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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
What is the difference between an Alien tank, an Alien "axed" tank and an "Alien Axe" tank?

thx

I know it is called an Alien tank because it looks like an Alien's head and the gas cap is like it's eyes. It could have 2 gas caps, or 1.
 

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Unless i missed something important, up until fairly recently they were called "Mustang" tanks. Axed tanks were two fatbobs cut down the center and rewelded together. Do you have any pictures of an "Alien Axe" ? I think im seeing another name change in progress :confused:
 

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the alien tank is long and squat while the axed tank is more roundish as if you cut a tank in half then removed some of the middle section and welded it back together. There are plenty of views of both styles on the Lowbrow site.
 

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Alien tanks and axed tanks are the same thing, cut up fat bobs, skinnied up and welded together. The originals from the 70's have a slightly raised ridge down the center, and usually have either Paughco or GME stamped on the tabs and hold 1.8 gallons. The repops have no ridge down the center and have a slightly larger capacity. The axed/alien tanks are just as tall as they are wide. The mustang tanks were never as tall as the axed tanks and were a little wider so they had a flatter look to them.
 

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axed was the term used in the early sixties to describe two harley tank halves narrowed and welded together. The custom painter Dean Lanza was the go to guy for axed tanks in Los Angeles.
To me to be axed it has to have been a factory harley part first.
Otherwise we are going down the road of the tight bobber, attack chopper, "peanut" sportster tank etc rewrite of history further and further.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Ok so the alien tank comes already made and and an axed one is one that has been welded from 2 halves- It is very similar to the Mustang tank but just a little more tapered at the base to give it that alien face look. Thanks and here is the lowbrow link:

http://www.lowbrowcustoms.com/index.php?l=search_list&s[match]=all&s[search]=alien+tank&s[title]=Y&s[short_desc]=Y&s[full_desc]=Y&s[cid]=0&s[subcats]=Y&s[mid]=0&s[sku]=&s[price_from]=&s[price_to]=&s[weight_from]=&s[weight_to]=
 

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Ok so the alien tank comes already made and and an axed one is one that has been welded from 2 halves- It is very similar to the Mustang tank but just a little more tapered at the base to give it that alien face look. Thanks and here is the lowbrow link:

http://www.lowbrowcustoms.com/index.php?l=search_list&s[match]=all&s[search]=alien+tank&s[title]=Y&s[short_desc]=Y&s[full_desc]=Y&s[cid]=0&s[subcats]=Y&s[mid]=0&s[sku]=&s[price_from]=&s[price_to]=&s[weight_from]=&s[weight_to]=
no theyre basically the same thing
the ones from lowbrow seem to be that the aliens are a little narrower and longer and shallower
the axed ones seem to be a little wider and more egg shaped

the previous posts were just saying that it used to be the thing to take some split tanks and cut them in half and weld them together
they used to call this an "axed" tank
 

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Let me try.

Back in the day before there were catalogs full of aftermarket parts, if a guy wanted a smaller, lighter gas tank there were fewer options. There were tanks from another bike, and the Wasssell peanut and banana tanks seem to have been around for a long time. Or, he could make one out of the fatbobs he already had. He'd cut them down, narrow them, and weld them back together. This is the original and "true" axed Harley tank.

Later on, I think Paughco started making them first, out of new stampings. They were available in a couple tunnel depths, and with 1 or 2 caps. On the Paughco, the optional left cap was a dummy. The Paughco has a peak where the halves are welded together. Paughco called these "Axed Harley" in their catalogs. GME was an imported copy of the Paughco, and the one I had didn't have the peak at the seam.

The ones that Lowbrow sells are pretty much the same tank. The "alien" name is from the 21st century. It's just different names that people call the same thing. Some things in motorcycling have definite definitions, like "Panhead." Other names, like "Chopper," aren't as rigidly defined.

And a Mustang tank, BTW, is a copy of the tank from a Mustang motorcycle.
 

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I wish this thread was around about a year ago. I sold a guy an alien tank, he ran it for awhile, then decieded to sell it. When he posted it for sale a bunch of guys chimed in and told him it wasn't an alien tank, then I kinda got dragged into the debate of the mustang, axed, or alien.

Seems like this sheds some light onto things


Sixball
 

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Here is a picture of Dick Hirschberg's Panhead as featured in Hot Rod magazine in 1960. The tanks were done by Dean Lanza.
This is about 15 years before the image of the "Grey" alien and it's tank looking face entered popular culture.



.
 

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Ok, here's the original "axed Harley" tank that Paughco had in their catalogs from '70-'72, which is where I pulled this image from. Note that the tank has the definite narrow shape of two 3 1/2 gal. tank halves welded together (similar to Hirsch's tanks above), and the center has a pretty pronounced ridge down the center.



Now, this is from the Jammer catalog, Vol. II, from 1973. The "axed Harley" tanks are A. and B. Notice that the shape has changed, it's more egg-shaped now, and the ridge down the center is still there, but not as pronounced as Paughco's '70-'72 tanks were. You can also see that the narrow Mustang tanks (E., and F.) that Paughco made definately aren't the same shape as the axed Harley tanks at all.



The axed Harley tanks that Paughco sells in their catalog today is just a higher and more rounded version of their Mustang tanks. They don't look like either one of the first two axed Harley tanks they made.
 

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Great post Irish Rich. Aside from the tank history it shows how expensive these tanks -or aftermarket anything- were compared to a man's income back then.
 

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......it shows how expensive these tanks -or aftermarket anything- were compared to a man's incomes back then.
Well, yeah, it's all relative. people always look at old ads and catalogs, and say "Man, I wish this was back then now, look how cheap those parts were". Well they weren't. Minimum wage in 1970 was $1.50 . That Paughco #802 tank was a week's menial job's takehome wages.

And, I don't think that it's a coincidence that Ronnie Paugh and Dean Lanza were good friends, do you? And, another friend of Ronnie's - Don Orr - gave him one of his NOS Mustang tanks to prototype the dies from, to repop the Paughco tanks.
 

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If Ronnie Paugh wouldn't have been into bikes this whole thing would have been very different. Long before Paughco bike parts he helped a lot of guys build their chopper parts to sell. D&D comes to mind.
He is like the Carroll Shelby of custom bike parts:)
 

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I don't know what month it was, but somewhere on the board someone (Irish Rich, I think) posted the complete article and an article about his swingarm bike.
 
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