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

  1. #41
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    S.E.N.Y. State American side of Hudson River
    Posts
    485

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    William,
    I have seen a lot of great suggestions as to where to begin and which brand of motorcycle you would be best to begin with. Remember one thing. What you begin with will be what you end with as far as make of motorcycle. If you are set with having an American made motorcycle and want to have a fun bike, reasonable cost, etc. and NOT looking to have it judged, an already "civilianized" WWII 45 cubic inch WLA, RUNNING and RIDING bike would be my choice. It sounds like you are in a rural area so this bike, since it is not the most powerful bike out there, would be fine as far as keeping up with traffic, (Tractor hauling hay), hauling a sidecar. (45-55 MPH). They used them with sidecars all throughout WWII so they should work out fine for now.

    Since a civilianized 45 should have a reduced initial cost as it is already not a judging bike, this should be reflected in the initial cost. Make sure the VIN not only matches the title but is an unaltered factory stamping. This detail is VERY important. The first 2 books you purchase should be a parts book and a service manual. The parts book will show exploded views of all assemblies which will make it as simple as possible to repair or see if it is correctly put together. Service book will help you keep it running.

    Original parts or reproduction parts are readily available from numerous suppliers or at swap meets. These models are becoming more sought after as they are being used for events such as the "Race of Gentleman" and other race type events thru-out the country. Make friends with a person that is familiar with this marque as quickly as possible to help you find one. Hop on board quick as the prices are already climbing rapidly. I have found the best time to purchase any bike is right now. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the ideal time. People will get off that dusty space taker in the garage and use the money for the Holidays.

    Lastly is join a local chapter of the AMCA as there will be someone in that chapter that has, knows of a bike or will help you find one.

    Have fun on the hunt.

    DAB.
    Last edited by D.A.Bagin; 11-14-2019 at 09:49 AM.
    D. A. Bagin #3166 AKA Panheadzz 440 48chief W/sidecar 57fl 57flh 58fl 66m-50 68flh 70xlh

  2. #42
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    161

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    Quote Originally Posted by rwm View Post
    How many years have you been collecting these?
    I purchased my first one over 25 years ago and now have three. But I have had Harleys for closer to 50 years and still have three along with a Indian and pre unit Triumph.
    Jim D

  3. #43

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    My AJS 500 cost $200. My first 45 (basket case) came from Mel for $200. My first 1957 panhead cost $550. My 1969 NYC police bike cost $865. My 1966 Triumph Thunderbird 650 cost $995 - new.
    At my age/health I can't justify the huge expense, not to have a running bike, but to have that bike, you know, like McQueen had. When the price of something is not determined by its usefulness (you can't eat it, wear it, live in it, it can't make breakfast) but by how foolish the people who want the same bike (because hedge fund managers do) I walk away. When Prince Bandar wants it, that $80,000 1947 knucklehead will be $800,000.

    If I were to attempt this again, I would definitely get a 1968-70 Bonneville as the most fun for the least money. It's actually fast (unlike any H-D flathead... except KHK) and fun to ride, great brakes, good mileage, reasonable ride comfort. If restoration is important it will be $$$ (see previous reason), but a bitsa can be built from assorted years for $5,000 that only a Triumph owner knows is not "real".
    Even cheaper: a B.S.A. A10 650, much less money (because not used in a movie, Charley Sheen didn't have one on TV).

    I don't know your son, or many children his age, but some people I know tried the same thing (long term shared project that the child will grow into), and not one of them wants the car/bike/boat today - they want what Ironman used in the movie.

  4. #44
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

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    Quote Originally Posted by D.A.Bagin View Post
    William,
    I have seen a lot of great suggestions as to where to begin and which brand of motorcycle you would be best to begin with. Remember one thing. What you begin with will be what you end with as far as make of motorcycle. If you are set with having an American made motorcycle and want to have a fun bike, reasonable cost, etc. and NOT looking to have it judged, an already "civilianized" WWII 45 cubic inch WLA, RUNNING and RIDING bike would be my choice. It sounds like you are in a rural area so this bike, since it is not the most powerful bike out there, would be fine as far as keeping up with traffic, (Tractor hauling hay), hauling a sidecar. (45-55 MPH). They used them with sidecars all throughout WWII so they should work out fine for now.

    Since a civilianized 45 should have a reduced initial cost as it is already not a judging bike, this should be reflected in the initial cost. Make sure the VIN not only matches the title but is an unaltered factory stamping. This detail is VERY important. The first 2 books you purchase should be a parts book and a service manual. The parts book will show exploded views of all assemblies which will make it as simple as possible to repair or see if it is correctly put together. Service book will help you keep it running.

    Original parts or reproduction parts are readily available from numerous suppliers or at swap meets. These models are becoming more sought after as they are being used for events such as the "Race of Gentleman" and other race type events thru-out the country. Make friends with a person that is familiar with this marque as quickly as possible to help you find one. Hop on board quick as the prices are already climbing rapidly. I have found the best time to purchase any bike is right now. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is the ideal time. People will get off that dusty space taker in the garage and use the money for the Holidays.

    Lastly is join a local chapter of the AMCA as there will be someone in that chapter that has, knows of a bike or will help you find one.

    Have fun on the hunt.

    DAB.
    .A. Bagin,
    Many thanks for your reply. Yes...lots of great advice has been presented here in the last several days. I'm blown away at the sheer volume of responses I've gotten after making my initial post. I've never been on a forum before so I was unsure if I'd get any response. I'm truly amazed at the willingness of others to take time to help my son and I begin this journey.
    Many, many thanks to you and everyone who has responded!!
    I need to make a journal of all the great suggestions mentioned here in these replies...there's been so many that I can't begin to remember them all. Haha.

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kitabel View Post
    My AJS 500 cost $200. My first 45 (basket case) came from Mel for $200. My first 1957 panhead cost $550. My 1969 NYC police bike cost $865. My 1966 Triumph Thunderbird 650 cost $995 - new.
    At my age/health I can't justify the huge expense, not to have a running bike, but to have that bike, you know, like McQueen had. When the price of something is not determined by its usefulness (you can't eat it, wear it, live in it, it can't make breakfast) but by how foolish the people who want the same bike (because hedge fund managers do) I walk away. When Prince Bandar wants it, that $80,000 1947 knucklehead will be $800,000.

    If I were to attempt this again, I would definitely get a 1968-70 Bonneville as the most fun for the least money. It's actually fast (unlike any H-D flathead... except KHK) and fun to ride, great brakes, good mileage, reasonable ride comfort. If restoration is important it will be $$$ (see previous reason), but a bitsa can be built from assorted years for $5,000 that only a Triumph owner knows is not "real".
    Even cheaper: a B.S.A. A10 650, much less money (because not used in a movie, Charley Sheen didn't have one on TV).

    I don't know your son, or many children his age, but some people I know tried the same thing (long term shared project that the child will grow into), and not one of them wants the car/bike/boat today - they want what Ironman used in the movie.
    Kitabel,

    Haha... very true. I hope that's not the case with us. I think that is why a sidecar application may need to be considered. It wouldn't feel right to have his help with such an awesome project and him not be able to enjoy the ride while/after doing so.
    This journey doesn't have to have a side car...but I figure that would be a way that he could jump in and enjoy the fruits of his labor along with me.
    Thanks for your reply. I am enjoying all the responses.

    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521

  6. #46
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rubone View Post
    My '55 R69,
    Found in a horse trailer a few years back.....for $250.00 in original but rough shape.



    That's a beauty!!!
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35522

  7. #47
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

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    Quote Originally Posted by jim d View Post
    The BMWs from the 50s - 60s are already set up to attach a sidecar. They are reliable and can be found in good original condition and there is a good source of replacement parts for them. Look for models with the Earles Fork. The prices aren't too high compared to some brands.
    Thank you Jim,
    I'll keep my eyes open.
    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521

  8. #48
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
    Posts
    24

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    Quote Originally Posted by ammorest View Post
    Hello William,
    Been following this thread and there's a lot of good advice from experienced people, especially finding a running and fairly complete but not correct bike. Also getting all the literature you can pertaining to the bike you choose; shop manuals, rider's handbook, parts books. You might want to get a copy of Bruce Palmer's book, How To Restore Your HarleyDavidson, He is out of them but you might find a copy on line. It covers 1937 to 1964. He is working on a new edition now that will cover more models.
    By all means try to get to some meets. I realize being a farmer is a full time job but try to find the time. Now for my suggestion on a bike: Harley big twin, 1937 to 1948 74 or 80 Flathead or 1948 t0 1964 Panhead. In 1936 Harley made some good improvements: recirculating oil system, improved clutch and transmission, better wheel hubs, welded gas tanks, and built in speedometer..
    A couple if issues to think about and I am not trying to discourage you in any way. Is Will on the same page of enthusiasm as you about the project? At some point the project may get held up for one reason or another. Will he lose interest and back off? Just a thought. Also do you have a space dedicated to the project where you can organize it to store and work on the bike? Don't forget a sidecar takes up a lot of space.
    Anyway, hope to see you and Will at a meet digging for parts.
    Dave
    Dave,
    Great advice. I'll look up Palmers book(s) tonight. I hope Will's interest doesn't fizzle out. So far, he seems pretty stoked! But I do know sometimes that when items become all work and no pleasure the potential is there for him to burn out... I'll be reminding him to keep his eye on the prize!!!
    As far as space, yes. We have a workshop behind the house perfect for such an endeavor. Though...its getting tighter all the time due to the wifey not wanting all my gizmos in our attached garage,haha.
    Hope to see you at a swap meet as well!
    Many Thanks Dave!

    Wm. Covington
    Member #35521

  9. #49
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    England
    Posts
    1,322

    Default

    It's great to see so many pieces of advice so that you don't make the same mistakes we all did - usually paying too much money for a hopeless basket case. They say we learn from our mistakes, so I must be very knowledgeable now because I've sure made a lot of mistakes with old bikes over the years. My joint project with my then teenage son was a 1980 Sportster (a 'JO motor') from loose parts of various years in a package from a dealer. Yup, that was an education alright. A few years later we did the quarter mile sprint together one summer on an airfield, him on a 1950 Harley WR and me on the 1934 VL bobber/racer. You don't get many days like that in your life.

    As to further comments, I'm finding civilianised WLA/WLC models show very little discount to proper military bikes with good numbers. And Johnny Sells' excellent book is on the 1929-36 Harley DL/RL small twins. We have been waiting a long time for an equivalent shop manual on the much more numerous pre-1930 pocket valve twins.

  10. #50
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Low Country South Carolina
    Posts
    148

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    Start with the most complete motorcycle that you can even if all torn apart. Dont think you can build an antique cheaper by finding parts. It used to be that you could but now parts are harder to find and more expensive than a complete bike.

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