HARLEY engines (excluding early engines with total loss oil systems) manufactured up until 1999 used some form of timed breathing to scavenge oil from the crankcase and deliver it to the vicinity of the return oil pump so that it could be sent back to the oil tank.
Timed breathing was introduced on the first Knuckleheads in 1936 and remained fundamentally unchanged on OHV Big Twins through to the end of production of the Evolution engines in 1999. Sidevalve engines and Sportsters used a similar system in as much as a breather opened and closed in relation to the position of the pistons in the cylinders.
With timed breathing, as the pistons travel down the bore, a rotary breather valve starts to open and the pressure created under the pistons pushes the oil-air through the open breather valve window into the cam chest and pickup area for the scavenge pump. When the pistons commence their trip back up the cylinders, the breather valve closes and a vacuum is created which sucks oil from the crankcase into the breather cavity. As the engine continues to rotate, the suck and blow cycle continues.
The vacuum created in the breather valve by the up-stroke of the pistons has also been used for other scavenging operations. Knuckleheads use this vacuum to return top-end oil and early Electra Glides relied on vacuum to retrieve engine oil from the primary chaincase where it was used to lubricate the primary chain.
At the left side of this crankcase you can see the window leading into the timing chest.
When the opening in the rotary breather valve lines up with the window, a passage is formed and oil-air is forced out of the crankcase cavity by the pressure under the pistons travelling down their bores. In this photo the breather valve is just starting to open. The rotary breather valve makes one full revolution for every revolution of the engine.
When building engines for racing and high performance applications, the breather window in the crankcase can be opened up somewhat with a resulting increase in horsepower and scavenging efficiency. This is a very exacting job and the precise opening and closing times of the breather valve needs to be calculated in crankshaft degrees.
Traditionally, the breather valves were machined from steel with a ground finish on the outside diameter. These gave very little trouble, and unless foreign material from an engine failure tried to get through, they would last forever.
In late 1977 Harley replaced these steel breather valves with a moulded plastic or nylon version. These were not as durable and premature wear in the breather valve bore was common. A steel breather valve in these engines is a very worthwhile update.
A period repair. This breather valve bore had been damaged and repaired with a bronze sleeve. This same repair can now be accomplished with an oversized breather valve produced by S&S. The S&S breather valves are available in standard and oversize diameter for all models 1936 through to 1999. Although this crankcase has been glass-bead blasted and is very dusty, the various passages that line up with their respective holes in the rotary breather valve can be easily seen.
Sidevalve breather valve
Sportster breather valve
Knucklehead breather valve
Evolution breather valve
For 1993 through to 1999 Big Twin engines, S&S has devised an alternative to the gear-driven breather valve in the form of a reed valve. This clever gadget fits in the existing breather valve bore and does not rotate although it still uses the same window. The end result is much the same but is achieved in a slightly different manner.
As with the timed breather, the pistons travel downward in the cylinders and the pressure in the crankcases increases. This pressure causes the reeds to open, allowing the air and oil mist in the crankcase to escape into the cam chest. When the pistons change direction and begin travelling back up the cylinders, a vacuum is created in the crankcase which causes the reeds to close, preventing air from entering the crankcase. The effect is that a slight vacuum is maintained in the crankcase and oil scavenging is greatly improved. These reed valves are also available in oversize for damaged crankcases.
A full range of S&S breather valves and related parts are available from Redgrave Motorcycles at all times. Call for more details. Redgrave Motorcycles: 02-9484-9955.
JAMES GASKETS manufacture all the gaskets and seals required to service the Linkert, Bendix and Keihin carburetors fitted as original equipment to Harley-Davidson motorcycles from 1936 through to 2006 when the carburetors were finally phased out.
We have chosen a carburetor from either end of this 60-plus year spectrum which we will completely overhaul using the James gasket kit for the specific carb selected. Any hardware required to bring this carb back to as-new condition will be selected from the Colony inventory held at Redgrave Motorcycles.
A Linkert was chosen as a good all-round example of the early carburetors. Linkerts were fitted to all H-D 80”, 74”, 61” and 45” engines up until 1965. The earliest application for these carburetors appears to around 1930; up until then Harley was using Schebler carburetors which were very similar to the early Linkerts. We will concentrate on the Linkerts produced from 1936 onwards and in particular the M74B fitted to FLs and FLHs from late 1951 until 1965.
The carburetor is the plain tube type with a venturi and a discharge nozzle which draws fuel from the float bowl. This is metered by two jets, one for low speed and one for high speed.
The extreme simplicity of the Linkert is obvious in this exploded view of a typical Linkert.
These are all the pieces supplied in the various James Gaskets carburetor kits. The gaskets and seals are of the very best quality and are suitable for today’s fuel.
New needle and seat with correct washer ready to be installed. The thickness of the washer used to seal the seat against the floatbowl is very critical as it affects the height of the seat in relation to the rim of the float bowl.
The fuel filter will have a new Colony strainer added to complete this section of the carb.
If necessary complete fuel filters are available from Colony and stocked by Redgrave Motorcycles in three versions for accurate restorations of the various year groups.
The new float bowl gasket in place. At this stage the carb is going back together after being completely dismantled and cleaned. Throttle shaft bushings have been replaced and sized.
With the venturi, main nozzle and retaining spring back in place, and float correctly adjusted, the float bowl can be installed with the new copper washer furnished with the James kit and a new Colony float bowl nut.
If the venturi is damaged or there is some doubt as to whether it is the correct venturi for your project carburetor, Redgrave Motorcycles has a full range of new venturis for all popular Linkerts.
Generally the float bowls will need to be left slightly loose to gain optimum alignment with the fuel line after the carb is tightened up to the inlet manifold, The float bowl nut can then be snugged up. This particular model has two small dowels that locate the needle and seat section of the bowl in the centre of the carb body. The fuel filter will need to lined up with the rigid fuel pipe before it can be tightened for keeps.
The completed carby ready to be installed with some Colony hardware.
Starting in 1948 Harley-Davidson furnished an insulator block with the Linkert carbs. This is the reason for the second four-bolt manifold gasket supplied in the kit, one either side of the block. The inclusion of the insulator block and the second gasket meant longer screws were required. These hex-headed screws come with a slot as well and can be run up with a screwdriver then tightened with a 7/16” socket. These special screws are available from Colony.
Correct air cleaner screws and a fresh set of lock-plates are another Colony specialty and will be used to hold the original air cleaner in place.
First fitted in 1990, the CV carbs are the last style of carburetor to be fitted to Harley-Davidson motorcycles. These are a particularly good carburetor and are much sort after by owners of earlier models.
The CV carburetor is a constant velocity style with gravity feed and a float operated inlet valve and features a variable venturi. Rather than a choke like the Linkert, the CV has a fuel enrichment circuit for starting
After washing and inspecting, the carburetor can be reassembled with the components from the James Gaskets #27006-88 carburetor kit.
The new needle, which comes in the kit, can be dropped into position and the float can be slipped into place and accurately adjusted.
Adjusting the float level. With the carburetor body held at an angle between 15 and 20 degrees to a horizontal surface, the setting should be 0.413”—0.453” from the float top the float bowl surface.
Diagram : Page 4-17 ‘91 and ’92 Softail service manual.
Exploded view of the CV carby.
The float bowl can now be installed as soon as the new moulded seal is pressed into its retaining groove.
A new diaphragm, spring and boot for the activating rod, as well as two small O-rings, are required for the accelerator pump.
The diaphragm for the vacuum piston is not included with the overhaul kit and if damaged must be bought Genuine. This one was in perfect condition and was simply cleaned and reinstalled with the piston/slide spring and needle assembly.
This completes the service of the Keihin CV carburetor, a very straight forward procedure with no machining required, just a thorough cleaning, some minor adjustments and careful assembly using the quality components from the James Gaskets kit.
If you’d like more info on James or Colony products, call Richard at Redgrave Motorcycles: 02-9484-9900.
IN THE INTERESTS of good journalism, I should declare my personal bias. There is a special place in my heart for single cylinder motorcycles. I love twins. I don’t even mind triples and fours. In fact, if it’s got two wheels and an engine, I’m usually pretty happy. I don’t know what it is about single cylinder motorcycles, though, whether it’s the pop-pop-pop soundtrack or the inherent simplicity that I find so endearing; maybe it’s both. Singles are also usually light, torquey and a whole lot of fun to ride down a twisty road.
I told Skol (Ozbike Publisher) I’d pick up the Royal Enfield Continental GT and be at the office by mid-morning. It’s already mid-morning and I’m just arriving at Royal Enfield’s Sydney store on Parramatta Road. Never mind, I’ll just grab the bike and haul arse.
“Morning,” says Will Keith who runs the place. “Do you fancy having a go on a couple of other Enfields before you take the Conti?”
What could I do? Skol’s waiting for me and I’m already late.
“Sure, I’d love to take them for a spin.”
After all, I’m supposed to be a professional motorcycle journalist!
Finally, I rock up at the Ozbike office and by now it’s well after midday.
“You’re buying lunch,” grunts Skol, and with that we’re heading east, Skol and his dog in his Harley outfit and me on the Royal Enfield Continental GT (still liking that name). As we rip through the Cross City Tunnel with the bike’s exhausts reverberating off the concrete walls, it’s hard not to smile at one of life’s small pleasures.
As we emerge from the Tunnel into the bright sunlight of a Sydney spring day, a dark thought crosses my mind. We’re heading into Sydney’s wealthy Eastern Suburbs, an area not famous for its cheap lunches and I’m supposed to be paying! While I’m worrying about opening my wallet, Skol turns off the road and heads off across what appears to be a grass paddock. We pull up outside an old timber shed, on the side of the Harbour, where people are sitting around drinking while someone cooks very tasty looking snags on a big old BBQ. The view across the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour to the city is sensational. Unbelievably, when it comes to paying for lunch for both of us, I get change from $10—no wonder it’s called the lucky country.
Before we leave, we take a few shots of the Royal Enfield Continental GT against a back-drop of yachts. The bike looks pretty good; all that polished alloy glinting in the Sydney sun.
Looking over the bike you notice there are no fancy fasteners; it’s all good old-fashioned nuts and bolts with ample clearance around them. You could probably service this thing with its own tool kit. A kit that contains a pair of tyre levers (when did you last see those in a new bike’s tool kit?)
Skol decides his dog needs a swim so we head around to Watsons Bay where there happens to be a pub conveniently located next to the beach.
Riding through the tight winding backstreets past the big houses of Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, the Royal Enfield Continental GT is a bit of a revelation—the suspension deals with the pot-holes and ripples of the road without a worry; the 18-inch Excel-rimmed wheels shod in sticky Pirelli rubber and the Harris-designed chassis keep everything stable and going where it’s pointed.
Despite being a café racer, it’s a pretty comfortable ride. The clip-ons are mounted above the top triple clamp and the rear-sets aren’t too rear-set.
I should mention at this point that the front Brembo brake works really well—thanks very much to the tool driving the black Range Rover (who would have thought you’d see one of those in the Eastern Suburbs?) for testing my emergency braking technique.
There’s a lot of fuss at the moment in Sydney about dogs in hotels. Apparently they’re unhygienic and dangerous. If that’s the reason they should probably ban beer too. I’ve seen people do some pretty unhygienic and dangerous things after drinking that stuff. I only mention this because we’d been rehydrating at the Watson’s Bay Hotel for a while before I realised Skol’s dog was sitting under the table. Skol didn’t seem to care and neither did any of the people around us so I didn’t bother notifying the relevant authorities.
The dog had a swim in the crystal clear water and then it was time to cut through the Sydney afternoon traffic to pick up my youngest from school.
The Royal Enfield Continental GT has no drama slipping through the banked-up inner city traffic. There’s not much heat coming off the EFI 535 cc motor and it’s narrow enough to slip through most gaps. In fact, the only drama I experienced on my first day with the Royal Enfield was when I pulled up at the school. No pillion seat. You can buy one as a genuine accessory from Royal Enfield for the sum of $290 including pillion foot pegs, which seems very reasonable. The test bike didn’t come with this optional extra so the youngest had to walk home.
Next day Skol decided we should go for a run up the Bells Line of Road to the Jenolan Caves. I knew it was going to be a ‘spirited’ run when I arrived at the office and he was sitting on the 1200 cc Sportster; looks like the dog would be staying at home.
We rode past all the outlets offering massive savings, then further out of town past all the churches offering saving of a very different kind. We rode past the RAAF base with its seemingly ever-circling Hercules, through Richmond, and on up into the Blue Mountains. I know the surface has deteriorated and they’ve sign-posted the road at 80 km/h, but the Bells Line of Road is still a very special piece of tarmac. All those corners, the views, the corners, the fresh air, the corners, and finally… the corners.
You can cruise along in top gear on the Royal Enfield Continental GT making use of the low down torque, throwing it around the corners knowing the ground clearance and Brembo brakes will get you out of trouble. It isn’t a fast motorcycle, it doesn’t make masses of horsepower, but it is relatively light, stable and comfortable. The joy in riding bikes like the Royal Enfield Continental GT is that you don’t need to be seriously breaking the speed limit to have a good time. It’s engaging in a whole different way—you have to enter the corner with plenty of speed and trust the chassis and the tyres to get you out the other side.
Out in the fresh air and sunshine of the Blue Mountains, chasing Skol who was riding a bike making three times the power of the Royal Enfield Continental GT, I had a ball.
We didn’t make it to the Jenolan Caves. I’m going to blame the Sporty’s fuel-tank range; it had nothing to do with the fact we found a pub on the way.
On the way back, I rode the wheels off the Royal Enfield Continental GT managing to keep ahead of Skol until the road straightened out and the Sportster’s horsepower advantage couldn’t be overcome. That night I slept well.
The next day I needed to slip up to the Central Coast to do a favour for a mate. I thought I’d take the motorway to see how the Royal Enfield Continental GT coped with it. Start pushing the speed limit and the vibrations get a little annoying but never terminal. Ease it back a little and you could cruise all day. Sure, you get wind blast but the riding position is pretty comfortable.
Off the freeway and onto the back roads heading up the Central Coast and the Royal Enfield Continental GT is in its element. I realise café racers were born in 1950s Britain with rationing still in place and some truly shocking weather, but this is where I’d prefer to ride a café racer—with dappled sunlight shining through the gum trees, the smell of spring in the air and a twisting, turning road with views of the wide, blue Pacific Ocean.
Back in the city, I decided I’d been doing far too much ‘sports-touring’ and not enough ‘café racing’. As I understand it, the original café racers would meet at cafes, put a song on the juke box, then tear off up the road on a prearranged course, trying to return before the song finished. Pretty easy, right? Well you try finding a café in Sydney with a juke box.
My plan was to listen to a song on my phone through the earpiece and try to make it from one famous café to another before the song ended. I started at Café Sydney in Circular Quay (this isn’t really a café, more of a fancy restaurant, but it is famous) and headed to Harry’s Café de Wheels in Woolloomooloo (which is more of a food van, but again, it’s famous). I checked out the distance on Google Maps—1.5 km and listed at four minutes travel time. Thanks to the trusted Royal Enfield Continental GT, I made it with the music from Bat Out of Hell still playing in my ear.
Encouraged by my café racing success, I decided to go a little further to Deus Café in Camperdown and while there check out a few of their custom built café racers. Harry’s Café de Wheels to Deus café—5.7 km and 15 minutes travel time. No dramas, I pulled up at Deus with Stevie Wright still belting out Evie in my ear.
As I was getting back on the bike outside Deus, two guys pulled up next to me, and as often happens with motorcyclists, we struck up a conversation.
“Not a bad little retro,” said one of them.
I explained that the Royal Enfield Continental GT is not a really a retro motorcycle; it is the most modern motorcycle Royal Enfield have ever produced.
“What sort of power does it make?” asked the other.
“29.1 horsepower, according to Royal Enfield,” I answered.
“Wouldn’t be much fun then?” the man said. “I reckon you need at least 70.”
I pointed out that I’d had a ball on the Royal Enfield Continental GT for the last week but it seemed to fall on deaf ears.
It’s easy to dismiss the Royal Enfield Continental GT just looking at the stats but I reckon that’s missing the point—this is a pretty funky motorcycle to get around on and fiddle with. For me, the week was a bit of a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance moment; a reconnection with the simple pleasure of riding motorbikes.
After a couple of days riding around Sydney I was really starting to bond with the Enfield. It’s not a complicated motorcycle which adds to its charm. It’s a motorcycle you want to modify and fiddle with. I kept catching myself thinking, “I could just move that, or alter that bit, or get rid of that part completely.” Not that the Royal Enfield Continental GT isn’t pretty good straight out of the box but it’s amazing how a little tinkering can bond you with your bike. If you’re new to motorcycles, it would be an easy bike to learn to work on; and if you’ve been around bikes for a while, it has a charming simplicity that is both refreshing and appealing.
The price is appealing too: the recommended retail price is $10k with on-road costs in NSW.
When I dropped the bike back at Royal Enfield Sydney, I was told about some young guy, here on holiday, who had hired a Royal Enfield Continental GT from them and ridden all the way around Oz. So it’s fair to say its touring range is only limited by the age of your joints.
But don’t take my word for it. You can hire a Royal Enfield Continental GT for yourself from Royal Enfield Sydney, 366A Parramatta Road, Burwood NSW 2134; 02-8011-3463.
LOOKING THROUGH the inventory at Redgrave Motorcycles we found a massive range of handlebars and handlebar related parts made by Colony who specialise in manufacturing replacement fasteners specifically for Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
A large portion of the handlebar parts are for the springer handlebars used on Harleys from 1936 through to 1949. All the pieces needed to bring these beautiful bars back to as-new condition are available. These pieces are unique to Harley-Davidson and certainly not available at the local hardware store.
A Genuine H-D accessory is the handlebar riser cover to suit 1949 to 1959 models. If you are restoring a Hydra-Glide or early Duo-Glide and are lucky enough to find one of these covers, Colony makes a kit with the correct hardware to install it. The components are exact duplicates of the original studs and acorn nuts. The studs replace the original top clamp screws used only if the cover was not requested. The cover then sits on top, retained by the four acorn nuts after final adjustments have been made.
Unfortunately, after some parts are installed, they will never be seen again. A good example of this is the Harley-Davidson internal handlebar controls for the throttle and advance/retard cables. These are a work of art. This is the way things were done back then, and Colony has duplicated these complex components perfectly.
With the twist-grip removed, the pin and rollers are exposed and the principal of the internal throttle is revealed. The assembly is directed from one end of the slot by the spiral in the twist-grip.
All the components required to assemble the internal cables.
After completely overhauling a set of these bars and installing them on the bike, new high tensile pinch bolts secure the handlebar assembly to the top of the front fork.
Nickle-plated handlebar end screws are available to cover all the year groups of bars with internal controls. These fine-threaded screws retain the spiral twist grips, the clever device that makes the internal cabling possible. A total of four versions were used on Harleys between 1910 and 1974 with some overlap here and there. The rollers and pin kits which travel back and forth in the handlebar with the plunger are available to cover all applications.
Also from Colony, clamps are available to secure both the throttle cable and advance/retard cable at the carburetor and the timer base respectively, ensuring smooth, precise operation.
Early clutch and brake levers can be brought back to life with this kit. All the hardware required to assemble 1941—1964 levers is included.
If you are tidying up a mid 70’s early 80’s FL or XL, this little kit comes with the correct Allen screws and Nyloc nuts for the handlebar clamp. Beautifully chrome plated ready to go, these items are actually cheaper than sourcing the correct screws and having the plating done.
Adding some detail to 1996 and up Big Twins and Sportsters, this kit includes everything required to mount the master cylinder, master cylinder cap, and clutch lever in chromed button heads.
Standard replacement rubber bushing kits are available for people who like to maintain the original soft feel in their handlebars, just the way the factory set them up. These new rubber bushings and crush tubes restore bars back to this original feel.
If you like a firmer, more positive feel, Colony offers a kit which features high density poly instead of rubber to stiffen up the feel.
Both of these kits can be further enhanced with the addition of decorative chrome-plated washers and covers.
The riser washers pictured are a high quality replacement of the originals. There is also another set available where the chrome-plated washers are machined heavier than stock to eliminate cupping.
All Colony products are made in the USA and meet or exceed OEM specifications. The chrome-plated parts come ready to use with none of the usual problems associated with having nuts and bolts plated. As well as attractive chrome-plating, Colony offers restoration grade cadmium-plating and Parkerizing for the purists.
All these parts are in stock at Redgrave Motorcycles and a free catalogue is available upon request.
BUY a new Harley and, at the very least, you have to change the air-filter and exhaust to make it run right. You also have to do something about it running too lean (and too hot). Most guys get the upgrades sorted before they pick up their new bike from the dealer with the cost included in the finance. Too easy.
To sort the fuel injection, the Harley dealer will sell you a Screamin Eagle Pro Street Tuner. This is the most expensive Harley part you’ll ever buy that doesn’t actually fit on your bike. It simply gives the Harley tech access to the bike’s ECU, allowing him to flash (load) it with a new map downloaded from the H-D website, or if you want a more accurate tune, to write a new map while running on the dyno.
The initial purchase price of the Screamin Eagle Pro Street Tuner and the V&H Fuelpak FP3 is almost identical but that’s where the similarities end.
With the Pro Street Tuner, if you want a new map, the Harley dealer will charge you to install it. And Heaven forbid if you wanted to get your bike dyno-tuned—you’ll be looking at $400—$500 for this once-only service.
On the other hand, if you want a new map from V&H, it’s free to download and install. And the FP3 contains an AutoTune function so you’ll never need to use the dyno again—it basically adjusts fuel settings across the rev range using actual bike sensor readings while you’re riding.
The V&H Fuelpak FP3 plugs into the HD-Lan diagnostic port to interrogate, and re-flash, the ECM. It can only be used on newer H-Ds. It overwrites the original fuel map in the ECM and the device can be removed afterwards.
The Fuelpak FP3 allows you to adjust all the functions in the ECU: speedo calibration using your phone’s GPS; throttle progressivity for fly-by-wire Harleys to give better throttle response; decel pop can be adjusted for open exhausts; you can select different cams; change the rev limit; adjust your idle speed; turn off the active exhaust; and read any trouble codes, etc, in an app on your smart-phone—and who doesn’t love playing with their smart-phone?
V&H has developed an expansive library of maps and you’ll almost certainly find one to suit your bike. Otherwise, you can run the AutoTune feature.
The AutoTune turns off the acceleration and de-acceleration circuits, which makes sense since one adds fuels and the other takes it away, so your bike runs like a bag of shite while it’s operating, especially when it’s cold and/or around town. We did a full day’s ride, used three tank of fuel, on AutoTune, flashed the new map, and bingo! We had our own individual map. Did it make any difference? Probably not. The original map from the V&H website was spot-on to start with. As the FP3 can store up to six maps, it was easy to go back to the original map and re-flash.
We used some Velcro tape under the seat to keep the FP3 in place while we were playing with the AutoTune, and it’s still there—it’s kinda fun being able to open the app on your smart-phone and see how your bike is running.
We loved playing with the V&H FP3 and can honestly say it will revolutionise fuel management for all new Harley-Davidsons.
JAMIE was a bit late for our appointment so I had time to chat with the customers. I wasn’t the only one waiting for Jamie. There were many customers waiting for him as traffic was heavy that evening. When he arrived the place lit up. There was a buzz in the air caused by his personal charisma. A professional boxer, actor and full time tattooist, Jamie is a busy man (not counting his duty as a partner and father to his three children). Jamie has achieved more than most blokes double his age and height.
I clicked my camera as Jamie started to tattoo his first customer.
“I like to draw, and have always drawn for mates,” said Jamie. “I started tattooing about many years ago at Flesh Effects in Cronulla. Shane and Pickles gave me a job and taught me most of my trade.
“I have done so many tattoos since, there are armies of people walking around with my artwork on them.
“What I want to do is freehand work. People come in and say, ‘Jamie can you just draw something for me.’
“I love tattooing at conventions in front of crowds; it’s addictive.”
At 107 cm, Jamie believes he is the smallest tattooist in the world and has contacted the Guinness Book of Records to make it official.
Jamie loves acting and has performed in 12 commercials, various TV shows and movies, Comedy Inc, and Ned Kelly. He started acting straight out of school in the theatre in the show Witches of Eastwick. He has acted with many famous actors such as Paul McDermott, Barry Humphrey and Verne Troyer (well known as Mini-Me from Austin Powers).
Jamie was the first professional boxer in the category of short statured people where he was fighting a bloke double his weight. This fight was a reason for further divisions for three categories (up to 40 kg; up to 50 kg; over 50 kg). There is a plan brewing for Jamie to fight internationally in the near future.
Jamie has many mates who ride Harleys and he enjoys riding pillion but his dream is to ride a bike at the front. Because of his small stature, this is practically impossible so he is looking for sponsors and bike builders to participate in building the world’s smallest road registered Harley.
If you want to be a part of history by being tattooed by the smallest tattooist in world, contact Jamie on his Facebook page.
NOT LONG ago my Softail spat a belt. Now ordinarily that’s a big enough nuisance by itself, not to mention the many dollars for parts and labour to fit a new one. My situation was even more complicated as I had fitted a wider Deuce wheel to my bike, necessitating a narrower belt.
So, I had in my possession a second-hand 1.5 inch wide belt with a nick on one side. How to cut it down in a controlled process?
I worked on the designer’s premise of at least 2x in a safety factor. That is, if the width of the standard Aramid reinforced belt was 1.5 inches, then reducing it to 1 inch still left me plenty of safety factor.
Too easy— just remember to cut the excess from the side with the nick in it!
A jig to locate the belt and stabilise the cutting blade was in order. Scrounging around in my off-cuts of steel I came up with a piece of channel and a section of pipe which, after much head scratching, were duly welded together. The width allowed the belt to be guided and slide through. The radiused section of pipe allowed a lead in so the teeth on the belt wouldn’t catch.
The next step was to provide a pivot point to rotate the cutting blade down onto the belt. This had to fit snugly on top of the belt to ensure the belt was located against the base. The belt is 10 mm thick so I made the necessary calculations as to where the pivot point is located. Make the bolt holes for the pivot point a neat fit as you don’t want the cutting blade flopping around. You can see I am cutting the belt flat side up.
Basic hand tools required plus an arc welder and angle grinder with one of those ‘u-beaut’ thin cutting wheels.
Next I tack welded a piece of 25 RHS to the pivot to give me something to attach the cutting blade to.
Now weld on a couple of nuts to attach the cutter adjusting screw to the jig.
This set-up will give me control of the cutter. It’s all removable to fit over the belt.
Make up a clamp plate for the cutting blade – I’ve used a replaceable knife blade. Now drill and tap some holes in the cutter arm.
Voila! What a set-up—nearly as good as a bought one! You can see that I have used a packer behind the blade to accurately set the width of cut.
The belt is pulled through by hand and the adjustment screw regulates the depth of cut. About three times around the belt to cut right through doesn’t force things.
Easy peesy pekinesy!
Now the fun part starts. Pulling out the back wheel and swingarm. Removing the clutch and primary drive and the inner primary. Why oh why does Harley have such a user unfriendly archaic system?
Tech article by Stewie from Albury
PS: I got more than 80,000 km from the last one I cut (often riding two up with luggage) so it is reliable. But you know belts, they can break seemingly without reason!
End paper signatures of many of the riders in the book, plus a few others, include Dick Klamforth, Dave Roper, Don Emde, Tommy McDermitt, John A Penton, Bill Tuman, Ed Fisher, Ron Rall, Bobby Hill, Dick Mann, Jay Springsteen, Nobby Clark, Bob McKeevers, Willie G Davidson, and Max Bubeck.
Volume l of A Century of Motorcycling contains more than 700 photographs from the scrapbooks of two AMA (American Motorcycle Association) Hall of Fame honorees, Fritzie Baer and Erle ‘Pop’ Armstrong.
Erle Armstrong and Fritzie Baer inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.
Born in 1901, the same year that Indian kicked off, Fritzie Baer was the consummate motorcyclist, unfortunately, amongst this huge collection of photographs and articles, there is no picture of his first motorcycle which is believed to be a 1915 Indian. This machine was purchased by Fritzie at age 15 with money borrowed from his brother. By 1919 he was working at the Indian factory and his lifelong relationship with the Indian marque had well and truly begun.
Fritzie and the gang at the Indian (Hendee Manufacturing at the time) Factory.
Fritzie continued on to be an active rider, racer, hill climber, Indian dealer, factory representative, announcer, referee, promoter, and was renowned for his ability to write motorcycle news stories and get them into the newspapers.
Erle Armstrong was a few years older than Fritzie, born in Illinois in 1888. At 16, after moving to Denver, he took up bicycle racing at which he excelled and soon became Colorado state champion.
At 16 Erle was Colorado State Bicycle Champion.
That same year he lost his father and now, as the bread winner, he started a motorcycle delivery service for a dry goods company. Keen to get involved in motorcycle racing he borrowed a single-cylinder Thomas motorcycle and got started.
Erle on his first Excelsior racer.
In his first meet he took the 5, 10 and 25 mile events in record time. Erle went on to become a very successful motorcycle racer as the collection of photographs goes on to show. It was through the racing program that friendship between these two guys grew.
Erle on the outside strutting his stuff.
The huge amount of material in this book was collected by Fritzie Baer and stored in boxes which he continually added to. The enormous job of sorting and compiling it all was done by his two sons, Butch and Tom, with a lot of help from sisters, Barbara and Christine; an effort that took quite a few years.
The book is filled with page after page of fabulous old photographs, brochures, entry tickets, factory literature, plus lots of family shots, weddings, kids, and even the family pets.
A photo sent to Fritzie by Joe Petrali, Howard Huges co-pilot on the Spruce Goose and Harley-Davidson legend.
Looks like two Harley riders at a motorcycle polo match.
Yes, they really did play motorcycle polo—a copy of the official program for a Monday evening match at the Arena in 1932 with Fritze Baer as referee.
Albert Wolfe on ½ mile race track in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. This image is still, to this day, being used for race posters.
Doing what he did best, Fritzie Baer announcing at the Springfield Mile.
Volume I ends with the United States entry into World War II and the beginning of fuel and rubber rationing and the rapid decline of motorcycle racing.
In Volume II, which will follow shortly, we can continue to see the growth of both families as they join in the sport of motorcycling for the rest of the century.
This fascinating hard cover book compiled from the scrapbooks of Fritzie Baer and fellow motorcyclist and friend, Erle ‘Pop’ Armstrong, is available from Redgrave Motorcycles: 02-9484-9955.
BIG BEAR CHOPPERS has been around in the States for years. The business is owned and operated by Kevin Alsop, an Aussie who worked long and hard to realise his dream of one day being the builder of some of the tidiest custom motorcycles to the grace the roads of the USA and indeed the world. I watched a DVD on the inner workings of Big Bear Choppers, given to me by the boys at Wildcard Customs, which was a real eye opener as far as the workmanship, quality, history, and the goals of this proud company. What started as a small shed (sound familiar?) where Kevin started to fabricate his own frames for custom builds, has now evolved into a thriving business for large capacity motorcycle manufacturing. With the help of his family and tight-knit staff he has achieved just that!
Enter Chris Hill, the Managing Director of Wildcard Customs in Queensland. I first met Chris and his son Adam they had six shining Big Bear Chops lined up outside the Landsborough Hotel, and after a brief conversation with them, I realised how committed and enthusiastic these blokes were about these customs they had on display. First impressions count, and I was impressed to say the least.
Chris had decided to get into the motorcycle sales scene and had done some extensive homework when it came to the outcome of his final decision. Big Bear Choppers seemed to be the best option for more than enough reasons. After many un-returned calls and emails to the Big Bear’s ex-dealer development person, Chris and Adam decided to take the bull by the horns and flew to the States to meet up with Kevin Alsop in person and secure a dealership. Within four hours of the meeting, Chris had signed a deal for the delivery of three bikes. Wildcard Customs was born.
Present day, and here we are standing outside the shop, proudly wearing the Big Bear Choppers logo on its facade. Bikes and riders are flowing in and out, there’s a free sausage sizzle on the go and a cluster of brilliant choppers gracing the front parking lot.
The current models on offer are the Devil’s Advocate, The Sled and the beautiful Athena. All these machines come in two styles, ProStreet or Chopper. Also available is the ProStreet-styled Venom, Miss Behavin. and my favourite, the rigid Screamin’ Demon with its tough ‘no bullshit’ bobber look. Soon to be added to the Big Bear family are the GTX, a sleek two-up touring bike, and the Paradox. No two machines are alike and all are built to the customer’s preferences on order, regarding handlebar styles, paint schemes, etc.
Now get this, all bikes are ADR complianced and come with a two-year/32,000 km warranty as well as 24/7 National Roadside Assist. Not bad for a custom built machine, eh?
The showroom is a work of art in itself. Highly polished tiled floors and a feature wall, with a mural of a larger-than-life Grizzly bear standing guard over an S&S motor.
One of the bikes we had asked to do a feature on was to be picked up that day, so we did the next best thing—we snapped a few shots of the proud owner Cameron and his family. Another happy customer and another Big Bear being released into the wild.
So get yourself into Wildcard Customs and see what they have on offer. I guarantee you’ll be more than happy with the bikes, the service and the devotion these people show towards the product they are so proud to be associated with.
THIS ISSUE we will be concentrating on bringing all the basic items together—the Knucklehead engine, the Spyke six-speed transmission with the Genuine H-D primary drive and chaincase.
We will start with a brand new, fresh out of the box, pair of Knuckleheads which will be stripped and glass beaded. Valve guide clearances will be checked and oil return pipes examined to confirm that they are clear. The heads will then be thoroughly washed, masked and painted in two-pack silver.
Brand new Knuckleheads to be stripped and bead blasted.
The heads were stripped and painted in two-pack silver.
The bare heads can now be temporarily installed and the top-engine-mount assessed. As the cylinder heads have not been on an engine before, and as the bike is a special-build, there is a chance that the stock Knucklehead top-engine-mount will not line up with the universal mount on the Santee frame.
The knucklehead top-engine-mount is secured to the cylinder heads via the intake rocker-arm shafts. For mock-up purposes the rocker-arm shafts are installed without the rocker-arms. Stock top-engine-mount can then be bolted up in the usual manner.
As we suspected, the original top-engine-mount does not reach the mount on the frame even though it has a generous slot. Rather than alter the classic Knucklehead bracket, it is decided to extend the existing frame mount. The mount can be cut through the centre of the slot, creating a notch; a matching tab on the replacement piece will key right in.
Another advantage of using the stock top-engine-mount is that it will accommodate the original choke mechanism if a Linkert carburetor is used.
A cardboard template of the extension required to the frame mount.
The new extension piece cut from a piece of matching 10 mm plate ready to be grafted in. Once TIG welded this new mount will be equally as strong as the original. The cutting and welding will all be undertaken after the engine is removed.
Heads can now be reassembled and installed.
That is it for the engine; all aspects of this installation have been covered. The owner will now need to select the exhaust system, fuel tank and anything else that could require special brackets, etc, before the whole thing can be torn down for blasting, detailing and painting.
Moving onto the rear brake, the first thing to do is to centre the rear hub which is done using the string-line we set up at the beginning of the project. The string-line runs from the centre of the steering stem and follows the backbone of the frame through to the precise centre of the building jig. This forms the centreline of the bike and all calculations and offsets are done in relation to this.
The rear hub prior to being laced to the rim is set up on the exact centreline of the bike. With the hub in the correct location and the rear pulley less disc and caliper in place, it is obvious that this system is going to work very well with this particular frame. Note the location of the rear axle in its slot, with belt tension set; this is ideal.
The rear hub is positioned using this simple timber jig that straddles the two spoke flanges.
At this stage the rear hub is mounted on a piece of ¾-inch tube, the same diameter as the rear axle which will be made to the correct length from special axle steel at the completion of the mock-up. A special spacer will need to be machined and installed between the pulley and the hub to give correct alignment for the drive belt in relation to the transmission. We made the calculations for the spacer thickness in Part ll after the transmission installation was completed. The reason for this is that the high-tech rear brake set-up is made for a Softail which is quite different in the rear end than our rigid frame. With the location of the rear hub finalised, correct length axle spacers can be machined to complete the installation.
With the caliper installed onto the pulley and the spacer in place, the anti-rotation arm needs to be considered. This anchors the caliper to the frame, but will need some form of adjustment to allow for alterations in belt tension.
This nifty little clamp can be positioned on the frame tube. Eventually it will be replaced with a small slotted tab welded directly to the frame for a much cleaner look.
The slotted tab that will be welded under the frame tube to replace the clamp.
The placement of the hydraulic hose to the rear caliper is extremely important and there are a few things to consider. The hose needs to be out of reach of mechanical damage and should not be below or outside of the frame tube. In this case it will need additional length to provide enough room for drive belt adjustments. This is the hose supplied with the kit, fully certified for street use, and as the Softail swing-arm and the rigid frame are very similar in profile, this hose suits this application very well.
Chalk marks indicate locations where inconspicuous clips will be welded directly to the frame during the detailing leading up to paintwork.
This completes the basic customer requirements to bring the bike to this stage knowing that when he assembles it after paint, chrome plating, etc, everything will fit and lineup perfectly.
Last issue we were able to get the basic lower-end of the project engine completed to a stage where the remainder of the build will be straight assembly work; in other words, there is no more machining, all the bore stroke calculations are done, pistons selected and cylinders sized to suit.
Although the Knuckleheads are brand new ‘V Twin’ items, they will be dismantled for inspection, cleaning and painting prior to installation.
Also for this issue, we decided to add the cylinders to protect the conrods and the aluminium bores of the cases.
At this stage we will concentrate on what is involved in bringing all the basic items together—the Knucklehead engine, the Spyke six-speed transmission with the genuine H-D primary drive and chaincase.
This is a high quality Santee frame, a reproduction of the frames that Harley used between 1936 and 1957. It is not a replica frame as such because it is constructed entirely differently. All the engine and transmission mounts are dimensionally identical to the Harley frame and all big twin engines will bolt straight in. There’s a slight difference with the Knuckle and sidevalve engines as the front engine mount requires a spacer, but as the S&S crankcases that we are using are machined to Panhead/Shovelhead specifications, this will not be a problem.
The only modification to the frame at this stage is the removal of the tube and brackets for the mechanical rear brake crossover shaft assembly which will be unnecessary with the super trick hydraulic rear disc brake earmarked for this project.
This frame was originally intended to accept a four-speed transmission with its respective mounting plate. An aftermarket five-speed transmission mounting plate was chosen as the starting point to shoehorn the six-speed tranny into position. The plate did require some modifications to clear the lower part of the housing but once this was done no further clearancing was required.
The underside of the transmission showing the mounting plate in position after it was modified.
Modified transmission plate in position for checking. So far so good, although the mounting plate will need to come out again and in future will be installed already bolted to the transmission—there is not enough room in this tight corner to drop the tranny into place; it will have to slipped in as a unit from the side.
With the transmission properly installed for the first time, it is obvious that the seatpost will need to be dimpled here for clearance with the lid. Unlike four-speed transmissions in early frames that need to be moved regularly for chain adjustment, this transmission will be bolted in permanently and chain adjustment can be taken care of inside the primary, so once optimum clearance is established it will stay that way.
Dimpling the frame is the preferred method of gaining clearance as no metal is removed from this important part and the subtle reshaping of the seat-post can be detailed prior to paintwork.
We now have suitable clearance with the transmission in its final location. It will not be tightened down to the mounting plate until the inner primary chaincase is snugged up into place at both the engine and transmission mounting surfaces. All contact points, four at the engine mounts and five at the transmission base, are checked to confirm that everything is home before tightening any nuts or bolts. This insures a stress-free fit of the chaincase and perfect alignment between the crankshaft and mainshaft.
A small oilstone is used to clean up the engine mounts. It is well worthwhile taking a few minutes to deburr the engine mounts and make sure they are perfectly flat before sitting the engine into position.
For the set-up, special extra long versions of the front engine mounting bolts pass through the engine, through the frame, and through the machined spacers into the frame jig.
With the short engine installed and all fasteners in place but not torqued down, it is time to trial fit the inner primary chaincase. Just before we do this, this is a good opportunity to get the dimension from the exact centerline of the frame/jig to the edge of the rear belt pulley. We will need this dimension when it comes time to mount the rear pulley in relation to the hub.
Colony fasteners are used exclusively to assemble this project bike. Here we have an inner primary mounting kit, with all the exposed bolts chrome-plated and a new set of lock-tabs to prevent any internal bolts backing out into the primary chain; engine mounting kit in chrome with correct length of shank on the bolts and Nylock nuts; and chrome cylinder base nuts.
Due to the high quality of all the components used in this build-up, the inner primary lines up perfectly and can be tightened down in eight spots with the 5/16 UNC bolts supplied in the Colony kit. Engine and transmission can now be snugged down.
The three major components in their correct locations and bolted into place. Naturally this all needs to come out again for painting, plating, etc, so none of the lock-tabs in the chaincase have been bent up yet. At this stage the bike has a very compact yet lean look and it certainly has the potential to be an attractive machine.
Next issue we will complete the engine build, design and fabricate the top engine mount, and do all the machining required to incorporate the hydraulic rear brake/pulley combination into the rigid frame.
Make sure you check out this Knucklehead feature Part 3.
A COUPLE of years ago I had the pleasure of road testing the Boom Trike Mustang. An updated version — the Mustang ll — is now available at OzTrikes (Somersby, NSW) and I was invited to take it for a test ride. The original Mustang was pretty amazing so I was looking forward to taking the newer version for a spin.
Somersby is about an hour north of Sydney, and when I arrived at Ozbike HQ in Balmain, I found Skol (Ozbike Publisher) fitting a windscreen to his Softail Slim. This meant two things: one, it was going to rain, and two, we would be riding on the Expressway. As Skol pulled his leather jacket over his leather waistcoat, I realised I had not even fitted the thermal lining to my jacket. Hell, I was only wearing summer gloves. I knew it was winter but the early morning Sydney sun had lulled me into a false sense of security. Bugger!
We made a slight detour to Frasers Motorcycles in Concord looking for a Sportster 48. Harley had just announced there’d be no more Evolution Sportsters so I figured it’d be great to buy the last one. Sadly, they’d all been sold. As a consolation, I got to go for a quick ride on Harley’s new Low Rider S. It was just a 20-minute squirt but man that Milwaukee-Eight 114 engine has some proper go.
By mid-morning we were riding north up the Pacific Expressway. As predicted by Skol, it rained. Not much rain, just enough to make me feel even colder. Eventually, Skol took pity on me and we left the Expressway at the Mt White turn off. I was still cold and wet but the familiar twists and turns of the Old Road instantly made me feel better.
We pulled into OzTrikes to find Johann (the owner) had lined up his entire range of Boom Trikes along the driveway. Quite an impressive sight. These things are not for the introvert.
Johann ran through the various models and showed us some of the many factory extras available. Basically, no two Boom Trikes are exactly the same. It is always good to talk with Johann — his enthusiasm for his trikes is infectious; his knowledge of them is virtually encyclopaedic.
Boom Trikes have been hand-built in southern Germany for more than 30 years. The fit and finish is in line with that of a factory-built race car; the attention to detail on each trike is truly astonishing; there is so much stainless steel on them they seem built to last a lifetime.
Boom Trike has added a new 1500 cc engine to their ever-growing range. The engine is available normally aspirated or with a turbo-charger. Both engines are mated to a Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The new Mustang ll which we had come to ride was fitted with the new turbo-charged motor.
It has more than a few updates from the previous model, the most obvious being the new more curvaceous bodywork.
I slipped into the welcoming seat while Johann ran through a few reminders. A little bit of readjustment is required when jumping off a two-wheeled vehicle onto a three-wheeled one. There are no levers on the bars, just a conventional throttle. The brakes are operated by foot control. Although as with all Boom Trikes this can be changed to hand-operated brakes. Obviously, there is no clutch lever as the transmission is CVT. Johann ended with a reminder to keep the front wheel in the middle of my lane.
Just as I was about to set off Skol decided he would ride shot-gun with his camera. I was mildly concerned as Skol normally never rides pillion. That said the Mustang ll’s pillion accommodation is basically an armchair.
Off we set. I was trying to relearn the whole riding a trike thing while Skol gave directions. Left. Right. Next left… we rounded a corner and the road turned into a dirt track.
“Keep going,” said Skol, “There will be somewhere to turn around.”
I wasn’t so sure. It was a pretty narrow track and the Mustang ll is nearly four metres long. I didn’t fancy reversing all the way out. However, we did eventually find somewhere to turn around and I didn’t actually need as much space as I thought I would. The other thing I discovered is that the trike is pretty good on a dirt track.
You can ride the Mustang ll like you have all the time in the world — bimbling along and enjoying the view; maybe accompanied by your significant other on the passenger seat and a delicious picnic in the massive boot; roaming Australia’s abundant back roads in search of the perfect picnic spot. Or you can also ride it like the Hounds of Hell are chasing you. It is very accomplished in both roles. It is also highly unlikely that the Hounds of Hell would catch you — it’s fast — it goes like a Bat out of Hell!
The suspension is beautifully damped. The whole machine remains flat though a corner. Thanks to the mid-engine configuration you can open the throttle very early on exiting a corner and the whole machine just sits down and goes.
The turbo-charged engine has more than enough shove to keep it very interesting while the CVT transmission is remarkably smooth. The transmission is controlled by some sort of ‘electrical brain thing’ that seems to be spot-on in picking the right gear for the right occasion. Seriously, I am no big fan of automatic boxes, but this thing is pure witchcraft.
Mostly the Mustang ll is just plain fun. Look at the pictures. It is impossible to ride something like this without it being an adventure.
As I write this we are stuck in Sydney’s COVID lock down. How good would it be when all this madness is finally over to load up a Boom Trike with all your gear and set off to really see Australia…
As always you don’t need to believe my word for it. Give Johann a call at OzTrikes and organise a test ride.