Lars “Buddha” Hallqvist’s Flathead chopper has got the wheels from a Honda 450, a generator from a Saab car and a voltage regulator from an Albin boat engine. It’d be easy to think that such a mishmash won’t work – but this chopper runs like a clock.
People customize and wreak havoc with their Harleys, but the mobile crane operator Lars “Buddha” Hallqvist, from Laholm, is pretty satisfied with his Flathead chopper. It was already built this way when he bought it five years ago, he simply had it painted and replaced a broken charging regulator.
This is not Buddha’s only bike. He has a 1994 Softail and an old NV 200cc machine from 1952. He also fiddles around with cars, a Pontiac station wagon and a Volvo light truck. And when he’s not busy with his bikes or cars Buddha tries some leatherworking, creating bags and seats.
As strange as it might sound, the Flathead chopper doesn’t really demand much in the ways of fixing, even though it’s from “the year after when the little man with the funny moustache set himself on fire”, as Buddha puts it, in other words, from 1946. I bought it from Rolf “Dala” Dahlgren in Malmö around five years ago. Dala is the one that once upon a time built the bike – god knows when – but it was featured in a 1987 issue of the Swedish custom magazine MCM. Buddha used to borrow the bike from Dala when he was visiting in Malmö and finally he bought it.
It’s built according to the old principle “you take what you’ve got”. The engine is a Harley 1200 cc Flathead, with ported heads and then “changed” a bit. But aside from this, there aren’t that many Harley parts used. The wheels are from a Honda 450. The triple trees, the handle bars, foot controls, seat and oil tank Dala has made himself, and the frame has been tinkered together from an assortment of pipes plus a rear engine mount and a transmission mount from a Harley, and copy of a Harley steering head. The petrol tank, purchased at Roffes, has been modified with a deeper tunnel, so that the whole electrical system fits inside, relays and everything. That’s how the ignition lock got its interesting placement, in the front end of the tank. The rear fender is welded onto a leaf spring so it doesn’t need any fender struts to support it. The baggage rack on the fender originates from a Triumph, the taillight from an old military Jawa, but the glass has been switched to one from a reflex, with an EU approval. The carburetor is an old Keihin.
Thus far, most of the stuff is from the motorcycle world, but the bike has borrowed technology from other vehicle types too. The old three-brush generator has been replaced with a two-brush generator from a Saab, but the armature comes from an Opel Kadett, and it has been modified to rotate in the opposite direction. The voltage regulator originates from an Albin boat engine and the points from an Volvo Amazon.
The machine works unbelievably well and it runs like a bat out of hell. It’s always easy to start, with no starter motor to cause trouble. Actually, the only problem that Buddha’s had with the bike was that the voltage regulator stopped working, two years ago, but it was easy to replace. The bike doesn’t even require much in the way of maintenance, just an oil change and a set of fresh spark plugs once a year. Last year it got a new drive chain and new tires. It runs like a clock, Buddha says
He also notes that the engine doesn’t leak any oil at all.
Buddha finds his Flathead chopper much more entertaining to drive than his Softail. I can easily ride at freeway speeds. Nobody has ever complained that I force them to lower the tempo when we’re out riding. The acceleration might not be the same as that of my buddies’ bikes, but that’s the one little thing.
The Flathead gets a lot of exercise. Buddha uses it to ride to work, when the weather is okay, and he rides it a lot in evenings and on weekends. But when it’s time for vacation, the Softail comes out of the garage, because his wife, Ewa, is riding along, so he needs something that’s good for riding two up. That doesn’t mean that the Flathead chopper isn’t a good touring bike. Dala used a couple of times, when riding down to France. A thing that Buddha appreciates with the bike is that many older bikers recognize the engine and approach for a little chat.
The Flathead chopper will live on in the same style mainly, except for but a couple of tweaks. If Buddha can find the time, he’ll re-upholster the seat, and then a new paint job is in the works, because of a hole in the paint on the tank.
Engine: Harley 74 cui Flathead with ported heads and a few “changes”
Carburetor: Early Keihin
Frame: Custom built by Dala
Triple-Trees: Custom built by Dala
Fork tubes: Triumph fork tubes
Handle bars: Custom built by Dala
Petrol tank: Bought at Roffes and modified by Dala
Foot controls: Custom built by Dala
Seat: Custom built by Dala
Oil tank: Custom built by Dala
Rear fender: Strengthened with leaf spring
Baggage rack: From a Triumph
Taillight: From a Jawa
Wheels: From a Honda 450
Generator: From a Saab with an armature from an Opel
Voltage regulator: From an Albin boat engine
Ignition: Points from a Volvo Amazon
Paint job: By Buddhas friend Möllan