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  1. #1
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    Default DoomBuggy's '56 Panhead Resurrection

    A few months back I was lucky enough to find a very complete 1956 Panhead showbike. This bike had been built back in 1969 from bits and pieces of many different Harleys of the day. The heart is a '56 Panhead motor with 4speed. The frame is a vintage era wishbone w/mechanical brake that has been shaved and molded. Front end appears to be an early FXR ( maybe Sportster ) with 35mm Kayaba tubes and a single disk. The whole thing was painted, what was once, a stunning purple metallic color. The complete bike picture is what it looked like once I cleaned it up a bit.

    The price I paid reflected the 40 PSI front compression, dry rotted tires, the "bad" left case, and the salvage/custom build title.

    I cleaned the gas tank, rebuilt the S&S Super E carb, did an oil change and basic tune up and have been putting around town in it. Waiting to find a good left case and start a total refresh of the bike.

    On the last warm day we had here I took it out for a putt and blew the primary belt drive. Taking that apart I saw the belt had been installed upside down and realized it was time to tear it down and check EVERYTHING, CLOSELY!

    I stumbled upon a good deal for a clean left case with title for a '56 FLH so I snapped it up and decided to take a mental health day yesterday to strip the bike down. I left the motor in the frame as one of the things I want to do is add upswept cocktail shakers to it and I want to figure out where the tabs will need to go.

    The second picture is the rolling chassis with motor. I have been going back and forth on the frame / front end length. I was thinking I wanted to extend the downtubes by 1.5-2.5" change the rake to 35 degress and extend out the front end, but seeing how it sits now I believe I might just leave it as is. The catch here is that the frame has an Indiana DMV VIN tag that goes with the salvage title I have ( now in my name from Illinois ). With the new case and title I really don't need to keep the frame it came with and could either go with an aftermarket or a chopped original and then sell the one I have to someone who has a motor with no numbers ( S&S V-Twin or otherwise ).

    Anyhow that is where I am right now. The plan is to rebuild it over the next 12-18 months so that it is ready when we move back out west. My toy budget is still reeling from buying the bike and new case so my time will be spent doing smaller jobs for a while. Speaking of which, I don't think I have ever seen a 4 speed with as many leaks as this one has, lol. It will probably be my first little project as it is fairly low cost to do by myself.

    Well if you are still reading thanks and I look forward to everyone's comments as I move along.

    Oh, one more thing. The bike pictured on the forum front page, labeled Forever the Chaos Life LEGENDS has exactly the handlebars I want. Does anyone know who carries these? I have had no luck finding them.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails _DSC3822.JPG   Starboard Side Panhead.jpg  
    Last edited by DoomBuggy; 02-04-2017 at 1:04 PM.

  2. #2
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    That is one sweet looking Pan! I know exactly how you feel, inheriting someone else's problems. Sometimes the only way to find all the gremlins hiding in that basket case you just brought home, is to tear it all down! ALL OF IT! Then again, I have had one or two in the past that were just as good as the previous owner said they were. Keep us posted on the progress!

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    So I am at home recovering from Kidney Stone removal and thought I would try to get a little done on the bike. I started tearing down the transmission and want to ask some questions.

    The inside of the trans looked remarkably clean, even the the oil looked really clean. No chips on any of the gear teeth that I could find. I am waiting for a socket for the drive nut then I will pull the rest of the bottom apart. The case on the other hand has had numerous repairs. Several are decent looking welds, but one is a JB Weld type repair which was the cause of much of the leakage I found. Here is a pic of the numbers on the bottom of the case. Anyone able to decode what is here.
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    If I read the numbers correctly the ratchet top looks to be a complete unit from a '52. It has some ground marks on top, looks like the bike threw the chain at one point and it did some damage. It is usable although not really pretty. My next step is to pull the rod that holds the shift drum out, the manual says just use a valve and leverage it out. Anyone with experience want to confirm that for me?
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    Anyhow more to come.....

    Edit: I almost forgot. I see you can now buy some very complete 4-speed rebuild kits. Does anyone have a recommendation on which is most complete and of high quality?
    Last edited by DoomBuggy; 03-02-2017 at 1:03 PM.

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    nov 1959 is ya tranny
    if your buying gears anderws is the way to go 550 to 600 gets you gear set dogs forks
    i would put new bushings in and needlebearings check shafts, i would honestly replacr both main and counter and allso remove final drive gear race and replace and kicker side bearing as well, if you have oem kicker gears stay with that, if its junk replace with backer or spend 60 dollars for china junk and blow your knee up
    check side to side on both counter shaft cluster and speck out the gear spacing
    would add to the final drive spacer the one that has the viton o ring and prelube the cork that you put in with a jims double lip seal,.
    check kicker slop and replace bushing if needed.
    building trannys is what i love to do teh best

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    Thanks for the input Dave.

    I planned on new bushings & bearings, but as long as the gear set is solid, the stock gears will suit my riding style so I would leave them.

    My knees have been repaired a few times over the years so I will be sure to only use high quality pieces if I have to replace anything on the kicker. It looked decent, but I have not torn it down yet.

    Where do you source your parts from, any favorites?

    I am hoping my bench-top arbor press is enough to do the work needed, however if I need a hydraulic they are always on CL around here for low bucks.

    I have been reading the manual front to back to front and have seen a good video on YouTube so I am confident I have the skill set, just need to go slow.

    Regards, Harry

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    Short update. My pipes and mufflers have come in and I am really pleased so far. I will not need any new brackets welded to the frame, that is a definite +, fit and finish are nice and usable.

    I will have to shorten the Paughco front head pipe for a perfect fit, and I will need to stretch open the connection between the front and rear pipe ever so slightly, it is more then snug at the moment.

    I went with the Emgo mufflers off an eBay vendor, they are nicely made and have removable baffle plus at $70 each, they fit my budget. Time will tell on the chrome.

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    Next step is to pull the rest of the running gear off the frame and then in about two weeks I'll do a road trip to southern Illinois to drop off the motor.

    Then back to the trans rebuild.

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    doom, who is doing the motor? tbone?

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    Quote Originally Posted by nuklhd View Post
    doom, who is doing the motor? tbone?
    Yes, I spoke with him a few weeks ago and he said I should bring it down so we can go through it together ( once I had my finances together ).

    The missus has a conference down that way so I thought I might make a short "vacation" out of it.

    -H

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    he did one of my motors and he did a great job. nice fucking guy to boot.

  10. #10
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    Another small accomplishment. Today I got the frame off to the media blaster. He will take all the old paint and bondo off and leave me with a clean slate to start with. I should have it back in a couple of weeks.

    I am fairly certain this is indeed a Harley frame and not an aftermarket, once I get it down to bare metal I will know for sure. My "signature" move is to square off the neck when I mold it and this bike will be no different. Then I can clean up all the weld areas and make her smooth as a baby's butt.

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    I also received the Jim's Trans Rebuild Kit so I can move forward on that project. I need to find a welder nearby that can take care of some of the issues with the case. I hope that does not break the bank!

    More to come,
    -DB

  11. #11
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    I got the frame back from the media blaster today and it is a pretty mixed bag. I have included a slew of photos in case they will help anyone. Looking at this I believe it is an original Harley frame ( let me know if I am wrong ), but it has seen much better days. Just for those calculating their budget, the charge for media blasting the frame was $150.00 for the "base job and another $75.00 to get all the Bondo off of there.

    The good news is 1) it appears to be straight, I did a quick check via the instructions in the manual and was able to confirm the neck is in-line per those directions. I have to do it again to be sure I got it right, but so far it makes me happy, 2) it has been altered enough that I am not going to worry about making changes myself, 3) the guy who molded this last time did it the way I would, that is welding plates in and then molding those. His welding just sucks worse than mine! It does explain why there were no cracks in the Bondo after all these years.

    The bad news, 1) it looks like this thing spent some serious time rotting out in the elements, a bit of rot through and lots of little rust damage, 2) the seat post to lower frame looks like it was repaired poorly at some point.

    I hope some of you knowledgeable folks can help me with a few questions.

    1) The tank mounts look like they were added later, do you agree?
    2) What is that "hole" in the front of the neck?
    3) It has been a lot of years, but I do not recall the downtubes being flattened like that however my last frame was a straight leg so maybe that is why.

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    Next step, I have to get the main drive gear set out tonight and then get the transmission case to the TIG welder for some love.
    Last edited by DoomBuggy; 04-03-2017 at 11:20 AM.

  12. #12
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    Here are a few more pics

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  13. #13
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    Tank mounts added later. Down tubes are flattened for the horn mounting blocks that were removed....

  14. #14
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    are you going to send the frame out for repairs?

  15. #15
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    As long as it checks out straight I will do the repairs myself. I am still going over it to see where the metal is thin. Right now the worst of it looks to be the seat post and that last picture where the battery must have leaked on the cross tube for years on end. *Yes folks there is a reason to run a battery drain tube down to the ground!

    This thing is rough enough that I don't think there is any collector value in this frame, so my welds will be strong enough even if not the prettiest.

    The only reason I would take it in would be to straighten it or have the sidecar mounts replaced. ( I do kind of like the option to add a side car in a few years.) If I needed any precision work, since I no longer have a any kind of frame jig it would be cheaper to take it to someone who does.

    I have to figure out what I want for a gas tank. I was going to stick with fatbobs as to not screw with the mounts if they were original, at this point I want to look at all options again.

  16. #16
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    I finished the tear down of the trans. I am glad I took it all the way down. I knew I needed work on the case, but the gears looked pretty good. ( I will post some pics and questions on those once I clean them ) Now that I have it open I can see that the case is not too bad. A weld on one screw casting and three possibly four helicoils and I should be good. Well that and a good polish. In the pictures above I showed the acid damage to the frame, here is where it dripped down on the trans case and totally hosed that pretty polish job. A few hours will have that looking good again, but it could have been avoided with a drain hose!

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    Last edited by DoomBuggy; 04-06-2017 at 3:47 PM.

  17. #17
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    VT No: 7502-2
    Oversize engine and transmission drain plug with tap.

  18. #18
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    Thank you Sir

  19. #19
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    bud I would have all the holes welded and then mach and tapped

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by nuklhd View Post
    are you going to send the frame out for repairs?
    Shit, drop a broom handle in the neck, and one iin the seat post and eyeball it, looks good, then just weld it up some.

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