1954 Panhead

1954 gas tanks

All Panhead related topics
Post Reply
Peterson54
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:09 am
Bikes: 1954 fl
Location: Utah

1954 Panhead

#1

Post by Peterson54 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:01 pm

Hello Everyone,
I new to the Panhead world and just purchased my first. I have appreciated reading the many posts about various topics and I am learning a lot from you. I purchased a very original 1954 FL that we believe was once a sidecar bike (based upon reverse gear). In checking the bike out, it still has all the original sheet metal, wiring and great patina on the original chrome and i want to keep it all original so it can be ridden and enjoyed as it is. The paint on the tanks look original according to many people who know much more than me. Those same people said they believe they are factory tanks with the holes in the tabs where they are welded to the tanks. The strange thing is it has the chrome bar under the badge which tells me that the tanks were from a 51-53 but i have had several people tell me that the bike may have come with those tanks from the factory because HD was famous for using stock from previous years. I would appreciate any advice and guidance from any of you. As I mentioned, I am new to this and have a lot to learn. Thanks for your help. Peterson54



RooDog
Posts: 427
Joined: Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:00 pm
Bikes: 1950 Resto-Mod Panhead, 1968 90", 5 Speed Shovelhead, 1984 Evo
100" Bagger
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Has thanked: 30 times
Been thanked: 82 times

Re: 1954 Panhead

#2

Post by RooDog » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:19 pm

Weather the bar on the tanks is "correct" or not, I would leave it and enjoy its vintage period splendor.... But I too agree that the MoCo did use cross over year model parts, they never threw anything away.
Hey, while your are educating your self, locate and buy the appropriate Harley Factory service and parts books for your year model, and not that crap from Clymer, Chilton or Haynes. Also a V-Twin, AKA "Taiwan Tedd", is an invaluable source for parts and part number information, and its free from their web site.....
....RooDog....

Peterson54
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:09 am
Bikes: 1954 fl
Location: Utah

Re: 1954 Panhead

#3

Post by Peterson54 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 6:51 pm

Roo Dog,
Thank you for your reply. I really appreciate your opinion and guidance. I will check into the books you recommended. I am sure they will help me learn more about this model.

RUBONE
Moderator
Posts: 5347
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 4:09 am
Bikes: Multiple H-D, Ducati, BMW, Triumph, BSA,...
Has thanked: 36 times
Been thanked: 576 times

Re: 1954 Panhead

#4

Post by RUBONE » Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:50 pm

I disagree on the tanks. As an owner of a '54 "Golden Anniversary" model I have collected a lot of info on these bikes, and one Thing H-D did was made sure they were unique from other models in terms of trim. Even the prototype pics show the Script only emblem, and all the period photos I have showing new bikes are that way as well. My guess is the sidecar was a dealer add on and tanks may have been changed at that time (likely when new). Is your bike an FL or an FLE? If an FL it probably came with foot shift and was converted when the SC was put on. Here is some of my '54 stuff.

Image

Image

Image

Andygears
Posts: 488
Joined: Tue Feb 05, 2013 12:25 am
Bikes: 1950 panhead, 1999 FLHTCI, 1987 FLHTC custom
Location: Daytona Beach
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 16 times

Re: 1954 Panhead

#5

Post by Andygears » Mon Mar 11, 2019 9:22 pm

Welcome, and let's see some pictures and everybody will tell you what you got!

Peterson54
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:09 am
Bikes: 1954 fl
Location: Utah

Re: 1954 Panhead

#6

Post by Peterson54 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 11:59 pm

Thanks for the great replies. The literature on the 54's was great to look at. I will be in a position to load some pictures of the 54 tomorrow. I look forward to hearing feedback. What a great forum.
Thanks Peterson54

Speeding Big Twin
Posts: 955
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 2:29 am
Bikes: H-D
Location: Western Australia
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 75 times

Re: 1954 Panhead

#7

Post by Speeding Big Twin » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:11 am

Peterson54, welcome to the forum and congratulations on the bike.

Below is page 112 from The Legend Begins, an official H-D publication. Notice the last paragraph: ‘Legibility of the Harley-Davidson name in raised letters on the tanks is increased in ’54 with the elimination of the long line underneath these two words. Appearance is more distinctive and neater.’

1954 page 112.jpg
1954 page 112.jpg (308.17 KiB) Viewed 322 times

Next is a factory photo of a 1954 prototype. (It has a 1952 engine.)

1954 prototype (with 1952 engine).jpg
1954 prototype (with 1952 engine).jpg (158.7 KiB) Viewed 322 times

Please tell us you had the engine serial number authenticated before you bought the bike? If you’re not sure what 1954 H-D characters normally look like then maybe you could post a partial photo—for example, 54FL1+++.
Serial numbers for 1954 Pans began at 1000 and went beyond 5600. Did they reach 6000? I don’t think so but I cannot be certain.
The number boss may or may not have what are sometimes called ‘blemishes’ running horizontally below some of the characters. These appear to be flaws in the original casting for some, but not all, 1954 models.

Did you check the belly numbers? If you’re unfamiliar with them they should be stamped under each case near the outer edges and somewhat toward the front. They may be formatted similar to the following example: 154-1234.

Stamped on top of the cases near the rear engine mounting bolts you may find 7s and for 1954 models I’d expect them to be a certain sans serif type.

Under the heads on the R-H side you may find a casting number and a date code.
The cylinders may have casting ID at the base.
Under the trans case you may find indented casting number 121 35. And a date code on a small rectangular plate.
Eric

Peterson54
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:09 am
Bikes: 1954 fl
Location: Utah

Re: 1954 Panhead

#8

Post by Peterson54 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:27 am

Eric,
I am trying to figure out how to post pictures and i will have try to figure that out this evening. Any help there would be great. I friend of mine said to be careful posting the vin# online so I won't do that but I verified that that it was indeed 54FL1+++. It is a below 500. I was not able to get the number from the bottom of the engine because of the skid plate. I am putting the bike on a lift this weekend and will get those number for you. Stand by..... this same friend verified that it is the correct year frame and nothing has been cut or modified.
Again THANK YOU for the great insight. I am amazed by the knowledge base on this forum.
Peterson54

RUBONE
Moderator
Posts: 5347
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 4:09 am
Bikes: Multiple H-D, Ducati, BMW, Triumph, BSA,...
Has thanked: 36 times
Been thanked: 576 times

Re: 1954 Panhead

#9

Post by RUBONE » Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:49 am

Pictures on here are dead simple. Follow the yellow brick road...

viewtopic.php?f=33&t=4149

RUBONE
Moderator
Posts: 5347
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 4:09 am
Bikes: Multiple H-D, Ducati, BMW, Triumph, BSA,...
Has thanked: 36 times
Been thanked: 576 times

Re: 1954 Panhead

#10

Post by RUBONE » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:33 am

For a low # VIN the frame should be a summer of '53 production code, along the lines of an F3, G3, etc. However you can't see the number with the tanks on. An FL with a sidecar and hand shift makes me believe even more it was a dealer installed conversion and helps explain the earlier tanks. There may not have been '54 handshift tanks available in parts that early in the season for a dealer to order. What color is it?

awander
Site sponsor
Site sponsor
Posts: 1269
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 3:03 am
Bikes: '52 FL
'64 FLH
Has thanked: 15 times
Been thanked: 64 times

Re: 1954 Panhead

#11

Post by awander » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:42 am

I always wonder what, exactly, causes the fear that some have of posting a picture of their VIN #.

Peterson54
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:09 am
Bikes: 1954 fl
Location: Utah

Re: 1954 Panhead

#12

Post by Peterson54 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:48 am

Thanks for the replies. The bike is Anniversary Yellow. I will try to load some pictures based upon the instructions....

Peterson54
Posts: 9
Joined: Sun Mar 10, 2019 4:09 am
Bikes: 1954 fl
Location: Utah

Re: 1954 Panhead

#13

Post by Peterson54 » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:03 am

IMG_9587 try 3.jpg
IMG_9587 try 3.jpg (99.64 KiB) Viewed 49 times
IMG_9588 Try.jpg
IMG_9588 Try.jpg (98.61 KiB) Viewed 49 times
IMG_9589 try 2.jpg
IMG_9589 try 2.jpg (99.95 KiB) Viewed 49 times

Speeding Big Twin
Posts: 955
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 2:29 am
Bikes: H-D
Location: Western Australia
Has thanked: 1 time
Been thanked: 75 times

Re: 1954 Panhead

#14

Post by Speeding Big Twin » Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:05 am

Peterson54 wrote:
Wed Mar 13, 2019 12:27 am
Eric,
I am trying to figure out how to post pictures and i will have try to figure that out this evening. Any help there would be great. I friend of mine said to be careful posting the vin# online so I won't do that but I verified that that it was indeed 54FL1+++. It is a below 500. I was not able to get the number from the bottom of the engine because of the skid plate. I am putting the bike on a lift this weekend and will get those number for you. Stand by..... this same friend verified that it is the correct year frame and nothing has been cut or modified.
Again THANK YOU for the great insight. I am amazed by the knowledge base on this forum.
Peterson54

You're welcome. Below is an authentic-looking 54 engine number. H-D used certain types of characters so compare yours closely with these—for example, notice the 4 is a certain style with an open top, a curved left stroke and a serif across the base. Also notice the 1 has certain types of serifs. There are also other clues so if there’s anything you’re not sure about then please ask because over the years a lot of serial numbers have been done with aftermarket stamps for one reason or another.

54 FL 1+++.jpg
54 FL 1+++.jpg (155.94 KiB) Viewed 216 times

At least three different frames for 54 Pans:
First was wishbone with front downtubes flattened but no horn mounting blocks
Second was wishbone with front downtubes not flattened
Third had straight front downtubes (straight-leg frame).

However, do I see a horn mounting block on your frame downtube? And if so, is the block drilled and tapped or is it undrilled?
Eric

IMG_9588%20Try.jpg
IMG_9588%20Try.jpg (242.75 KiB) Viewed 216 times

RUBONE
Moderator
Posts: 5347
Joined: Sat Nov 15, 2008 4:09 am
Bikes: Multiple H-D, Ducati, BMW, Triumph, BSA,...
Has thanked: 36 times
Been thanked: 576 times

Re: 1954 Panhead

#15

Post by RUBONE » Wed Mar 13, 2019 2:11 pm

A few odd bits on that bike, the cad horn trumpet for one (only ones I have ever seen are on police units with no chrome). Also the '55 up seat, chrome oil tank, Buco bag mounts, lack of hubcap, missing trip reset cover, missing fender trim, etc. Things that make me believe it has been extensively changed around.

Post Reply

Return to “Panhead”