Advice on purchasing FL/H motor

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Advice on purchasing FL/H motor


Post by pusher » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:07 am


I've been looking for a pan motor for a couple weeks now. My goal is to find matching cases, clean accurate VIN/title, and preferably oem jugs to construct a straight leg chop from the ground up. I can't weld yet, but as far as the engine is concerned I am ready and willing to strip and rebuild.

When buying an engine, what are some specific things I should look for/out for?
What are the best books to grab to learn more about 48-64 motors?


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Re: Advice on purchasing FL/H motor


Post by drinner-okc » Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:59 am

Marty, if you've only been looking for a couple weeks, by first caution is PATIENCE! Try to inspect the parts before any cash changes hands. Study the Knowledge Base here and learn
how to spot bogus or tanpered with VIN's. Learn to spot previous repairs, and if they are of
good quality.
There are a lot of straight-up people out there, (a lot here & ready to help) but due to the popularity and high prices, there are a lot of people out there looking to take advantage of someone.
Early-on find an independent dealer (indy) that will even work on, or do machine work on
early iron. A lot of recent Tech school graduates can machine Twin-cam & Evo parts just
fine, but our old iron is just different technology, with different rules.
The Pan came in several configurations from 48-65, your style of riding will designate which
suites you best. If you want a big belt drive hanging off the left, a -55 & later with Timken
bearings is a must. I you want to hang something other than the original style carb, you'll
want o-ring seals (also 55 & later) or even aftermarket heads with Shovel style ports.
That way off-the shelf parts are available.
What ever you end up with, it won't be like a new Twin-Cam. It will require regular check-ups
and constant tinkering.
Good Luck & keep us 'posted'

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Re: Advice on purchasing FL/H motor


Post by panpered » Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:54 am

You can buy the Palmer book "How To Restore Your Harley-Davidson" for starters. The first chapter will go into the important info on VIN numbers. You would have to dig a bit to learn that the VIN boss should generally be about 1/8". Look for any evidence that it has had material removed and restamped. Also, the belly number (the first part) year should be close to the year on the VIN block, within 1 year. So for instance, if the belly number starts with 159, the VIN year should be 59 or 60. This may be a general rule, but I think it is a good one.

Assuming you invest a lot of money in an original motor and get an original frame for you chopper, the biggest road block will be your state Motor Vehicle department. More horror stories come from there than anywhere else. Here is my advice. Do your chopper with an original frame. Don't show up with an aftermarket frame that has an MSO number stamped on it because they will want that to become the main title VIN number and will want your original motor number to be secondary to that. Scenario number two. You show up with the bike with an old frame with no frame numbers. They will want to title it as "Special Construction" and assign it a state-issued number. Don't let that happen. Bottom line is that you may have to fight to keep your investmest in that motor as the only number on that new title. Without that, your investment in an original motor is not worth it.

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Re: Advice on purchasing FL/H motor


Post by steve_wood » Mon Feb 09, 2009 7:17 pm


Assuming you can find a motor that isn't stolen property, you can get it titled at International Title Service.

It will cost you $85, but it's pretty simple. You send them the VIN from your motor, they send you a registration that you can use to register in your state.

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Re: Advice on purchasing FL/H motor


Post by pusher » Tue Feb 10, 2009 8:58 pm

thanks for the advice -- I spend a few hours a week on this site reading through the knowledge base/manuals.
It seems like there's a handful of people willing to sell their basket case engines for $5k but no one with anyone too great right now.

The patient search continues.

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