Back in my youth during the 70ís I was always on the lookout for old bikes to buy, fix and resell.
Some of them I chopped and it was a great time to build choppers. Lots of cool parts were available.
Most of the vendors of that time are no longer in business, but some of the stuff they made is around
even today on classic old choppers that you see every once in a while.
I have always had an appreciation for old Harleys in almost any trim and that brings me to the story
of this 1951 FL. Sometime in the 70ís or early 80ís I bought a real nice 51 basket case. It was
pretty much all there and stock. All I need to tell you from there is that it ended up a chopper and
this bike is not that bike. For some reason the memory of that bike stuck with me. Three years ago
a friend of mine who buys and restores knuckleheads approached me with a bike I might want to buy.
He new I liked Pans and I donít believe he knew about my connection to 51 Pans. So, I figured what
the hell, its worth taking a look at, right?
Of all the things I thought I might see when I looked at this 51, I was not prepared for how I
would feel. Not only was it all there, it was a one owner start it up go down the road Panhead!
Anyone who has tried to find something like this knows how rare it is. The old dude had used it,
there was no question about that, but he had taken good care of it too. I had to have it. I rode it
the first year just as I got it. I was having such a good time riding tank shift again, that I
decided a little in-depth fixing was in order. This time I wanted to do it all stock, a restoration
back to the way it left Harley-Davidson over 50 years ago.
The 51 Pan you see is an Utility Solo trim. The black fork is correct and is also the first
adjustable fork made by Harley for the Hydra-Glides. It has two bolts to secure it instead of one
through bolt (I even found the correct NOS lock tabs for it). The motor went to Ken Presson for a
riding restoration rebuild (the stock cylinders were only bored 10 over!). The paint is Persian Red,
a stock color for 51 and was applied by Kelly Hanson. Exclusive Metal Finishing did the metal
plating and polishing. Mark (a good frined of mine) did the Cad plating and Parkerizing. I did all
of the assembly work and put over 3,600 trouble free miles on it last year.
It was a beautiful bike to restore because it was stock and all there, athough to be accurate it
takes a lot of research to get all the finishes right, all the bolts facing the right direction,
and the correct bolt for the application. I reused most of the original hardware and found some
NOS for the stuff that was bad. The list of non-Harley parts is short. I documented everything when
I took it apart for reassembly. The list of things I knew was a lot shorter than what I learned,
and worth every minute of time spent.
Life truly is a circle. I spent my youth chopping Harleys, and now I plan on spending whatís left
restoring them. Who knew?
Part of our service at Wisconsin Harley-Davidson is restoration and repair of old iron. We completed
a 48 Pan to the same standards and are currently working on a 53 Pan. We do riding restorations;
exact as we can make them and exactly the way they were made to be ridden. Jerry King is in charge
of restoration parts, accessories and sales, and Fred Borchardt repairs and assembles the old rides.
Both ride old iron, Jerry a 47 Knuckle and Fred a 46 UL.
I absolutely love riding the new Harleys. They are truly some of the best motorcycles ever made.
Whatís not to like about a twin cam motor? However, there is something special about the old stuff,
and specifically in stock trim. What can I say? Iím hooked on both!
Stop in and see us. We may have the bike of your dreams in stock and waiting for you, or maybe you
need some help finding a part. Whatever it is, new or old we can help.
1225 Robruck Dr.
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
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