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  1. #1
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    Default '53 Panhead Frisco-style rebuild

    About two years ago I did a cosmetic rebuild on a '53 Panhead that I bought from a buddy out West. However, after only a few months of riding it, I cracked the right side case on the way up to the Pig'n'Fin meet on Vancouver Island. I have since had a number of interesting discussions with various people and on message boards on the merits of welding the case vs. bore-matching it to another case vs. buying new cases. I actually ended up buying a '54 right side case from a guy on the Jockey Journal, but the lack of time and money (and an impending deployment to Afghanistan) meant that the bike languished untouched in my garage. However, after returning from Afghanistan this spring (plus moving my family East, and selling another bike to free up funds), I was now able to start the rebuild.

    But, as usual, things never go as smoothly as you expect. I found a great shop (American Cycle Service, in Alexandria, Ontario) with a young owner who totally digs what I am trying to build, and an older engine guy, Rob, who is experienced with race engines and vintage Harley motors. But right from the start, we discovered that not only was the right side case cracked (and much worse than initially thought), but the left side case had previously been cracked and welded. Both looked a little dodgy, so my plan to weld or match with the '54 case went out the window, and a brand-new set of cases was ordered (I had intended to use STD cases, but didn't realize STD had gone under - we went with cases from V-Twin, and they are actually really nice quality). But the good news is that the rest of the S&S (bored and stroked) internals looked good, and Rob will essentially be blueprinting everything as he machines the cases and puts it back together, so I should get an essentially new 88" Pan engine that I can ride on more and wrench on less.

    Here is the rebuild as it sits right now - pretty much complete. I will include its previous forms below, and then add some entries on the build progress to get it to this point:


    The bike in its previous forms:

    As I bought it from my buddy Carl - not crazy about the tank or seat, but I love the stainless straight pipes!


    My first rebuild of it (pretty much nothing more than bobbing the fender, removing the fatbobs and changing the bars, tank, and seat):
    Last edited by Buster68; 04-01-2011 at 4:44 PM.

  2. #2
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    This is the start of the rebuild. Biltwell Keystone bars and some other odds and sods from Prodigy Cycles here in Canada, plus a Narrow Alien tank from Lowbrow Customs. The seat on it in the photo is previous seat I made using a Biltwell seat pan, and we were using it purely for the dimensions for welding new tabs. I intended to tool a matching black seat (using another Biltwell pan) and pillion pad for this one (more on this later).






    Lee, checking out the position for the mid-controls


    The engine coming together. Cases look sweet!

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    Still to come - Mullins Chaindrive narrow 41mm triple trees (shipped todayfrom Rogue Speed Shop! Whoo hoo!) and a 21" front wheel with Avon Speedmaster. The rear fender will be bobbed back further with a higher sissy bar (see photo below - although I am not as keen as Lee on having it almost vertical!) The tool box will be coming off, and a remote oil filter will be going on.




    Sweet new STD case

    Treasures hidden around Rob's place (I wish I had taken a pic of the beautiful XR1000 stashed under a sheet in one corner):




    Last edited by Buster68; 11-29-2011 at 4:05 PM.

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    The paint work looks nice indeed.

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    She is going to be small and narrow. At 6'1" and 220lbs, I am going to look like I am molesting this thing:
    (I will also trim back the bars once we get the grips and throttle on - no brake or clutch to worry about, as I will be running a jockey shift and spool front wheel)


    Another build underway at Lee's - a sweet little Ironhead sporty:

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    The Mullins triple trees arrived (thanks to Rogue Speed Shop in Vancouver!), and I drove out to the shop and we did a mock up of the front end.

    The Mullins Chaindrive triple trees are beautifully machined, and they are NARROW. Just for comparison, here they are with a set of stock wideglide trees (you can also see how much more substantial they are):



    They are even considerably narrower than a narrowglide front end:



    * Just as an aside, to get an idea of how narrow the Mullins trees are, Lee put a stock narrowglide 21" wheel with a tire on it on the bike just to roll it off the lift today - or he tried; the hub of a narrowglide is even too wide to fit within the 41mm forks.

    Cool.

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    Lee did a bit on the bike over the week, and the Speedmaster front tire arrived. I am really happy with the overall stance of the bike now that it has got the front tire, and the Firestone rear as well.





    That is a beautiful skinny front end. I was originally thinking of putting a repop springer on it, but I think using the original wideglide legs in the Mullins trees will be much more distinctive:


    Still not sure where this 21" wheel came from (can anyone help?), but I love the ribbed spool hub on it:

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    I brought in the heinous overstuffed double seat that I had kicking around (see the original photo in the first post), and after grinding off the old spring seat posts, we tore the seat up and then cut the seat pan down to make the new pan. (Note: all photos by my friend, photographer Rémi Thériault, http://www.remitheriault.com/)

    Lee, grinding off the seat posts


    Ripping up the horrible old seat:


    The seat, starting to take shape. Now I need to find a marine upholstery place to do a nice tuck and roll job on it:


    I'm starting to really dig it. The guys pretend not to notice when I push it around the shop making "vroom" noises...

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    I like the bar position. I can probably safely take off about 4" from each bar end without making it too narrow to handle (these are not the risers we will be using - the new ones go on later this week):


    While we were there, my buddy Pete brought in my old bike for a tune-up (turned out that "throttle problem" was the engine firing on only one cylinder ... new plugs, $10...)


    Lee, taking my old sportster cafe racer for a spin

  10. #10
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    She's starting to look nice and skinny. Heroin-chic skinny...

    (I will be getting rid of the sparto when we put the new fender on, and using a '33 Ford style light on the sissy bar)




    We also drove over to the frame and paint shop, where we took a look at the frame Eric built for his own bike:


    ... and the frame he is building for Lee's bike (cool curved downtube):

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    A more typical build photo: Lee, doing awesome work as usual, while Pete and I stand around making dumb-ass suggestions:

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    Rob finished the engine, and it looks sweet - like a brand new Panhead. We put it in the frame (just for fun more than anything), then cut down the bars once we sized them up for position with the grips. Then we stripped the whole bike down to the bare frame and ground off all the unecessary tabs and welds that had been added over the last sixty years.



    Lee couldn't stand the fit of the flat fender, so one night this week he cut 3" out of the middle of it and welded it back up, shaved off most of the skirt, and hammered and shaped the tip. It looks sweet as hell on the Firestone tire now:

    Of course, now he doesn't like how wide the sissy bar is compared with the fender, so he wants to fab up a new sissy bar...

    The frame with the engine:

  13. #13
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    We also used the grips to size up the handlebar fit, and cut about 4" off each end (in the first photo you can see the original width of the Biltwell keystone bar on the left, and the trimmed side on the right):



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    Me with the rebuilt engine (my wife says I look like I am going to shed a tear in this pic). Rob and Lee did a great job rebuilding the motor.


    Installing the engine for the mock build



  15. #15
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    Installing the carb. We are running an S&S Super E with an enricher knob so that we can use the drilled air cleaner rather than the S&S teardrop I had on it before. The smaller air cleaner also shows off more of the engine.




    The installed engine. Starting to look like a rider:


    (* - you can tell we are in Canada by the ever-present Tim Horton's coffee cup)

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    I think I posted this one earlier, but it is a good picture of the trimmed handlebars, with the grips and throttle. There won't be any levers, since I am running a jockey shift (foot clutch) and no front brake.


    Discussing the risers. I have offset dogbone style risers, and when turned forwards I found that I was bent too far forward, so we turned thenm backwards and the position was perfect. The look was a little strange at first, but I am beginning to really dig it


    The bike position setup:



  17. #17
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    Lee chopped a stock fender, taking three inches out of the middle and then shaping the tip to give it a Wassel look

    The shift handle I will intended to use. It's a Mk.2 hand grenade, brass plated. I had it on one of my previous bikes, and on that bike the starter switch was run through the shifter, which is why there is a small chrome switch and wires on it. Kick-start only on this one though; won't need the switch!



  18. #18
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    Once we had everything positioned and worked out where the tabs needed to be (and what we could get rid of) we stripped the bike back down to the bare frame to prep it for paint and final assembly. As you can probably see, there is a slight curve to the backbone. The bike was almost certainly in an accident at some point, and the repair after that is probably when the neck was also slightly raked and frenched smooth. But it seems strong and it has always ridden true, so we elected not to do anything to it




    There's always time to stop for roast chicken though

  19. #19
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    many hands make light work...



  20. #20
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    Getting rid of the tool box mount. I added this during the last rebuild, and despite the fact that it was handy, I hated it (it was a modern H-D box, and never looked right). Good thing I removed it; after a quick pass with the grinder we were able to knock the "welds" off with a chisel! (Not my welding - although mine probably would have been worse)


    Lee, cleaning up some more old tabs. Over sixty years, the frame seems to have collected a whole myriad of mounting tabs, welding remnants, and still had remains of the twin bob mounts on the backbone. We removed all of those, but elected not to sand the frame right down. I kind of like the layers of paint and imperfections that show this bike has over a half century of history behind it. As Lee said, there would be no sense cleaning it up to the point that it looked like a repop.



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