In early 2006, Mike Wilson got a phone call about one of the deals you just can’t pass up. It was a quick cash exchange for what most people wait a lifetime for: a matching belly number, real-deal OEM Panhead.
In the summer of 2014, I was in the process of moving our shop to a third location. It was an old hot-rod and custom car hobby shop Mike Wilson and I used to share together almost 15 years ago. Sitting in the corner of the shop was Mike’s Panhead. It was obvious a restoration was in order.
Even though the bike had some strange modifications, the bike had a great foundation. The frame was an original stock wishbone ’48–’54 frame, and while the front end had been modified with longer fork tubes, it was verified to be ’49–’54 as well. A decision was made to transform the bike back into something a little more correct to the bulk year of parts we had to work with. The year we chose was 1954. The only difference would be that it would have the 1965 motor and transmission that someone had oddly enough slid in this frame many years ago.
The previous owner had made some strange decisions. While the front wheel had a correct 16-inch rim, the rear was a 15. A quick remedy for this was stock set of 16 x 3-inch rims leftover from a previous restoration. We decided to have the rims and hubs powdercoated black and re-lace them with stainless spokes. That started the mind-set of powdercoating all of the old OEM parts black instead of re-chroming.
We replaced the old 3-inch open belt primary that was on the running bike with a modern BDL 1-1/2-inch belt primary and competitor clutch and tucked it in a set of stock primary tins. Overall, it gives the bike a nice balance and a stock “built for abuse” utilitarian look.
We had a set of pristine original ’59 tanks that had been passed up over the past few builds. A good set of original tanks is hard to beat, so we figured we’d run them. Finishing off the sheet metal, the fenders were given the ’54 trim treatment as well as the fork covers with stainless three-bar trim.
The front end was rebuilt and brought back to stock length with the proper stock risers. A modern twist internal throttle was adapted to make things look proper and streamlined. Like most all of our custom restorations, the motor and transmission were completely disassembled and given a once-over, this time by Wayne Loftain.
Since leather is one of our specialties at Alleyway, we went with one of our signature stock cowhide-covered OEM seats. We enlisted the help of our friend Scott over at Godfrey Vintage Cycles to help pull off an idea I had been kicking around. I always felt the skirts on our OEM seats were missing a little something. Mike drew up a quick script design, and we had Scott whip up some oval castings for the sides that we recessed into the skirts. I had also wanted to design some custom aluminum floorboard inserts, so we had Scott run a few sets of those as well.
With custom restorations, vintage cloth wiring and asphalt loom is the only way to go. In order to simplify things and eliminate any confusion, the wiring harnesses were routed to factory specs. In addition to that we custom design and build each harness so that the wire colors are individually color-coded with designated tracers, indicating the direction from each accessory they are coming from or going to for ease in tracking down any potential upgrades or issues in the future.
We really wanted the paint color to mimic an old 1940s Ford blue. Upon first assembly it just looked too plain. A decision was made to pull it apart and add a little bit more of a ’40s twist to it with a lacquer-looking Battleship Gray and black pinstripe theme.
Another one of our signatures is custom hardware, and we added a stainless-steel ball-milled nut and bolt application throughout all areas of the bike that are not torque applicable. The hardware gives the bike a ridiculous amount of detail.
Overall, the bike came out beautifully, and Mike couldn’t be happier. You can’t go wrong with the look of a timeless classic, even if it does take one piece at a time.
|Shop Phone||(904) 237-4898|
|Build Time||5 months|
|Front End||Hydra Glide|
|Wheels, Tires, and Brakes|
|Builder/Size||Alleyway Kustoms/16 x 3|
|Builder/Size||Alleyway Kustoms/16 x 3|
|Colors||Dark Royal Blue|
|Paint/Graphics||Battleship Gray and black striping|
|Plating/Polishing||Polishing by Benji Weisenfeld|
|Powdercoating||Atlantic Powdercoating, Jacksonville, FL|
|Front Fender||Stock w/ 54 trim|
|Rear Fender||Stock w/ 54 trim|
|Floorboards||Stock w/ cast-aluminum inserts|
|Seat||OEM-style pogo w/ cast badges in skirt by Alleyway Kustoms|
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