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Pandemic Project Panhead: Part 1

The Basket Case from Hell

By Bandit with photos by Wrench
4/17/2020


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It all started on a dark, foggy harbor day in 2018 when the Pandemic basket case arrived at the Bikernet Intergalactic World Headquarters in Wilmington, Califa. It didn’t have the rights to the Pandemic title just yet, but it was coming…



A close friend and brother was excited about the price and the stock, but modified Knucklehead frame, but when the crate arrived it was stamped with the sign of doom from evil side of Bikerdom, the side where sleezy sonsabitches live in rundown motorhomes, snort meth and work on any scheme they can muster to suck in enough drug money for cheap pizzas, whiskey and more Dago Crude (meth).



As we opened the tattered wooden crate a nasty, furry black widow strolled out and tried to find a new hideout under a Bikernet workbench. He didn’t make it. Every element of this basket screamed junk parts tossed together to sorta look like a motorcycle, which reminds me of a story from a brother about another Knuckle, but we’ll get to that one in near future. It was going to be this brother’s first motorcycle, but his wise father recognized the signs and steered him in the direction of an old running Panhead. Saved his biker lifestyle experience forever more.


Meanwhile, back in Pandemic world we discovered one problem after another. The frame was bent, the engine and trans needed rebuilding and only a handful of parts were Pan oriented and would help with this project.

First the frame went to Dr. Johns for straightening and a few new tabs, including the rear brake anchor tab. The engine slid over to Bennett’s Performance for a Bob Bennett rebuild. When the two elements returned, we ran into serious issues. The frame downtube was messed with for the Panhead configuration, but not the backbone.



We found ourselves at a crossroads. Keep the frame, modify the frame so the rear head could be removed, or find a Panhead frame and make this puppy pure. This was Doctor Hamsters project, so we wanted to do our best to see him roll along the correct path. He was also beginning to see a lot of cash fly out the window, when he thought he was investing in a cool, low-buck bobber.



I started to dig into lockers and boxes looking for old Pan parts and I reached out to the Paughco team for assorted H-D rigid frame components. I had an old 45 H-D springer front end, checked it, and Dr. John added a 1-inch stem. We were in good shape rapidly, but the frame haunted us. At one point, Mike Stevenson took over, while I focused on the Salt Torpedo. The good doctor discussed getting a custom frame, then going so far as to sell everything as a basket and moving on. I had devoted lots of parts. That couldn’t happen unless I got all my shit back.



Selling it was against the code. The code of the west called for a Panhead frame, but that was touch and go on Ebay or Craig’s list and some other smarmy companies. Ultimately, a sharp well-made re-pop, bone stock frame surfaced from a Swedish company (Edlund Frames), through Kelli Dube and the price wasn’t ridiculous. I convinced the good Doctor to pop for the frame and sell the Knuckle, which he did for wild money. We were finally on the yellow brick road toward Panhead Nirvana.



With Lowbrow narrowed fatbob tanks and a ribbed front fender used for the rear, Mike modified the original sissybar to make it work. With Paughco rockers, springs, fasteners and top triple tree, I made the 45-springer ready for action.



I made this tool for removing wheel hub lug nuts about 30 years ago, maybe longer. Still works like a champ.
I made this tool for removing wheel hub lug nuts about 30 years ago, maybe longer. Still works like a champ.



Dr. Hamster handled the wheels and tires and ordered a solo seat with metric fasteners, what the hell?

Had to modify the Lowbrow front tank mounts to lower the rear of the tanks some.
Had to modify the Lowbrow front tank mounts to lower the rear of the tanks some.




It came with a center oil tank, re-pop with a strange bracket under it. We sent the mag pieces to Dave at Morris Mag and he reworked it. Bennett’s handled the transmission and I kept digging in my drawers for old parts. I had some front springer brake parts.

I only had one stock threaded adjuster. I made this one for the time being.
I only had one stock threaded adjuster. I made this one for the time being.



This is the only issue we had with this cool frame. We needed to tap the threads. The adjuster ran into the frame.
This is the only issue we had with this cool frame. We needed to tap the threads. The adjuster ran into the frame.




We ordered the semi-stock exhaust system with the single piece that includes the S-pipe from Paughco. It was a trick to fit, but after I aligned the engine to perfection, I loosened it again, so I could rock it, slide the pipes into place and bolt it down. Before I even attempted mounting, I cut the clamp slots down another 3/16 inch, so the clamps could do their jobs.



I also made sure the pipe pieces would slip into place. I checked for burrs or heavy chromed layers. The good Doctor ordered a classic muffler which just arrived. When I looked into the junction where the rear exhaust pipe feeds in, I noticed a serious obstruction. I ground it out some.



We also decided to use Paughco’s classic solid brass dogbone risers. I have a code about rigid bikes. If you add as much rubber stuff as possible, you can make them downright comfortable to ride. So, we are running an old set of rubber floorboards I had laying around, rubbermounted bars, and with a spring mounted seat, he should be good to go.









Using machined Allen bolts as studs, I made studs. I TIG welded them into the top of the of the rear legs and ultimately machined some additional brass spacers to hold the risers just so.





About this point the virus struck the world. I started to watch a lecture series about the Black Death. It wiped out over 50 percent of the European population in 1346. It came back every decade for almost 200 years. This isn’t new. Another plaque rolled through Europe in 600, then there was the Spanish Flu in 1918 and after that the N1 flu, Aids and Sar’s. This isn’t rare or new. Hell, some folks would say that Tobacco is the worst plaque. Look what it costs money and health wise every year.

This is a Paughco brake lever bracket. For some reason, the bushing was sloppy so I shimmed it.
This is a Paughco brake lever bracket. For some reason, the bushing was sloppy so I shimmed it.



We couldn’t resist, this became the Pandemic project for 2020. This year was supposed to kick off our roaring ‘20s. I still have high hopes for a party, another Redhead and a fine Whiskey.



I tacked a tab on the sissybar for the rear chain guard and I need a Nash license plate bracket for the old Ford taillight and the sissybar will be golden.



I added the Paughco top motormount and rear brake springs. The Doctor found a very cool front backing plate complete with brake shoes.





I had a front springer Brake drum, a cable, lever and cable clamp. I ordered the ratchet top cover and lever from J&P and gave them the patina treatment with some grinding and bleach.



The doctor found a tin primary set. With a few Paughco parts, I was able to start to complete the left side of the bike. I had to move the tranny adjustment forward and because of the Primo belt drive system. It was giving me fits.

The domed nut was behind the rear pipe. The Brake switch and rear brake component was all Paughco. I had the shaft in a drawer.
The domed nut was behind the rear pipe. The Brake switch and rear brake component was all Paughco. I had the shaft in a drawer.



In a Zen moment I walked around to the right side of the bike and discovered a cool but not stock Colony domed tranny cover nut. It stuck out just 3/8 of an inch too far and the tranny couldn’t move forward enough. Easy fix, but it brought up the puzzle effect once more. These puppies were amazingly tight, like a puzzle.



That brings up the breather that would generally feed into and oil the primary chain. We couldn’t have that. I chopped it off, brazed an oil pump nipple to it and ran an oil hose to the back of the bike to be used to oil the drive chain.



Running the oil line back under the transmission had issues with the mechanical brake linkage from Paughco I recently installed with cotter pins. There was no extra space, but ultimately, I ran it under the tranny and between the frame rails. I will make a mounting device to hold a copper line that will feed the inside of the chain.

This is a system I used for years to hold tins together, without cracking tabs due to vibration.
This is a system I used for years to hold tins together, without cracking tabs due to vibration.








The clutch was a mess and once more I hit my stash for better and complete plates and clean fiber plates. I replaced the hub with the long, twisted rollers with a stock unit, which was missing one bearing.









I found a stash of bearings and one much-needed roller. I greased the inside of the bearing cage and stuck in the bearings and put the hub together with the spring holders. Oops, I forgot the top plate, removed the spring retainers and slipped it in place.







Okay, so the drive pulley and the clutch up fit on tapered shafts with keyways. This was a trick, but with the tranny completely adjusted forward, it slipped into place. I modified the clutch arm on the trans, trying to make a new cable work, but it was way too tight, so I reached out to Barnett Clutches and Cables.



I sent them my cable and Ivan will reach out when he receives it. They can make any cable you need. I had a clutch lever and pin and we’re getting close.





Today, I will adjust the trans, add the Paughco shift linkage and pivot arm.

I had a springer headlight bracket and this goofy, rusted out headlight. We might try to make it work.
I had a springer headlight bracket and this goofy, rusted out headlight. We might try to make it work.



I may get the kickstand in place and the primary in place, plus the rear chain. Hang on for the next report.



Sponsors:

Paughco
Advertisement


NASH Motorcycles
Click for action.
Click for action.



S&S
Advertisement


Barnett Clutch and Cables
Advertisement


Bennett’s Performance


Dr. John frame straightening
(Knucklehead frame)
 

Edlund Frames

Trosta 165

195 93 Märsta

08-6448428


Lowbrow
Click for action.
Click for action.




J&P Cycles

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Reader Comments


Loving this Pan build. Them repro frames rule.

Paul Harris
Abingdon, OX, United Kingdom
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Editor Response Thanks, almost got the mag in place and tuned, today.
--Bandit
I got a headlight that is old chrome . It has a crack in the bucket . Braze it and call it a day . It has the mounting bracket . Can we hoarse trade if you can use it?

Gearhead
Torrance, Calif
Monday, April 20, 2020
Editor Response Of course.
--Bandit

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