Finding History on Your Pan

Information on the identification and numbering of frame, motor belly, transmission and other parts
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old1955
Posts: 196
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:41 am
Bikes: 55FLE, 65FL
Location: Northern Rivers NSW, Australia

Finding History on Your Pan

#1

Post by old1955 » Mon May 28, 2007 9:25 am

Hi All ,
Has anyone got any ideas on how to lookup the history of your bike. Like all the registered
plates it had, and maybe address and owners too. Here is copy of a email I wrote to Carls Speed Shop, who use to be in CA but moved to FL for some reason. Carls not your friendly type so I never got a response, but he would be an old timer these days.

letter:

I am looking for history on my motorcycle, names, dates and photos,
anything I can find. I believe you may have owned it once, so the story
goes.

It's a 1955 FLE, I think ex-Californian Police bike.

I was told that it did service in The Police Force as a parade/escort
type bike. And a police officer liked the bike and followed it to the
auctions, when the department sold them off , the officer bought it.
He didn't own it long and was killed one day on the job. Hit by a
passing car.
His wife kept the bike for some time then sold it to you.

How am I go'en so far?

I would love some names here and time spans. If you could manage it.

Then an Australian guy called Steve saw it at your shop, I think, and
bought it, shipped it back down-under and didn't do much with it. Then a
friend of mine bought from Steve, and had it for many years and did a
lot of runs with it. Then I bought it and I have had it for 5 years
now.

That's all I know about it.

Couple of questions for you!

Do you know if, any police records are still available of original
department purchases, sales or maintenance of vehicles?

Do you know if, DOT have old records available to search? I thought I
may be able to do search on the engine number. Or a photo with a plate
in it.

Any information would be greatly appreciated Carl.

Many thanks to you
All the best
Pete
end letter:
So now you have the whole story could anyone give me a push in the right direction here?
Thanks Pete



64duo
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#2

Post by 64duo » Wed May 30, 2007 4:56 am

When I was doing that research on my 1964 FLH, I simply called the motor company, who was able to tell me the date the bike was assembled and that it left as a hand shift version. No color or other exciting details about where sold, special group accessories etc.
I dont remember the exact phone extension number, but here is the phone number & address on the letterhead they sent back to me with the few details they had.

H-D
3700 W. Juneau Ave
PO Box 653
Milwaukee, WI 53201
(414) 342-4680

64duo
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#3

Post by 64duo » Wed May 30, 2007 4:59 am

Anonymous wrote:When I was doing that research on my 1964 FLH, I simply called the motor company, who was able to tell me the date the bike was assembled and that it left as a hand shift version. No color or other exciting details about where sold, special group accessories etc.
I dont remember the exact phone extension number, but here is the phone number & address on the letterhead they sent back to me with the few details they had.

H-D
3700 W. Juneau Ave
PO Box 653
Milwaukee, WI 53201
(414) 342-4680
sorry, forgot to add the date I inquired was Dec 13, 2005. So they provided that historical info then, not sure what they do now.

HD48FL
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Bikes: Yep

Isn't that only for '62 and up?

#4

Post by HD48FL » Wed May 30, 2007 2:09 pm

Does the factory have records for cycles built before 1962? I heard a lot of their records were destroyed in a fire around that time?

old1955
Posts: 196
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:41 am
Bikes: 55FLE, 65FL
Location: Northern Rivers NSW, Australia

#5

Post by old1955 » Thu May 31, 2007 11:44 am

64duo
Many Thanks, I'll give it go?
I will also see if I can find anything about a fire too, HD48FL

old1955
Posts: 196
Joined: Sat Feb 10, 2007 12:41 am
Bikes: 55FLE, 65FL
Location: Northern Rivers NSW, Australia

BIKE HISTORY

#6

Post by old1955 » Thu May 31, 2007 4:41 pm

In March of 2006, I called the HD Customer Service # 414-343-4056 to inquire about my bike (a 63 FL Police). I spoke with Peter Simit who was VERY helpful. I do not know when HD started putting stamped numbers on the frame, forks and transmission, but for bikes 1962 and up, they have information for them matched up with the motor case VIN, belly production numbers and date of manufacture. YOU need to provide THEM with the numbers and they will verify that that is how it left the factory. (They will NOT give them to you). It takes a little time once you give them the numbers as the information is in a non-numerically sequenced, hand-written ledger and is hard to look through. When you call, they will give you a request number...write it down so you can reference it on subsequent calls.

In late April, I received a Certification letter that verified the VIN, date of manufacture, crankcase, fork, transmission and frame numbers all matched as it was originally constructed.

I also heard that the information is not available before 1962...either due to fire, OR that AMF ordered it destroyed to make room for new records.

GOOD LUCK

63 KCPD

VPH-D
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#7

Post by VPH-D » Fri Jun 01, 2007 7:25 pm

If you call the number, a pre recorded message states information is unavailable for years prior to 62 or something. The card file index showing serial vs confidential numbers is still there, and it goes back, at least, to Knuckleheads. This information is available to Police Departments.
VPH-D

fourthgear
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Location: north florida

#8

Post by fourthgear » Sun Jun 03, 2007 2:19 pm

VPH-D
Now, are you saying that there is a list of numbers for all BT's to Knucks and we can't access them or are not permitted to have access to them?Confidential numbers ? What could be confidential after fifty or so years. So , if I wanted to really get the scoop on an old Panhead , I would get the police dept. to check on it ? Would that not come under the freedom of information act, after so long? Or am I missing some thing in your post? Inquiring minds want to know.

VPH-D
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#9

Post by VPH-D » Mon Jun 04, 2007 5:21 pm

Confidential numbers is a term used in the old days [70s, in my case] to describe what are now commonly called belly numbers. I suppose they were 'confidential' in that nobody knew how they related to a serial number.
As you probably know, the belly numbers were stamped into a set of cases after they were machined as a set. That number was recorded on a file card that stayed with the motor until it received a serial number upon assembly. The serial number was added to the card and put into a file index. Somewhere about 60 -62 the transmission,fork and frame number was added to this card info. I know most people are unaware of the left side frame numbers, but they exist.
This is the file a police dept. would have access to upon suspecting that a bike is stolen. If say, the forks and transmission are not the ones the bike was born with, the police get frisky. The big attention getter is a mis-match of confidential and serial numbers.
I don't know about the FOIA applying in this case, H-D is not a government entity.
VPH-D

panz4ever
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#10

Post by panz4ever » Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:54 pm

fourthgear, in the 70s, the "street chopper" thing was all the rage. (Sad that today we are given a reality TV show under the same false pretense but with "posers" that look more like the beatles song, The Walrus and the Carpenter")

Thievery was rampant at the time and we were given classes to assist in identifying and arresting those responsible. Back then thieves often overlooked these "confidential" numbers when altering or removing parts. It was another investigative tool. "Confidential" referred to lower case numbers as well as numbers on frame, forks, and tranny where applicable

Assembly records for 57 and prior no longer exist. 58 records are presently (present meaning 1972) filed at NATB Chicago (by engine and crankcase only). 59-61 are available through HD factory in Milwaukee. 62 through present are maintained at NATB, Western Division, Chicago, Ill.

Starting in 62 HDs (except Sportys) were assigned frame, fork and tranny numbers, usually an alpha followed by 3 or 4 digits. Requests for info should be directed to NATB Western Division.

The following is the general rule for the numbering system (HD was the mother of the exception rule)

62-63...A and B; 64...B, C, D,; 65...C and D; 66-67...D, E, F and G; 69...J, K and L; 70...K and L.

Up until 69 you could still go to your local dealer and get replacement cases. MoCo decided that while you could not do that you, could take in your old blown left case and have a new one stamped onto the engine so that the nike could retain the original VIN. Not sure when that policy was discontinued tho..

Might be interesting to see if NATB can assist. Today its not about thiefs, but guys rebuilding/restoring old bikes and trying to make it correct/more correct, and finding a little history in the process.

fourthgear
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#11

Post by fourthgear » Tue Jun 05, 2007 11:36 pm

Now , that's great info guy's , my hats off to all , for the information. I will check on my 65 and I guess I can forget about my other Pan. I got stone walled on checking on it from the DMV's , you can only go back in the state where it was titled to you and no names , just years ,it was in that state. I got to 1982 , that's how long it was in Ohio. No info was given as to where it came from before that.

VPH-D
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Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2005 1:00 am

#12

Post by VPH-D » Wed Jun 06, 2007 5:25 pm

panz4ever,
Good information. We could still supply replacement case sets in the 70s and early 80s. The old cases had to be turned in, and we returned them to Milw. as part of the order process. I have no personal experience later than early 80s.
Incidentally, Sportsters had the same cross reference numbers [ frame, forks ] except for the trans numbers.
VPH-D

azpaul50
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Location: Yuma, AZ
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Re: Finding History on Your Pan

#13

Post by azpaul50 » Tue Mar 13, 2012 8:18 pm

While this is an old thread, I ran across it today just messin' around. I tried the phone number, it is still good. I used the Harley operator to get the right place. The gentleman was extremely helpful and we lucked out and found my '63 FLHF right off the bat. They go through old hand-written logs but found it on the first try. Mine was made on Tueday, April 2, 1963! 63FLH7XXX. I don't know why I'm hiding the actual number but everyone else seems to. They didn't have other info like where it was delivered, accessories, or color but at least I now know the engine is original. I have also have some 1966 documentation from Hugo's H-D in Kansas confirming the number. We also discussed how 6's should appear and I have a straight back (not curved). It is like a "b" but pushed over to about a 45 degrees diagonal. He had other exemplars that confirmed this was correct. The gentleman was extremely helpful and interested which I think speaks well of today's Harley-Davidson. On the down side, they didn't keep records of Harley Toppers so I couldn't get my '62AH verified. He's sent an email verification pending receipt of pictures from me of the VIN. At that time, Harley will send a hard-copy letter. Also, this site provided the info to do this without much work. I probably wouldn't have bothered. Thank you, Hydra-Glide!

outlaw
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Bikes: 2006 fxsts
1952 FL
1953 FL-SOLD
Location: ny

Re: Finding History on Your Pan

#14

Post by outlaw » Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:51 am

hope im posting this in the right spot.

there is a 52 FLH in the register is that a typo? I have seen it there for a long time. but the FLH didn't come out until 1955 correct? or am I missing something?

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Re: Finding History on Your Pan

#15

Post by RUBONE » Mon Dec 23, 2013 4:47 am

If it says 52 FLH it is a typo in the register, or the owner has a re-stamped engine number. You are correct, the FLH appeared in the '55 model year.

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