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Thread: PJ's garage-found 52 FL - getting it back on the road.

  1. PJ's garage-found 52 FL - getting it back on the road.

    I've introduced myself in the intro section - I'm hoping there are greybeards who hang out here and will chime in to help me avoid mistakes, fix them when I make them, and answer a raft of "newby" questions.

    Here's the bike I found in my neighbor's garage. It was last registered in 2001 - that's the last time the widow-lady's husband rode it, before he died. It's been sitting in a Florida garage, under a sheet, ever since.

    I don't plan (for now) to restore it. My main goals are to:
    • get it back on the road, as is/with minimal investment
    • learn a lot about old iron
    • get my fingernails dirty

    Eventually (once I ride it enough to know what I want to change) I'll swap out some stuff, but I'll likely keep all the bits that remain original that way.

    Because every man ought to have a dream, once I know the bike and it's running reliably, I plan a run up the Blue Ridge Parkway, just because I've never been there on a bike.

  2. PO's tool kit

    When I got the bike, I got "everything on the bike" and a couple of other random parts.

    In the sissy bar bag were 4 heavily rusted spark plugs and two complete sets of points.

    The handlebar bag is actually a toolkit - seriously heavy leather, well-weathered, with everything the previous owner needed (or thought he needed) to get/keep the bike on the road. I'm going to add a handful of baling wire and a spool of electrical tape .... but the rest of the tools will stay as is.

    I'll probably relocate the tool kit to above the headlight so it doesn't beat on the fender when I hit some of Florida's legendary pot holes.

  3. Pre-cleaning walkaround LOTS of pictures!

    Some of these photos will pop back up in later posts, but here's a collection of photos I took before I started cleaning the bike.
    AY comments or observations about the condition or "originality" of the bits shown is welcome - but for the love of all that's holy, please don't "Reply with Quote" unless you're willing to cut out the photos that you're not commenting on? Please?

    I have Palmer's books, but I haven't completely figured out how to use them as reference. I do like his writing style, though.

    If you want to see all the photos in one spot, you can visit the imgur album.

    As it sat in the garage:

    Triple trees are rough, but my mechanic (who's been working on Harleys since 1971, and is a heck of great guy) says they're original. The handlebars, not so much.

    A rarity: the original brake and forks, intact. Also possibly the original wheel?

    There's no wobble in the bearings - but the thing is filthy.

    The cloth-covered wiring is ... still cloth-covered. No idea yet whether it's intact or operational.

    High-tech (and not original) cable guides. Also, a good view of the fender paint. Turns out the widow knows the guy who did the paint, and I might be able to get him to do some touch--ups.

    I believe this means it's a 12-volt conversion?

    I think the important bits at this end are here .... but the replacement handlebars don't have the timing advance cable, so I'm not sure how I'll rig this up.

    This number is stamped on the frame, lower right side, outside. It's 48E-761

    It looks to me like all the fins on both jugs are intact and un-welded - another rarity!

  4. Even more pictures

    It's an S&S B carb, and the whole thing is nasty inside (for now). It also has the coveted "wood scrap" mod reinforcing the throttle perch.

    The lower case looks in pretty good shape. Not sure about the oil pressure gauge. The front exhaust pipe gets pretty pinched/narrow under the engine, too.

    I think the oil tank, kicker, and oil lines are all original. The kicker doesn't have a screw on the outside going into the shaft - I haven't looked in Palmer's to see what that means.

    It clearly wasn't cleaned before being "put up." My favorite comment from when my mechanic was checking it out: "Don't clean it up too much - neither of us is young enough to get a bike this dirty again."

    Blue dot tombstone taillight - my favorite!

    Nice upswept fishtails - not usually my cup of tea, but on this bike, they just fit right.

    Yeah, that chain - and the spokes - need some serious love before I trust my life to it.

    My mech thinks the bike originally had the hand clutch/foot shift, and that some previous owner rigged up this jockey shift and foot clutch.

    12v generator? No mousetrap. And possibly the ugliest clutch pedal in history.

    More fins - and it's tough to see, but the paint around the petcock is trashed.

  5. Bars and grips (back to preview images)

    One of the things I love about the old bikes is the clean, unencumbered handlebars. I like my front brakes, but I completely understand the guys who take them off for a cleaner look. I'd love to find some of the original bars, with the internal throttle and advance controls.

    Whatever I do, these grips, mirror, and likely the brake lever and perch will be among the first things to go.

  6. Speedo - what to do?

    I'm pretty sure this isn't stock, and there's no way it's accurate miles. And there's no trip odometer knob. other than that ... we'll see if it works.

    cool sticker, though.

  7. Inside the jugs

    So one of the toys I've wanted for a while is a boroscope. There are lots of times I'd like to see inside something - who wouldn't?

    So here are some photos of inside the jugs, from the spark plug hole.
    Here's what I think:
    The pistons are surprisingly clean , and there's very little rust (relatively) on the sleeves. I can even still see the remnants of the spirals, which I think is good.

    The compression is pretty good - my 200-pound mechanic can stand on the kicker without it turning over - but it spins pretty good when you want it to.

  8. #8

    Re: PJ's garage-found 52 FL - getting it back on the road.

    I'd hit the "LIKE" button if I could find one! Nice bike, nice report.
    1946 Chief - take apart and put back together
    101 Scout - building stage

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Sarasota, Florida

    Re: PJ's garage-found 52 FL - getting it back on the road.

    One super rare item on your bike is the un-cut frame. Hard to find them like that.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Beautiful Northern NM

    Re: PJ's garage-found 52 FL - getting it back on the road.

    The cam cover is the correct late '52 4 fin. Lots of good original stuff on that bike!!
    Friends help friends move,
    Real friends help friends move bodies!

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