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The Tinkerer's Dream Machine -- A Hot Rod Shovel

Text by Bandit, Pics by WiseGuy

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This is a good one, and I’ll do my best to tell an accurate tale. Richard Kranzler, our esteemed Bikernet Baggers, all-powerful editor in chief, sent me a couple of shots of this bike with a note. “The HORSE turned it down,” he said. “Can we help a brother out?
Of course, my answer was, “Yes, goddammit.
I like the tight old school, hot rod look and the triple weber running along side the gas tank. It smacked of a guy who builds, not for looks, but for speed and performance. This is not a dish at the HORSE. All magazines have a problem, a financially restricted number of pages. They can only feature a limited number of bikes, and more cool shit is flying at the editors than they will ever have pages for.
I reached out to Bill through Richard and requested some more shots, a tech chart, and any tidbits he might impart to the Bikernet scurvy dogs.
“I bought this as a wrecked 1976 FLH in 1992 to get back on the road after a seven year gap,” Bill said. His last bike was stolen out from under his nose. “I’ll never figure out how they were able to hoist it over my car. This bike hasn't changed my life. It just lets me continue to live it better. It allows me an avenue to exercise my creative urges, and it’s constantly being refined.” 
Bill lives near Palm Beach, in Florida, but when I asked him about riding with the bros, he said, “I don’t get out much except to test ride. I love to tinker, to find solutions, and to refine elements of the bike, so I can go faster.”
At one time he had a two-barrel Weber and designed and built five different intake manifolds. “She ran just as well with an S&S Super G, but I couldn’t leave it alone.” He found this three-barrel Weber off an old Porsche 911 and went to work. While we spoke he discussed designing a shorter manifold so the carbs would tuck into the tank more. “I love to tinker,” Bill said.
Once during a tinkering spree, he rejetted his carb and retarded the timing too much. “I got out onto I-95 and suddenly it started to lose power. I sensed a serious problem due to the heat emanating off the engine and shut her down. The gaskets were smoking.” 
He toasted a set of pistons. He fixed it, upped the compression and it runs better than ever. He’s more careful now, but is a non-stop tinkerer. “There’s always improvements to be made,” Bill said. They stopped making these carbs in the ‘70s and recently he pulled the three-barrel and shipped it to the west coast for a $700 rebuild.  
“It rides better since I swapped the 4-inch over Narrow Glide for the 41mm Dyna I grabbed off eBay,” Bill continued. The tubes are shorter and he might run 2-over tubes in the future. “The engine has been dyno’d with the two-barrel Weber about seven years ago at 95 horses, and after compression increases, 2-inch intakes, and a nastier cam, it's right around 100 horsepower, now.”
The trans is an old 4-speed case with a Rev Tech 5-speed kit stuffed inside. “I made shims and ground gears to make it fit, but she works good,” Bill said. His building mantra calls for looking at a problem until he figures it out and goes after it. I got the impression, he never gives up until it’s fixed, improved, or he finds a resource for a better widget. “I don’t manufacture anything, just build stuff for myself. I built my own cylinders a few years back. I just want everything to be different than the average cookie-cutter scooter.”
The frame is basically a stock ’65 Pan chassis. When he bought it, it was raked 8 degrees, and he’s been tweaking it ever since to make it tighter. He pushes the bike hard during street races and wants it to hang together. He modified Busa brake caliper brackets to run on the front and rear. 
 “The good experiences include embarrassing newer bike owners, when they try to impress me,” Bill said. “Sometimes the triple carb intimidates riders.” 
I liked what he did with the ducktail rear fender to give the bike the abbreviated appearance of a hot rod. She looks fast. And so it is. I’m sure this bike will continue improving and changing for years to come. Hang on! 
Owner- Bill Neely
Year/Make/Model- 1976 FLH Shovelhead
Fabrication- Owner
Welding- Quality Sheet Metal
Assembly- Owner
Year/Type/Size- 1994 S&S Shovelhead, 96"
Builder- Owner
Cases- S&S
Pistons- Arias 3 5/8+.030, 10.5:1
Cylinders- S&S Big Bore, Stock length
Heads- S&S, cut for Big Bore, dual plug, outside drains, compression releases
Valves- Kibblewhite, 2-inch Intakes
Rockers- Crane Roller, bushing type
Rocker Boxes- Stock, split, countersunk Allens, chrome
Pushrods- Velva Touch, w/ Big Jim's solid brass tubes and shaft nuts
Cam- Andrews M Grind
Lifters- Velva Touch hydraulic w/owner limiters
Intake- S&S G/ Owner's manifold
Carb- 3-Barrel Downdraft Weber w/electric fuel pump
Air Cleaners- K&N
Exhaust- Cycle Shack 40-inch Drags
Oil Cooler- Lockhart
Case- S&S 5-in-4
Gears- RevTech 6 speed gear set 
Clutch- BDL
Primary Drive- BDL 3-inch Belt w/electric start
Other Clutch/Tranny Mods- BDL Lockup Pressure Plate with owner installed buttonhead Allens on contact points for wear, ART Hydraulic clutch cover, JayBrake Clutch MC
Year/Type- 1965 Panhead
Rake- 40 degrees
Stretch- None
Modifications- Gusset added to left swingarm frame casting for rigidity, like Shovel frame
Swingarm- Stock Shovel
Shocks- Progressive, stock length
Front- 41mm Dyna/Softail
Manufacturer- Harley
Length- Stock
Triple Trees- Chrome, w/chrome lowers
Wheels, Tires, and Brakes
Front - Size-21-inch, 40-spoke, chrome
Builder/Size- Ultima, 2.25 rim
Tire/Size- Avon 90/90/21
Calipers- Dual six pot Tokico
Rotors- Dual 11 1/2", Polished Stainless
Size-16-inch, 80-spoke, chrome
Builder/Size- Ultima, 3 ½-inch rim
Tire/Size- Dunlop 140mm
Caliper- six-pot Tokico
Rotor- 11 ½-inch Polished Stainless
Pulley/Sprocket- 47-tooth, chrome
Colors- Black frame, blue tank and rear fender
Painter- Chandler Originals
Graphics- Pinstriping by Llewellyn
Molding-  None
Plating/Polishing-polished carb and brackets by owner
Powdercoating- None
Sheet metal
Front Fender- None
Rear Fender- Shortened Ducktail
Rear Fender Fillers- None
Gas Tank- Quickbob
Gas Tank Modifications- Clearance notch for Weber Carb
Gauges- Air/Fuel, Fuel Pressure, Oil Pressure
Handlebars- Drags
Grips- Rubber/Chrome
Risers- 8-inch Chrome
Mirror- Small custom
Hand Controls/Switches- Clutch and Front Brake by JayBrake
Foot controls- Forward
Additional Footpegs- None
Engine Guard- Stock
Passenger Pegs- None
Headlight- 5 ½-inch Bottom mount
Taillight- Small custom
License Mount- Inside end of fender
Seat- Solo

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Reader Comments

I have known Bill (MOTOR) Neely for nearly 40 years, we always teased him about if a taillight bulb burned out, he would completely tear the bike down & improve it! The man knows what he wants & then he achieves some awesome work. Great job Motor, keep on building my friend!

Albany, NY
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Editor Response Irish Rich speaks highly of Bill.
Now this is what I am talking about. Taking something out of the ordinary and making it even more unique--- very very very cool machine!

Lawrence of the Desert
49Palms, CA
Friday, February 14, 2014
This dude is a Shovelhead.US forum member. His bike is bad ass and awe inspiring!

Erie, CO
Sunday, February 9, 2014

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