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Thread: Project for the un-initiated novice and son...??

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    England
    Posts
    1,325

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    Two cents worth of opinion coming up, so no hate mail please. Well, you said an American bike at the start so are turning your back on any number of inexpensive Japanese bikes that could be everyday transport. You could even buy one each. On American bikes, the country is full of $3000 ironhead Sportsters which is a lot of bike for the money, well documented, good spares, but unsuitable as a sidecar bike. On the older bikes, Shovelheads are out of favour and running bikes can still be found for sensible money, say under $10,000. Panheads are heavy and I find the kicker models hard to start. Knuckles are out of sight for cost, and the ULs are seen as knucks with the wrong motor, so good original bikes are being sacrificed by people chasing the money. The wartime 45s are getting pricey because we all like a WW2 relic, but they were made in smaller numbers later in the forties and early fifties, so you might find one of those. They will pull a light single person sidecar if needed. Later 1920s J/F models are still out there in decent numbers, and look very antiquey with the i-o-e engine, but I find them hard to restore. For the 1930s the Big Twin flathead VL is my speciality and customers have bought decent running bikes for $15,000. 1930 is the most produced year, and you may find a runner or a restorable basket case/bobber for much less. The early 45s were made in some quantity 1929-31, but these have issues with the vertical generator and the transmission, and would struggle with a sidecar. 1932-40 R and W small twins models would be an option if you find a good one. Indians have a keen following and post war Chiefs are getting affordable again. The wartime 500 cc sidevalves are many people's first American bike, but a 500 pound machine with a small detuned motor is short on performance. My view is that the engineering on Harleys is better than Indians, and a basket case could turn into a money pit. Keep doing the research and look at a lot of bikes locally, in the metal rather than eBay photos. Come to AMCA Meets and talk to the guys. We have the Florida Meet as a warm break, and Oley is an outstanding Meet closer to home. Good engine numbers and a title will always be important factors in a purchase. Good luck, and let's keep having fun with old bikes.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

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    Many thanks Steve Slocombe. I very much appreciate your experience and input. It's been tough to find anyone locally with any antique motorcycles, but if I expanded my search area... say 90 mile radius... I'd assume that this will provide some leads...
    Great advice and many thanks for your time to help further educate myself & son...
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Central Illinois, USA
    Posts
    4,343

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    Welcome Willam and Will!

    Do you have any shop equipment at all?

    Tools that make other tools?

    You will need them if you go American-made...

    ....Cotten
    PS: I miss my 450 Honda and Suzuki 380 so bad...
    AMCA #776
    Dumpster Diver's Motto: Seek,... and Ye Shall Find!

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

    Unhappy

    Quote Originally Posted by T. Cotten View Post
    Welcome Willam and Will!

    Do you have any shop equipment at all?

    Tools that make other tools?

    You will need them if you go American-made...



    ....Cotten
    PS: I miss my 450 Honda and Suzuki 380 so bad...

    T. Cotton,
    No, we sure dont. Just run of the mill tools...no tools to make additional tools.
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    West Coast Florida
    Posts
    185

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    Pleanty of good advise all around Will
    I think Steve hit it on the head with his comment regarding the AMCA Swap Meets though
    You don't mention where your located but the Meets are where you can see the largest amount of motorcycles with one journey
    Plus there's always something available for sale
    Patience and educating yourself is the key to making a good purchase
    Good Luck!

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Oak View, CA.
    Posts
    65

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    Mr. Covington- I lived in Clarksville, Tenn. back in '68, during my enlistment in the US Army.
    Here's my take... Almost any reliable runner, that is, a complete running bike, dependable yet not all stock or correct, a good starting place might be around $7-10K, depending on year and model. With things like valve jobs/ pistons, trans rebuilds, wheel hub/bearing rebuilds, carb improvements, etc. you could easily add another $2-5+ thousand dollars, depending on your budget. You could find a bike thats already been through the "works" from a previous owner, but you wouldn't have the experience or knowledge of doing all that work yourself. (or with your son).

    Add a sidecar, and tack on another $3-5K. A sidecar is a bit of a novelty, I've built and rode one. Long term use with a sidecar is extremely taxing on a M/C for practical use, and will wear out your bike in short order. They are alot of fun, however !!

    All in all, you could be looking at an investment of close to $20K+ for something really nice.
    My recommendation would be find a low mileage, fairly stock panhead, or early shovelhead, '50-'68, pre-AMF Harley. A full dresser, not a chopper or bobber. An estate sale, or an auction. E-Bay as a last resort effort.
    Be patient and selective in your efforts. Don't settle on something cheap. (cheap=needs work, in most cases). '58-'65 FL's are readily available, beware of high mileage bikes (unless documented engine/trans work). You'll find the old saying... 'you get what you pay for'... is a fair statement.

    Remember this... the antique community isn't at all like the modern biker lifestyle. Its much more addicting, and certainly more financially demanding. But, once you've been bit, its hard to get the hook out of your mouth. yes, its a lifestyle that could take a lifetime.
    Good Luck, C2K

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Central Illinois, USA
    Posts
    4,343

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by WmC1911 View Post
    T. Cotton,
    No, we sure dont. Just run of the mill tools...no tools to make additional tools.
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521
    "Run of the mill" would be great, William!

    It took a lot to run a mill.

    Otherwise, not only will you miss out on most of the fun,

    You will pay a lot for a lot of tools you will only use once.

    ....Cotten
    AMCA #776
    Dumpster Diver's Motto: Seek,... and Ye Shall Find!

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Posts
    154

    Default

    Hi William,

    I see you live in Western KY. I live around (not in) Champaign, IL. Depending on where you live, it is likely a +4 hour drive to Central Illinois. If you want to take a rode trip with your son one day I'd be pleased to host you both for a tour of the local antique motorcycle community. With-in a half hour's drive of my house you could get a look and over 30 neat old bikes including Harley J, V, U, W, E & F (Knuckleheads, Panheads and Shovelheads), Indian Chiefs and Scouts, British Triumphs and Ariels, Italian MotoGuzzi and others. This may help you narrow your search.

    You'd be welcome to spend the night as doing it in one day would be tough. FYI - We're all affiliated with the OVC Chapter of the AMCA. If you'd like to contact me via email my address is slammer.indian47@gmail.com.

    Steve Slaminko

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    700

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    If you have all the time in the world a JD or VL bare bones basketcase can be a nice affordable starting point.
    But at 12 years old your son will probably be heading off to College before you ever finish the project.
    Especially if you live out in the middle of nowhere. That is unless your 90 year old next door neighbor has a barn full of old flathead stuff he will sell you at scrap metal prices and he has a machine shop and the time to educate you on everything you need to know......... Don't get me wrong, JD's and VL's (forget 45's if you want a sidecar) are probably the best affordable buy for the money today WHEN it come to vintage H-D's. EXCEPT maybe for early 50's Panheads. At our last 2019 chopper style swap meet there was a 48 Pan for sale for 9 grand. It was (I hesitate to say "restored") black and shiny new chrome built using a repop frame with aftermarket cases. the springer was real but chrome and the fenders were old repop but pretty nice. Tanks were repop along with most everything else but it had a real trans, hollywood bars, crashbars and later police style solo seat. I think it could have been bought at the end of the day for 7500 bucks and that is probably what it is worth in parts. Buy it, ride it, then look for a set of 48 cases and sell the repop bottom end to a chopper guy to offset costs. Nice entry lever bike for less than 10K. Look for a set of tanks etc etc and improve on the bike while enjoying it. If you want something for AMCA Judging and that whole scenario triple the 7500 and plan on 2-3 years before you ever get it running. JUST MY OPINION, 46EL
    Last edited by 46EL; 11-11-2019 at 07:45 PM.

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    98

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    My partner in crime and I started a thread for exactly this type of question:

    http://www.antiquemotorcycle.org/bbo...dson-Sportster


    We are working our way through an ironhead sportster, but we designed the "series" for guys asking questions like you. We started at the beginning with how to come up with a project, where to find it, etc. Even though we are working on a harley, the same principles we talk about can be applied to many makes and models.

    Similarly, while I'm going to the deeper end of the pool with the motor -- most of what we are doing doesn't require such a thing and very few special tools are needed. When they are needed, there are specialists readily available for less than you think, who will do the work if you just box up and ship them the parts. For example, Truett and Osborn can knock out full crank rebuilds for very little.


    In terms of chapters -- they can be all over the place. My local chapter has had me on ignore for several years. I've called, emailed, tried contacting them through their website (which was still "invisible" as of last week). I pretty much try everytime one of the magazine articles gets me thinking I should be more active. My local chapter seems to think otherwise. At this stage, I figure after I tried 5 or 6 times over a few years that they could offer me a free lifetime chapter membership tomorrow and I'd tell them to stuff it. I shouldn't have to work this darn hard to even get someone to talk to me about the chapter -- let alone help me determine whether I want to join it (and whether they would want me as a member).

    Meanwhile -- 100 miles north of me is one of the more active Chapters in the AMCA. I see those dudes, proudly wearing their Chapter shirts, at all sorts events across the midwest. Makes me jealous I'm too far away to attend meetings, etc. 200+ miles round trip for a meeting is just a bit too far.

    My friends in other chapters remark how much they love their local meetings and club rides. Makes me jealous, but I also haven't gone out of my way to collect 7 or 8 AMCA friends in my area and take the time to start my own sub-chapter/chapter. So, my "complaint" is a very soft one and only meant to help you understand that sometimes the "national" message isn't the same as what you'll experience at the "local" level and vice versa. We are still a small, big club.

    Point is, hang in there. I got to know most of my AMCA friends through attending swap meets over several years and through forums like this one. It takes time -- like all adult relationships.

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