They say all bikes have a story, and this one is no different. Just like the old Johnny Cash song,somewhere along the line this bike was definitely put together “One Piece at a Time”.
In early 2006 Mike Wilson got a phone call about one of the deals you just cant pass up. A quick cash exchange late he had what many of us were dying to come across. A Matching belly number, real deal OEM PanHead. As most good deals go,you have to take the good with the bad,fortunately in this scenario there was more good than bad.
In the summer of 2014, I was in the process of moving our shop to a third location. An old hot rod and custom car hobby shop Mike Wilson and I used to share together almost 15 years ago. Over the years Mike mainly used the building for storage and proposed a remodel. For several months that summer, we slowly transformed the shop into the 1200 square-foot facility that Alleyway Kustoms uses today. While the new location was transforming, Mike watched as several custom restorations got the full treatment going out the door to collectors all over the country. At Alleyway we handle almost every stage of the building procedure in-house (with the exception of powder-coating and major motor machining) giving each bike a unique and personal touch.While most of our custom restorations appear stock, no two are the same and each one is filled with a ton of custom touches that have proven to be very appealing to collectors worldwide. Sitting in the corner of the shop, taunting us through the entire remodel was Mikes Panhead. It was an obvious no-brainer. A restoration was in order.
Even though the bike had some strange modifications from it’s previous owner, 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.
As things go with the” One Piece at a Time” theory, 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” rims leftover from a previous restoration.We decided to have the rims and hubs powder-coated black and re-lace them with stainless spokes. That started the mindset of powder coating all of the old OEM parts black instead of re-chroming.We replaced the old 3” open belt primary that was on the running bike with a modern BDL 1 1/2” belt primary and competitor clutch and tucked it in a set of stock primary tins that we had powder-coated as well. 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, It would be the only sheet metal piece that wouldn’t go with the 1954 plan, however a good set of original tanks are hard to beat so we figured we’d run em’. Finishing off the sheet metal, the fenders were given the 54 trim treatment as well as the fork covers with stainless 3-bar trim. The front end was rebuilt and brought back to stock length with the proper stock risers.Liking the bend of a old set of two piece bars, we decided to make them a little safer by sleeving them together. 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.
Wayne went through the entire motor. Balancing the flywheels, honing the cylinders, adding new pistons and rings etc.. and gave it a fresh valve job. The transmission was also addressed and gone through to make sure everything was in proper working order with all tolerances checked to make sure they were within factory specs.
Mike had been holding onto an aftermarket mystery year frameshift set up for a few years now, and with little modification we had the shifting end of things in good working order.
Since Leather is one of our specialties at Alleyway, we went with one of our signature stock cowhide covered OEM seats. This time we enlisted the help of our friend Scott over at Godfrey Vintage cycles to help pull off an idea I had been kicking around for a while.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 been wanting 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, but here at Alleyway we take it a step or two further.More often than not, our bikes end up many miles away from us, and I often wondered if the new owners ever do any changes or upgrades to them. In order to simplify things and eliminate any confusion the wiring harness’ are routed to factory specs. Following the diagrams closely to make sure all additional power etc... is routed accordingly so that any upgrades could be made in the future (fog lamps,lights horns,etc..). 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.
Being custom car guys we really wanted the paint color to mimic an old 1940s Ford blue. Upon first assembly it just looked too plain.Knowing that this is the sort of thing that could make or break the look of the bike, a decision was made to pull it apart and add a little bit more of a 40s twist to it with a Laquer looking era battleship gray, and black pinstripe theme. Another one of our signatures at Alleyway is custom hardware, and early on in the build we knew that was something we wanted to make sure we addressed.The end result ,and icing on the cake, is 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. You just can’t take in at first glance.
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.