Belly Number

Identifaction of VIN, case numbers and cylinder heads
VPH-D
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Re: Belly Number

#31

Post by VPH-D »

An FLH motor should have the letter stamp on both case halves near the motor mount bolt holes.
The motor number pad looks funny.
VPH-D



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Re: Belly Number

#32

Post by john HD »

perhaps we are looking at a "true" factory set of replacement cases. actually stamped at the factory not done at a dealer.

it would be the first set i have seen.

john

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Re: Belly Number

#33

Post by HD48FL »

chuck 56 pan wrote: there are no markings near the rear eng mounts.
I don't know what to make of the vin or the belly numbers, but a factory set of FLH cases would have an H stamped on each case half near the rear engine mount holes.

I'm curious as to what the others think about the vin/belly numbers.

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Re: Belly Number

#34

Post by Bigincher »

HD48FL wrote: .................... a factory set of FLH cases would have an H stamped on each case half near the rear engine mount holes.
You mean a "7", don't you?

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Re: Belly Number

#35

Post by RUBONE »

You mean a "7", don't you?
No, I think he really meant "H". 7s were stamped on earlier cases to differentiate them from 61ci engines. From '55 on the H was there to designate an FLH from an FL, 61 inchers were long gone....

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Re: Belly Number

#36

Post by RUBONE »

I'm curious as to what the others think about the vin/belly numbers.
I think they both stink....

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Re: Belly Number

#37

Post by Bigincher »

RUBONE wrote:
You mean a "7", don't you?
No, I think he really meant "H". 7s were stamped on earlier cases to differentiate them from 61ci engines. From '55 on the H was there to designate an FLH from an FL, 61 inchers were long gone....
Yeah, after I posted that, I started thinking I was incorrect.... thanks for clearing it up.

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Re: Belly Number

#38

Post by 58flh »

Big-Incher---My 1958FLH cases have the H stamped on the rear mount/Better put a H on both case halves!---Question for the guys with INFO----Earlier I said that those belly #s could of been stamped by a private shop rebuilding motors!,Is this a possibility or do you think that the Factory #s would of been there along with a Machinist stamp?----Richie,,,

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Re: Belly Number

#39

Post by Speeding Big Twin »

Chuck, thanks for the new pictures. I do not think your SN was stamped at the factory. The 5 still looks like it has a vertical serif at top right and if it does then that is not a good sign. Can you please confirm whether or not it has a serif.

Your 1 has a horizontal top serif but you'll notice in the photo below that the 1 has its serif at forty-five degrees and that seems to be the usual style for a factory-stamped 56 Pan SN. Also notice the 5 is sans serif:

Image

Your 0 is another unusual character for 1956 because it is rounded as opposed to elongated or oblong. I have photos of oblong-shaped 0s in 1956 Pan SNs but the 56 Servi-Car SN below contains a better example:

Image

Your 4 is an open-top design and it is similar to the factory-stamped 4 below:

Image

However, it’s hard to say whether or not your 4 was applied with a Harley stamp. If yours is an aftermarket 4 then at least it appears to be better than a certain AM type I’ve seen. But even if yours was done with a Harley 4 I still do not think your SN overall was stamped at the factory.

No characters stamped on the top rear of your cases may indicate replacement cases. As mentioned above, for 1956 Pan engines there are usually two Hs or two 7s depending on model.

The sequence portion of your BNs is something I cannot figure out. It seems some cases had one or more numbers to identify them as matched replacements and that may explain the 118, as I wondered before. But I don’t know what happened with the sequence portion on said replacements. Originally there probably was a pair of Pan cases with 156-1046 but even if the engine let go and replacement cases were marked with 118 what would happen then? I don’t know. Would a dealer stamp 1046 after 118 as a way of retaining part of the ID from the former cases? Or would he leave 118 as is and stamp 156-1046 next to it? I can’t say. Regarding the 4 in your BN, it is similar to one of the at least seven different 4s used at the factory in BNs over the 1925–74 period. But only similar, not exactly the same. And it isn’t the style we normally see for a 1956 Pan because the usual 4 that model year did not have a closed top as yours does but instead had an open back. Also in the sequence portion of your BN notice the 1 only has a serif at the top but the usual 1 in that portion for 56 Pan BNs had a serif at top and bottom.

One problem is that dealers wouldn’t have always used exactly the same stamps as the factory did for the model and/or year concerned. But even if a dealer stamped 1046 as part of the BN, and assuming the same dealer also stamped the SN, then why are the 1, 4 and 6 in the SN different to the types in the BN? That sort of thing happened with engines stamped at the factory but would a dealer do it? I don’t know.

Whether or not your engine originally had matching numbers we cannot say. Another thing we cannot say is what model 1956 Pan engine originally had sequence portion 1046 in its SN. Yes, 1046 could have originally been assigned to an engine stamped FLH but it’s also possible 1046 was originally assigned to an engine stamped FL or FLE.

Regarding the model year of your cases, if the left case has tapered Timkens then it’s 1955 model or later and it may be 55–64 style more or less. You said you pulled the motor for some bottom end work so it sounds like you plan to split the cases? If so you could check inside them for casting numbers. Left case may have 24541 55 as well as a circled E hallmark. If it’s a 55–56 model case I suspect (not sure) it will not have a date code. On a 24541 55 case the earliest date code I’ve seen is 12-7 indicating casting in December 1957. Please let us know what you find.

If you haven’t split the cases you could post a photo of the left side of the left case and we should be able to tell if it’s 55–64 style or later.

If the right-hand case has a cradle for a generator then that indicates 1957 model or earlier. If it has a cradle then the casting number inside may be 24563-53B depending on year. A circled E hallmark may be present as well as a date code. No generator cradle indicates 1958 model or later and the casting number inside may be 24563-58 depending on year. A circled E hallmark may be present along with a date code.
Eric

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Re: Belly Number

#40

Post by chuck 56 pan »

Thanks for your information, was a fun discussion. I will , in my mind put the number issue to rest. Thanks All.

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Re: Belly Number

#41

Post by Huck »

What type of font was used for particular year data base? Where do ya’all retrieve this info from? It would be nice to have such a list in your back pocket at swap meets.

thanks for the info on 56.

regards

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Re: Belly Number

#42

Post by dbanana »

Huck... this is a good place to start.

http://vintageamericanmotorcycles.com/v ... ?g2_page=3" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I'm sure Speeding Big Twin has been collecting pics and info on case #'s for a long time. It is a very interesting subject.

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Re: Belly Number

#43

Post by old.wrench »

Huck wrote:What type of font was used for particular year data base? Where do ya’all retrieve this info from? It would be nice to have such a list in your back pocket at swap meets.

thanks for the info on 56.

regards
The truth as I understand it, is that there is no complete "list", and very possibly, there may never be a definitive list There are folks like Eric that have done extensive research and have accumulated a lot of reference material but you've got to keep in mind that this is detective work that is taking place many years after the actual events took place. It's only recently that the numbers subject has become so prominent. I'm not saying that good numbers haven't been important in the past, but now that these old bikes have such value to collectors and investors it's become far more important. I've been around these old bikes for a long time, years ago if the number on the pad matched the title people were happy. But, those were the days when you could buy a good Pan or Knuckle for under 2 grand. Belly numbers? - who gave a shit? There have always been excellent forgers and counterfeiters, as the price and value of these bikes has risen, so has the quality of the forged work. The skilled counterfeiter takes advantage of technology and makes use of the increasing bank of data that applies to the numbers. It's a fairly simple process to make a stamp, a skilled toolmaker can make one in any style, font, or size. A good forger always has a natural advantage because they have the force of the greed of the market working on their side. It's always been like that through out history. The detectives are always looking for a better magnifying glass :shock: .

Geo.

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Re: Belly Number

#44

Post by Speeding Big Twin »

Huck wrote:What type of font was used for particular year data base? Where do ya’all retrieve this info from? It would be nice to have such a list in your back pocket at swap meets.

thanks for the info on 56.

regards
Huck, on the old Harley Tech Talk forum a member told us about a Knuckle on eBay and it was said to be a 36 model. IIRC I didn’t comment in that thread but other people did and by the time they were finished it was apparent that not much of the bike was from the year advertised, including the left case which was a 40s long-rib style. The number boss appeared altered but I didn’t know much about the stamps Harley used going back that far and I became interested in finding out what the different characters were and what years and/or models they applied to.

At first I limited my research to pre-1970 serial numbers but later I included 1970–80 VINs. I don’t bother much about 1981-later unless I see something of particular interest. And at some stage I began studying belly numbers and other forms of crankcase markings.

But even after getting a fair idea of the usual style of characters used by H-D for certain years and models, there’s always the chance that something else will appear. For example, currently I’m watching one Panhead model year in particular from which I have three SN examples all the same as each other but outside what the majority of SNs are like for that model year. All three SNs are low so it may turn out to be something H-D only did early in that model year and I’ve seen this sort of thing before with some other model years.

On other occasions we see a certain change or two occurring later in a model year and one example occurred late in the 47 model year. SNs of Knuckleheads for 1947 started out with a 1 that had a horizontal top serif but it seems that somewhere between SN 10000 and SN 10100 the top serif changed to forty-five degrees.

And I sent you a PM.
Eric

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Re: Belly Number

#45

Post by UPSROD »

I noticed on Chris's site there are 1962 VIN's with strait backed sixes in the model year and one with a curved back six also in the model year.

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