Friday, December 28, 2012

Panhead Reality.

I've been slowly building a panhead for the past year or so. Owning a panhead has always been a dream of mine, and I am very grateful that it has become a reality. There was a ton of trading parts, buying parts, and just good friends helping me out. Here's the story:

I got a phone call from a guy that we know from the parties and runs. He asked me if I knew of anyone interested in buying a panhead motor. I had just sold some shit or saved up some money, so I went to check it out. On my way to see the motor I gave Rick Lewis a call for some panhead advice and he said that he had an early panhead basket case that he would sell me if the current one fell through. Long story short, the motor I went to scope out ended up being kinda sketchy and I wanted correct numbers and all that nerd shit, so I bailed on it. The next day I went up to Rick's shop and he made me a deal  that I couldn't pass up on his panhead.

This is what I got from Ricky along with a few more random parts. The cases were painted black way back when for whatever reason with whatever substance, so we couldn't see what was up with the numbers. It was from an excellent mechanic and a guy that I trust, so I knew it was legit shit.

My original plan was to build a full blown show chopper with matching paint on the frame and tins, murals, chrome, etc. After a mixture of spending a weekend with our friends at Wheels Through Time, wizard weed smoke, and finding some truly awesome old HD parts, I decided to go more in the direction of some 20 year old shit head's bike from the 1940's-50's era. A bobber a.k.a. Bobby a.k.a. Robert, if you will. I took my wife to Nashville for her birthday and ended up scoring these shitty tanks from the American Pickers dude.

A while later, after recouping some money to get a few more parts, I got a frame from Death Science Josh. Super cherry condition for being original, and he also made me a deal that I couldn't pass up. Just for your info, me and especially Duane work really hard for our parts and to find the stuff that we do. Nothing really just falls in our lap and we take very little for granted. That's why we are cherish the things that we have and rarely sell anything.

I left my motor with Rick to be built. I love fucking around with motors, but Rick has a degree in motor wizardry and has been working on Harleys since the 70's. I figured that I would rather have it done right then second guess everything. Well, he gave he a call one day and told me that he had my motor ready to go. He also told me that he cleaned the cases up real nice and got the crap off that was painted on them, revealing the numbers: 1948.

After retrieving my motor and getting it back to the Dojo, I immediately put it in the frame. No better motor stand right? This is how it would sit for a while until I acquired more needed parts.

One evening when I got home, there was a mystery package waiting there for me. I opened it up and pulled out a Linkert M74B with an intake. Inside was a note from Roadside Marty. He said that he saw that I got a panhead and it looked like I needed a carb. He is a really good dude.

I have always been a fan of Linkerts, but never actually owned one. Therefore I took it apart and started to learn it. I can see why people swear by them.

After quite a few more parts scores, negotiations, and gifts, I had assembled everything that I could without a front end.

This might have been the hardest piece to get. Anyway you look at it, a springer is expensive. It took me a good while be able to come up on one. Needless to say, I was way stoked.

I was so stoked that I went right to the Dojo, to get a roller together. No one was around and I was the genius that built a bike on a waist high table. Getting it off of the workbench by myself was a feat of engineering. It was also sketchy as fuck. I am very impatient. Anyways, I got front end on and Ape Knuckles walked in.

Kustom Jeff happened to stop by the shop a day or so after I got the bike on the ground and shot this photo.

Daylight stance.

I really started to get cranking on some of the smaller things and Tubbs sent me this furry ass seat.

One of those smaller things was getting everything that I needed for the primary. The pace started to pick back up once I assembled that. I had never dealt with a chain oiler before. That shit was weird son.

I eventually got to the stage where I could plumb and wire the bike. The night before I took this picture, I got the motor to burp for a second inside the shop. The next day, I rolled the bike outside and started it for the first time.


I didn't realize it, but Bowles was filming the first time she really started. She still has some minor issues to work out, but I'll be riding it soon. 


  1. Wicked yarn mate, perseverance, patience and passion, you clearly have em all, too good.

  2. Good post and great story.
    Can't wait to see the bike again in finished, running condition.

  3. nice. definitely hit the "20 year old shit head's bike from the 1940's-50's era" nail right on the head. love upturned fenders.

  4. Panheads are like Zippos. It's hard to rebuild a Bic.

  5. That stuff gets harder to find and more expensive every year.
    The bike looks great. Dig it.

  6. Nicky, I'm all the way stoked on this story! And the bike is perfect. I love the fender mud flap thing! Great post // great bike // great dude.

    Someone once told me "welcome to the pan clan" I have no idea what it means, but I hope it has something to do with wearing white hoods and jumping our pan heads on some dirt tracks!

  7. So good Nick.. hope to see you later this year when your in LB..