Flathead Identification

Way to identify/match numbers.

All flathead topics
OldScootNewScoot
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Flathead Identification

#1

Post by OldScootNewScoot » Mon Dec 31, 2018 8:50 pm

I am in need of a bit of help from those of you that have the experience in the Flathead world.

I am looking for a project to do with my Son, and when it is done and he is finished with college in 6 years (Business Law not just like me too many other distractions) I can transfer over the title and start him off correctly.

I know that that with a Knuckle, Panhead, Shovel, etc.. as in a classic car matching numbers are everything and bring BIG bucks when the provenance can be shown, and a few unscrupulous people will market it as a matching numbers barn find, or a true matching numbers survivor.

So my questions is how can I check or verify, I know belly numbers are meant to be matching halves, and more to do more with boring and assembly.
I know that 45’s should all start DL, RL, WL, and the 74’s U or UL, and the 80’s UH or ULH.

Is there a way to match a transmission to the jugs, to the belly, then to the frame so when looking at everything from a basket case to someone’s project started but not completed, or one that is being sold to fund the In-Line 4 Chief project.

My Son is not really the numbers matching guy, he is more into I like this and it’s mine so it just needs to be how I want it done, you don't like that's cool with me.

Don’t get me wrong nothing the matter with a ’40 UL with a ’45 transmission just want to make sure I am not overpaying to start.

Thanks in advance.



1950Panhead
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Re: Flathead Identification

#2

Post by 1950Panhead » Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:17 pm

Start here - http://www.howtorestoreyourharleydavidson.com/
Bikes with all the original parts have the highest value.
Bikes with non factory vin stamp, legal or not have reduced value, same with frames.
Frames have die numbers, cases, cylinders, heads, tranny case have casting dates, Palmer lists the rest.
If you find a bike post photos.
Last edited by 1950Panhead on Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Flathead Identification

#3

Post by RUBONE » Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:18 pm

Hello and welcome to the forum,
Please go to the new member section and do an intro, tell us a bit about yourself.

In the Knowledge Base you will find lots of information on date codes. That is what tells you when components and assemblies were built. You should also invest in Bruce Palmer's "How to restore your Harley-Davidson" volume two (currently being updated) which gives lots of information on identification and dating.

Our resident number guy is Speeding Big Twin who has compiled tons of information on H-D codes and numbers. You can search his posts for many answers to your questions.
Robbie

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Re: Flathead Identification

#4

Post by Buddhahoodvatoloco » Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:24 pm

Buy Palmers book, as was stated by one of the Sages...................... :lol:

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Re: Flathead Identification

#5

Post by kitabel » Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:32 pm

Are you sure an extremely expensive (there is no other kind) older Harley-Davidson is what he will want in 6 years?

OldScootNewScoot
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Re: Flathead Identification

#6

Post by OldScootNewScoot » Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:57 pm

All,
Thanks for the replies I will order Palmers book tonight on-line seems to be the bible or at least one great resource.

I was lucky early to have a mentor that had the knowledge on Knuckleheads, and Pans to help and keep me out of doing something stupid like buy something that I could not title(again).

In these earlier scoots I have always liked to look them over just never wanted one, looking back stupid move.... could have had a few projects way cheaper than now

As to Kitabel, I am sure, as he is the one pointing these out to me and he has expressed interest in the line specifically the '40's.
When he was 16 he took to my 66 GTO and wanted one, we discussed the pros and cons, he decided a Tempest, with a super solid body, and
a nice small block, and a GTO hood he just liked the style not just the GTO badge. This was a great project we did together and I would like to do the same with the Flathead and get to ride a bit together before he he is off to his ways.
If he decides in 10 years he is no longer interested some $'s to pay the college off or maybe for a new Milwaukee-Eight for dear old Dad.

Thanks again for the direction I'll keep checking back I have a lot to learn on these.

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Re: Flathead Identification

#7

Post by kitabel » Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:59 am

Excellent, the question has already been resolved. Frankly, when I bought my first 45 50 years ago for $200 it was because it was all I could afford, not for love of antiques! And of course, only a few purchases will be big dollars.

Just my 2¢:
1. Almost all 45 parts are cheaper to buy, and easier to find in good used condition than any big twin
2. The labor and machine work is almost as expensive
3. No 45 is anything like "fast" (both acceleration and top speed) without vast and complex mods. The U series isn't going to be fast either, but fast-er
4. For some people (including me), a foot clutch is a deal breaker, and the 3-speed doesn't help
5. There are fairly few 45 parts (at least after 1941) that are not common to a good range of years, there are no "stay away" years
6. Really big people (height and weight) have told me they feel silly on a 45 - "too small"

Everyone here will help you identify anything you find with a casting number, how bad can it be and still be useful, how much to pay, etc.

Have fun with it!

OldScootNewScoot
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Re: Flathead Identification

#8

Post by OldScootNewScoot » Tue Jan 01, 2019 2:32 pm

Kitabel,
Great things to consider especially the foot clutch, I have ridden 2 and had issues until I got accustomed to them but it took quite a bit if time.

As for fast again a big draw here I think is a good all around putt the idea if we do it right it should be a dependable ride to allow us to enjoy what
is around while riding,
I would like to take my Son to ride the Dragon's Tail on this bike, I'm no longer into scrapping the floorboard sides in the corners.
Although I will say the new FXDR and the Livewire are something I may need to schedule a test ride....

Thank you for the help, direction, and benefit of experience, its good to know there is a place I can go to get the insight.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year

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Re: Flathead Identification

#9

Post by kitabel » Tue Jan 01, 2019 8:08 pm

If I were to begin a project, it would probably be a 1939-* 45 engine (year doesn't matter) with a 1940-64 big twin stock ratio 4-speed and hand clutch, for which Paughco makes a frame. The goal: how fast can a 45 go using only OEM parts, fabricated parts, and commercially available parts - no priceless and hard-to-find original factory speed equipment (WLDR, WR, K cylinders, heads). I'm confident that 40 hp, 110 mph can be had if it's done carefully.

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Re: Flathead Identification

#10

Post by WCC » Tue Jan 01, 2019 9:37 pm

kitabel wrote:
Tue Jan 01, 2019 1:59 am
6. Really big people (height and weight) have told me they feel silly on a 45 - "too small"
How many tall guys feel a 45 is too small? At what length do you think n 45 is too small? Would a 74 be different?

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Re: Flathead Identification

#11

Post by liberator » Wed Jan 02, 2019 9:01 pm

If you and your son are more into the riding game instead of parading and showing a perfect bike at some show...I wouldn't bother much about mixing parts and numbers...
So if you can find a nice correct VIN motor, but the casenumber doesn't match with the other half...do it and use it.
Those who value correctness will walk away from projects, chopped or bobbed bikes anyway; they'll hunt the nut-and-bolt correct bike.

I have such a spare engine myself; although correct VIN fonts for a 42WLA type III, the cases don't match and the leftcase (the one with the VIN) was cast and numbered in a later timerange...so a dealer-/ moco repairjob.
Not interesting to those mentioned earlier...but still great for a bobber or projectbike.

Go for it and remember; have fun!

OldScootNewScoot
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Re: Flathead Identification

#12

Post by OldScootNewScoot » Sun Jan 13, 2019 5:42 pm

Morning all, thought I'd give a quick update...
Seems the "Pickers" show has convinced everyone that what they have is a 50K or better scoot or maybe I'm just cheap.

Either way something that I forgot has come right back this community, the biker community is the best and you meet the coolest people all who will stop and talk bikes with you for hours, old, new, war stories, and even the hey I took mine apart after a few beers and cant remember how it goes
back together.
I have heard of some interesting swap meets coming up that hold potential as well I might just go just to look.

I have found at least one maybe two potential candidates, and as Liberator said:
" if you can find a nice correct VIN motor, but the casenumber doesn't match with the other half...do it and use it."

Seems this will be the best bet and I am looking for a good project that will have my Son looking back on the bike remembering the project and well maybe doing one with his kids someday.

I will tell you though I went to look at a basket case and in the corner was '59 Panhead it was a project not sure it will ever be finished but it was his project and no he wouldn't sell it. I need those horse blinders as I just keep thinking about that Pan.

Maybe next time I might be telling you I bought a motor, or a frame here is to hoping.

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Re: Flathead Identification

#13

Post by 1950Panhead » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:53 pm

I will tell you though I went to look at a basket case and in the corner was '59 Panhead it was a project not sure it will ever be finished but it was his project and no he wouldn't sell it. I need those horse blinders as I just keep thinking about that Pan.
Maybe next time I might be telling you I bought a motor, or a frame here is to hoping.
If next time you tell us you bought an engine or frame I will tell you you are nuts.
Forget the future, I will say now you are nuts.
The parts are worth more then the whole and buying parts is very foolish thing to do unless money means nothing and you have lots of it.
If you want a project you need to buy a project.
I hope you purchased palmers book and read it, this is the best and fastest highway to knowledge on the road you are considering.
You may think I am a mean sob or know not what I say, however I have owned fifteen of these all most all in basket form.
I will post some photos.

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Re: Flathead Identification

#14

Post by 1950Panhead » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:55 pm

In the beginning ... 41 knuckle basket

Image

1950Panhead
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Re: Flathead Identification

#15

Post by 1950Panhead » Sun Jan 13, 2019 7:58 pm

In the beginning ... 47 UL basket

Image

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