Feelers for selling my 54KH

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Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby hd54kh » Sat Sep 12, 2020 3:08 pm

I"m thinking of moving my 54KH on. I just moved and not enough space
I have had it since 1996. Stated to restore it a few years ago and as it happens stalled. It was mostly stock and complete at the time. A prior repaint and some other issues put me in the restore direction.
Everything has been repainted and rechromed. All hardware is original and replated as needed.
The motor was gone thru at the time and needed nothing but the cracked sparkplug holes repaired. I bought the heads to a an atique tractor motor guy and he welded and install inserts for the plugs. The inserts are some type of system he uses for aluminum heads that are not like Timecerts or Helicoils.
If I sell it is with ALL my Harley stuff. A few Sportster and Big Twin bits and pieces. Not many but like some wheels, FB/HD Magneto, horseshoe oil tank, a 30 pound box of spokes ........
The bike is very early 54 #73 with the trap door tranny, matching belly numbers 554-1044.
I have at least 2 sets of 19" wheels and 2 NOS Goodyears plus another one mounted. I think maybe 10 wheels total.
A near NOS seat plus a repop, NOS headlight plus second used one. spare toolbox.
I will be photographing the bike as is and all spares if there is any interst in it.
Just guaging interest to see if I should unbox and start taking pictures to detail what it is and all that comes with it.
Pictures are before I started and the engine before the correct motormounts were installed

Would 17k be a fair starting point?

Terry
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KH & Terry resized.jpg
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Motor Right Side.jpg
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Motor Left Side.jpg
Motor Left Side.jpg (401.78 KiB) Viewed 1605 times
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Re: Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby starcain » Sat Sep 12, 2020 6:58 pm

Terry, Through the years there have always been discussions and debates on when the first trap door transmission appeared. To my knowledge there has never been any conclusive evidence to indicate that a trap door appeared in the early 1954 production year. I know of more then a few 1954's with later serial numbers then yours that do not have a trap door. I don't see a "D" stamped in the left case to indicate replacement cases from 1957 and later. I am not doubting your description but is it possible that the belly numbers could be 555 or 556? It kind of looks like in your picture that it may have conical dowels but I can't be sure? Whatever the situation this is quite a head scratcher. I may just be missing something or not have the proper knowledge to begin with. I hope someone else chimes in as this for sure is an interesting revelation.
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Re: Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby hd54kh » Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:56 pm

Hi Stan, can I take any other pics that would give further detail? I'll resize the belly numbers to post but they are 554-1044. Is there any database correlating belly numbers to build date or serial number?

I'll add some pics tomorrow as I unpack some of it.

Terry
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Re: Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby JerrryR » Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:26 pm

I agree Stan, these cases are a mystery. The left case has to be pre VIN 1300 in 55 because it does not have the oil transfer valve. A peak behind the kicker cover would be revealing. There is a vertical reinforcing ridge that I beleive came out in late 54. All the 55 cases have it. If it did not have it then I would say the right case is likely a 54. Terry would it be possible to see a picture of the belly numbers?
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Transfer Valve.jpg
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Re: Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby hd54kh » Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:09 am

Here are some pictures of the belly numbers. I'll try to find sometime tomorrow to pull the kicker cover and grab some pics.

Terry
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DSC_5589 Resized.jpg
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DSC_5591 Resized.jpg
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Re: Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby hennesse » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:05 am

Here is the serial-belly list for 1954

Code: Select all
Serial      Belly
54 KH 1073   554-1044  <-subject motorcycle
54 KH 1395   554-1435
54 KH 1421   554-1444
54 KH 1937   554-2055
54 KH 2032   554-2168
54 KH 2189   554-1979
54 KHK 2269   554-2262
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Re: Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby hd54kh » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:58 pm

Will these kicker area pictures help?
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Re: Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby Ferrous_Head » Sun Sep 13, 2020 7:19 pm

I am not a K Guy - I'm a Sportster Guy.

And I am by no means an expert.

So I might be cauught off base with this and don't want to offend anyone.

And my eyesight is a little suspect,

With those caveats in mind:

The belly numvers appear to be stamped over an area that has been filed. ground. I am not seeing the "as cast" finish surround the numbers. I would have to go and check some of my own belly numbers to be sure but it would concern me if I were looking at buying cases with numbers like this.

So, if I am wrong and it was common Harley practice to file/grind the area before stamping numbers in, please let me know for future reference.
"I know only too well the evil that I propose, but my inclinations get the better of me."
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Re: Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby JerrryR » Sun Sep 13, 2020 9:12 pm

Based on no oil transfer valve in the left case and no reinforcing ridge viewable on the fright case behind the kicker cover I am comfortable stating I believe these cases to be for a 54 model year bike. As to whether the VIN and Belly Numbers are original to these cases is up for debate. I am of the belief that the Belly numbers are not original but am open to the possibility of the VIN being legitimate. I think what has to be made clear is that there are 3 possible scenarios. first, the VIN and Belly Numbers are as from the factory. I don't believe this scenario. Second, bad people did bad things and all the numbers are BS. There is a third possibility however, the original cases handgrenaded and legitimate replacement cases were bought sometime in 54 or very early 55 from the HD Dealer who rebuilt the motor and stamped the owners VIN on the unmolested VIN pad. To the best of my knowledge this would be a legal transaction. What my third scenario then could envision is the owner desiring the cases to reflect what he had originally did a numbers job on the Belly Numbers, I don't know if that is legal or not? As far as support for my third scenario being plausible I offer two stories. First my brother was fixing our friends low VIN 54 KH without a trap door and matching Belly Numbers. He was showing me something on the motor when I noticed the reinforcing ridge on the right case discussed earlier in this thread. After noticing the ridge which was not original on at least most of the 54 model year Ks we looked closer at the right cases Belly Numbers. They were in fact a good numbers job. Someone had changed them so the cases appeared to be original to each other. My second story has to do with my 54 KHK motor. It has a Trap Door and an 18XX VIN. As you can see the Belly Numbers are very high, 554-3221. We have documented 55 KHs with 554-XXXX Belly Numbers lower than on my 54 KHK. My cases were replacement case most likely bought in mid to late 54.

54KHK 18XX-3 Belly Numbers Resized.jpg
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To wrap all this up I think we can say with some confidence whether cases and numbers were original to each other. It is a whole nother matter however to pass judgement on the legality of cases and numbers. Just my opinions.
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Re: Feelers for selling my 54KH

Postby hennesse » Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:54 pm

It's been said elsewhere, but here goes again. Replacement cases have no serial number, but they do have belly numbers. The factory, or dealer, would stamp the original serial number into the serial number pad. But they would not touch the belly numbers.

I agree that the sanded/ground areas under and around the belly numbers look suspicious. In addition, there appears to be a remnant of a previous belly number on one case half. And the hyphens look much longer than other examples - see the Technical : Numbers page.

jellybelly.jpg
Remnant of previous belly number?
jellybelly.jpg (809.03 KiB) Viewed 1320 times


It's hard to examine the serial number - the camera was too far away to see details like the finish of the metal around it. The letters and numbers are lined up very well (the 1 is a little off) - more so than is typical. But serial and belly numbers were stamped by hand, and some hands did better than others.

Summing up - it looks like a very early 1954 motor blew up, and replacement cases were purchased in very late 1954 or early 1955. Someone decided to "correct" the belly numbers to the original numbers, and did a bad job of it. This should never have been done at all. Even if it had been done skillfully, it would be incorrect because early 1954s didn't have trap doors - so it would create suspicion. Done poorly, it creates even more suspicion.

One good thing - it appears that both cases were replaced. If only one was replaced, there would be no reason to "correct" both belly numbers - just do the replaced side. The cases are line-bored and matched when built at the factory. Even if only one side is damaged, a good repair job replaces both cases.

I don't think there's any legal problem with changing the belly numbers. So this is unfortunate, and may knock the price down a little. But it's not the end of the world.
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