Yes, times have changed for the '41-59 OHV builder without all OEM parts that used to be available (the only years and models I can have an opinion about). A lathe comes in handy for front axle modifications. A Foredom die grinder (with a separate cable fed motor) is good to have.... and a qualified Harley mechanic who has a complete machine shop behind him helps.
I built a rolling Panhead chassis from a V-Twin frame, with front and back brakes that work, and only used a file and a 7" grinder and die grinder and made it all fit. Some parts like the handlebars are as good as n.o.s. Harley. Parts like with the Glide front brake cover were the biggest challenge and the fork slider leak was hard to figure out, but I had some direction from Mbskeam; and with the crossover shaft reaming, another Mbskeam
idea where he took an socket extension and made a collar out of fiberglass tape that worked like a pilot. But you know, now that I've built one rolling chassis, I could build more and know what to look for immediately.
The frame problems stopped me cold three times. If Don @Corbin hadn't tweaked mine into shape, I'd have been done-in on the project, because we wouldn't have been able to advise a repair. But, I think now all the bad rigid Pan frames are past history. Mine was from '97.
My only regret is that we didn't get to buy a V-Twin replica Knuckle motor and strip it down to the flywheels.
As soon as I can get out to re-paint my frame and fenders, I'm rolling again.
People like the sound of a mufflered Harley. They can speak and be heard as it's idling, and you're not a threat - all which makes a great end to the conversation - Sitting astride
the machine, kick it through once*. Say your good-byes, turn open the tank shut off, retard the timer, find the compression stroke, turn the switch ON, and kick-it through completely. It's nice when it starts into a steady lope and speeds up a tiny bit when you pull the timer to full advanced.
It's a rigid Pan or a Knuckle and there is no other comparison. Coolest motorcycles on the planet.
Why the mfgrs. don't make at least every part on Knuckle and Pan to OEM perfection is a question for the scholars. The reasons are manifold, so we deal with the facts and how to adapt.
* This motor was warm, so one prime kick (w/ a Linkert). If the motor doesn't start or mis-fires, you can still hold their rapt attention, if you just leave the key ON, and still standing astride the motorcycle, find the compression stroke again, even if it misfires again while doing so (it will never "kick-back" like a BSA, B-33). And, the amazing part of this polished, fast moving ritual-to-an-onlooker, is that with seeming little effort or "jumping" up and down you've started this huge motor while almost "sitting" down, by about your third steady kick through. So guaranteed to work on a 61 or 74" motor, that you can still talk to them as your kicking it through. It always starts and you've never touched the ignition switch. Awesome is what you'll leave behind.