Saturday, March 7, 2009

Did I ever show you these?

I guess not. These are my dual-carbed Pan heads. There's an interesting story behind these.

A few years ago, I had a set of decent Pan heads that I wanted to get converted to dual carbs. I looked for about two years for somebody to do them, and kept running into dead ends. Either people who did this no longer wanted to or weren't around anymore, or they wanted 2-5 grand to do the job, and they wanted complete control from start to flow bench.

So, one night I called Pat Leahy from High Gear Machine in Long Beach. I figured if anybody knew who could (or wanted to) do the heads, he would. So, I got Pat on the phone, and he says "Aw fuck, I got a set here already done! I just gotta find them....". Well, if you've ever been in Pat's old shop, there was stuff stacked, shelved, boxed, piled, and stuck in every nook and cranny in there. He had shit in there even he forgot about. I told Pat to dig them out, and I'd take them.

Well, a month went by, then 2, and about 3 months later, Pat calls and says " Hey, I found those dual carb heads. Uhhh.....only thing is, I never finished them". It seems Pat himself started these heads when he was at B&O Cycle 37 years previous, and had stuck them away, with the intention of getting back on them. He never did.

I told him I'd take them regardless, and what did he want for them, and Pat says " Aw, I'll just give them to you". I told Pat we weren't doing that, and he said he'd send them, and I could send him what I thought was fair after I got them. When they came, they still needed work, but they were a good base to work from. I sent Pat $200.00 for them.

I took them over to Rick LaBriola, and he refitted a different set of intake spigots on the heads. The original spigots were just tubes to rubber flange mount the carbs. Rick fitted a set of spigots he had cast up years before for another dual carb job. The spigots were flanged so I could run any late 2 bolt flange carb I wanted - S&S, CV, Mikuni, etc. He made me some really nice heat isolator blocks that would adapt the matched Amal 932's I had to the two bolt spigots.

The heads still need the ports finished off, guides, a Flo Headwork exhaust flange kit, and to be converted to outside oiler configuration. I'm planning on putting these heads on a 3 1/2" bore x 4 1/2" stroke Pan motor I have most of the parts for. This is the engine that'll go in the VL frame.

One last thing. It was like 7 months after I bought the heads from Pat. I was out in Long Beach, and as usual, I stop to see Pat. Pat takes me in his little office and says "Hey Rich, you sent me $100.00 too much for the heads, here, take this..." and he tries to give me back the money. I told him to forget it, but he insisted. Finally, I talked him into keeping the money, and using it to throw a BBQ after the upcoming Long Beach swap meet. Which he did, complete with a band, and I was able to attend, and I had a really good time, and so did Pat. And, that's what friends do with friends.


drsprocket said...


J-Rod said...

Great story.

CycleDelicCycles said...

Way cool, Rich. Those are perfect for your project!

TJ Stiles said...

just wanna say this story/tale made me happy. good people still exist

tiptopdadddy said...

Ditto all above.

drsprocket said...

Rich, Just read your latest piece in GK. Early in my work in the trade I worked in shops like that. The best time of my life. Most the shop owners or foreman were old WW2 vets. Liked the part about the slide for life. Made me think about all the times I almost needed a hair dryer to take the pucker stretch out of those old Bates seats after the same style action.

rotorhead said...

Hi Rich, Just stumbled here, from the JJ. My kind of stuff. Built a Wayne Eng. framed bike in 1972. Woulld like to build another single tube bike. Once I get a scanner I'll post some pics.