In my own defense I would like to say that moments after posting, I felt that the "hit the wall" statement would bring a well deserved counter statement. I tried to modify the message to no avail. Even though properly logged in, my attempts to modify the message met with "An Error Has Occured" - no big deal, I can commit half a dozen errors before breakfast - "You are not authorized for this procedure", or some such statement. Say What? If not me, then who(m)? Either Panhead has set his flying monkeys on me, or the software sniffs messages for disparaging comments concerning Linkerts and upon discovering such strips a user of certain abilities until proper penitence has been paid. I am mortified that I cannot modify but there you have it. I shall be quiet for awhile and make nice.
Even with my elevated status of Barstool Mechanic I cannot figure out how one mounts a 45 tranny in this configuration. So, MadMark, how did you do it? A couple of pictures would be worth a thousand words.

Plain Barstool Mechanic

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