Funky Five-Ball

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Article By: Keith “Bandit” Ball

Photos By: Markus Cuff

Originally Published In The June 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

5 Ball Rat Bike

I ended up at the Long Beach Swap Meet after my grandson wrecked his Dyna but we didn’t find much. We rambled throughout the packed aisles looking for parts, and I came across a large flatbed truck sporting a line of new, bare Kraft Tech rigid frames. Turns out they only sell to distributors like Biker’s Choice, but they bring a few frames to the swap meet once in a while, and the price was right. The frames were obviously set up for Evo engines and 5-speed transmissions but looked almost stock. I couldn’t resist. We carried that frame up and down aisles until we finally headed toward the exit with no Dyna parts and a set of stock Softail tanks, perfect for the frame.    As I meandered toward the exit, my cell phone rang. It was Brad Olsen, an old friend who recently scored an Oregon shop’s inventory. “Yo,” Brad said. “I need to recoup some of my investment. Do you need a Panhead engine?” I about shit my pants. I had just scored a sharp, rigid frame, a set of fatbobs, and I knew I had a 5-speed Softail transmission at the Bikernet Headquarters. What the f$@k? Hell yes, I needed a Panhead engine! Suddenly my grandson wanted to go to Sturgis. I came up with a plan. How about taking two old bobbers to Sturgis for the kicks? Suddenly, I had a deadline. Oh, what the f@*k? I was inspired by many factors, but I still needed a few pieces to make it happen. I couldn’t think of anything else but this Panhead project.

5 Ball Rat Bike

As it turned out, the engine was seriously incomplete. The ’69, last kidney, Shovelhead right case was mated to a ’79 left case, which would allow me to run an alternator and Evo primaries. The engine was missing a cam and most of the cam case elements. It needed a carb, intake, distributor, oil pump. I hauled ass home from the swap meet and started to dig through drawers, cabinets, and lockers looking for parts. I created a pile next to my lathe. I had a set of rebuilt Panheads, but they were early model, and this puppy would need outside oilers. I started to ask around. I also needed the right year cam cover, and I found one online. I immediately ordered them from  Wilson Cycles, Inc. in Roswell, GA. When they arrived, I encountered a problem. One was perfect with valves, an O-ring intake manifold flange, and the outside oiler boss. Unfortunately, the other didn’t have an outside oiler fitting. It was an early model. Mike from Pacific Coast Cycles came up with an oil tank. Daily, I made lists of needed parts and started to make calls. We hit the swap meet again and found a cop solo seat. I had an old hinged fender from an early swingarm Pan. I knocked out the pin and installed the bobbed fender. I dug out a Softail 5-speed transmission. I found an old 41mm wide glide front end at the swap meet. I wasn’t happy with it, but we made it work (I hope) with an old drum front brake. I found some neck bearings and replaced the junk one. I tore the whole front end apart and cleaned it.

5 Ball Rat Bike

I needed the right side rear brake lever, plate, return spring and plunger, but I had three Wagner master cylinders. This Kraft Tech frame was set up for a Softail-style rear disc brake. I had a solid aluminum rear wheel and brakes from a few years back that would do the trick. I didn’t plan to run a dash, but I needed something for electrics, a switch, whatever. I ordered a Paughco universal tin toolbox and then discovered something wild at an antique store—a K-model motorcycle trophy. The notion is to build a simple, easy to handle bobbed Panhead. But for some odd reason, finding an early automatic advance distributor is not easy. Then I found a Mallory electronic ignition system in a locker from our ’06 Bonneville effort and it did the trick. You can build anything your heart desires. This Pan is a terrific example. Sure, it’s a Pan, but it has a ’69 right case and a ’79 left case, which allows me to make it look like a Pan, yet run an electronic, automatic advance distributor, an Evo to Twin Cam alternator, and a spin-on oil filter, which allows me more oil capacity and more protection for the engine. The heads are brand new STD outside oiler Panheads with knock-off rocker blocks. The STD heads breath better than stock and contain improved valves and springs. I’m running hydraulic JIMS machine cam followers, S&S adjustable pushrods, an S&S mild cam and an improved S&S oil pump. Even the Kraft Tech frame is modified for almost any engine and allowed me to run a rear Softail disc without doing a thing. Basically, I could build 1998 rigid Panheads all day long with super-strong late model 5-speed transmissions, and BDL belt drives with any EVO starter and I was good to go.

5 Ball Rat Bike

I wanted to use a Linkert Carb so I decided to try one using the small venturi for snappy throttle response notion, like we’ve done with 42 mm Mikunis. Bob  Bennett timed the engine with Berry’s instructions and I monkeyed with the Linkert Carburetor. Bob Bennett went through the engine and I supplied parts where I could. I made my own pipes using a too bitchin’ shorty muffler from Rick Krost at US Choppers. The muffler was amazing; at least, I thought so. Deny, the man behind the vintage paint job, came over and I showed him the muffler and what I intended with the stock squished pipe under the engine. I mentioned my appreciation for shotgun pipes and his eyes lit up so I went to work messing with parts and pieces, including the stock squish pipe. I like how it came out. I worked with Tim at San Pedro muffler to make a couple of exhaust flanges to fit.

5 Ball Rat Bike

I used care with the driveline alignment. The engine, a mixture of years, fit perfectly in the frame without shimming. I used the BDL inner primary to align the engine and trans. I used all the old BLD primary drive parts I had laying around the shop. I stashed the ignition switch in the Paughco toolbox I mounted between the stock Softail gas tanks. I made a goofy bracket running off a stock frame tab and it worked like a champ. I mounted a 15-amp circuit breaker in the box and an idiot light to prevent me from walking away and leaving the switch on. Let’s see if it works. I also made the top end oil lines with old parts and True Value Hardware, which is usually a tremendous source for fasteners, but pricey. I installed a Biker’s Choice oil pressure gauge. Erik Bennett gave us the look and his dad suggested I run an adjustable valve in the line to the heads, so we don’t cause the lower end pressure to drop. The stout rear fender didn’t need supports but I needed a place to mount the Lowbrow vintage taillight and license plate mount, so I started to dig around. I came up with a Road King front fender bumper rail set, with a little work and some imagination, it worked like a champ. There you have it. Now I’m in the Eddie Trotta break-in mode and the search for a pink slip and registration. It’s a kick, starts and runs like a champ. It’s a breeze to ride and the front end now works. Let’s see what happens next. -Bandit

5 Ball Rat Bike

Funky 5 Ball Tech Sheet
OWNER: Keith “Bandit” Ball
CITY: Wilmington Ghetto
FABRICATION BY: Bandit
YEAR: 19Panhead
MODEL: FL
VALUE: Very Little
TIME: 4 Months
ENGINE
YEAR: ’69 & ‘79
MODEL: FL
BUILDER: Bennett’s Performance
IGNITION: Accurate Engineering
DISPLACEMENT: 74cu
PISTONS: V-Power
HEADS: STD
CAM: S&S
CARB: Linkert
AIR CLEANER: Chopper Dave
EXHAUST: Bandit
PRIMARY: BDL
TRANSMISSION
YEAR: 1990
MAKE: Harley-Davidson
SHIFTING: Foot
CLUTCH: BDL
FRAME
YEAR/MAKE: 2017 Kraft Tech
MODEL: Classic Rigid
RAKE: Stock
STRETCH: None
FRONT END
TYPE: Wide Glide
BUILDER: Harley-Davidson
EXTENSION: None
TRIPLE TREES: Cast Iron H-D
WHEELS
FRONT:
SIZE: 18”
FRONT TIRE: Avon
FRONT BRAKE: Mechanical
REAR
SIZE: 16”
REAR TIRE: Dunlop
REAR BRAKE: H-D Disc
PAINT
PAINTER: Deny 925
COLOR: Orange & Cream
TYPE: Old
GRAPHICS: 5-Ball
CHROMING: Paughco
ACCESSORIES:
BARS: Stainless
RISERS: Old Aluminum
HAND CONTROLS: Mixed
FOOT CONTROLS: Paughco
FUEL TANK: Stock Softail
OIL TANK: Pacific Coast Customs
FRONT FENDER: None
REAR FENDER: H-D
SEAT: Swap meet
HEADLIGHT: Old Accessory Spot
TAILLIGHT: Lowbrow
SPEEDO: None
Photographer: Markus Kuff

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