Bike of the Month
1965 H-D FLH
by Frank Vavra
When I volunteered for this installment of the Bike of the Month I thought my 65 would be on the road. I was wrong.
To recap where I started here is the last article:
“My 1965 Harley Davidson FLH. About 20 years ago I was looking for a 1955, the same year I was born in, and I stumbled across this bike on some web site. I was interested because this was the last year for Panheads and the first year for 12 volt systems and electric starts. It was located in Ohio and I was living in Southern California. I emailed the owner and had him send me some pictures of it. The engine was blown up and it had previously thrown the primary chain so the inner primary was welded. I decided to take a chance and go look at it. It was supposed to be almost all original and the guy needed the money to build a garage. I did my research on what was supposed to be on it and all the tabs too. I flew to Detroit, rented a van and headed to Ohio. When I got there the bike was all original except for a few additional tail lights. It still had the original white grips and shift rubber. I paid him for it and, loaded the bike and boxes of parts into the van and headed back to Southern California. The work on the bike has been slow going, mostly it has been in the garage covered up. I have had other projects to keep me busy like my 1990 Springer Softtail. Now the 65 is almost like my own barn find. I had the lower end of the engine rebuilt by the Bees brothers in Henderson NV when I lived there from 2000 to 2003. I was going to do a total restoration but now I think I will put it back together and ride it. I put new Coker/Beck tires on it, cylinders are bored and the heads just need a little work to fix the chips on the exhaust ports. The carb is out getting rebuilt at Linkert carbs in Vermont. And now it’s about time to put the rest of the pieces together and ride it.”
After this I decided to get in touch with club member John Hoy and show him what I had going on. I decided to have John re rebuild my engine which as it turns out was a very wise choice. The guys that put the lower end together did a horrible job. In December John finished my engine. When I was ready to install the engine, I called fellow club members Dick Toth and Mark Lobsinger for some assistance. Mark provided the muscle and Dick the moral support. After a few tries and then having to remove the battery box, the engine was finally back in the frame after 20 years. But there was more work. The fuel tanks had to be cleaned and sealed. A couple kits of POR 15 fixed the tanks. Then there were the pesky fuel leaks with those steel lines and rubber bungs. Everything leaked. Time to go to Colony and change all the fuel fittings. I also went from a dry clutch to a wet clutch so the oil would not recirculate the clutch dust back through the oil system. Then finally came the time to start it. The first few cranks were to send oil through the engine and turn out the oil light. Then turn on the fuel for the first real attempt. It just cranked and nothing happened. I figured something must be wrong, I was getting spark but no fire. I pulled out the instructions from Linkert carbs and reset the carb to their minimal settings. This time it fired!!!! First time in 20 years. I did a quick video to show it really was running. The only thing was the generator light would not go out. I got another generator and installed it but that didn’t help. Voltage regulator was the next replacement. That still didn’t help. Tried the old generator still nothing. So I figured I would go with a solid state regulator. Got one from Cycle Electric and installed it. I also made new electric lines from the generator to the regulator. Tried to start the bike but the starter would not work. Nothing. I previously replaced the starter switch so I trouble shot that and it was working as it should. I put back in the old new voltage regulator and it worked. By now lots of head scratching was going on. I called the Cycle Electric guys and they were confused too. They said you don’t need a voltage regulator to make the bike run so it must be electrical. More research and I found out that in mid 65 the factory started putting in a fused link to the voltage regulator and I even found a copy of the service letter when the bike would go back int the shop they would put in this fuse. Only problem is I haven’t been able to locate this fuse on my bike. So I thought I would check the new battery to see how it was holding up. Got out my trusty $300 Fluke meter and only got 1.5 DC volts on the battery. Great, now my new battery took a dump. But then I thought something else must be wrong. I rummaged through all my junk and found an old meter that had a volt meter in it. Checked the truck and it had 12 volts. Then checked the bike and it had 12 volts also. Time to order a new Fluke meter. So with the new old style voltage regulator back on another attempt to get it started. Now the solenoid started acting up so it got replaced too. Another attempt to start but the starter would not keep engaged. Now there is a new starter sitting there in a box. I had to get Jan’s 13 Street Glide Trike ready for our Sturgis run and my 03 Road King.
Wish me luck, I hope I do not have to do a part three for the bike of the month.