Belly Number

Identifaction of VIN, case numbers and cylinder heads
58flh
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Re: Belly Number

#16

Post by 58flh »

Vin# looks good,We can agree on that,but the belly #s could of been added at a later date from a shop-& thus the rebuilder used his numbers,guys do you think this is possible?--I have checked my 58flh & All #s match on the cases & I have a H-stamped on both halves at the rear of motor under the oiltank.--respect fully---RICHIE



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Re: Belly Number

#17

Post by RUBONE »

on small production years and close to the beginning of the run they tend to be much closer
I'll give you an analogy.
2 cars begin a race at the same time.
One car is always faster.
When are the 2 cars in the same place?
NEVER.
Your analogy is a perfect example of my point Kitabel.
If you only have 4 cars in that race they place 1 through 4. Rather close together despite where they finished wouldn't you say? If you have 200 where do they place?

And as for the sample motor. I personally don't believe the engine number is factory applied. Merely my own opinion.

dbanana
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Re: Belly Number

#18

Post by dbanana »

kitabel wrote:on small production years and close to the beginning of the run they tend to be much closer

That's like the Abbott & Costello joke about marrying the little girl...

I'll give you an analogy.
2 cars begin a race at the same time.
One car is always faster.
When are the 2 cars in the same place?
NEVER.
If they begin the race at the same time... then they are in the same place at the beginning of the race.

I have an early 1945 EL. This is a small production year, and close to the beginning of the run. The vin# is only 3 above the belly #'s... and I am certain they are all original #'s.

I remember Eric saying he had seen a difference of only 1 before... so the chance of the vin# matching the belly #'s in certain cases would seem quite possible... to me anyway.

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Re: Belly Number

#19

Post by Speeding Big Twin »

Chuck, by your first post I’m not sure if you think there is only one problem (118) or if you also think there could be a second problem. The second problem you may be contemplating is the matching-number scenario but the short answer is that it could happen and it did happen. It occurred on purpose in the very early years but only by chance in later years and near the end of this post I’ll mention more about the latter occurrences.

It isn’t normal for production Panhead belly numbers (BNs) to begin with 118. Yes, 1 is one of the code numbers for Panhead BNs but the next two characters usually indicate a year. (BTW, Palmer’s info on code numbers for BNs of several models and years is not all correct and he will address that in his new book.) I’m wondering if 118 was stamped to identify both halves as a matched pair of replacements and I’m also wondering if someone else added 1046 later on for reasons unknown. Can you post a clearer photo of the whole left BN please because I’d like to compare the sequence characters with other photos I have.

A clear photo of the entire serial number (SN) may also help:
The 5 looks like it has a vertical serif at top right and if it does then that is something I would consider unusual.
I can’t tell what sort of top serif the 1 has but for 1956 Pan SNs it was usually at forty-five degrees as opposed to horizontal. And close-ups often show a curve in the forty-five degree top serif of a factory 1.
In factory SNs for 1956 the 0 is usually elongated or oblong in shape as opposed to rounded.
The 4 for 1956 is usually a certain style with an open top and a horizontal serif across the base. (There are aftermarket open-top 4s available but one I have seen is often easy to spot.)
I imagine the second 6 is the same type as the first 6 but that won’t necessarily mean anything.

Other things you could check for us please:
Are both case halves consistent with the styles used for 1956 models?
Are any characters stamped on top of the cases near the rear engine mounting bolt holes? And if so what are they?

Returning to the possibility of the sequence portion of a BN completely matching the sequence portion of an accompanying SN in later years, it did indeed happen at the factory. I have photos of two examples of it occurring with BT Flatheads. All characters in the BNs and SNs are the usual H-D factory types for the years concerned and there is no sign on either engine that anything untoward occurred. But I have no confirmation from H-D regarding these Flathead numbers.

However, I do have confirmation from H-D about the numbers on a certain Panhead engine. In 2008 I contacted Pete Simet at H-D Customer Service and asked for his opinion regarding the possibility of matching numbers but back then he said he had never known of it occurring and he did not think it logical for it to happen. My opinion was that it could happen unless the factory issued a directive to the contrary. A few months ago I sent Pete photos of matching numbers on a Panhead engine. I said I couldn’t see anything wrong with the SN and that although the BN photo wasn’t very clear I couldn’t see anything wrong with it at that stage. Also, the SN complied with the 1960–69 even-odd code and obviously Pete knew that too. I asked if he thought the numbers appeared to be authentic then could he please check Harley records and see if the SN was originally assigned to a case with that BN.

A month went by but I didn’t receive a response so I emailed Pete again. Apparently his first reply to me had gone astray. In his second response Pete said he had checked production records and the BN matched. He told me the motorcycle had been assembled in 1962 and he even provided me with the date and the month of that assembly. The bike was a 1963 model.
Eric

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Re: Belly Number

#20

Post by chuck 56 pan »

I will take some more pictures tonight,and look for more markings and post them. what are some things to look for on the two case halves that would be 1956 styles? The Rods were correct per Palmers and the main bearings are timkins.

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Re: Belly Number

#21

Post by kitabel »

I see my faith in logic is misplaced.

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Re: Belly Number

#22

Post by Cotten »

kitabel wrote:I see my faith in logic is misplaced.
Bless you blissfull True Believers!

Only blind faith would lead anyone to assume that every set of motorcases went on and off the racks in numerical order, with never a mix or mis-place. How perfect the production must have been if never a single set, nor even a batch was pulled to be re-worked.

Could there have been only one motor assembler? Of course not.
What if one of the assemblers got sick in the middle of a motor?
Wouldn't that disturb the sequence?

It is pure absurdity to assume that if one hit a gliche, he didn't just grab another set and get on with it.
(Each motorman had his own set of stamps, at least through the Knuckle era.)

It was a factory, not a monastery illuminating manuscripts.
(Oops, monks made mistakes....)
It was a factory, not a research laboratory... .. . . .

Damn. Nevermind.

....Cotten

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Re: Belly Number

#23

Post by Huck »

I’ve been in manufacturing most of my adult life. Seems regardless of the amount of training provided or how well policies, SOP’s, or work instructions are defined, along with how many reviews & second signatures are required to release the product…. Someone always finds a way to screw it up. Followed by some inventive ways to pencil whip it in an attempt to make it look correct. >99.9% of the time release documentation will match production. This is in reference to today’s world, imagine when all your records depended on a pencil & the pencil operator. 2 bits.

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Re: Belly Number

#24

Post by RUBONE »

There is lots of documentation related to H-Ds production, and at many stages an engine could be pulled and repaired, rejected, etc. I have owned new unstamped cases from the factory with the belly numbers sanded off. If half a pair was rejected the other half often ended up as a replacement part, and the numbers were removed since they no longer matched a mate. Those scenarios can make the numbers get closer together. (Belly numbers tend to run higher than VINs, hold one back and then toss it back in the mix, it could end up anywhere, even matching.

To refer back to Kitabel's race analogy, one car just got lapped, and amazingly, at that moment they were indeed in the same place.

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Re: Belly Number

#25

Post by old.wrench »

kitabel wrote:on small production years and close to the beginning of the run they tend to be much closer

That's like the Abbott & Costello joke about marrying the little girl...

I'll give you an analogy.
2 cars begin a race at the same time.
One car is always faster.
When are the 2 cars in the same place?
NEVER.
I don't know much about identification numbers, but I can relate to the analogy - NEVER is right! (at least in this three dimensional world we live in). I'm not familiar with the Abbott and Costello joke though . . . . .

1951 adam
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Re: Belly Number

#26

Post by 1951 adam »

The 118 makes no sense at all , were belly numbers stamped on replacement cases ? If you cracked a half wouldn't the dealer just order the broken half and line lap to existing half?

chuck 56 pan
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Re: Belly Number

#27

Post by chuck 56 pan »

Here are my new and better pics, there are no markings near the rear eng mounts.
Copy of new vin.jpg
Copy of new vin.jpg
sorry for the double vin. The 118 look raised in the pics, they are not.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

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Re: Belly Number

#28

Post by Scrap »

old.wrench wrote:
kitabel wrote:on small production years and close to the beginning of the run they tend to be much closer

That's like the Abbott & Costello joke about marrying the little girl...

I'll give you an analogy.
2 cars begin a race at the same time.
One car is always faster.
When are the 2 cars in the same place?
NEVER.
I don't know much about identification numbers, but I can relate to the analogy - NEVER is right! (at least in this three dimensional world we live in). I'm not familiar with the Abbott and Costello joke though . . . . .
I don't much about numbers either but here's the joke

http://freeclownskits.info/abbott-and-c ... -costello/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Re: Belly Number

#29

Post by chuck 56 pan »

Perhaps the cases are just not HD, the grain on the belly is consistant throughout, I dont see how a restamp or number job could produce that texture so well. will this be the conclusion?

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Re: Belly Number

#30

Post by Huck »

chuck 56 pan wrote:Perhaps the cases are just not HD, the grain on the belly is consistant throughout, I dont see how a restamp or number job could produce that texture so well. will this be the conclusion?
Ummm? the above was post 118, how could that happen?

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