I feel guilty not having spent any time cleaning or wrenching on my 1929 Harley-Davidson JDH in the last eight months since the end of the 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball.
After riding it more than 4,000 miles across the US, from New York to California, we pushed it into the truck and hauled it home. Other than my occasional battery charge I had pretty much ignored this terrific old bike.
I have been honored to be named co-Grand Marshall (along with my good friend Dale Walksler) of this year’s Riding Into History event in St. Augustine, FL. The promoters asked if I could help encourage more Motorcycle Cannonball riders from 2010 and 2012 to bring their bikes to this event for display.
So I arranged for the next Kickstart Classic ride to end in St. Augustine, FL the day before the Riding Into History event kicks off. After studying the map, we decided on a 2-day ride stopping as the guests of the local Harley-Davidson dealers in Charleston, SC, Savannah and Brunswick, GA and then on to Jacksonville, FL. We then ride to the Riding Into History location in St. Augustine, FL.
We got the word out that all Motorcycle Cannonball riders who rode their actual Cannonball bikes register for the KIckstart Classic ride and the show for free. More than a half-dozen signed up, including me with my 1929 Harley. Less than two weeks before the ride I figured it was time to roll up my sleeves and get the bike ready for upcoming events.
I pulled the bike out into the sunshine and sprayed it from top to bottom with a degreaser. Then I hosed it down and did it again. After drying it off I spent the next few hours going over the bike looking for loose or missing hardware, and there was plenty. The gas in the tanks smelled worse than anything I can remember in a fuel tank. I drained it and added fresh gas.
Then, more than 8 months since the last time I had started this bike, I went through the usual starting procedure. Ignition off, gas on, full choke, fully retarded I gave it three prime kicks. Then slight choke, fully advanced and a little throttle I flicked on the ignition switch, took a moment to think it through and the motorcycle roared to life on the very first kick. It wasn’t long before it was back to its wonderful lumpy slow idle. I was blown away.
I topped off the transmission case, which always leaked on the Motorcycle Cannonball, and had not gotten any better in hibernation, checked the chains and tire pressure and took off for a short ride around the neighborhood. The clutch needed a little attention, but not much. I rode less than a mile and back home satisfied with the running condition of the bike.
A few days later I pulled the bike out again and did a quick clean and wax of the painted tins with one of those spray on wax deals. I topped off the transmission again, and fired it up. On the rear stand I slide the bike into first gear and let the rear wheel spin as I sprayed the drive chain. Then, back into neutral while I put on my riding gear and went off for a nice 10 mile lunch ride.
Two days from today my 1929 Harley will be trucked down to Charleston for the start of the next all-brands Kickstart Classic ride. All indications are the bike is ready. Sure hope I am.
The next scheduled Kickstart Classic ride will be in New England starting September 26 at Moroney’s Harley-Davidson in Newburgh, NY. For more info visit www.aimag.com.