The 2015 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame raffle bike is getting a frame-up restoration. The 1965 Harley-Davidson FLH Electra Glide looked good before, but the “after” is going to look amazing—and the bike will run just like new.
The 2015 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame raffle bike is getting a frame-up restoration. The 1965 Harley-Davidson FLH Electra Glide looked good before (right), but the “after” is going to look amazing—and the bike will run just like new.
Raffle tickets for the 2015 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame raffle bike are $5 each or five for $20. They are available by calling (800) 342-5464 or online at www.motorcyclemuseum.org. The winner will be announced at AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days July 10-12 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
As of early January, Mike Wells at C&S Cycle Service in Mount Victory, Ohio, was just about ready to start installing bodywork. We caught up with Mike to find out more about this project and others that he is working on at his central Ohio shop.
What did Mike do to our raffle bike?! (Photo: Mike Wells)
American Motorcyclist: What's the process for restoring the raffle bike?
Mike Wells (in photo at right): We stripped the bike down to the bare frame and basically we’re completely restoring the bike.
The motor and transmission have been completely rebuilt. All the bearings have been gone through, and anything that needs to be replaced, we replace it. With a bike this old, you just replace all the bearings because even if it’s in spec, you don’t want to risk it. Once we’re done, it will be just like it came out of the factory.
It’s going to be repainted—the fuel tanks, the fenders, some things will be re-chromed and some will be replaced with new parts. The wheels have been re-spoked with stainless steel spokes so you don’t have to worry about them rusting. Everything that was polished will be polished.
Performance-wise, we’re not looking to build a hot rod, but the cam was worn, so we replaced that with a little better cam that will help the bike run better. The idea is to have something that someone can ride around that will be dependable.
We powder-coated the frame, which lasts a heck of a lot longer than paint. The cylinders have been powder coated. We’re honing the cylinders and installing new pistons. The motor will be pretty much brand new.
AM: What about the electrics?
MW: This bike sat for about 20 years, so once I got it torn apart, I could tell! Some of the electrical stuff was corroded and the seals and gaskets were gone.
I work with a company that can provide a wiring harness to match the factory harness. The original used cloth wire, and we can still get that. It comes as a harness and individual wires. We have a sheet from Harley that specs out which color goes where, and we can match it perfectly, right down to the length.
The polished valve covers shine brightly, while the powder-coated frame will stand up to years of abuse. (Photo: Jeri Amrine)
AM: Is there anything unique about how this motorcycle operates?
MW: It’s pretty similar to modern machines. This year, 1965, was the first year for electric start for Harley. Sure, they did upgrade some things over the years, but ’65 was a pretty reliable bike. The ’65 was a smooth-running bike. It has shocks in the rear and a pogo seat.
One thing that I won’t use, though, is the rear chain oiler. Anytime I restore one that has a rear chain oiler, I always turn that off. It makes a mess. Basically, what it does is drip motor oil on the rear chain. Once you get so much oil on that chain, it’s going to start slinging it all over the place. Today, we have o-ring chains and even if you don’t use an o-ring chain, there is chain oil that sticks to the chain and won’t fling off. It’s much better than motor oil, which, when you are running sidewall tires, can make them look really bad.
Mike says that the factory chain oiler is unnecessary with modern chains. Our whitewalls thank him. (Photo: Jeri Amrine)
AM: What do you specialize in?
MW: The earliest bike I ever worked on was a 1914, so let’s say I’ll work on anything from 1914 to 2015. I don’t paint. I have a guy who paints for me. But everything else is done in house.
We do maintenance here as well as restoration and performance work. We’re pretty much all Harley. I got all my experience from working on Harleys from my father-in-law, Curby Cochran, who was a Harley dealer. He was a Harley dealer up in Michigan—Curby’s Harley-Davidson. After he moved to Ohio, he and I got to working on friends’ bikes, and then it turned into this.
I’ve been doing a lot of restorations, which I really enjoy. I’m restoring a ’75 Shovelhead, a ’68 Sportster and this ’65 FLH. Not too long ago, I did a 1947, and I have another 1960 Panhead to restore.
AM: What do you enjoy working on the most?
MW: I like working on the old Flatheads from the ’40s. Those are always interesting to work on. They are hardtails. I’ve done quite a few of those, and it’s always interesting how they have the hand shift and the foot clutch. Often, those will come in as a basket case and the owner has never ridden them, so when they come to pick it up, I have to get them a lesson on how to start it and how to ride it. If you don’t do it a lot, it can be tricky.
AM: What’s your advice for amateur restorers?
MW: The biggest thing is to get a service manual. They don’t cost that much, and a good factory service manual will instruct you through everything. Plus, it will tell you what specialty tools you need. Some jobs really can’t be done correctly without the right tool.
All the old bikes, they’re fairly easy to work on and you can still enjoy them, like this ’65 FLH. This will be a great bike to take out on all kinds of rides, and it’s fairly straightforward to work on.
Mike, admiring his work. (Photo: Jeri Amrine)