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  #11  
Old 3rd February 2016
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Originally Posted by dkarma View Post
Hows your braking power with no front brake on that? Looks really clean up front but I'm hesitant to do that with my 73 as I don't want to rely only on rear drums to stop me if the SHTF...

make your rear drum more reliable...
http://xlforum.net/forums/s....php?t=1819988
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  #12  
Old 3rd February 2016
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Thanks! I love the way it looks. It is by no means an everyday rider. But it's no trailer queen either though. I ride it everywhere it goes.

I picked it up in 2000 and brought it home in 7 cardboard boxes and it had no title. It was about 95% there, but completely disassembled.

Here's what it looked like after I put it together the first time.



After the second time the original frame broke, I was looking to do a full on custom build for this bike.

I picked up a Paughco frame and put the word out in the Community that I was looking for a different front end for the bike.

A buddy of mine called me a couple of weeks later and told me he had the perfect front end for my bike, so I went to take a look. I had no clue what it was, but I liked the look, so I traded some labor to get it from him.

After doing a bunch of research, I found out that what I had was an old Harmon "Spirder" (Sprung Girder) from the early 70's. Most people just call them a Harmon Girder though. John Harmon built these in the early 70's in his shop in Roseville, CA. It's now defunct, John's dead, but Bill Holland was one of the partners back then and is now the owner of Executive Choppers in Roseville, CA and builds updated versions of the original Harmon girders. Original Harmon front ends are getting very difficult to find, but they are out there. I've talked with Bill and he told me that except for the first couple of prototypes, he build all of the front ends, so he probably built mine. His shop is only about 2 1/2 miles from my place.

Here's a link to an interview with Bill Holland where he talks about the old days and gives a bit of history.

http://www.hotbikeweb.com/john-harmons-legacy

Here's a close up of the business end of the Harmon.



As you can see, there is a rocker that is attached to a spring hidden in the rear leg of the girder. this works great for long front ends. It actually moves with the bike on bumps instead of just flexing like a telescopic front end tends to do.

I like the clean look of a spool up front, but like you brought up, it can get a bit scary if you don't plan your braking carefully. You also lose redundancy if you have a problem with the single rear drum. Don't ask me how I know this.

It will lock up the rear if needed, but it would be better with two brakes.

The tab on the right leg of the girder is there to facilitate a single disc brake setup. That's where you would connect the locating rod to stabilize the caliper. There is enough room between the legs to add a caliper mount and rotor for disc brakes as well. I had to add spacers to fill in the gaps when I went with the bare spool.

I was trying to reproduce a specific look from a long gone era of motorcycling. I had the right bike, I wasn't going to destroy a good specimen (it had already been butchered), and I had access to some vintage parts that most people had not seen in a long time, and I could fabricate the parts I didn't like/couldn't find, so I went for it.

For a daily rider, or even most of the time rider, I would go with dual disc brakes, but this was the look I wanted and I have another bike I ride as my primary. This one is just for fun.
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Last edited by StickFSMC; 3rd February 2016 at 20:07..
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  #13  
Old 3rd February 2016
dkarma dkarma is offline
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Originally Posted by StickFSMC View Post
Thanks! I love the way it looks. It is by no means an everyday rider. But it's no trailer queen either though. I ride it everywhere it goes.

I picked it up in 2000 and brought it home in 7 cardboard boxes and it had no title. It was about 95% there, but completely disassembled.
So cool. I like how it looked after your first build too, but now it looks really custom and unique.
A few questions if you don't mind.

1. how did the frame break and where?
2. my original frame came without title as well (but bonded is an option) so I bought a new frame and called the dmv to make sure the original frame's vin wasn't stolen...it wasn't (whew). How much of a PITA was getting that Paughco frame registered? Did the cops give you a hard time about the parts? Any other issues with that whole process?
3. if you find another one of those front ends can you give me a call? I know it'd be pricey but I really like the look.
4. thanks for the link on beefing up the rear drums...I'll definitely look into that for my IH...
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  #14  
Old 3rd February 2016
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First break was on the down tubes. A previous owner had done a bad job when they raked the neck. Got it too hot and crystalized the metal. Over time it fatigued and broke both down tubes just below the neck.

If you look at the photo of the first incarnation, you'll see heavy gusseting to reinforce that area. That photo was taken after the first break was repaired.

It scared the crap out of me when it happened. I was turning into a gas station and as I went through the gutter, the front end let loose and I had a chest full of handlebars. The only thing holding the front end on was the backbone at the top of the neck bearing. I was only doing about 5 mph, so it wasn't bad, but I had just got off the freeway and had been doing 70+ mph less than a minute before.

The second break wasn't anywhere near as dramatic. I had noticed that the bike felt like it was flexing a lot when I took off or slowed down, but nothing too bad. I got to checking and the backbone had snapped between the tank mounts. The only thing holding it together was the tank itself. It had fatigued around a hole someone had drilled in the frame. Once it started cracking, it didn't take long to work its way all the way around the tube.

Those two items, coupled with the fact I had had to reweld the hardtail a couple of times made me too nervous to continue with that frame. I got the new Paughco frame with the same 40* rake for just over $700, so it was a done deal.

At that point, I had a blank canvas to work with since I was only going to keep the Engine/Tranny, the Rims/Tires, and the forward controls.

When I first got the pile of parts, it had no title. There was an old license plate in there with a 20 year old, expired registration sticker, but it had rolled off DMV's books.

First thing I did was do the research for what was required to get a clear title to it. Biggest item was having it inspected by the CHP (California Highway Patrol) for stolen parts. Since I didn't know the full history of the bike past about 3 years, I put it together as best as I could without putting any money into it. The engine/tranny was a shell, no gears, flywheels, pistons or anything. I threaded in some spark plugs and attached the wires. It now looked like it was mostly complete, but I had $0.00 money into it other than the purchase price.

This was close enough for the CHP to inspect and sign off that it wasn't stolen. They "blue tagged" the frame with an assigned VIN since these old frames didn't have numbers and California now requires it. I took all of that to DMV and paid the fees. That gave me clear title to the pile of parts, now known as a 1962 HD XLCH. The engine was a 62 XLCH and since the frame had no numbers, there was no dispute about the year on the title.

When I swapped the frame, I had to take it back to the CHP, but now I had an MSO (Manufacturer's Statement of Origin) from Paughco and a stamped serial number on the frame. I was able to talk the inspecting officer to just use that number as the VIN and didn't have to get a Blue Tag. I was also successful in convincing him to keep it registered as a 1962 HD and not a Special Construction. This helps the value and insurability, but it is uncommon to get an officer who will do that.

No real problems with the process, but it was just time consuming. A lot of running around from one office to another and back to get all the paperwork and inspections done.

As far as locating another Harmon front end, I'll keep an eye out, but they are getting hard to find. Bill at Executive Choppers does make the old style as well as the new style. I would recommend this as the best option.

If you don't want to buy new, you may have better luck watching Craigslist and ebay or hitting the local swap meets. I just happened to luck into mine.

Last edited by StickFSMC; 3rd February 2016 at 19:55..
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  #15  
Old 3rd February 2016
dkarma dkarma is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StickFSMC View Post
First break was on the down tubes. A previous owner had done a bad job when they raked the neck. Got it too hot and crystalized the metal. Over time it fatigued and broke both down tubes just below the neck.

If you look at the photo of the first incarnation, you'll see heavy gusseting to reinforce that area. That photo was taken after the first break was repaired.

It scared the crap out of me when it happened. I was turning into a gas station and as I went through the gutter, the front end let loose and I had a chest full of handlebars. The only thing holding the front end on was the backbone at the top of the neck bearing. I was only doing about 5 mph, so it wasn't bad, but I had just got off the freeway and had been doing 70+ mph less than a minute before.

The second break wasn't anywhere near as dramatic. I had noticed that the bike felt like it was flexing a lot when I took off or slowed down, but nothing too bad. I got to checking and the backbone had snapped between the tank mounts. The only thing holding it together was the tank itself. It had fatigued around a hole someone had drilled in the frame. Once it started cracking, it didn't take long to work its way all the way around the tube.

Those two items, coupled with the fact I had had to reweld the hardtail a couple of times made me too nervous to continue with that frame. I got the new Paughco frame with the same 40* rake for just over $700, so it was a done deal.

At that point, I had a blank canvas to work with since I was only going to keep the Engine/Tranny, the Rims/Tires, and the forward controls.

When I first got the pile of parts, it had no title. There was an old license plate in there with a 20 year old, expired registration sticker, but it had rolled off DMV's books.

First thing I did was do the research for what was required to get a clear title to it. Biggest item was having it inspected by the CHP (California Highway Patrol) for stolen parts. Since I didn't know the full history of the bike past about 3 years, I put it together as best as I could without putting any money into it. The engine/tranny was a shell, no gears, flywheels, pistons or anything. I threaded in some spark plugs and attached the wires. It now looked like it was mostly complete, but I had $0.00 money into it other than the purchase price.

This was close enough for the CHP to inspect and sign off that it wasn't stolen. They "blue tagged" the frame with an assigned VIN since these old frames didn't have numbers and California now requires it. I took all of that to DMV and paid the fees. That gave me clear title to the pile of parts, now known as a 1962 HD XLCH. The engine was a 62 XLCH and since the frame had no numbers, there was no dispute about the year on the title.

When I swapped the frame, I had to take it back to the CHP, but now I had an MSO (Manufacturer's Statement of Origin) from Paughco and a stamped serial number on the frame. I was able to talk the inspecting officer to just use that number as the VIN and didn't have to get a Blue Tag. I was also successful in convincing him to keep it registered as a 1962 HD and not a Special Construction. This helps the value and insurability, but it is uncommon to get an officer who will do that.

No real problems with the process, but it was just time consuming. A lot of running around from one office to another and back to get all the paperwork and inspections done.

As far as locating another Harmon front end, I'll keep an eye out, but they are getting hard to find. Bill at Executive Choppers does make the old style as well as the new style. I would recommend this as the best option.

If you don't want to buy new, you may have better luck watching Craigslist and ebay or hitting the local swap meets. I just happened to luck into mine.
Yeah you look back at those kind of things (the first break) and go "whew!"
Isn't it funny how you can know your machine so well that you just know or feel that something isn't right? After doing a top end and tranny overhaul on my 90 FXR it felt like something just wasn't right. I felt a kind of shifting or movement front to back when braking and accelerating. Went back over the bolts all over the bike and found that for some reason I hadn't locked down the front polymer motor mount bracket down tight! I think i was going to take it for a quick ride and let the engine "settle into place" before locking it down and just never remembered to go back and tighten. Nothing happened but the idea of it breaking free and flying down the highway was pretty unnerving. Glad you didnt' get hurt (like a frame bar through your stomach if the front end collapsed on you...yeesh).

My bike's story is similar. Seller had no title and neck had been raked and bondo'd so I couldn't see a vin. Called dmv and they said it wasn't stolen like I said before based on engine #s. I didn't want to wait for all the paperwork for a bonded title so I bought a new frame with clean title off of a guy on CL for $515 shipped and moved all the parts over. Then went back and attacked that bondo and found the vin. Did an online lookup and online said it wasn't stolen either...yay! Frame # matches engine so I've got a matching set here. Decided to toss all the parts on the new frame anyway and then do a rebuild back to the original frame once all the title junk was sorted out (probably a year down the road) Why? Cuz I wanted to ride it sooner and I'm kind of crazy like that.
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