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Funky Panhead Project, Part 2

A Project Under Strife Comes Alive

By Bandit with photos by Wrench, Frankie and a redhead
11/14/2017


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In a sense, this project is indicative of this time in my life and the life of many bikers everywhere. I asked myself if this should be a life and times story. Let’s see if I can make sense of my life right now.



I’m feeling stress at almost 70 and I don’t get it. Actually I do, but I don’t want to feel anything but nirvana. Hell, I built a motorcycle nirvana right on the coast, across the street from the Port of Los Angeles. But there’s something not right about that. They are now calling it America’s Port, yet the port has basically shit on the town adjacent to one of the richest ports in the world.

I added this bronze t-handle to my modified axle.
I added this bronze t-handle to my modified axle.



I’ve done my part to bring a waterfront to the people of Wilmington. I attended meetings for 14 years, spoke and bitched, but little has been accomplished. I’m working on a report to send to the Major of LA. Unlike Long Beach, which is right on the water next to the port and is beautiful. Our downtown is 20 miles away. They don’t give a shit about the town that’s illegally overrun with containers and trucks. It bugs me. But I did accomplish a mural on the side of the building in support of the Wilmington Waterfront.



Okay, so I started this Panhead project in the middle of a war over whether engines will still be around in another decade. What the fuck? No wonder our industry is in a state of upheaval. Most folks think bad thoughts every time they get into their cars, as if they are having an affair. Brings me down, but I fight back. I reach out to the motorcycle rights movement and try to keep folks informed regarding their rights and the issues. It torments me. I want freedom and fun back.

I used welding rod for check the chain travel angle then cut the fender. It may need to be cut some more. Damn!
I used welding rod for check the chain travel angle then cut the fender. It may need to be cut some more. Damn!



Plus, I live in California where the Governor is dying to eliminate engines, as if he can torture all his citizens and that will help the planet. More and more, there’s proof that the whole global warming anti-everything campaign is just bullshit. Drives me nuts, but I’m an outlaw and will fight back for the rest of my life.



So, when the shit brings me down, I try to jump down into my shop and work on a bike. The Panhead became a mission for freedom for my soul. I needed relief from the stress. We are living in strange times.

I found this kickstand bracket in the locker but it needed repairs and added strength.
I found this kickstand bracket in the locker but it needed repairs and added strength.




On the other hand, life couldn’t be better. We have more resources than ever before, if the government doesn’t make them all illegal. For instance, you can build anything your heart desires. This Pan is a terrific example.

Sure, it’s a Pan but it has a ’69 right case and a ’79 left case, which allows me to make it look like a Pan, yet run an electronic, automatic advance distributor, an Evo to Twin Cam alternator, and a spin-on oil filter, which allows me more oil capacity and more protection for the engine.

The heads are brand new STD outside oiler Panheads with knock-off rocker blocks. The STD heads breath better than stock and contain improved valves and springs.

I’m running hydraulic JIMS machine cam followers, S&S adjustable pushrods, an S&S mild cam and an improved S&S oil pump. Even the Kraft Tech TIG-welded frame is modified for almost any engine and allows me to run a rear Softail disc without doing a thing.



A brother, Dale Gorman, left a stock Fatboy wheel, rotor, and Softail caliper behind several years ago and it all bolted right up. Basically, I could build 1998 rigid Panheads all day long with super-strong late model 5-speed transmissions, and BDL belt drives with any EVO starter and I was good to go.

For the first time, I'm using a bird deflector from Chopper Dave. I gave it the patina with a soak in bleach.
For the first time, I'm using a bird deflector from Chopper Dave. I gave it the patina with a soak in bleach.



I wanted to use a Linkert Carb and I had a couple rebuilt by Mike Egan, but since we planned to run two on a Knucklehead they were M-35s for maybe 45s, but I decided to try one using the small venturi for snappy throttle response notion, like we’ve done with 42 mm Mikunis.

I couldn't find a vent for the '69 right case, so I made one by machining a 5/8 threaded bolt, drilling it out and taping it with 1/8 pipe threads for an oil line fitting. I didn't know, until I installed it, whether I would need a down turn or straight fitting.
I couldn't find a vent for the '69 right case, so I made one by machining a 5/8 threaded bolt, drilling it out and taping it with 1/8 pipe threads for an oil line fitting. I didn't know, until I installed it, whether I would need a down turn or straight fitting.



Bob Bennett went through the engine and I supplied parts where I could. You can no longer order any performance parts in California. They were banned by the California Air Resources Board, unless companies want or can afford to spend hundreds of thousands trying to have each part tested to receive an executive order through the MIC. If you can’t buy a cam in California, how does the largest market in the US impact the smaller states? Pisses me off.





Needless to say, I made my own pipes using a too bitchin’ shorty muffler from Rick Krost at US Choppers, who only deals with vintage bikes anymore. He’s done with anything new. The muffler was amazing; at least I thought so. Deny, the man behind the vintage paint job, came over and I showed him the muffler and what I intended with the stock squished pipe under the engine.

I rebuilt my first Panhead engine with the help of Bob George, in 1970.
I rebuilt my first Panhead engine with the help of Bob George, in 1970.



We discussed having the pipe angle up with the bottom frame rail toward the axle, but we both looked at each other with dismay. I’m not a fan of anything that interferes with the line of the frame. Then I mentioned my like for shotgun pipes and Deny’s blue-gray eyes lit up. I went to work messing with parts and pieces, including the stock squish pipe. I like how it came out.



I worked with Tim at San Pedro muffler to make a couple of exhaust flanges to fit over the Panhead exhaust manifold. I was only able to use one, because the front pipe needed to make an abrupt turn.



I tried several different welding moves with this endeavor. The pipes from San Pedro are 1 ¾-inch aluminum coated chunks, coupled with old bare steel bends, chromed pieces and even an old Pan squish pipe. I believe it was chromed at one time. I had to use various pieces and some were slightly different diameters. I don’t know why, but initially I thought about gas welding with steel rod, but the various metals, even ground and cleaned, weren’t happy with oxygen acetylene, maybe because of the carbon deposits on the inside of the old pipe pieces.

Right in the middle of making pipes the Sheriff, a journalist from Sweden, showed up and started to shoot my operation for a video. Of course my MIG welder started to act up.
Right in the middle of making pipes the Sheriff, a journalist from Sweden, showed up and started to shoot my operation for a video. Of course my MIG welder started to act up.





Various pipe manufacturers skimp on funds by running thin-walled tubing and blowing through it is easy. I shifted to MIG welding because of speed and convenience. Also, tacking pieces in place is much easier with a one-handed Miller MIG welder. I ended up carefully MIG welding most of the bends and pieces, but then added some braze just to add color to the pipes.



The pipe brackets were a trip of found brackets and chunks, but finally the pipes were strong enough to stand on and secured comfortably to the heads.



I used care with the driveline alignment. The engine, a mixture of years, fit perfectly in the frame without shimming. I used the BDL inner primary to align the engine and trans.



Moving right along, when I needed to escape the government control freaks, I darted into my shop and hid out rebuilding the old Wagner master cylinder with Paughco re-pop controls. The rebuild kit arrived from Biker’s Choice and Twin Power. James and the Twin Power crew are on a mission to create and manufacturer stock replacement parts for old and new Harleys. I dug out old manuals from Panheads to Shovelheads and Evos and followed them.



With Spectro Oils, I studied brake fluids and I think I installed the Wagner and the Softail Caliper with DOT 4. According to vast research, the Wagner could have been DOT 3 originally and the Softail Caliper was DOT5. They don’t mix. Later I flushed the system with DOT 5 a couple of times and will do it again in the near future.



I stashed the ignition switch in the Paughco toolbox I mounted between the stock Softail gas tanks. I made a goofy bracket running off a stock frame tabs and it worked like a champ. I mounted a 15-amp circuit breaker in the box and an idiot light to prevent me from walking away and leaving the switch on. Let’s see if it works.






I needed to reach out to Barry Wardlaw to find out about timing the Mallory electronic distributor. This was the original electronic distributor installed in the Salt Shaker. It encountered a slight glitch and was replaced, but ultimately fixed. I finally found another Panhead for it to grace. I made the hold down piece with a transmission part and a big brass screw from the hull of a wooden sailboat.



Bob Bennett timed the engine with Berry’s instructions and I monkeyed with the Linkert Carburetor. I also made the top end oil lines with old parts and True Value Hardware, which is usually a tremendous but pricey source for fasteners.



I haven’t installed an oil pressure gauge and I want to. Erik Bennett gave us the look and his dad suggested I run an adjustable valve in the line to the heads so we don’t cause the lower end pressure to drop. I did, thanks to True Value, but we discovered a tiny hole in the valve, which wide open might do the restricting job. I’m still investigating it.

The oil pump is brand new S&S. I may still ad an oil pressure gauge.
The oil pump is brand new S&S. I may still ad an oil pressure gauge.



I wired the bike with old Harley wire and fiber-wound loom. I need to replace the front vintage spotlight sealed beam. And one of the spring hold-downs broke. I need to find them.



I used all the old BLD primary drive parts I had laying around the shop. I thought I was golden with the Softail cover I had, but the standoffs didn’t line up with the holes in the cover. Baffled, I tried a batch of alternatives. Ultimately forced to punt, I started to build a bracket. This was a Zen challenge and took me to a new zone.

The stout rear fender didn’t need supports, but I needed a place to mount the LowBrow vintage taillight and license plate mount, so I started to dig around.



I came up with a Road King front fender bumper rail set. With a little braze, some ball bearings and some imagination it worked like a champ.



I need to give some credit. The day I fired her for the first time I ran into a problem. I ran oil through her first to make sure it was getting to the top end, but noticed oil seeping out of the lifter stool gaskets as if the crank case filled with oil. I checked with Eric Bennett and then a young Hamster stopped over, Tony Spinalli. We made an oily mess chasing all my new oil lines looking for a mistake.



I used those stock pinch oil line clamps and they are a bastard to remove. We ended up removing half of them and in some cases replacing them with standard screw-on hose clamps. Then Tony pointed out that the oil wasn’t coming from the gaskets but holes in the JIMS lifter stools. Unbelievable. They drill through the stools to create an oil passage, but it was up to someone to press in plugs or set screws. We taped set screws and we were golden. Thanks Tony.

Fortunately, this article will be a stark reminder of every adjustment and correction needed to dial this puppy in. For instance, I bought the old glide at the Long Beach Swap Meet from a guy who is dedicated to old glides. It was supposed to be sorta rebuilt but wasn’t and wasn’t complete. I had to go back to him several times and I still need to replace the springs. One doesn’t match the other.

I used Spectro fork oil, what the boss recommended, in the old glide forks.
I used Spectro fork oil, what the boss recommended, in the old glide forks.



A local motorcycle tire-only shop hooked me up with a used aluminum 18-inch front wheel rim, laced it and added the Avon Tyre I had in my shop. Good guys.



So, how am I doing? Still some tinkering to do, but I dig it. It’s comfortable with the cop solo mounted so with some old brackets and some I made. The foot pegs need work to prevent them from rotating. I’ll get to that. I’ve had those pegs for 30 years and just now found the perfect application.

I've moved these around for 30 some years. I finally found them a home on this project. But now I know why they were never used before.
I've moved these around for 30 some years. I finally found them a home on this project. But now I know why they were never used before.




I’ll keep you posted on any additional changes.



There's a shinning star even on the floor of a dark tattoo parlor. Trace may be the next girl of Bikernet.
There's a shinning star even on the floor of a dark tattoo parlor. Trace may be the next girl of Bikernet.




Funky Panhead Sources:

S&S
Advertisement


Biker’s Choice
Advertisement


STD
www.STD.com
 
JIMS Machine
Advertisement


Lowbrow
Click for action.
Click for action.



Mallory
www.mallory.com

Accurate Engineering
www.accuratengineering.com

Bennett’s Performance


Paughco
Advertisement


Departure Bike Works
www.departurebikeworks.com

Spectro Oils
Advertisement


Chopper Dave
www.chopperdave.com

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Reader Comments


Nice build, great combination of art, mechanics and function. You have your own style and it always shows. Appreciate the honesty in the write up as to how things do and don't come together.

Question: with all the other California restrictions on everything how difficult is it to register a bike like this in that state?

anson
milwaukee, WI
Saturday, January 20, 2018
Editor Response Like I said. I maybe moving to Deadwood.
I really dig that use of a dresser front fender bumper to make the fender struts for the rear, I will be using that sometime in the future for sure.
the exhaust is great, this bike takes me back to my younger bike fabbing days...can't help but wonder if that linkert will be big enuf.

Tom K
Ogden, UT
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Editor Response I wonderd the same about the Linkert. So far it's working perfectly, but I haven't pushed it yet. Thanks. It was a blast to build.
--Bandit

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