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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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

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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
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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
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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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Old 09-03-2012, 05:49 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by brad View Post
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
brad
Thanks Brad, but damn I always though shovels and pans needed the same clearance and I would be good to go.... ?!?
Is it because it's a '48, first year of the pan?
I'm sure it's a problem with evo, but didn't know for shovel... if confirmed that's bad news to me? I didn't want to modify the seatpost
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Old 09-03-2012, 11:14 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElekVins View Post
Thanks Brad, but damn I always though shovels and pans needed the same clearance and I would be good to go.... ?!?
Is it because it's a '48, first year of the pan?
I'm sure it's a problem with evo, but didn't know for shovel... if confirmed that's bad news to me? I didn't want to modify the seatpost
No need to modify the frame. A shovelhead engine should fit alright. FG

Last edited by allcoamex; 09-03-2012 at 11:51 PM.
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Old 09-04-2012, 08:55 AM   #23
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^^^^ that's what I thought, but still, good news to have the confirmation ^^^^

Anybody have a wishbone blue print?

You think it's best to weld a tab on the existing cuted peg mounts, or remove them completely and weld new repop ones? (apart for the look, talking about safety)
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Old 09-04-2012, 08:58 AM   #24
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

It is best to remove the old cut peg mounts carefully without cutting into the frame. Then buy the cast reproduction peg/floorboard mounts and TIG weld them in place.
V-Twin Mfg. is a good source for that.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:09 AM   #25
ElekVins
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I found this diagram on page 36 but none with mesurements...
Sure it's in it? maybe I got a different edition (but same exact cover)

Photobucket
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Old 09-04-2012, 11:29 AM   #26
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Quote:
Originally Posted by ElekVins View Post

Anybody have a wishbone blue print?
You can find copies of the frame blueprint on the bay. If you need dimensions just ask, plenty here have a print, myself included and could provide you with the dimensions.
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Old 09-04-2012, 01:11 PM   #27
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You can find copies of the frame blueprint on the bay. If you need dimensions just ask, plenty here have a print, myself included and could provide you with the dimensions.
Ok thanks, here the dimensions I'd like as a start:



DOn't know if inches are the only mesure but millimeters are fine too for me (I'm in France)

Also are the holes in the floorboard mounts perpendicular to the earth level or do they have a slight angle?
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:17 PM   #28
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

The tabs are at an angle. Here is a pic of someone using the left floor board tab for mid controls.
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:18 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by ElekVins View Post
Ok thanks, here the dimensions I'd like as a start:


DOn't know if inches are the only mesure but millimeters are fine too for me (I'm in France)

Also are the holes in the floorboard mounts perpendicular to the earth level or do they have a slight angle?
Ok, for your #1 dimension: 8.86"

For your #2 dimension: From what I can see on the print, 5.2 - .25 would give you 4.95", but that's from the center hole in the floorboard tab to the center of the seat post.

The angles for floorboard tabs are: Left side = 36 - Right side = 16.
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Old 09-04-2012, 04:41 PM   #30
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Thank you guys for such precise answers.
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Old 09-04-2012, 05:34 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by ElekVins View Post
Thank you guys for such precise answers.
Glad to help, hollar if you need anything else.

I just remembered that the frame print is available on the Panhead board. It's in the Knowledge Base section, but you need to be a member though.
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:20 PM   #32
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Hey ElkVins. Not knowing your level of skill in modifying a frame and seeing you lack basic frame knowledge. I would like to advise you and advise is that, just advise. Find yourself someone that knows frames. Your life hangs in trusting the frame stays together. There are a few shops in France that will take a look at it.
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Old 09-05-2012, 11:54 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by allcoamex View Post
Hey ElkVins. Not knowing your level of skill in modifying a frame and seeing you lack basic frame knowledge. I would like to advise you and advise is that, just advise. Find yourself someone that knows frames. Your life hangs in trusting the frame stays together. There are a few shops in France that will take a look at it.
Yes, I'm a beginner in many things, I like to weld and practice as much as I can on my friends MIG and TIG but I rather keep that on little parts for the moment.
My plan is to bring my frame to a shop that works on frames on a regular basis, but as there isn't so many vintage HD around here, they might not be familiar with the hydra glide frame, that's why I want to bring them the mesurements. But I have no doubt on their welds, you need to be certified to work there and they have inspections frequently (they bring back on the road damaged bikes).
Thanks for the advice allcoamex, it's a very reasonnable one.

Vins
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:15 PM   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElekVins View Post
...they might not be familiar with the hydra glide frame...
For what it's worth,your frame won't be a "hydra glide"-frame if it really is a '48.

Good luck with the project !
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Old 09-05-2012, 12:30 PM   #35
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Hey Vins,
Not sure if this will be a concern for you, but keep in mind-- a TIG weld when done right is strong and pretty, but it won't match any of the original welds on your frame. The original welds were regular old stick welds- plenty strong, but probably not so pretty. If you are intent on restoring your frame or even trying to make the repairs look original it might be worth considering this. On my Pan's original wishbone frame and any of the old original frames I've looked at, the welds are not pretty, but they are perfectly functional. Another thing to keep in mind is to get the proper bend on the frame crosspiece you plan on replacing. I've noticed that when comparing the V-Twin repop frames and the Factory originals that V-Twin didn't quite get this bend right and to me it sticks out like a sore thumb. I've also got a shovel motor in a somewhat modified straight-leg frame, so I'll be watching with interest as you work on yours. Best of Luck to you.

Regards,
Geo.
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:00 PM   #36
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For what it's worth,your frame won't be a "hydra glide"-frame if it really is a '48.

Good luck with the project !
Yes, you're right, I didn't know until recently it was '48, so it was an hydra glide on my mind...

Quote:
Originally Posted by old.wrench View Post
Hey Vins,
Not sure if this will be a concern for you, but keep in mind-- a TIG weld when done right is strong and pretty, but it won't match any of the original welds on your frame. The original welds were regular old stick welds- plenty strong, but probably not so pretty. If you are intent on restoring your frame or even trying to make the repairs look original it might be worth considering this. On my Pan's original wishbone frame and any of the old original frames I've looked at, the welds are not pretty, but they are perfectly functional. Another thing to keep in mind is to get the proper bend on the frame crosspiece you plan on replacing. I've noticed that when comparing the V-Twin repop frames and the Factory originals that V-Twin didn't quite get this bend right and to me it sticks out like a sore thumb. I've also got a shovel motor in a somewhat modified straight-leg frame, so I'll be watching with interest as you work on yours. Best of Luck to you.

Regards,
Geo.
Thanks Geo for this info, it's easy to find good pictures of the V-twin repop so I was close to use them as a reference for that crosspiece...

Does anyone have a good pic of an original crosstube between the rear legs, to see the bend for reference?

Also I see what you mean for the welds, but it might be difficult for me to find a welder that still works like back in the days, so it may be TIG welded...but I'll ask.
In the other hand, the frame have been so modified over the years that it might never be back to original ever...
If it's straight, I think I'll keep the rear enlarged as it is, to maintain the cost of my build reasonnable.
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Old 09-05-2012, 01:45 PM   #37
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In case you don't know them, here are a couple of links to French builders. You might be close and you can ask questions. There are a few more, I'll look up later. Where in France are you?

http://thirteenave.blogspot.com/
http://www.mungochino.com/
http://alchop06.blogspot.com/
http://ftwfrance.blogspot.com/
http://rigidchop.blogspot.com/

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Old 09-05-2012, 03:13 PM   #38
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^^^^ thanks ^^^^
I don't know them (but I don't go out much...)
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Old 09-05-2012, 08:21 PM   #39
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Vins,

If you want to buy that fender mount crosspiece already cut, coped and bent instead of fabbing it up yourself you might try Steve Little at Race Frame Engineering http://www.raceframe.com.au/

If you fab it yourself, as near as I can measure, the angle is 172 degrees. When you bend it, don't make it a sharp (like a V) bend as on the V-Twin repop frame. Instead make it more of a sweeping (like a U) bend like the original. On the original frames that bend pretty much matches the slight radius of the rear fender at that point.

Regards,
Geo.
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Old 09-06-2012, 11:39 AM   #40
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Vins,

If you want to buy that fender mount crosspiece already cut, coped and bent instead of fabbing it up yourself you might try Steve Little at Race Frame Engineering http://www.raceframe.com.au/

If you fab it yourself, as near as I can measure, the angle is 172 degrees. When you bend it, don't make it a sharp (like a V) bend as on the V-Twin repop frame. Instead make it more of a sweeping (like a U) bend like the original. On the original frames that bend pretty much matches the slight radius of the rear fender at that point.

Regards,
Geo.
Thanks Geo, this guy seems to do amazing work on those frames !!
My rear legs bein' enlarged, it must be a one off, either if I do it myself or if I ask Steve Little.

You're right about the V-twin piece makin' a V, totally.
Does someone have a pic for that piece on a OEM frame? I imagine the 172 degre U, but a visual would be great.
Dumb question maybe, but just to make sure, that piece of tube is 1inch diameter, right?

Vins
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Old 09-06-2012, 12:08 PM   #41
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Yes, it is 1" outside diameter, at least on the wishbone frames it is.
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Old 09-06-2012, 01:50 PM   #42
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Hope this helps, not the best pictures. This frame is a 49-52.








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Old 09-06-2012, 03:23 PM   #43
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

^^^^^^^^^THANKS ^^^^^^^^

exactly what I needed
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Old 09-06-2012, 03:47 PM   #44
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

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Vins,

If you want to buy that fender mount crosspiece already cut, coped and bent instead of fabbing it up yourself you might try Steve Little at Race Frame Engineering http://www.raceframe.com.au/
Steve has a great reputation and produces any of the parts you may need. Not sure if you're an amca member, if you are, check out this thread that Steve did last month, he restored a Knuck frame and the thread is really good: http://www.antiquemotorcycle.org/bbo...me-Restoration
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Old 09-06-2012, 06:27 PM   #45
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

The pic that allcoamex put up shows perfectly the bend that that I was trying to describe. The wall thickness of that particular part of the original frame (fender mount crosspiece) that I checked was pretty close to a standard .083". On the V-Twin repop frame it was heavier, more like .120", which didn't surprise me because to my un-scientific method of comparing the weight difference between the original wishbone frame and the V-twin repop, the repop did feel heavier.

Regards,
Geo.
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Old 10-07-2012, 06:18 AM   #46
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So I sandblasted my frame :

First I wanted to keep the rear enlarged as it has been modified,
I want to keep the cost reasonnable and was planning to just replace the fender mount cross piece
now that I see the bare metal I have second thoughts and will apreciate some opinions on the damage...


Upper right leg detail:

Upper left leg detail:
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Old 10-07-2012, 01:24 PM   #47
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

From what I can see, it looks like you have a nice frame other than where it was "widened". Since you're going to be doing work on it anyhow (installing cross tube), have you considered putting the ass end back to stock?
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:31 PM   #48
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---

Last edited by ElekVins; 10-08-2012 at 04:23 AM. Reason: pb with pics / edit2 pb in previous post solved
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:37 PM   #49
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From what I can see, it looks like you have a nice frame other than where it was "widened". Since you're going to be doing work on it anyhow (installing cross tube), have you considered putting the ass end back to stock?
As I don't trust my welds enough to do it myself on such important thing (+ I don't have access to a JIG) I have to take the frame to a shop...
So just replacing the cross piece would be less expensive than redo the whole rear end back to stock. I think I could live with a little larger rear (even use that to have my pipe go between the wheel and the frame...)
But now that the frame is to the bare metal, I'm not sure about the quality of the previous work done on it to enlarge that rear...
That's why I'll be glad to have opinions (aslo details pics disapeared in my post, so see previous one for the details of the legs)

Thanks,

Vins
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:49 PM   #50
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

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But now that the frame is to the bare metal, I'm not sure about the quality of the previous work done on it to enlarge that rear...
If it were mine, I'd get the work done now to bring it back to stock width. You're down to bare metal, do it now and forget about it.
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Old 10-07-2012, 09:17 PM   #51
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Vins, I can understand your desire to keep the cost down, but your at a point in your build where it'll never be cheaper to fix that frame right. If you can find somebody over there with a table and frame repair experience that you can trust, get a price on replacing those tubes. It's hard to look at a picture and make a call as to the safety of that "widening job" on your frame. The pic doesn't show much except that somebody did a pretty rough looking job of modifying it. I mean you got to admit, it does look pretty rough, amigo
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Old 10-08-2012, 04:10 AM   #52
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Ok, I think you guys are right.
At least, I'll start by asking a quote and see where it goes.
Like I said earlier in this thread I'm goin' to take the frame to a reputed frame shop here, I trust their work 100% but they are not used to work on vintage HD (nobody does where I live). So here's my other question, just in case
To repair such frame, where would you cut?
1&3 or 2&3 ?

or elsewhere?

Thanks again,

Vins
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:13 AM   #53
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

If I was doing the work I'd cut at 2 and 3, bend four new tubes, clean out the axle plates, slug the front joints, and weld in a jig. Most of the "widening" has been done on the right side of the frame, but it sure looks like the left side was pushed out as well. It was probably widened on the right to allow the wide tire, but still allow the rear sprocket to line up with the trans sprocket. I'd guess that with a fat tire it would have to run off-center to the right. It shouldn't be a difficult repair, sort of like hardtailing a frame, but you have a much better starting point!
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Old 10-08-2012, 11:30 AM   #54
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

You know it's hard to tell from the picture, but you might be able to save the left side. You'll have to measure and check to see if it can be coaxed back into shape. There might be a chance of saving more of the right side as well, but that big kinky offset on the bottom rail right behind the trans mount has got to go. It will end up being a decision between you and the trusted frame man. There are drawings floating around the web with the dimensions you'll need for checking and setup, just make sure you get one with original factory dimensions on it. If your frame man has HD experience he will (should) know.
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Last edited by old.wrench; 10-08-2012 at 11:35 AM. Reason: add a little
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Old 10-08-2012, 04:29 PM   #55
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Default Re: HD Frame Year Identification

Yes, I start to wonder if the left have been touched....

Here comes another question...
For this future build I plan to use a midstar hub and a juice drum, so I wonder if I should put it back to stock or, when I'm at it put it to the same as the round swingarm I have on my gen shovel at the moment...
That is 8"3/4 between axle plates for the '48 with mechanical drum and 9"1/8 for the set up I have on the swing arm (mid star hub/juice drum)...
What should I do best?
If I go back to 8"3/4 will I have issues to fit the juice drum/mid star set up?
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