harley motorcycle

June 3, 2012

Motorcycle Kickstart Classic 2012

Have Panhead Will Travel

Words to live by

As soon as the 2012 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic was announced, I started prepping my 1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide for the trip.  The to-do list included replacing the wiring harness, generator, fuel valve and rear brake shoes, along with the usual trip preparations like changing the oil, transimission lube, etc.  I planned to have everything completed by April, but before I knew it, April had turned into May and the trip was a week away.  With no time to spare, I worked passed midnight for a solid week to get the bike finished just in time for the ride.

Day 1

On the first day of the trip, I awoke to the sound of heavy rain.  Fearing the worst, I checked the weather and was relieved to see that the storm was moving quickly across North Carolina.  By 9:00 the rain had cleared and I had my panhead sitting in the driveway, packed and ready.  Soon after, my buddy Tim arrived to pilot my 1972 BMW R75/5 and by 10:00 we were heading down the highway, destination Maggie Valley and Wheels Through Time.

The ride to Maggie Valley was thankfully uneventful, especially considering the ordeal I went through during last year’s rally.  The bikes ran great the entire trip and we cruised down I-40 at a comfortable 65-70 mph.  I did suffer a loose screw on my windshield bag, but otherwise there were no issues during the 250 mile ride.  It felt great to pull into Wheels Through Time and be able to relax instead of having to immediately start troubleshooting problems with the bike.

By 4:00, the parking lot at Wheels Through Time was already filled with Classic American Iron.

Knucklehead, Panhead and a BMW

Nice knucklehead parked next to my panhead and BMW /5

Panheads and a Shovelhead

A couple of panheads and a shovelhead

Knucklehead and Triumph

A knucklehead parked in front of a Triumph Bonneville

Panhead and a Flathead

A pair of red bikes, one panhead and one flathead

There were quite a few familiar faces from last years rally, was as a few new ones.  Members representing multiple motorcycle clubs were in attendance, including the exclusive International Pansters Club.

Pansters Motorcycle Club

Pansters club member bike

Dale and Matt Walksler had the museum open to all the participants and everyone got to enjoy strolling through the classic bike exhibits.  Dinner was provided by the Holiday Diner and included Italian sausages, burgers, hot dogs and fresh fruit.

The museum remained open after dinner, but by dark, most of the riders had retreated to their hotels.  We stayed at the Holiday Motel and I took advantage of their well lit parking lot to make a couple final adjustments to my clutch.  I’m using a mousetrap set up and have never felt that I was getting the proper disengagement from my clutch.  For the first time I was able to compare the set up on several other Panheads and realized that my bike had the wrong clutch lever installed.  Turns out the shape of my incorrect clutch lever was limiting the amount of pull on the clutch cable.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast at the Holiday Diner of eggs, grits, toast and ham, it was back to Wheels Through Time to prepare for the ride.  About 60 classic bikes were staging in the parking lot when we arrived.  Among the riders were Bert Baker from Baker Drivetrain, famed drag racer Pete Hill, and Buzz Kanter from American Iron Magazine.  After a 9:30 riders meeting, everyone cranked up their bikes and we rolled out at 10:00.

Dale Walksler, Buzz Kanter and Bert Baker's bikes

Lined up for a photo, bikes belonging to Dale Walksler, Buzz Kanter and Bert Baker

Matt Walksler chose a route which took us over the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The Parkway has a maximum speed limit of 45 mph, which made for a nice comfortable ride for a group of vintage bikes.  Averaging about 30 miles between stops, the riders leisurely made their way over the mountains.

Matt Walksler's Flathead

Matt Walksler's flathead

Our first rest stop was at the highest point on the Parkway.  At 6053 feet above sea level, it was no surprise that more than a couple of bikes were starting to run too rich.

Highest Point on the Parkway

First rest stop of the day

We continued north on the Parkway for over 170 miles, finally turning east to head for North Wilkesboro.  Once off the Parkway, we were met with a police escort which led us to Crossroads Harley-Davidson.

Crossroads Harley-Davidson was ready for us when we arrived, providing dinner and music.  After everyone had their fill, Burt Baker was handed the mic and began announcing special riders awards, including the “dirty underpants award” which was given to two riders who did some unexpected offroad riding, but managed to bring their bikes back under control and back onto the road.

Party At Crossroads HD

Parking lot party at Crossroads HD

The awards were followed up by a round of transmission trivia, but soon everyone was cranking up and heading for their respective hotels.

Day 3

The route for the final day of the rally was an easy 90 miles down to the Southern AMCA meet in Denton, NC.  Even with a couple stops for pictures and fuel, we made it down to Denton in a couple of hours.  Arriving at the Denton Farm Park, we proceded around the outside of the park grounds, ending at our special parking area in the center of the park.  Once the bikes were parked, everyone headed off for food and to look for parts at the swap meet.

Reserved parking at Denton

Reserved parking at the Denton Farm Park

I had a fairly short list of needed parts and managed to find most of what I was looking for and for prices I was happy with.  I picked up a correct rear bumper, a saddlebag bracket and an original 1964 NC license plate.  Unfortunately the original clutch lever was no where to be found, but I’m sure one will turn up sooner or later.

By late afternoon it was time to load up my purchases and head for home.  Once again the Motorcycle Kickstart Classic was a great event with a bunch of great riders and bikes in attendance.  Can’t wait until the next ride is announced.



Filed under Events, Panhead Jim's Blog, Random Ideas by PanheadJim

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March 5, 2012

The Cure for the Classic Harley Leaky Fuel Valve

The fuel valve on my 1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide, tends to leak a little now and then.  It’s not a major problem, but I decided it would be a good idea to fix it before it dumps a couple gallons of fuel on my garage floor.  The original valve uses a metal tipped rod that is tightened down against the lower tank fitting to shut off the fuel.  This tip has to be carefully lapped so it seals perfectly with the brass insert inside the lower tank fitting.  Use and age slowly wear out the tip and brass insert until fuel can start seeping past the valve, even when it is tightened down.

If your not interested in learning the fine art of fuel valve lapping, then I suggest you do what I did and call up Carl’s Cycle Supply.  They have just released a new fuel valve that uses a tip made from Peek.  For those chemistry buffs, Peek, which is short for polyether ether ketone, is a semicrystalline thermoplastic with excellent mechanical and chemical resistance properties that are retained to high temperatures.  The bottomline is that this tip will seal better and last longer than the original without the need for periodic lapping.

New Fuel Valve

New fuel valve from Carl's Cycle Supply

The first step to installing the new fuel valve is to drain the fuel tanks.  An easy way to do this, if you don’t have a siphon, is to detach the fuel line down at the carburetor and add a length of rubber tubing to the end of the metal fuel line.  Then you simply route the rubber tubing to a gas can and open the fuel valve.  Make sure you pull the knob all the way up so that it is on reserve.  Once the fuel is drained, remove the crossover line where it connects to the right side tank.  At this point I went ahead and removed the tanks, but that is an optional step.  If you do plan to remove the tanks, it’s a good idea to loosen the lower tank fitting while the tank is attached, so you can get decent leverage on the fitting.

Lower Tank Fitting

You'll need a 1" wrench to remove the lower tank fitting

Now you can disassemble your old fuel valve.  Use a 1″ socket or wrench to remove the lower tank fitting.  Next unscrew the knob that operates the valve, at the top of the tank.  My bike has what seems to be an “accessory knob” which isn’t listed in the parts manual.  Once the “accessory knob” is unscrewed, you will be left with two knurled fittings.  If you don’t have the “accessory knob”, then you’ll just have a screw which holds the top knurled fitting to the fuel rod.  The top fitting is pressed onto the end of the fuel rod and should pop right off.  The lower fitting is screwed into the tank and may need some careful persuading with a pair of pliers to loosen.  With the lower knurled fitting out of the way, you can remove any springs, washers or seals that are on the fuel rod.

Fuel Knob

The knurled portion under the knob is a separate piece, the knob screws into the end of the rod

Once all the parts are removed from the top end of the fuel rod, it can be dropped out of the bottom of the tank through the hole left by the lower fuel fitting.  To install the new fuel valve,  just  reverse the above steps.  Take note, that there is a small length of threaded rod which screws into the end of the fuel rod and is used for attaching the “accessory knob”.  You’ll need to reuse this piece from your original fuel valve, along with the knob itself, but everything else will be replaced with the parts from Carl’s Cycle Supply, including all the necessary seals.  As an added precaution, I used a dab of loctite blue on the threaded rod.  I hate to loose that knob on the road!

Side By Side Comparison

The top valve is the original, the lower is the replacement from Carl's Cycle Supply


Before installing the new parts, I took a few minutes to compare the new and old fuel valve.  My original fuel rod tip, had plenty of wear as well as some pitting.  No wonder I was getting the occasional leak.  Besides the difference in tips, the two fuel valves are identical in construction.  Every hole, thread, etc, matches up perfectly to the original.


Comparison of tips

The tip on the left is the new peek tip, on the right is the original metal tip

After everything is reassembled, don’t forget to reattach the crossover line to the right side tank.  Then make sure all your fittings are snug and refill the tanks with fuel.  My last step was adding a genuine Carl’s Cycle Supply sticker to my oil bag…

Be A Man

This sticker says it all...


Filed under Classic Motorcycle Maintenance, Panhead Jim's Blog, Tech by PanheadJim

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November 7, 2011

DIY Harley Panhead Engine Breather Bypass

Engine breather bypass made from copper plumbing fittings

Engine breather bypass made from copper plumbing fittings

I recently decided to upgrade my 1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide Panhead primary from a chain drive to a belt drive.  This upgrade provides two major advantages over the stock chain drive, less vibration at higher speeds and less maintenance.  My main motivation was less vibration to make highway riding a bit more enjoyable.  The less maintenance is also a big plus because adjusting the chain drive is a long process.  If you haven’t adjusted a chain drive on a classic bike, it’s hard to imagine it is a big deal, but on these older bikes there is not a primary chain adjuster like on late model bikes.  Instead, you have to adjust the position of the transmission to adjust the primary chain.  After you finish adjusting your primary chain, then you have to readjust your clutch and rear chain.

On a stock bike, the primary chain is lubricated by engine oil that is sprayed into the primary by an engine breather.  To keep excess oil from building up in the primary, there is a drain at the bottom of the primary which allows the oil to drain out and down a tube onto the rear chain, thus lubricating it as well.  This is one of the reasons old bikes seem to be constantly leaking oil, but it’s actually not a leak it’s a self oiling chain system.

Since you cannot just block off the engine breather, I decided to reroute it around the new belt drive, using a variety of copper plumbing fittings that I picked up at the local hardware store.  If you know how to solder copper pipe, this is a very easy way to make a breather bypass.  If you’ve never soldered copper pipe, then I would suggest checking out some of the “Do It Yourself” type websites before starting this project.

To get started, you’ll want to pick up the following:

1′ length of 1/2″ ID copper pipe

two 1/2″ ID copper 90 degree elbows

two 1/2″ to 1/4″ ID copper reducers

6″length of 1/4″ ID copper pipe

2′ length of 1/4″ OD copper tubing

6″ length 1/2″ ID rubber hose

two hose clamps

Plus standard tools and materials for soldering copper pipe.

Now comes the fun part, getting all of this to fit inside your primary cover.  It took a lot of More on DIY Harley Panhead Engine Breather Bypass

Filed under Classic Motorcycle Maintenance, Engine & Transmission, Panhead Jim's Blog, Tech by PanheadJim

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