Location: Dunedin, New Zealand
Bike Year / Motor: 1948 / Panhead
What have you done? I built this bike entirely from parts that I collected over a few years. It’s taken a while, overall 15 months to build and clocking close to 600 hours. I tackled all the sheet metal molding work on the frame (fins, plating the neck in etc) once I had collected all of the big parts, and started making the front brake plate. I got the front end all dialed in with the new fork lowers and longer tubes, shaved the trees and made the headlight bracket for the Bates headlight. Once that was all done I put it into a roller with the wheels I’d built up. I made hidden mounts on the gas tank, and fabricated the scoop and molding so it had a cohesive flow with the frame. I also relocated the petcock bung. I decided to take a front fender off my FLH, and sectioned and radiused it to suit the 18” rear wheel. I made the scoop in the rear fender which houses the taillights from HypnicJerk in Australia, and rolled tube to run all the wiring internally. I moved onto fabricating the fender struts, top motor mount, foot-clutch bracket, oil lines, license plate mount, foot clutch chain, carb support, seat mounts for the River seat and pillion, and the “coil-bag” mount which hides the battery, fuse block and coil all within the oil-tank.
The last big job was making the exhausts. I wanted something simple so I went for upsweeps but kept the top pipe really high with a subtle splay outward between them which isn’t very obvious. I made the rear mounts for these with the spikey chain which features on a few other parts of the bike.Once it was torn down I welded everything out and did the prep and body work, which was weeks worth of sanding after hours. I had a local friend Dave at ABFX lay down the top coat which I couldn’t be more stoked with, and once everything was back, the bike was wired and assembled to what you see now.
What do you have left to do? Honestly not too much because the re-assembly is all done. At the moment I’m battling some intake leak issues due to stripped threads in the intake spigots, so the heads will be coming off to get those fixed up properly. Then it’s time for the first start, heat cycle the motor, and the first ride which I’m excited for. Hopefully I’ll be able to ride it out for a first beer very soon! If I make top 6, the bike will have to be in a shipping container leaving New Zealand in February/March to make the show, so I’ll have a few months to get everything sorted before the long trip to the US.
Any problems so far? Quite a few! Not so many during the fab stages, but welding out all the frame molding pulled the seat post and caused the rear head to foul at re-assembly and of course I didn’t catch this until after paint. The fix was easy enough but did some pretty heavy damage to the fresh paint trying to get the motor in. Also had a ton of issues with the polishing for chrome and had to re-plate 50% of the chrome and remake some parts so that was an absolute nightmare.
Favorite part of the bike so far? Hard to pick just one but it would probably be the overall balance of the bike, it looks “right” to my eye. My favourite parts on the bike would have to be the spikey chain clutch linkage, top motor mount and exhaust mounts, the front brake and of course the paint job.
Favorite part of the competition? Probably having such a big platform to show what we get up to way down in New Zealand. It’s such a small community of people here that build choppers and the support from everyone in NZ and across the world has been unreal!
Want to give any shout outs? StraightlegSteve, TattoosByJack, DeanIngram, the Bay Choppers crew, my beautiful partner Geo for the photography and support throughout the build, and Dave at ABFX for the incredible paintwork. All the makers and companies who create the awesome parts that go into these bikes: Alley choppers, HypnicjerkCustoms, Wretchedhive, Pangea Speed, Lowbrowcustoms, and ThrottleAddiction. Lastly but very importantly, my dog Wolf for always chilling at my side while I’m working away in the garage