1951 Panhead

Rebuild the drums or put a disc brake system on it?

Forum rules
Please do not start new topics here, but here: New Panhead and Flathead topics
Post Reply
406Pan
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:16 am
Bikes: 1951 Harley-Davidson Panhead
Been thanked: 1 time

1951 Panhead

#1

Post by 406Pan » Fri Sep 09, 2011 11:47 pm

Hey everybody! First off I'll say that I am new to the Panhead community. I just inherited my fathers 1951 Pan. I will also be the first to admit that I really have knowledge of Panheads. Which is why I joined this site in hopes of gaining some knowledge. I know little about my Pan other than the fact that it has an 86 inch stroker motor in it, a Wide-Glide front end and a stock rigid cradle frame. It's been sitting for around ten years and I'm looking to get her back up and running. My dad was saying the brakes suck! What's the best thing to do? Rebuild the drums or put a disc brake system on it? That's where I'd like to start. Thanks everyone



kitabel
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:10 pm
Bikes: 2008 96" Fat Boy TC
Location: Lynbrook, New York
Been thanked: 84 times
Contact:

Re: 1951 Panhead

#2

Post by kitabel » Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:26 am

There are no good H-D front drum brakes, even when new. Any factory disc is a big help, but they ruin the original appearance. The original rear drum works OK if it's in good shape, but only because the rear brake doesn't do much.
My choice is a much better (but foreign) front drum brake.

More motor details?

58flh
Posts: 3340
Joined: Sat Jun 26, 2010 1:54 pm
Bikes: 1958flh 1969sporty,had a knuckle but sold back to original owner
Location: NEW JERSEY
Has thanked: 195 times
Been thanked: 259 times

Re: 1951 Panhead

#3

Post by 58flh » Sat Sep 10, 2011 3:19 pm

406pan---I have had drums as long as I can remember. The deal is drums take a longer distance to stop ,say from 60mph to 0. By adding a disc to the front you probably nock off 25 feet or so if memory serves me correct. But by doing so you kill that beautiful 51 pan,in my eyes anyway. As I said I run duel drums & have no problems! The key is to know your ride & what you can do with it!!. I have no complaints on drumbrakes, I like em Im used to them, I roll with the newer H.D.s no problem, Someone even asked if I had some trick set-up under the front drum that was hiding a disc. Most funny thing I heard on that run, my best bud had his 52 flattie & almost fellover from laffing!. If you set-up your brakes with care & I mean change anything that makes you look twice ,you will have a bike that stops good! You must KNOW your ride!. When caught in a storm & no bridges insight allow for extra stopping just as you would in a cage!.(Good-Luck---58flh)

Cotten
Posts: 6911
Joined: Mon Aug 26, 2002 9:09 am
Location: Central Illinois
Has thanked: 100 times
Been thanked: 268 times

Re: 1951 Panhead

#4

Post by Cotten » Sat Sep 10, 2011 4:35 pm

Folks,

H-D front brakes were developed when roads were most often gravel or dirt, and a grabbing front brake was honestly considered dangerous!

But this does not mean that they are "no good".
With just a little attention to arcing the linings, they can stop admirably.

Your first defense is to anticipate a stop, as well as mindless motorists about to invade your territory.
If you cannot help but overestimate your stopping distance upon a vintage vehicle, then just sell out and get something off the showroom floor, and save us all from a tragic statistic to be used against those of us that do enjoy vintage machines, for what they are.

And as 58flh points out, bastardizing a vintage machine just because you cannot work upon it is a shame.
It means spending much money just to depreciate its intrinsic worth, and destroy the history behind it.

As an inherited piece, 406Pan, that might be a consideration.

....Cotten

kitabel
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:10 pm
Bikes: 2008 96" Fat Boy TC
Location: Lynbrook, New York
Been thanked: 84 times
Contact:

Re: 1951 Panhead

#5

Post by kitabel » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:16 pm

The FL had terrible brakes even when new compared to British bikes. Small lining + heavy = long stopping distance. You only have to be minding your own business when Edith Bunker pulls out of that driveway in front of you one time. Disc vs. drum is the difference between breaking her window with your helmet and driving away, and breaking her window with your head, and being driven away by ambulance.
The 1964-72 XL & Superglide drum are about 50% better (as are the Triumph, BSA and Norton drums), still cheap but doesn't bolt on and looks very different.
Last edited by kitabel on Sat Sep 10, 2011 11:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

kitabel
Posts: 865
Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:10 pm
Bikes: 2008 96" Fat Boy TC
Location: Lynbrook, New York
Been thanked: 84 times
Contact:

Re: 1951 Panhead

#6

Post by kitabel » Sat Sep 10, 2011 10:20 pm

There's a cute trick that can be done using 2 drums, read it in my article:
http://victorylibrary.com/tech/harley-2LS.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

hplhd
Site sponsor
Site sponsor
Posts: 613
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2005 7:16 pm
Bikes: 1998 heritage springer
Location: indiana, usa
Has thanked: 9 times
Been thanked: 13 times

Re: 1951 Panhead

#7

Post by hplhd » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:51 pm

i saw a benneli tornado front brake on a rigid pan and tho it was far from stock looking it was sharp as shit for a custom application. i have the 2ls springer brake from 45 partsdepot as shown in kitabels link, still need some tweeking but i like it.

VPH-D
Posts: 858
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2005 1:00 am
Been thanked: 57 times

Re: 1951 Panhead

#8

Post by VPH-D » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:07 pm

Changing the forks to a 73-81? disc brake set up is no big deal, and causes no permanent harm. Some of us that grew up in an urban area have been running these disc front brakes since the 70s. I, for one, don't think the classic look is ruined, 2 of my 4 Pans run a disc fork. But opinions vary.

VPH-D

George Greer
Site sponsor
Site sponsor
Posts: 1274
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:48 am
Bikes: 1942 WLA Type III

Hybrid WL/KH bobber project.

58 FL, engine, frame swingarm, gas tanks.
Location: Markt Einersheim, Bavaria. and soon to be back in the US, Portland Oregon
Has thanked: 175 times
Been thanked: 30 times
Contact:

Re: 1951 Panhead

#9

Post by George Greer » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:40 pm

VPH-D wrote:Changing the forks to a 73-81? disc brake set up is no big deal, and causes no permanent harm. Some of us that grew up in an urban area have been running these disc front brakes since the 70s. I, for one, don't think the classic look is ruined, 2 of my 4 Pans run a disc fork. But opinions vary.

VPH-D

Got photos of your setup?

I am leaning toward something like that.

George

406Pan
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Sep 05, 2011 4:16 am
Bikes: 1951 Harley-Davidson Panhead
Been thanked: 1 time

Re: 1951 Panhead

#10

Post by 406Pan » Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:54 am

Thanks for all of the advice guys. I need to talk to my dad more about the motor and everything. I'm really not sure about the internals. Or anything else for that matter honestly. I'll get some pictures up ASAP. I am kind of leaning towards trying to keep it as stock as possible. I'm not looking to be hauling ass everywhere on it ya know? I had an 06 Honda CBR600RR a couple years ago (which I just about died on) and got the going really fast out of my system. I'm looking to just cruise. I just remember watching my dad starting the pan up when I was like 4 or 5 years old and thought it was the coolest thing ever.

VPH-D
Posts: 858
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2005 1:00 am
Been thanked: 57 times

Re: 1951 Panhead

#11

Post by VPH-D » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:24 pm

George,
I'm not advanced enough to put up photos.
Anyway, you can use any 72-82 fork assembly, or a combination of parts to make one. Disc sliders are available which you can install on your existing forks, the right slider is the same if you can find just the left side. You will need a -73 axle and spacer, along with a post 73 dual flange wheel assy. or just a hub. Your old rim and spokes will work if you have just a hub. Use
a brake rotor for 73-82 model and the -72 master cylinder. Your fender bolts right back in place. This just using stock parts and is an easy way to improve your braking.
VPH-D

Post Reply

Return to “Brakes”