A few months ago I made the mistake of pulling the good 6-volt battery out of my 1936 Harley Knucklehead and installing it in my 1948 Harley Panhead that had been sitting for more than a year without a battery. Yes, I got the Panhead sorted out and running strong, but at the cost of my beloved 1936 EL sitting, battery less, unused for months.
- 1936 classic Harley EL Knucklehead back on the road after sitting for too long.
In the last few months I rode the Panhead to the Indian Larry block party in Brooklyn, NY, through New England on the American Iron Magazine Kickstart Classic and to my pal Anthony Rutledge’s garage party a few hours away. I have no complaints about that bike or the reason I pulled the battery out of the Knucklehead to get the Pan back on the road.
I purchased a new battery, charged it up and installed it in the Knucklehead. I checked the oil (much of which I discovered had sumped down into the bottom of the engine and added some fresh gas. This motorcycle usually starts on the first or second kick even after sitting for some time. This time took a bit more. I think perhaps 15 or 20 kicks but it did fire and was soon idling nicely. And leaving a large and growing puddle of oil on the driveway.
As the engine warmed I worked the clutch rocker back and forth as I did not want to crash the transmission due to a sticky clutch. Then off I went for a short Sunday morning breakfast ride with my pal Dean, who owns a couple of wonderful Panheads, on his Dynaglide Harley. The more miles we rode the better the Knucklehead ran. On the way I treated the classic Harley to a tank of fresh gas, which it responded well to.
- 1948 Harley Panhead that houses the battery I pulled from the Knucklehead.
Now that I have a good battery in both the 1936 Harley Knucklehead and the 1948 Harley Panhead (both of which happen to be blue) I have more options on what to ride and hope to get more miles on them both as long as the weather holds out.
When you are fortunate enough to own bikes like these, there really is no bad choice of what to ride.