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Old 04-21-2011, 07:13 PM   #1
WillPhelps52
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Default HD Frame Year Identification

I am looking for a frame for my '57 Panhead. I understand there is a way to identify the date of manufacture... stamping on the engine mount I think.

Can someone tell me where on the frame to look, and what numbers/letters to look for on a 1957 frame?
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Old 04-21-2011, 08:53 PM   #2
jakespade77
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Should be on one of the cast pieces or on the top motor mount. Usually ends in the number. (IE XXXX-66=1966)
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:08 PM   #3
M.O.Ther
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

The late '54 through '57 frames are practically identical except for a stainless cover on the fork lock and the size of the tapped holes in the coil mount blocks. The numbers Jakespade talks about are casting part numbers and the last two digits only identify the year in which that piece began being used. The actual production date code on panhead frames is stamped into the side of the top motor mount and is a 2 character code. The first charictar is a number, and indicates the year the frame was produced. The second is an alpha character and indicates the month. 6L for instance would be a frame made in October 1956 and would be a '57 frame. The model year usually starts in August.
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:18 PM   #4
panheadmark
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

If your looking for a Orignal 57 straight leg frame especially a unmolested one expect to pay alot. Repops are less expensive. I only know of one and it's $4k
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:45 PM   #5
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Actually the number you need to find is stamped on the right side of the original upper motor mount. If it has been cut or modified it may be gone. It will be a two digit number/letter combination representing the month and year produced. A stock '57 frame will have a number between about the 6th month of '56 and the 5th month of '57. That tends to coincide with the production run which came out in Sept for the new year and ends as the next years models are prepped.
Here is a sample of what you are looking for this one is 4H meaning August '54.
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:12 AM   #6
VonWegener
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Does the Factory still use this frame numbering system? Or did it stop with the '69 model year?
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:04 AM   #7
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

It went on in the early 70s, I've seen 72 frames code stamped...

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Old 05-08-2012, 07:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

I have a simillar problem, my wishbone is missing the front half of the top mount, as it was hacked in the 60's... I was wondering if there are any other specific things that can identify a pre 55 frame.... Any help would be appreciated. If need be, i will try to post pics
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Old 05-08-2012, 07:33 PM   #9
Rubone
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Slim,
There are lots of differences in frames over the years. And wishbones ended in mid '54, late '54s are straightleg!
The front lower motor mount is different on early one, horn block profiles are different, the top motor mount shape is different, '48 has full round front tubes, etc, etc.
The pics would help!
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Old 09-01-2012, 02:41 PM   #10
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Hello,
I'm tryin' to identify more precisely the wishbone I have, but I'm having a hard time.
It has been molested over the year (fat bob mounts, rear enlarged, rear cross tube removed, brake stay, floor board mounts, etc...) I can't see number and letter on my top motor mount but maybe it's not the original one (they welded back some ugly fat bob mounts so maybe same for motor mount)
Here's some pics, maybe some people here can help me







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Old 09-01-2012, 04:20 PM   #11
allcoamex
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

It looks like a 48. Can't tell from the pic. clearly, but the wishbone tubes look round. Is there any flattening in them? If they are completely round, it's a '48. Francisco
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Old 09-01-2012, 05:35 PM   #12
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragstews View Post
I see a 67 Shovel motor going into that frame.....Don't I..???
Oh yes ! That's the plan !

I must admit you really pay attention to others, thanks, I might need advice along the way... (still not ready yet, missing some parts)
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Old 09-01-2012, 05:47 PM   #13
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Quote:
Originally Posted by allcoamex View Post
It looks like a 48. Can't tell from the pic. clearly, but the wishbone tubes look round. Is there any flattening in them? If they are completely round, it's a '48. Francisco
I'll double check, but yes, it seems to me they are all round, I didn't know that only '48 were.
I remember seein' the flat spot on other frames in the middle of the wishbone, what was the flat spot made for, originally?
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Old 09-01-2012, 06:46 PM   #14
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

For the horn mounts.
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Old 09-02-2012, 05:57 AM   #15
ElekVins
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

I checked, no flat spot for horn mounts.
Is that enough to say it's a '48? No other year without the flat spot?
Couldn't they have been removed or rounded?
Can I check some other place of the frame to make sure of the year?
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Old 09-02-2012, 09:35 AM   #16
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElekVins View Post
I checked, no flat spot for horn mounts.
Is that enough to say it's a '48? No other year without the flat spot?
Couldn't they have been removed or rounded?
Can I check some other place of the frame to make sure of the year?
Your frame has been modified quite a bit, but if that upper motor mount is original to the frame and the downtubes are fully round, then yeah it could be a '48 frame. The only other rully round wishbone frame is the mid '54.

The easy to identify differences between the mid '54 wishbone and the '48 wishbone are the upper motor mount (different design and also date code) and a different toolbox mount.

Robbie can fill you in on more, but I think the front motor mount might be different as well as the threads to mount the coil?
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Old 09-02-2012, 04:32 PM   #17
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

I don't recall where I read that but it seems to me there are 2 types of front motor mount and mine would be an "early" style (weaker I think) so that could confirm it's more a '48 than a '54...

Can anyone confirm that?
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Old 09-02-2012, 05:48 PM   #18
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElekVins View Post
I checked, no flat spot for horn mounts.
Is that enough to say it's a '48? No other year without the flat spot?
Couldn't they have been removed or rounded?
Can I check some other place of the frame to make sure of the year?
1- 1948 and mid 1954 share the round down tubes, but the triangular shaped motor mount was introduced in 1952.
2-possibly, but not likely most frames were molested in mounts, brackets, sidecar loops and neck. Your frame is missing all those to say exactly. But it looks original, the welding looks original in the neck, scloops and top motor mount where it joins the frame.
3-As Elkvins mentioned,there are 2 lower motor mount sizes. The lower mount introduced in 1952 increased in size and was slightly different from the early ones. Yours look like the smaller one. SO, by deduction yours is most likely a 48. Francisco
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Old 09-03-2012, 06:20 AM   #19
ElekVins
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Ok, then it's a '48, thanks.

I'm goin' to check if it is straight and if so I might keep the most of it this way, I don't have the skills to narrow the rear back to stock... What the best way to check if it's straight (without a JIG) ?

I need to replace the missing cross tube between the rear legs. Can anyone tell me the mesurement of it, how far from the seat post should it be?
Does anyone have a good quality blueprint of the wishbone?

Also what's the best way to restore the floorboard mounts? Is it brazed? Can you remove it with a grind disc and tig weld new repop ones in place?

Photobucket
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Old 09-03-2012, 08:06 AM   #20
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Nice frame.
The floorboard mounds should be welded on - not brazed - so they could be replaced, or repaired. Just make a tab with a hole in it and tig, mig, or stick weld it to the existing mount on both sides. Should be fine.

Eyeball can tell alot about a frame. If the neck is straight to the seatpost, and appears centered in the rest of the frame, you are probably good to go. The rear could be a challenge, but with custom spacers it could be made to work as is.

One maybe problem is the shovel fitting. Should be all good except for the seatpost might need to be notched for rear head clearence. Please notch it and fill back in with metal, and don't just bend it or hammer it.

have fun
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