The Freight Train - Brent Buengers 1948 Memorial Panhead

“This bike was built in memory of my dad,” Brent Buenger tells us. “My dad had a subscription to Easyriders when I was a kid and we always talked about building a Panhead chopper together. This was back the 1980’s and he was riding FXRs at the time. Time passed, as it seems to do, and unfortunately so did he. We never got around to building that chopper together, but the idea of it always stayed with me.” So, as money and time permitted, Brent set out to begin the process.

The project started with a pair of clapped-out engine cases in desperate need of repairs. The cases were numbers-matching and had the original VIN with title, so Brent started there. Tom Shaw (RIP) at Creekside Welding and Machine repaired the cases. From there, Brent spent about five years acquiring parts on a one-piece-at-a-time basis.

The engine is an 86-inch stroker with Truett and Osborn flywheels, an Andrews B2 cam, and S&S pistons. The bottom end assembly was done by Jeremiah Armenta at Love Cycles in Phoenix while the top end machining was handled by Steve Norton at Nomad Machine Works in Tucson. “I assembled the top end and did the final motor assembly myself,” Brent says. “The bike is fueled by an S&S Two- Throat carb and ignited by a Morris Magneto. I tried to incorporate as many original Harley main components where possible. The frame is an original, modified 1949- 50 wishbone that I had repaired (the neck was full of bondo and stuffed with newspaper) by Haifley Bros. in Phoenix.” The fork is a 6-inches over original 1946-48 offset springer. The transmission is a 1959 four-speed with ratchet top. The heads and jugs are also OEM Harley parts. This sweet Pan stops with an OEM 1958-62 juice drum and rolls on a 21-inch star hub (Timken bearing) front wheel, a Cannonball Mag-12 rear mag wheel, and Firestone/Coker ribbed tires front rear.

After acquiring the majority of parts, the actual build time for the bike took about three months. “My 8-year-old son helped me out a bit on the assembly,” Brent says with pride. “My overall objective was to create a clean and subtle chopper that could rip (hence the stroker motor).” In order to achieve the look he was after, Brent incorporated several cast aluminum components and kept the chrome well-balanced. “I fabricated the handlebars, sissybar, and spring fork legs myself.” The minimalist seat was handmade by B&C Cycles.

“I painted the tins myself in my garage with some House of Kolor paint I had left over,” Brent says. The tank and fender artwork were done by Bugsy Pageau at Machine Age Tattoo in Tucson. “The artwork is symbolic of the memorial for my dad. He worked on a railroad, and time definitely does not wait for anyone. There’s not much more that I can say, other than I miss my dad dearly and I wish he was here to see it. If this bike could give advice, it would be to take the time to do things that are important to you and your family. I try to do the best I can with my son, but as we all know, time often passes too quickly and we sometimes get lost.”

Truer words were never spoken, Brent. Ride free forever.

—Brent Buenger and Choppers Magazine

Story by Brent Buenger and Choppers Magazine

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