Harley Bobber

October 10, 2012

AMCA Southern Coalition National Road Run

Day 1

A large storm system that had brought days of rain was just working it’s way out of central North Carolina as I pushed my 1964 Panhead outside to begin my ride to Maggie Valley.  I planned to meet up with another rider at 7:00 AM, down in Pittsboro, about a 45 minute ride from my house.  The roads were still wet as I made my way toward the old courthouse located downtown.  Within a few minutes, Steve showed up on his 1947 Knucklehead and we were headed for the highway.

Early morning departure from Pittsboro, NC

Early morning departure from Pittsboro, NC

The plan was to ride secondary highways all the way to Maggie Valley, about 250 miles total.  We stuck to the plan for the first 100 miles of the ride, which took us through a few small towns separated by rolling hills and green fields.  At our first gas stop we checked the map and realized that we could save some time if we got on the interstate.  We figured traffic would be light, so we could just cruise at 55 mph without interfering with the flow of cars.

As we expected, there weren’t many cars on the road and the miles passed by easily.  That is until Steve’s bike started to backfire and cut off.  We rolled over onto the shoulder and began troubleshooting his Knucklehead.  Turns out that his points had broken and he did not have a spare set on hand.  It took about an hour and a little ingenuity, but we were able to repair the points and get back on the road.  If your curious, here’s how we did it:  Click Here

Roadside repairs

Roadside repairs

With Steve’s bike back in running condition, we rode the last 75 miles to Maggie Valley.  The headquarters for the road run just happened to be at the Wheels Through Time museum, which was the perfect choice for a group of about 150 vintage bike enthusiasts.  Dale and Matt Walksler were great hosts as always and even allowed us to pitch our tents on the museum grounds.  After getting our run packet which consisted of daily route maps, a pin, a license plate medallion, a t-shirt and a name tag, we unpacked the bikes and started setting up camp.

Camping at Wheels Through Time

Camping at Wheels Through Time

Once the tents were in place, it was time to hit the parking lot and start checking out the other bikes.

Parking lot at Wheels Through Time

Parking lot at Wheels Through Time

Dinner was served under the white tent around 7:00 and soon after most folks started heading back to their hotels.  Dale kept the museum open until 9:00 which gave us something to do besides sitting in the tents.  Then it began to rain…

Day 2

The second day was a complete wash out.  Twenty-four hours of steady rain.  No one seemed to mind as we were able to spend a solid 8 hours going through the museum.  I’ve been to Wheels Through Time on several occasions,  but this was the first chance I really had to take it all in.  There are so many bikes, parts, memorabilia and other things that it can cause a bit of sensory overload.  When you really can take your time, you start noticing unusual things, like a Knucklehead with homemade rear suspension or a Flathead with tankshifters on both tanks.  Odd bits sitting on shelves or hanging from the rafters catch your eye and require closer inspection.  I honestly cannot think of a better place to spend a rainy day.

A variety of flatheads on display

A variety of flatheads on display

Hillclimbing exhibit

Hillclimbing exhibit

A fire was built in the outdoor shelter and the evening was spent talking about bikes and telling lies.  A couple of guys from Australia were also camping at the museum and I enjoyed hearing about their adventures in the US.  Turns out they were on a 6 month long motorcycle trip across the country.  Talk about a vacation!  Around midnight, I finally slogged back to the tent to try and get some sleep.

Day 3

We had pitched our tents next to a small stream that ran around the edge of the museum’s grounds.  Initially it had seemed like a good idea to set up next to the stream, it made for a very peaceful location with the water gentle running through the rocks.  This all changed after an entire day of rain, soon the stream had turned into a minature raging river.  Between the sounds of the rain on the tents, the wind whipping the tarp and the water crashing on the rocks, I was up half the night keeping an eye on the water level.  By morning, the water had not risen past it’s banks, but it was really ripping past our campsite.

Rapids at the campsite

Rapids at the campsite

Finally around noon the rain started clearing out and we prepared for our first group ride.  Plans were altered slightly and we chose to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Mt Pisgah.  The roads were still a little wet, with water running across them in some places and plenty of wet leaves, but it was great to finally get on the bike.  We made one stop at the highest point on the Parkway, before continuing on to Mt Pisgah.

Parking lot at Mt Pisgah

Parking lot at Mt Pisgah

Returning back to Wheels Through Time, another dinner was being prepared and everyone was glad to have a warm meal after a cool ride in the mountains.  The route for the following day was close to 250 miles of mountain roads, so most folks headed back to the hotels early to get some rest.

Day 4

The last day of the run actually started out with something I hadn’t seen all week, warm air and sunny skies.  People arrived early at the museum to get a start on the long ride and to make sure that they were in front of the chase truck.

Preparing for the ride on day 4

Preparing for the ride on day 4

The route for the day was supposed to take us over the Cherohala Skyway, then loop around to the Dragon and back to Maggie Valley.  Of course there were a couple wrong turns added, which kept us from completing the planned ride, but we still logged over 200 miles and had a good time.

Dinner for the last night was BBQ sandwiches, followed by an awards banquet.  Plaques were given out for the oldest and youngest riders, longest distance traveled, etc.  Once the banquet was over, people headed out to start packing up bikes and trailers for the return trip home.  The next morning I did the same, finally getting on the road by 9:00 AM.  Steve and I had an uneventful ride back to central NC and I was home by mid afternoon.

This was my first AMCA road run and I hope to attend more in the future.  If you like riding old bikes or even just looking at them, then an AMCA road run would be worth considering.  You have to be an AMCA member to attend, but that’s it.  They are already scheduling runs for next year, so check out their website for more information.

I posted some additional pictures of individual bikes here:  Click Here

Filed under Events, Panhead Jim's Blog by PanheadJim

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June 11, 2011

Classic Harley Panhead Speedometer Options

Harley bobber motorcycles seem to be coming back with a passion these days. And why not? They look great are fun to ride and don’t take as much time or cost as restoring a correct classic Harley. And money is tight these days, so saving is OK. More than a decade ago I originally built my 1949 Harley dual carb bobber mostly with genuine Harley parts I scored at swapmeets and occasionally on ebay, which was still fairly new back then.

Real Harley frame and front end, real Harley Panhead engine and 3 speed transmission, real Harley seat and post, tin and era correct Linkert carbs. A couple of items just didn’t look or work the way I wanted and knew I had to correct them.

Today I swapped out the aftermarket speedometer from a different era for one I bought on ebay. Now I have to admit that it looks like the real deal with correct colors, marking and needle but it is not genuine Harley.

My "new" 1949 and later Panhead speedometer

It is a very nice fake. Based on a new aftermarket speedometer, the guy I bought it from carefully took it apart and replaced all the parts you can see when it is mounted. Different face, different needle, different glass with numbers and bar & shield on them. I suspect if I had not told you this was a repop you might not be able to tell. The only thing to give it away – I believe – is the two small screws on either side of the needle pin.

Why, do you ask, did I install a repop speedometer on this otherwise mostly all Harley bobber? Because I am not comfortable spending over $1100 for a real one on ebay. I bought this one for less than $300 and it should serve me fine until I find a real one more in my price range.

Wrong looking speedometer (black and white) and correct looking (blue) one for my Panhead.

Of course, if anyone has a good deal on a decent, complete and working real 1949 Harley Panhead speedometer, please let me know.

Next I have to sort out the seat post issue, which has always been too soft for my, ahem, heft. I bought a new set of springs that can be mixed and matched to fit various needs. Hope to get to that next. 

We are planning on running a complete feature on this bike in the pages of American Iron Magazine in a few months. And, if I can get it fully sorted out, I plan on riding this bike on the Motorcycle Kickstart Classic from Wheels Through Time museum in October.

Filed under Buzz Kanter Classic Motorcycle Blog, Random Ideas by Buzz Kanter

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May 9, 2011

My Dual Linkert Carb Classic Harley Panhead Bobber

The term motorcycle bobber is thrown around these days by a lot of people who have no idea what it really means or even that many of the originals were referred to as bob-jobs back in the day.

About 10 years ago I go the idea to build my own Harley bobber with mostly real Harley parts from the same era. I started collectig part at swapmeets and bike shows with a fair idea of what I wanted. Rigid frame, sprung solo saddle, suicide clutch (no, there is no such thing a a suicide shift – at least not as fas as I have ever heard), jocky shift, unusual exhaust, and dual Linkert carbs – side by side on the left side of the engine.

1949 Harley Panhead bobber motorcycle - what a classic!

Well, many years and several variations here is what it looks like now. We followed the original build of this in American Iron Magazine and will probably redo it to show the progress today.

Modified Superior shotgun exhaust pipes

It originally had red rims and oil tank, red grips and white wall tires.

Matched dual Linkert carburetors on modified Panhead heads and bracket.

More story and photos to follow soon.

Filed under Buzz Kanter Classic Motorcycle Blog, Custom Motorcycles, Random Ideas by Buzz Kanter

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