Classic Harley-Davidson has taken on another project for the winter of 2023. The owner acquired a 1958 Duo-Glide that is almost completely broken down. The motor is in the frame but just about everything else is in boxes, buckets, and dressers... yes you read that correctly, DRESSERS! This winter one of our techs, Steve, will take on the long process of putting this bike back together over the winter.
About the Duo-Glide
The 1958 Harley-Davidson FL Duo-Glide motorcycle introduced a genuine rear suspension system, finally giving riders of the big Harleys smoother, modern ride. Prior to the rear suspension system Harley-Davidson relied on a sprung saddle for "rear" suspension, the big Harleys adopted a swingarm with coil-over shocks in 1958. With that, the Hydra-Glide became the "Duo-Glide", upping the ante in the touring market.
Along with the rear suspension the 58' also received other updates including a hydraulic rear brake, a stronger transmission and clutch, better connections for the exhaust headers at the head plus optional white-wall tires. The model characterized “Dressers” and the increasing number of accessories included Royalite saddlebags, a floating Buddy seat with chromed grab rail and dual exhausts.
The Duo-Glide was available as the FL and FLH, (H for Highway).
Video courtesy of Periscope Film (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EuKaRHMzU0&t=448s) https://periscopefilm.com/
How This Bike Got To Classic
One of Classic's customers stopped in this summer with photos of the 1958 Panhead. He wanted to get an idea of what it would cost to get it running again. The bike belonged to his father, who had passed away earlier in the year. His father had owned the bike since the 1960's and ridden it about 26,000 miles.
In 1971, the local Harley-Davidson dealer in the Jim Thorpe area was closing and a new dealership was being opened. The outgoing dealer sold off all of the older inventory that they had in stock prior to the transfer of dealership ownership. The customer's father bought everything that he thought would fit his 1958 Panhead. At some point in early 2000s the bike was stripped down to be rebuilt using some of the "new" parts that had been purchased in 1971. It had gotten to the point of stripping the bike down to the frame, but the father was never able to rebuild the bike.
After some discussion, the customer opted to sell his dad's bike to us knowing that we would restore the bike back to its original state.
Steve has begun the long process of going through everything that was purchased for the 58'. This project came with so many pieces including new, still in the box, replacement parts that were purchased years and years ago. He is orgnizing the parts and laying them out so that he get get access to them when he needs them.
One great item found in the bags of the bike is this "Holy Letter". Many bikers today are familiar with bells hanging on their bike. We believe this letter had the same folk lore as the bells. This letter contains a prayer for the rider and the bike. It was found taped to the inside of the bag. We pulled this letter out and tried to unravel it, then mounted it in a frame. The missing piece seen on the right hand side is still stuck to the tape on the interior of the bag. We did not want to damage the letter or the bag and unfortunately the letter got the brunt of the damage.
The frame as well as the front end suspension seems to be in decent condition. The front end of this Duo-Glide uses the previous years Hydra-Glide front end suspension. Steve will be taking apart the suspension and ensuring that it is in working condition. As you can see the boxes are full of headlights, covers, bolts, washers, and a plethora of other odds and ends.
Keeping things organized is a priority. As seen above there are so many small pieces and parts. As Steve was digging through the boxers he came across a box filled with wiring, harnesses, and other electronics. The wiring harness pictures was taken out of the bike and the previous owner had labeled each section of the wiring harness.
It looks as though he may have rushed it and didn't get to labeling everything correctly, or he was sincerely confused as the one tag says "Oil Switch I Think"!
Pictured here are the original wheels and tires. The tires seem to be in great shape BUT we will be replacing these as they are old, dry rotted, and for safety reasons. Moving forward the wheels will have white wall tires on them.
Steve has taken out the bearings and re-greased them to ensure that the wheel rolls smooth
As part of this lot there were original hard bags. These bags were offered as an accessory that the customer could purchase to attach and add storage to their bike for the long haul. One of the craziest things is these bags have matching part numbers. That is very rare as most bags were lost, replaced, or tossed.
As stated above, the holy letter was found taped inside of one of these bags. We believe it may have been a family member that had given it to the owner or it may have been a tradition from the dealership to have this letter given to each customer.
These bags will be cleaned up and reattached to the bike when it is finished.
The original windshield and buddy seat have seen better days. The buddy seat is actually a two person seat. The metal frame around the back of the seat was actually intended to be used as a handle for the back passenger. This seat is very long from end to end to ensure each rider had enough room to sit.
The tins from this bike came prepped which is also a huge time saver for Steve and the team at Classic. These tins will still need some work done to them prior to paint but most of the hard work has already been completed by the previous owner. As you can see the tins look to be in great condition and are primed but there are still some spots showing rust.
The owner has made it clear that this bike will be returning to it's original color, black and white. Winter is the perfect time to get the tins painted. Thankfully Steve can continue to work on the bike while these are prepped and sent out to the painters.
Just like the 57' Panhead Revival project, the rear fender is hinged. This was to allow the technicians to gain access to the back wheel with out having to take off the entire fender when they needed to replace the tire or work on the rear end.
A lot of the chrome that was on this bike is tarnished, falling off, or non-existent anymore. Some of these pieces should have no problem being buffed out and restored. Other pieces such as covers that barely have any of the chrome left on them will be restored to look like cast pieces. There is so much of the chrome flaked off so it would be very difficult to get that chrome shine back.
Our detailing crew at Classic work wonders with bikes and will have these pieces looking like new once they are finished with them.
The chrome that has weathered all of these years is going to look absolutely amazing!
Steve is currently taking apart the engine, piece... by... piece. This is a painstaking process to ensure that the engine and it's parts are safe and useable.
He is cleaning each part and checking for any wear. He then is re-coating the parts in the proper lubricants so that when they go back into the bike they are ready to go. It is amazing to see the tiny pieces that they used to hold parts together and make the engine work.
Steve's bay is full of rags and parts laid out everywhere. This is to stay organized. If he were to lose one piece it could take months to find a replacement as these parts are hard to come by.
The previous owner had begun trying to restore the bike but obviously did not finish. There are some new pieces of metal on the frame that held the engine in place but most of the bike, as of now, is still very much so original or has original replacement parts.
Steve has begun working on the front forks. He has been looking for a specific tool that is used to to take apart and work on the front end. Steve was unsure if we had the correct tool so he started to dig around the dealership.
Steve was looking around and needed something to stand on so he pulled out this tool box. Before he stepped on the toolbox he noticed writing on the top. Wouldn't you know, this tool box holds the exact tool he was looking for. It looks like someone finger painted "HYDRA GLIDE FORK TOOLS" on the top.
This tool is over 70 years old. It was originally acquired from Applegate Harley-Davidson. Throughout the 70 years this tool has been passed down from dealer to dealer. This tool has most likely been through 4 or more dealerships.
Today the restoration guide for the Duo-Glide showed up. While going through the book Steve was looking in the Wheels section and had noticed the wheels that we have, and will be using, are either factory original OR OEM replacements. Our wheels show all of the correct indications that they are true Harley-Davidson wheels. These wheels bear the stock number of "40F-705", "16x300", and the name "Kelsey-Hayes". Aftermarket rims generally are unmarked.