Board index Flathead Power-Technical Questions, Answers, and Suggestions Big Twin Flatties VIN numbers

VIN numbers

Moderators: Curt!, Pa

Post Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:20 am

Posts: 74
Location: Wichita, KS
Hey guys, I've been watching several big flatty cases on ebay for a while now and it seems as if an inordinate amount of them are blank on the VIN number boss. Many of them look factory blank. I bought one L/H case that looked blank but upon receiving it it looks filed. First, are there a large number of non-serialized cases out there? Were any government bikes non-serialized? I find it hard to believe that the bad guys stole and filed so many flatty cases when OHVs were much more popular. Second how do I check my L/H case without involving the man? Is there a way for civilians to "pull" the numbers out of the metal?

Post Mon Oct 16, 2006 12:46 pm

Posts: 150
Location: Carver, MN

I remember doing this one time, and as I recall I just used a little muriatic acid. You should be able to get it at your local hardware store. I think it is commonly used for cleaning brick. Use rubber gloves and do it outside if possible, cause the stuff and its fumes are really nasty. Just wipe some on the number pad with a disposable rag, wait a little while and if the numbers were simply filed off, they should start to show as a darker color, (though they will be fuzzy and hard to read). If numbers show up, you might as well proceed to the dumpster with the case, at least in my opinion. In the state where I live, possession of cases with serial numbers that have been tampered with is a felony. If the case doesn't show any numbers you need to nuetralize the acid that you put on by flushing with water. The muriatic acid also works for removing rust from hardware, as well as stripping zinc and cad plating. Be especially careful if you use it to strip cad though, as it is my understanding that the gas released from the process is cianide (what they use in a gas chamber) If your case doesn't show any signs of previous serial number, then what? If you stamp numbers in it, you have broken the law by "tampering". As far as I can see, it is a lose/lose situation. Good luck though.

Post Mon Oct 16, 2006 8:46 pm

Posts: 646
Location: Detroit
If they truly never had numbers and you can show proof of ownership you can use NOS cases with no numbers for an assembler's title.

However, if the number block looks funky, the cases probably are.
New Knuckleheads? Thank, you, Jesus!!

Post Mon Oct 16, 2006 11:27 pm

Posts: 2677
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Flathead rider axed,
Were any government bikes non-serialized?

Only assembled Army motorcycles had numbers on them. Replacement engines and caese were blank.

Post Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:35 am

Posts: 74
Location: Laguna Beach
You could also have the cases xrayed.

Post Mon Nov 06, 2006 8:12 pm

Posts: 90
Location: derry nh
few years ago state police were checking numbers on older bikes,when they stopped you for a traffic violation.then impounding the bike if they thought the numbers looked is in your best interest to have as much proof of ownership as possible.i live in NH.the DMV will not issue a title for an old bike.i always carry the bill of sale,the old title from WA the old and new registration.better to be safe than getting paranoid in your old age.cops check numbers on old bikes at most bike rallies.

Post Tue Nov 07, 2006 6:11 am

Posts: 323
Location: north central Ma.
Replacement cases have no numbers the dealer was suposed to transfer the old case numbers to the new cases.
My 52K model has an extra number on the cases seems in the state of Maine the State police would stamp the cases when replaced with the OEM number then add one digit to make sure there was no confustion later down the road. At least thats what i was told by the past owner of a very lage HD shop in ME.

"Smok'in the competition NOT Tobacco"
"Transplant organs, Don't bury them!"
Why dwarf? 5/8 scale race cars!

Post Fri Nov 10, 2006 11:31 am

Posts: 22
Location: Michigan
Did HD keep records as to what serial number went with which align bore (belly) numbers?

Post Thu Dec 21, 2006 2:39 am

Posts: 90
Location: derry nh
there is a set of 44 cases on ebay now, starting bid is $1300. 2 days to a rear cyclinder and piston.$750.retired now nothing better to do then surf for flathead parts.

Post Sat Dec 23, 2006 1:38 pm

Posts: 2677
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Kozy axed,
Did HD keep records as to what serial number went with which align bore (belly) numbers?

The short answer is yes.
The long answer is yes they do, but they won't let you know about it.
As a Franchised Harley-Davidson Dealer I visited the MoCo headquarters in Milwaukee. I went to the Service Department to talk to a friend who worked there. I told him I had Knucklehead serial number 4. He asked me if I knew the bottom number off hand and I said I did. He walked to a file cabinet which held the bottom numbers of every set of cases ever stamped in numerical order. Next to the bottom number was the engine number assigned to them. There were blanks here and there where cases were taken to be replacement parts. My bottom number showed that 36EL1004 was stamped on it so I know I have no problem. This information can only be accesed by Franchised Harley-Davidson Dealers or Law Enforcement.
Last edited by Chris Haynes on Sun Dec 24, 2006 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Post Sat Dec 23, 2006 10:10 pm
Pa Site Admin

Posts: 5547
Location: Ohio USA

In the numerous machine shops and industries I have worked in over the years, we kept the same types of records as the HD engine builds. Matching components were numbered as well as complete serializations. Our reasons for doing it was to have the ability to access those machining records at a later date for the customer. The customer may find himself in need of a service part, etc., that needed to be newly machined to meet the specifications as the original in order to mate up together correctly. Pa

Post Sun Dec 24, 2006 1:55 am

Posts: 630
Location: belgium
Chris these records will only be CONFIRMED to dealers or law .
When I was a dealer & being a juridical expert I had a few cases were bikes had been considered stolen by the law people and the importer who stated this after checking the numbers with a "blue lamp"and seeing the bikes being repainted.
The owners asked me for help to clear up these lies.
As it were evos I dismantled the engines to check the bellynumbers(inside cases on evo) and communicated the numbers along with the trans & framenumbers to the factory who send me a confirmation only, to state that these numbers belonged together.
I had to write twice the first time before I got an answer and they checked with the importer to see iff I was legit.

Post Sun Dec 24, 2006 4:37 pm

Posts: 2677
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Let me make it clear. The information is only available to Franchised Harley-Davidson Dealers and law enforcement personel. I was a Franchised Dealer. They don't allow aftermarket dealers into the MoCo Service Department.

Post Sun Dec 24, 2006 10:19 pm

Posts: 3010
Location: Central Illinois, USA
I have had better luck with my State authorities, although I am licensed, but not franchised.

Like Steph, I have submitted affidavits for legal decisions, at the request of authorities.

Twenty years ago I could submit a Panhead belly number from a right case and have the VIN returned by a personal phonecall. (Boy did that outlaw turn white when I told him the State was willing to stamp his repop left case with its original VIN! He ran.)

Scrutiny and registration is harder now, and rightfully so. The other edge of the sword is that it take much more effort to protect a customer's interests.
And that must ultimately cost the customer, so he damn well better do his own homework!

So now back to flatheadrider's original question: Is there a way for civilians to "pull" the numbers out of the metal?
I'm sure you can figure a way to do it, but a boogered case is still a boogered case: Any defiling of a VIN felonizes the case permanently by the strictest letter of the law in most States.

And even a skillfull cover-up will still get the stinkfinger when you try to sell it to a serious market.


Post Mon Dec 25, 2006 1:27 am

Posts: 630
Location: belgium
Sorry Chris I was an official franchised Harley dealer in Belgium!

Post Tue Dec 26, 2006 12:37 am

Posts: 74
Location: Wichita, KS
Here's the deal, I've got one "bad" L/H case and one that appears to be blank. I'ld like to know how to have the blank checked for temperature without involving the man. The "bad" case will be used for repair parts. But it would be nice to know whether it is warm or not also. I got it from a guy who had it under a bench for 20 years and he got it from a guy who had it under a bench for twenty years. Since the case is trash I was going to have it sliced and grafted onto an alternator L/H. Viola, a set of cases with no bad VIN boss but also no VIN boss. Will have to be registered as a "special construction", I can handle that, however I was hoping to use the belly numbers as a motor number on the title.

Has any one here mated an alt L/H to a gen R/H (OHV) and what did you do about registering it with no VIN?

Post Fri Dec 29, 2006 12:27 pm

Posts: 693
Location: somerset, oh usa
If this is the basis of a project where you will investing time and money and you value either; stop , turn around, go back and find a new path.

Post Tue Jan 02, 2007 1:10 pm

Posts: 22
Location: Michigan
Thanks to Chris Haynes for the answer on the blank cases and belly nos. It would look like the HD service dept. has the means to prove the legality of cases that have unstamped VIN bosses by using the belly nos. but either a HD dealer or the man would have to be involved.It could prove the cases were issued with out VIN nos. but couldn't prove they weren't stolen! I've seen BTSV cases stamped with non HD nos. with the nos. were issued by the state as an explaination. Can this happen or is it BS?

Return to Big Twin Flatties