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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Vintage Harley's Trip to Life

Expert Author Darnell A
On any weekend back in the mid-1960s you could stroll to any small community in America and you'd most likely see an old H-D such as this left right in front of a bar or tavern.
Chances are, too, that the Harley glistens under the beam of streetlights or neon lights that lit up the streetscape. These bikes were simple, good, classic machines, too, that although not fully stock, carried a generous amount of genuine Harley components.
A lot of H-Ds ended up enhanced as time passes and wore more recent components, all in the name of retaining the ride current right up until such time as sufficient money was saved to acquire a brand new motorcycle. Seat posts were bashed back to help make space for more recent motors. As soon as the renovation trend hit in the 90s, most of these motorbikes were brought back to factory specification or gave up their components to other serious renovation undertaking. Those that remained, we coined them "ham and eggs motorbikes" due to their mix-match of parts.
Like old choppers and custom bikes from an early period, very few still exist, and people who do represent that can-do attitude and spirit that shows us of our history and our country's progress as of yet. In the 70s, I drove my mom's car to Kentucky from New York to get a 1948 FL dressed up in 1954 sheet metal along with a Glide front end. I instantly fell in love with 1948 Fls and afraid that I might never find a fully stock one that I purchased it without even looking at it in close detail. Soon I realized that it was an EL originally equipped with a 61' V-twin.
This particular bike is owned by Wes Hogue. The motorbike started life as a police force motorbike that served with the Manila police force. The EL was one of Harley-Davidson's foreign trade fleet that created offshore profits during that era. The bike was utilized in service from 1948 until eventually 1970 when it was retired and was left permanently in the police force's boneyard. Many years later, in about 1974, "Greasy" Collins, an officer from the USMC assigned in the Philippines, was looking for something to drink when he went in a Manila bar to buy one.
From his stool in the bar, he had a good view out the rear door. What he noticed was a Panhead sitting in the department's weed-infested boneyard. He inquired if somebody could tell something regarding the old Harley; and he was directed to talk to the local authorities. An offer was struck for the motorbike, and then he had it brought it back to the states in his Bay Area shop for a restoration project. Right after examining the motorbike Arlen discovered that only the engine, transmission; rear rim, and front end were usable; all of the other corroded components were thrown away. Arlen began with a new body as the basis for the bike, and the rest flourished from there. The new motorbike also featured a Sportster tank, customized oil tank, a unique paint job, and plenty of character. Wes also explained that Greasy's bike "had a sissybar over it taller than the Empire State Building."
Around 1984, Wes bought the bike from Greasy and planned to turn it into a more road worthy motorbike, so he went about altering things and acquiring components to accomplish this goal.
The existing engine cases are original, strengthened employing a big re-weld in proper areas to hold stuff inside. It sports a 61'' bottom end connected to a 74" top end along with low-compression pistons. The repaired engine gets fuel through an old Mikuni carburetor.
The luggage bags and windshield are genuine Harley products from some time in the 1980s. Wes states that they come in handy; too, because he rides this motorbike a lot. At this moment, the motor's bottom end has recorded 130,000 miles, and it's continually looking strong.
Before heading out, when swapping anything on your bike from side mirrors, grips, fenders, Z bars, rims, or anything, make sure they are made from the toughest and highest quality materials to ensure your safety. We get one shot at life, so drive safely and happy biking!
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