When it comes to vintage choppers just about everything under the sun has been done, so it takes a true craftsman to take the inspiration from other builders and projects and make it truly their own. A machine that stands out and continues the line of inspiration for generations to come. Such is the case with the very unique 1948 Panhead built by Dan Haas of Galesburg, Illinois. Dan has spent a lifetime collecting antique oddities and sharpening his skills in metalwork and fabrication and his build is like a perfect blending of his love for obscure antiquities and the dedication to his craft. We spent a weekend with Dan in beautiful Daytona Beach Florida for the 2021 bike week and had the chance to get up close and personal with his incredibly "one off" machine. Something that you absolutely can not walk past without doing a double take at all the intricate details and custom brackets and fabrication. So here is our chance to do that double take and get to know Dan a little better in this one on one interview.
So let's start out with your name and some quick details on the bike.
Dan Haas is my name and it's a 1948 Panhead EL motor in a 1953 frame. It's got a 1948 Springer and most all of it is original parts aside from the rims. So, all original or handmade parts basically. The gas caps are model T Ford radiator caps that I had to silver braze into the necks that had to be made separate.
They almost resemble little brass cow udders. haha
Yeah they do, they were tarnished like this when I got them too and I was like, I just wanna leave them just like this. That's another thing too, there's a lot of stuff that goes together on here because it's crusty or tarnished.
There's really a good balance between clean and patina covered things on the bike. You did such a good job with that mix.
Right, right? Yeah another thing of note, for the throttle I made all the linkage by hand, this piece here on the throttle spring is a 45 Colt long shell that actually houses the spring and the other parts are like hot dog cart stainless that's what I made these daggers on the push rod covers with too. That's also what the kill switch is made from. I made all of the controls and shift linkage too. I made the plate holder also to look sort of like a funeral placard that's just what it reminded me of while I was making it. There's tons of parts on this bike that were all hand made just to get the right details that I wanted.
That almost looks like a Trident similar to the one on your foot clutch set up which I really love about the bike. I've come to appreciate that symbol even more after our Motorcycle Sherpa expeditions we did in the Himalayas because that Trident pitchfork type symbol is pretty much everywhere over there. It's the symbol of the "Trimurti" or essentially their holy Trinity, the protector(Vishnu), the creator (Brahma) and the destroyer(Shiva).
Yeah ,I dig that! I actually wanted to make another trident like that for a sissy bar topper sometime in the future.
You've got so much work on each part of this bike but what's one of your favorite parts of the bike do you think?
Probably the gas tank, man, that tank just took me forever. haha. I do really love this braided stainless holder for the oil filter though. it vibrates and springs with the motor. I think that thing will probably hold up forever because it's like, if it was just a round rod it would eventually fatigue and snap but, the way it shaped its super strong.
Who did all of the paintwork on the gas tank?
Scott from Chemical Candy Customs you know, chemical Randy.
Nice! Yeah, it looked like his style, everything he does turns out amazing.
Yeah it took a minute to get done but it was worth it.
So with this bike having so many different bits and pieces on it are you still continually adding things or is it essentially in its final form?
Well I've got some rear pegs I still wanna make. I've got some real cool foot pegs I wanna use, they are old claws off and antique table, you know like Eagle claws. I've wanted to do it for years.
I'm honestly kind of an antique/thrift store junkie as well myself. I have just got boxes and boxes of stuff I've acquired that I'm gonna use one day on a bike. I think every builder has that secret stash ya know. Haha.
Oh yeah, me too! For sure! All my shelves are packed with junk like that. A good example is this sissy bar I made. I found these old railroad spikes and flattened them down on a belt sander and then shaped them almost kind of like an upside down heart shape I guess. It was just something different I like it though.
Let's talk about some other parts of the bike you put some cool work in on. What's another part that stands out that you specifically re-purposed for the bike?
Well the foot clutch linkage rod is kind of cool. My dad was a pilot so he had some guide wires left over from his Steerman build project and these rods go on the rear section of the plane and they hold the tail in line. They are cool cause they are narrow and I just like the way they look. I had to weld the bolt to it and thread it but it ended up working out really good.
So when you park this bike at bike shows or events or even just cruising around town locally, do you end up getting yourself caught having to explain all these different intricate parts of the bike to people? Like do people sort of ask you questions about it so much to where you basically gotta just post up next to the bike the whole time?
Oh yeah and if I'm around I get a lot of people asking, what's this, what's that, where did you get this or how did you do that? It's funny because people instantly take notice, you see them walk by and then they have to backup and stop and walk by again. Haha
It's funny because even in the short time I've been around this bike at the past couple events you definitely see the look on people's faces turn from like "well I've seen some choppers like....ohh but wait, shit, I haven't seen a chopper like that! Hey come look at this!" haha. It's definitely worthy of the double take.
It definitely gets a lot of looks for sure.
So you had said a lot of stuff on this bike build was actually sort of like a nod to other builders that inspired you? You wanna elaborate on that a little?
Yeah definitely, a lot of builders that I look up to like Indian Larry mostly and I've always liked Billy lanes stuff too. Just anything old school, like when I was a kid I just really loved seeing open primaries and all that kind of shit you know. All the working moving parts. So a lot of the things I incorporated in to different parts of the bike were ideas for stuff I had seen them do but you know, I try not to steal their licks exactly you know. Like make something your own you know. Like the reason I put that Indian head on the tank was because the tribute bike they did for Indian Larry that they gave to his girlfriend Bambi, they put one of those on the gas tank. So I did that on mine to keep it sort of traditional I guess.
So is there any part of this bike, because there are so many things on it that would be considered a trinket or an antique, is there any part of it that has a special meaning to you that you put on the bike for a reason?
Well there is a lot of stuff on this bike that I've basically just had forever, it's kind of like my junk drawer I guess. haha. This little brass Cotter pin lock I got it out of the brickyards. Which was an old purington brick paver company in Galesburg, Illinois that they shut down back in 1976 but they were open forever cuz you know like purington bricks were everywhere. Anyway, one day I was just climbing a telephone pole out there and they had a lot of brass and copper hardware like this. Well I ended up realizing I had this in my junk drawer of finds years later so I stuck it on there because it was a perfect way to attach that push rod cover.
Honestly I've never seen one of those brass style locks that small, that is just too cool.
It's an 1800's dog lock, like some rich person's dog lock actually. They had these bad ass leather collars with little brass hardware with decorative and ornate pieces on there and they put these locks on them where they attached.
So something that I've always wondered and even someone at the broken spoke saloon was asking me if I knew and I didn't have a solid answer for them how exactly did you secure the Indian head onto that tank? Also really on that note, man, all of your creative mounting on this bike is some of the coolest hidden features of the build. For this Indian piece though, on a car hood that would have been bolted from the bottom inside which seems really difficult, yet there are no weld lines on the tank so it has to be bolted right? It's kinda mind boggling!
I actually had to Weld 3/8 chromoly tubing through the top and down through the tunnel. There are 2 bolt holes in here and I used threaded rod and ran them up to it and then I welded allen heads to a tubular bolt so I could put that into the threaded rod and then run it up in their cause I didn't want any bolt heads sticking out underneath. It's all flush in there. I also made this front mount bigger so I could put a light in the head and I just never got around to installing the light yet.
People would go crazy for that rolling the bike into somewhere at night! That would be pretty cool!
Totally! That was one of my missions to do before Daytona and then my primary chain needed changed and a new sprocket because I didn't hold highway miles real well but now it's running really freaking good.
So tell us a little bit about the motor?
Well it's a 1948 Pan head EL motor that I got a whole basket case with a rebuilt bottom and trans and a beautiful chopper frame and everything with it for $4000.
Jesus Christ! no way. Score of the century. Haha.
I sold most of the other parts to it so it basically ended up like I paid only 2 grand for the tranny and motor. I had a lot of work done to the heads to make sure they were squared away which unfortunately ended up being too great because I think I need to redo the ports or I possibly a manifold leak. My idle picked up and it started running a little rough yesterday here in town.
Well, with that in mind why don't we delve into your whole carb intake set up. So this is a linkert carb into a Mother's and then into an S&S correct?
Yep it's an M74 Linkert that I used a mother's performance intake manifold on, they are basically used to upsize, you would mount this to the linkert manifold then have the big end go into an SU carb or any multi fit thing. It's the same thing though if you turn it around and put it on an S&S manifold, that way you can run it O-ring style and not plumber style. It also turns it into a performance part because you've got an elongated manifold, that's why it doesn't like idling a lot but when you get on the gas man at hauls ass! It's an EL motor too but Ive got an FLH cam in it then the heads were ported and polished.
Well just riding next to you yesterday on that stock FLH shovel that Jeff lent us, man, there was just no way I could keep up with you! That thing was fucking fast!
Haha, yeah, It's light and I like to run the shit out of it. haha.
Well, I appreciate you letting me get up close with this thing a bit, I know people will be stoked on this, you definitely dont see this kind of detail in a bike every day and this thing stands out on it's own like no other bike I've ever seen.
Thank you, thank you. I appreciate it.
Photos and words by Mike Vandegriff