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  1. #1
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    Default advice on panhead motor with title

    I have been looking at purchasing a rebuilt panhead motor with an out of state title. The price is in the area of $6500. I understand that pre-1969 Harleys are titled off the motor. My questions are the following:

    1. do I have to find pan frame for this motor or will a generator shovel work? (or other Harley frame options)

    2. will I have a problem registering this motor with a non-titled frame?

    3. is the asking price too much? (keeping in mind that I ride by myself and I do not know anyone with the know-how to point me in the right direction)

    4. what should I consider for transmission options?

    If I make the purchase then I will be sitting on this motor for a least one year until I will have the resources for the frame and trans.

    Thanks in advance, Mario

  2. #2
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    hey mars i'll try and answer all you questions in order ,
    1) any big twin frame 1948 and up you can fit this motor in including aftermarket frames , knuckle motors have a slightly different motor mount spacing and are slightly shorter in the seat post tube
    2) registration laws vary state by state but as all pre 70 hd's are titled by motor only you should have no problem , check with a local notary to be sure or im sure your state has a website you can check
    3)given the info you provided a little hard to answer but id say that number is a little on the high side for just a motor but more info is needed (year , stock -modified , original parts - repop etc)
    4) transmission options are what you want to spend - 4 speed , 5 speed , baker 6 into 4 , whats your budget afford is what you get

    if you do have to sit on the motor theres ways to preserve its condition untill you can install it

  3. #3
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    1) Find a pre '70 oem frame, these do not have serial numbers on them. Rigid frames for Pans ran from '48 to '57, swingarm frames from '58 to '65. You could also use an early Shovel frame, '66 to '69. The idea is to use a non-numbered frame because the motor numbers are what gets titled. Depends if you want rigid or swingarm.

    2) No, Panhead frames didn't have numbers. The only thing you might have to be concerned about is if your state wants to do a vin verification or visual inspection. They do that sometimes with out of state titles. It may throw them off if you only have a motor.

    3) Price is on the high side, unless it's a matching cases motor that has been rebuilt and has receipts. Make sure the vin is unaltered, lots of numbers jobs out there. Better if the belly numbers match.

    4) Depends on what you're building. A stock 4 speed would be the easiest choice.

  4. #4
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    As far as the motor, the seller is online and he is offering several pan motors of varying years. Most are advertised as 74" that are rebuilt with New Old Stock parts, but could you please elaborate on the following quote.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    1)Better if the belly numbers match.
    Again, thank you for your help.

    -Mario

  5. #5
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    Belly numbers are the numbers stamped into the bottom of the cases when they were initially machined in the factory. If they match it means the two cases stayed together through the years, if they don't it likely means one broke and had to be replaced at some point.

    The first two digits should be the year they were machined if I remember right (which is often a year earlier than the Serial number on the side)

  6. #6
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    also pan motors changed bottom end bearing styles in 55 so 55 and up have opposing timkin bearings and can be updated to shovelhead flywheels or larger , while 54 and earlier use flat roller bearings like a torrington and are harder to get larger flywheels for but it can be done , the belly numbers should be the year of production or 1 year earlier otherwise your looking at a number job , and they should match like themaninblack said

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mars View Post
    As far as the motor, the seller is online and he is offering several pan motors of varying years. Most are advertised as 74" that are rebuilt with New Old Stock parts, but could you please elaborate on the following quote.
    Again, thank you for your help.
    -Mario
    Before you go and pluck down thousands of dollars, educate yourself about these early motors.

    For belly numbers (line bore numbers) Panheads will have a number like this: 151-3276. This particular number would denote a 74" Panhead, 1951. Each case half would have this number. These don't match the vin. The "1" denotes 74", while a 2 would denote 61", note that 61" motors ran from '48 to '52 only. So a 249-2279 would denote a 61", 1949 engine. The last four or sometimes five digits are the sequential code of the cases. For FL engines, each case half will have a "7" stamped on each case, where the rear bolts go. For FLH engines, there is an "H" stamped on each case.

    Look at Chris Haynes website, he has some really good case pictures. You need to know what good numbers vs. bad numbers look like: http://vintageamericanmotorcycles.com/v/Numbers/

    Who is the seller of the motor?

  8. #8
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    Pretty sure he's looking at Rob's Used Parts.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChetPunisher View Post
    Pretty sure he's looking at Rob's Used Parts.
    Yes Sir, I do not know of any local shops to buy an older motor, and I do not run with any groups with older Harley experience. So, I feel I am in a position to find a reputable dealer online. I have 15 years experience with Twincams and Sportsters, but I want to move to an older motor. My dream has always been a pan or a generator shovel. My original idea was to save up the cash for a clean example of a complete bike, and modify it to my taste. But I began to reconsider this idea with just starting with a motor that carries a title and I can swing the cash for a motor at this time. This would put me in a postition to began the search for parts to complete the build which I would enjoy.
    Rob's seem expensive but I felt my lack of experience leads me to buying an already built pan and just deal with the frame modifications locally. The only thing that concerns me with Rob's website is that he sells post '69 shovel motors with a title, and that does not mean anything without the matching frame. So, I am a little reluctant to buy from him for that reason. I do not know if I am going in the wrong direction, but I am tired of putting off my dream for fear of making a mistake. At this point, Fuck it. If I make a mistake I will correct it... I just want to get started.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    Before you go and pluck down thousands of dollars, educate yourself about these early motors.
    I have been reading about these motors for years, but basically it has been limited to internet research and Harley history books. There is only so much you can learn this way. All the magazine articles always seem to start, "I bought this basket case pan, and with help from my friends we rebuilt the motor." Unfortunately, the few friends I have would only be able to help me pick out the skull collection derby cover and chrome bolt covers.

    All the help from your posts have been beyond my expectation. Thanks....

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mars View Post
    he sells post '69 shovel motors with a title, and that does not mean anything without the matching frame.
    what are you saying about matching frame,I know my 71 sporty is titled to my engine the #'s are on the engine ,no #'s on the frame,I believe I can put that engine in any frame,and be rolling with a title without a issue..if its titled to the engine there is no title #'s on frame..

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtbag View Post
    what are you saying about matching frame,I know my 71 sporty is titled to my engine the #'s are on the engine ,no #'s on the frame,I believe I can put that engine in any frame,and be rolling with a title without a issue..if its titled to the engine there is no title #'s on frame..

    Wrong, 1970 and up Harley's are titled by the frame numbers, period. Plenty of bikes out there like yours, but it's not legit. Only 1969 and earlier Harley motors are titled by the engine numbers.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by mars View Post
    I have been reading about these motors for years, but basically it has been limited to internet research and Harley history books. There is only so much you can learn this way. All the magazine articles always seem to start, "I bought this basket case pan, and with help from my friends we rebuilt the motor." Unfortunately, the few friends I have would only be able to help me pick out the skull collection derby cover and chrome bolt covers.

    All the help from your posts have been beyond my expectation. Thanks....
    Glad to be of help. Keep asking questions and checking out websites, just be careful because sometimes information you may read or hear is not accurate. One good book to get is Bruce Palmers book "How to restore your Harley Davidson". I belive it's out of print now, but copies are still out there and I even think you can buy a copy and download it. Lot's of good infomation for the restoration crowd, however, if you want to learn about Pans, Knucks, and Flatties, this is tbe book.

    Keep asking questions.

  14. #14
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    don't no if this help but i got a new pan build from joe for $5000 with all good compontes your choice of black or chrome
    http://vulcanworks.net/store_4/pages.php?pageid=6

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by pop View Post
    don't no if this help but i got a new pan build from joe for $5000 with all good compontes your choice of black or chrome
    http://vulcanworks.net/store_4/pages.php?pageid=6

    That's a great motor if you're going the special construction route. It all depends on what you're looking for. Personally, I like oem Pan motors, but everyone builds what they like.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    That's a great motor if you're going the special construction route. It all depends on what you're looking for. Personally, I like oem Pan motors, but everyone builds what they like.
    I agree with your taste. I want to go with a OEM motor and frame with simple modifications. However, I still can appreciate some of the simple hard tail evo based builds, but when your are done there is no value. With an OEM build, you have something that can sell when you want to move to another build.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    Bruce Palmers book "How to restore your Harley Davidson".
    Thanks, I just ordered a copy, but just so you know. This book is expensive.... On Amazon, one guy is selling it for $999 for a new copy another is $400 for a new copy. I just got a used copy for $200, and that was the cheapest used copy listed.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by mars View Post
    Thanks, I just ordered a copy, but just so you know. This book is expensive.... On Amazon, one guy is selling it for $999 for a new copy another is $400 for a new copy. I just got a used copy for $200, and that was the cheapest used copy listed.
    Even $200 is expensive for that book. They were selling for less than $30.00 before they went out of print. There is an online version that you can buy for about $20.00 or so.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    Wrong, 1970 and up Harley's are titled by the frame numbers, period. Plenty of bikes out there like yours, but it's not legit. Only 1969 and earlier Harley motors are titled by the engine numbers.
    just did some reading and learned a bit ,thanks

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy View Post
    Even $200 is expensive for that book. They were selling for less than $30.00 before they went out of print. There is an online version that you can buy for about $20.00 or so.
    http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=Q-...=productsearch

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