Bikernet Blog Search Bikernet
Ride Forever -
Friday Edition

Pandemic Panhead Project, Part 2

Scrambling for Paint

By Bandit with photos by Wrench and Bandit

Share this story:

A brass Guan Yin is heading to deadwood shortly as we work on the Chinese Whorehouse in the President's district. After this covid deal, we may need to give free samples for years to come.
A brass Guan Yin is heading to deadwood shortly as we work on the Chinese Whorehouse in the President's district. After this covid deal, we may need to give free samples for years to come.

The tanks and fender are out to Deny 925, the master of patina paint, for a scallop classic paint job.

In the meantime, I needed to install the Morris Mag, decide on a carb, install the front brake, finish a handful of welds, work with the guys at Bates on a clutch cable, make an old clutch lever work, hell, make the brake lever work and find a brake cable, take the springer apart and add Paughco inner springs, install the headlight and taillight, make a muffler bracket and mo’.

This is a 45 springer, front end on a Panhead frame, the frame seemed to go downhill slightly, and we wanted to level it. Although, I liked the downhill attitude notion, we had some concerns about ground clearance.

We had a couple of options. We could make a ½ inch spacer under the lower neck bearing, but that could cause lots of issues above the top bearing. Paughco makes an additional set of lower, inner springer springs, and I ordered a set. I was hoping to stiffen the ride and point the rockers down slightly.

I installed an old stock damper system, which made taking the front end apart more difficult. First, I jacked up the front of the bike and removed the front wheel. I took the rockers off and prepared to grease and install them properly.

Then I dug into my clamp drawer for a wild long clamp to compress the springs, so I could remove the top nuts without shooting springs all over the shop. It’s a trick, but it worked. I had to carefully remove the damper fasteners and pull it out of the way slightly.

I greased the front end like crazy after installing the new Paughco inner springs. I could also add some spacers to the spring landings to stiffen the ride and raise the front end. I prayed for surf and installed the inner springs, used the clamp to compress and to align the damper system studs. Interesting operation, with fingers and old parts in the balance.

It worked and I started digging around for the front brake parts. I had just enough wheel lugs to hold the brake drum in place. I discovered that the aftermarket star hub bearing caps won’t allow the lugs to slip through the hub like stock. I took scotch bright to the inside of the drum to clean and check the surface for deep scores. I could have had it turned if necessary. It seemed very clean.

The doctor bought this front brake system online, with dual cams for the new brake shoes. It would actually give a guy more front brake adjustment flexibility, which I may need to mess with in the not-to-distant future. Again, we could have sent this whole system to a company that turns drums and faces shoes for the best fit. I did this years ago and the brakes worked fantastic. We may still go this route. For now, we’ll pray for open roads and hope the shoes break-in to fit the drum like a champ.

I had a 45 front axle and some of the brake internal parts with the help of Paughco. When I studied the manual, I discovered two missing components, a large spring and a cork grease gasket. I found both in my parts lockers and the front brake system was complete except for the bored cable adjustment rod, cable and lever.

I had a stock arm to reach from the leg to the backing plate. It was cool, except one of the shoe arms rubbed against it. I took it off and ground the edge for clearance.

I started digging and found a cable adjustment tube, but it was the wrong thread pitch and I had to tap the tab on the brake backing plate. So far so good. Cables are always a trick and it’s always a good notion to err on the long side.

I adjusted the brake to allow even pressure on both shoes. That may change in the future. I also don’t like the return action. It’s not snappy, although I greased everything and operated it over and over to break it in. We will see.

I welded the chain guard tab I made to the sissybar but started to look at the other welds and found some pits. Mike had tacked the seat tabs to the frame, and I finished them. I tried to work with Lowbrow and Nash motorcycle products for a simple vertical license plate bracket for the center of the sissybar. Lowbrow makes them, but all with side or axle mounts. I wanted a bare one, but the notion of a vertical plate in the center of the sissybar disturbed me.

Finally, I went after a different angle. I had lots of old stock style license plate, mounting systems stripped off bikes in the past. Jeremiah also had a very cool brass license plate ring and I went to work trying to make it all work. It did with supreme patience and lots of bending. I removed my original rusting headlight and replaced it with a Bates knockoff. The doctor ordered a smaller version, but it never arrived.

The clutch cable arrived from Bates after a couple of discussions with the experts. I quizzed them about lengths for stock systems of this sort. I didn’t trust my measurements. I also got a rusting lever and the correct pin out of my parts lockers.

Here’s one of the quirks. I didn’t like the clutch actuating rod on the top of the transmission. It didn’t align with the cable adjuster at all. That meant the cable would be constantly rubbing and wearing the cable strands. I found another clutch rod and started to modify it. Those bastards are solid ½-inch rod with a bend upward at the end and I attempted to straighten it with a torch and a vice. What a bastard, but finally I got it to align. So, nothing I was doing was stock. I also had to make sure it would clear the underside of the oil bag/battery box.

Here’s another consideration. The transmission adjustments for the primary chain or belt in this case move the transmission. We are currently running a Primo tin-primary, stock clutch system. BDL is now making a similar system. If you move the transmission, the clutch cable must be adjusted.

One more consideration with regard to the clutch cable. Running the cable from the bars to the transmission forces it alongside the engine at the base of the cylinders. It pushed against the shifter linkage and I needed to build a guide.

I tinkered around in the shop one depressing, foggy, Covid morning, while discussing the project with Deny. “Are you going to add some of your touches,” Deny said and that struck me and got me thinking about details. I figured a way to ship the sheet metal to the mastermind, while he hid out in the hills.

Sure, I would add some brass details. But nothing immediately popped to mind, then I started to dig around for a muffler bracket. I didn’t want to use the bracket that came with the pipe. I wanted something tight and right. This is what I came up with. The first brass touch.

I cut some silicon sparkplug wires and use dielectric grease to slip the boots into place. Later i attached the ends per the directions.
I cut some silicon sparkplug wires and use dielectric grease to slip the boots into place. Later i attached the ends per the directions.

The Bates cable worked like a champ. I adjusted it and could move to the right side of the Pandemic again. I started mounting and timing the mag.

Mags fit these puppies like so many other vital components, tight! At first, I grabbed an O-ring to seal the mag drive stem. It lifted the Morris mag about 1/8-inch. It ran into fins on the head and the cylinders. The mag body was already clearance slightly. I tried something else, still too tight. I made a gasket out of a cereal box, greased it and was good to go.

The original basket case came with a rough, aluminum hold-down plate. I modified it and improved the styling, but it needs another touch before final operation. I dug through a glass jar of feeler gauges and found a thick sprung one. I cut it and drilled it for a dice button and it was good to go.

Then I needed to decide on running a shorty S&S E or an old bronze Linkert rebuilt by Mike Egan 25 years ago.

One of the big questions involved the intake manifolds and what fit. The Pandemic had an O-ring Linkert intake manifold from Colony in place. I removed the straps and it fit like a glove. That sealed the deal. The S&S Super E would remain on my Dicey Knucklehead.

First, I tried to make sure the manifold was aimed level. Then I started to mount the carb. Linkerts, like Panhead are a puzzle and everything fits just so. I had the mounting bracket that ran off the engine case stud, but the stud had issues. The lifter blocks were aftermarket and you could not get a ½-inch socket or a wrench on the nut. I took the nut off the other side where I was working on a bracket to control the clutch cable.

I found the original Milwaukee Iron air cleaner and backing plate.
I found the original Milwaukee Iron air cleaner and backing plate.

With a punch I taped the stud through the case far enough that I could remove the nut, then the washers wouldn’t come off. And the stock, twisted mounting bracket wouldn’t fit on and had to be modified. And there’s a trick to mounting this bracket on the carb and on the case stud at the same time. Then, I needed to position the case stud to do the job on the left side of the bike, hold the bracket on the right side and hold the nut in a position so a mechanic could remove it. I machined a spacer and we were golden.

Next was the gas line, and I’m still undecided. I could install the stock, chromed filter system, but it gives us about four opportunities for a leak. I looked for a simple brass nipple and common inline filter. I need to hit Ace Hardware again.

And the latest issue is the throttle cable. The carb was just close enough to the frame motor-mount that the carb bracket wouldn’t come off. I could either remove the carb or file the motor-mount. I chose the latter. I had three old throttle plate mounts and played around for one that might work. I’ve still got a ways to go.

Paint by Deny 925 is close.
Paint by Deny 925 is close.

I wanted the carb to be in place and operational, so when the sheet metal arrived, I would be ready. We are getting really close.



NASH Motorcycles
Click for action.
Click for action.


Barnett Clutch and Cables

Bennett’s Performance

Dr. John frame straightening
Edlund Frames
Trosta 165
195 93 Märsta

Click for action.
Click for action.

J&P Cycles

Share this story:

Back to Tech

Reader Comments

I'd like some info on the primary set up. i need a set of pulleys same as the one's that appear on the Pandemic. The ones I currently have are for a 5" belt/. I want to run a narrow one like what's on the good Dr's bike. And what size does the clutch basket end up being, any help ??

el Waggs
Oceanside, CA
Tuesday, January 5, 2021
Editor Response Hey,

I may have another set. Let's discuss.
You mentioned the Dicey knuckle, glad you still got her! Remember the ER feature-was that about 1997??

Paul Harris
Abingdon, OX, United Kingdom
Saturday, July 18, 2020
Editor Response Yes, just before I blew up my final marriage...
I love reading these articles.. I always love the creativity you put into your bikes!

charlotte, NC
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Editor Response Thanks. You reminded me of something I need to do.

Your thoughts on this article

Your Name
Anti-Spam Question:
Please enter the words you see in the box, in order and separated by a space. Doing so helps prevent automated programs from abusing this service.