2015 VMA International Swap Meet and Bike Show

vma poster art 2015.pdf

The Vintage Motorcycle Alliance, LLC is proud to announce the 4th Annual “International Vintage Motorcycle Swap Meet and Show” in picturesque Eustis Florida at the wonderful Lake County Fairgrounds on March 6, 7 and 8,  2015.  Last year’s association with the Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club and the success of their sponsored antique motorcycle show and road run has prompted VMA to again remain open Sunday and forge “Destination Eustis 2015” into a family driven extravaganza.  There is building anticipation of a much larger display of vintage machines in the main exposition building and we have offered vendors the chance to enhance sales by staying another day to provide vintage parts to the public.  Visitors previously unable to attend on Friday or Saturday can now enjoy the bike show and interact with celebrated vendors to purchase necessary parts for their projects.  Seminars by officiandos and tradesmen will be offered to enlighten novices, collectors and enthusiasts to the fine arts of owning, maintaining and riding vintage machines.

This will be the 20th year an antique motorcycle swap meet has been presented at the Lake County Fairgrounds and the Vintage Motorcycle Alliance has joined forces with town officials to promote “Destination Eustis”.  We recognize the criteria that makes Eustis enticing to antique motorcyclists, the peaceful ambiance, ample amenities, quality entertainment and an easy access location.

The Vintage Motorcycle Alliance with their enthusiastic sponsors and amiable vendors promise to provide an event recognized for variety,,,, OEM used, NOS and top shelf NEW replacement parts, as well as literature, memorabilia and educational information for your classic machine.  The Vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club is energetically promoting another rare opportunity to enjoy a spectacular display of International vintage machines.  They expect great diversity with classic bobbers and choppers, military vehicles, vintage restorations, factory original paint bikes, antique racing and touring machines and daily riders from around the planet.  Fine examples from Japan, the United States, Italy, Germany, England and Sweden, ALL two and three wheeled and ALL in excess of twenty years old.  We anticipate winning bikes from National “Board Track” racing and AMA sanctioned events and several highest scoring machines from the “2014 Cannonball” challenge to be on hand for your viewing pleasure as well as their owners and riders for conversation and inspiration.

Mark us on your calendar now, don’t miss “Destination Eustis”.  Come see what we have planned!

For more pertinent details and an interactive site map with vendor signup page please visit; WWW.VINTAGEMOTORCYCLEALLIANCE.COM

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Classic Harley News: Motorcycle Cannonball 2016

While still not confirmed, the classic motorcycle world is pretty convinced the next Motorcycle Cannonball, which is held every two years, will be for motorcycles 100 years or older.

1916 Harley Twin classic motorcycle

So our question is what does this do to the desirability and prices of 1916 and older Harleys?

Buzz Kanter, of American Iron Magazine, with his 1915 Harley twin at the start of the first Motorcycle Cannonball in 2010.

Buzz Kanter, of American Iron Magazine, with his 1915 Harley twin at the start of the first Motorcycle Cannonball in 2010.

The first Motorcycle Cannonball was open to 1915 and older motorcycles back in 2010, and the prices went through the roof for complete motorcycles and spare parts needed by the riders along the way.

Almost 2 years away and the riders and perspective riders for the 2016 Motorcycle Cannonball are already scouring the field buying up 1916 and older motorcycles and parts.

They are already fewer on ebay and when they are the auctions are getting progressively more expensive. The auction results in Las Vegas and other locations will also be an interesting measure of this trend.

On the other hand, you have to wonder if so many people riding sure old motorcycles so far (across the US in the case of the Motorcycle Cannonball), are more people discovering the fun and functionality of these classic Harleys? There was a time when even dedicated classic motorcycle collectors and riders dismissed the older “total loss” bikes as impractical? And a lot of people still shy away from motorcycles without front brakes (introduced by Harley in 1928).

We’ll see….



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Those Diner & Motorcycle Guys Internet Radio Interview of Buzz Kanter on Motorcycle Cannonball

Buzz Kanter, Editor-In-Chief and Publisher of American Iron Magazine magazine, talks with Garrison about his involvement in the recent Motorcycle Cannonball event and riding almost 4,000 miles on pre-1937 motorcycles.

Buzz with his 1915 Harley prior to riding it across U.S. on 1st Motorcycle Cannonball in 2010

Buzz with his 1915 Harley prior to riding it across U.S. on 1st Motorcycle Continue reading

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1936 Harley Knucklehead Classic Motorcycle in New England Autumn

I really like this photo I took a few days ago of my 1936 classic Harley EL Knucklehead on a stunning New England autumn afternoon. First year Harley production street OHV, first year Knucklehead, and first year recirculating oil for Harley.

Autumn 2014

I first saw this classic 1936 Harley Knucklehead (and photographed it for a feature in American Iron Magazine) at a swap meet in 1991, shortly after it was rebuilt and put back on the road. I lost track of the bike over the years and was then fortunate enough to buy it years later from the man who rebuilt and maintained it for so many years.

I took this photo a couple of days ago here in Connecticut to show off the bike and some terrific New England autumn colors. It is pretty much as I first saw and photographed it 23 years ago. I have since replaced the reproduction speedometer for a rare one-year only 1936 Harley speedometer. I added the American flag and pole, and just a few days ago I added the reproduction Hanson Sportshield roll up windshield.

I have put several thousand miles on this bike in the 7 years since I purchased it. I wish all my classic motorcycles started as easily and ran as smoothly as this first year Knucklehead does.

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Motorcycle Cannonball Info & Details

There seems to be a fair amount of confusion about the Motorcycle Cannonball. First off, it is a competition but  NOT a race. It could best be described as a timed and controlled endurance run (more detail in a moment). It has been held just three times, first in 2010 (for pre-1916 motorcycles) from Kitty Hawk, NC to Santa Monica, CA. The second one (for pre-1930 motorcycles) was from New York to San Francisco, CA. And the most recent one was (for pre-1937 motorcycles) from Daytona Beach, FL to Tacoma, WA.

Pat Simmons and his wife Cris Sommer-Simmons of Adventure Power’s Team American Iron pose with other Motorcycle Cannonball riders on the Bonneville Salt Flats for a photo.

The admission fee, which has climbed significantly (to $2,500 per machine for the last one) covers the admission and various support functions. Each rider (and team support staff) has to supply their own bikes, parts, spares, gas, food and hotels. The hotels and discount room prices are arranged by the Motorcycle Cannonball staff but must be confirmed and paid for by the riders. So this is not an inexpensive deal.

My 1936 Harley VLH on the last day of the 2014 Motocycle Cannonball in Washington. Not the Cannonball plates, large saddlebags, sheepskin seat cover and spare gas tank on the back. All good ideas for a tough endurance event like this.

At the end of each day, all riders are given the following day’s route sheets (printed on paper that can be as few as 8 pages and as much as 22 pages, depending on the route and number of turns planned). Most riders has purpose built roll charts mounted up for this purpose.  We are also told the evening before when the next day’s official start time is (by class), how many miles we will cover, when the first scheduled gas stop is and minimum and maximum height over sea level we will be riding that day.

SCORING. A rider gets a point for every mile ridden each day on course IF he (or she) leaves the start of the day on schedule, arrives at the end of the day on schedule and travels the entire distance under his or her own motorcycle’s power. If you are late you lose points. If your bike brakes and you can not fix it enough to ride to the end of day you lose a point for every mile you do not ride that day. You can fix your own bike with parts and tools you have or can obtain from other riders or strangers. You are not allowed to ride with or deal with a support mechanic on the ride.

Many of the riders have found it better to partner up into teams to help support each other on the road. These four riders and classic motorcycles (left to right – Buzz Kanter 1936 Harley VLH, Cris Sommer-Simmons 1932 Harley VD, Pat Simmons 1929 Harley JD and Paul Ousey 1925 Harley JE) are members of Adventure Power’s Team American Iron,

At the end of each day the scores and ranking are announced and posted at the “host hotel” for the day. The way this works is basically like this: Points (not necessarily miles) are the initial ranking criteria. Then, in case of ties, Class I bikes (smallest displacement) rank higher than Class 2 (medium size displacement engines), which rank higher than Class 3 (largest displacement). Then the older motorcycle ranks higher than a newer one. In case there are still ties the older rider scores higher than a younger one.

If you DNF (Did Not Finish) a day on the Motorcycle Cannonball, that’s bad. If you DNF too often you are disqualified from finishing. ALSO if you and your bike does not start and finish the last day on schedule you are penalized as a DNF for the entire event. This year (2014) and amazing 25% of the riders finished the event with DNF status. And what do the winners get? The top ranked rider took home a wonderful bronze motorcycle statue, a few other riders got amazing Michael Lichter yardlong photos, and the rest of us get little more than amazing memories, the feeling of accomplishment and some great new friends and stories.

For more information please visit www.MotorcycleCannonball.com or you can read about some of the exploits and adventures in American Iron Magazine or www.aimag.com. Click on PRINT to subscribe in print or on DIGITAL for a digital delivery subscription.

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1936 Harley EL Knucklehead Classic Photo Art via Instagram

Before I joined the magazine publishing ranks (American Iron Magazine, Motorcycle Bagger, Motorcycle magazine, and others) I was a photographer. And while I feel much has been lost in the art of photography with the popularity of cell phone cameras, a good photo is still a good photo. Interesting subject, cropping, lighting and composition draw people in.

1936 Harley EL Knucklehead engine. Classic design and art deco air cleaner.

I have just started using Instagram with my smartphone, and here are a few photos I took this morning of my classic 1936 Harley EL Knucklehead. I hope you find them of interest.

One-year only 1936 EL speedometer in Harley “skull dash” on my first year Knucklehead.

The 1936 EL Knucklehead was Harley’s first “modern” design with an OHV (overhead valve) design V-twin engine, recirculating oil, Fat Bob gas tanks, and wrap around oil tank under the seat. Not many of the first year Harley Knuckleheads were made, and they are becoming quite rare and valuable.

Floorboard and foot clutch rocker typical of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Many of the design cues introduced on the 1936 Harley Knucklehead are still being used today, including the split gas tanks with large speedometer mounted in the center. Also the horseshoe oil tank under the saddle with battery mounted inside.

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Motorcycle Cannonball 2014 – Adventure Power’s Team American Iron

The third running of the coast-to-coast Motorcycle Cannonball is less than a month away and this one is going to be amazing. Covering over 4,000 miles it runs from Daytona Beach, Florida to Tacoma, Washington. (Map and details at www.MotorcycleCannonball.com).

Buzz Kanter's 1936 Harley VLH for the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball

Buzz Kanter’s 1936 Harley VLH for the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball

I plan to ride this totally rebuilt 1936 Harley VLH. We rebuilt it from one end to the other at Retrocycle in Boonton, NJ and followed the progress in the pages of American Iron Magazine.

In addition to rebuilding the chassis and entire drivetrain, we installed an amazing and virtually invisible Retrocycle 12 volt upgraded electrical system so I can actually use the lights to see and be seen. Our team sponsor and battery supplier is Adventure Power, the tires are from Continental, synthetic oil from Amsoil, and general support from the folks at Wheels Through Time.

There are four bikes and riders on this year’s team, name Adventure Power’s Team American Iron – American Iron Magazine columnist, and return Cannonballer Cris Sommer-Simmons on a 1930s Harley VD, her husband and rock star (Doobie Brothers) Pat Simmons on a 1929 Harley JD, 3 time Cannonballer Paul Ousey on his 1925 Harley JD and me – publisher of American Iron Magazine, Motorcycle Bagger and Motorcycle magazine, on this 1936 Harley VLH.

Buy a 2014 Support Staff T-Shirt for Team American Iron Motorcycle Cannonball

Buy a 2014 Support Staff T-Shirt for Team American Iron Motorcycle Cannonball

You can buy a blue or gray Support Staff t-shirt – while supplies last – to help support the team and get a cool shirt. Click SUPPORT to order yours.

You can follow our progress on Youtube on the Buzz Kanter channel HERE. I will attempt to upload new videos from the road every few days if I get the opportunity.

You can subscribe to American Iron Magazine, thw best selling Harley magazien in the world, in print by clicking PRINT, or in digital delivery worldwide by clicking DIGITAL.

Posted in Big Twin Flathead Harleys, Classic Harley Events, Classic Harley News, J Model Harleys, Motorcycle Cannonball | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Harley 8 Valve Racer..

I wanted to share some additional research I’d found about a beautiful and rare Harley that I learned about because I saw a beautiful picture.  The bike is an 8 valve Harley racer.  In the pictures I’d seen, what makes it stand out to me is that it has additional valve gear to work the eight valves.

Buzz put a link to the bike on this blog earlier, but the link is now broken and I’ve done some additional research on the bike(s) that I thought you would find interesting.

Harley-Davidston 8 Valve Racer

Harley-Davidston 8 Valve Racer

In the late teens, it continued to be more and more important to win races and Harley developed the 8 valve racer. The racer had incredible technology for the time. While it used production Harley 61 cases, all of the rest of the technology was much improved. The heads were 8 overhead valve heads that were controlled by a single camshaft. The engine used high compression and high gearing that required compression releases and towing until the valves could be lowered. I’ve since learned by watching a video posted by Buzz below that the compression release was a hand lever on the right handlebar.

Racers of the time needed to be bikes which were on sale, similar to the regulations that were in place for Trans Am or NASCAR racing. These type of rules have given us great street cars like the Plymouth Superbird. In the case of the 8 valve racer, Harley priced this motorcycle at about 5 times the price as Indian did for its similar racer of the time.  While Indian was happy to sell a bike to customers, Harley-Davidson’s pricing clearly kept to the rule of having the bike available to the public, but most believe Harley did not want to really sell bikes to customers.   Harley exiting racing in 1921. There was never a reported sale of a 8 Valve Racer to the public. There was reported to be a very small number of factory racers. As a result of the lack of customer bikes and the few factory racers account for the bikes scarcity today. There are only 4 known remaining examples.

Harley-Davidston 8 Valve Racer

Harley-Davidston 8 Valve Racer

The racers were successful throughout the 20’s overseas but were not seen in the US after 1922. There are 4 of the 8 Valve racers known to exist, and that’s a pretty neat feat considering there is less than three whole bikes parts. Some is due to the continued variability and modification that goes on with racing motorcycles, some due to parts being destroyed. On the four remaining bikes, some of the pieces have had to be reproduced. Most of the 8 Valve racer parts were found in Europe and one of the most complete bikes is still in Italy.

While nothing would make me happier than to tell you more and more about the 8 Valve Racer, there is an excellent piece that I just don’t think I could improve on at:


The video below is of a Harley 8 Valve running with some other beautiful bikes in Germany http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpDRgVAwSZo

Buzz Kanter shows of Dave Fusiak’s 8 valve racer reproduction. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hedv8RGcvMQ

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Old TV Show With James Garner Riding Belt Drive Classic Harley

Classic Harley Belt Drive Bike On Old TV Show

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1933 Harley-Davidson VL Restoration: Engine Preparation


Over the winter, I’ve made a lot of progress on my 1933 Harley-Davidson build.  Now that the engine has been sent to the machine shop for rebuilding, I wanted to take some time and write about what it took to get the engine ready to be rebuilt.  If I had to sum it all up with one picture, it would definitely be this one of me standing at the blasting cabinet.  Almost every part had to be cleaned with fine aluminum oxide media to remove 80+ years of dirt and grime.


I’m going to begin with the cylinder heads and work my way down through the rest of the engine.  On a flathead engine, the valves are located in the cylinders, so there are no moving parts in the cylinder heads.  The heads simply bolt to the top the cylinders, hold the sparkplugs and provide a combustion chamber.  The main problem you run into with VL heads is that the cooling fins are often broken from improper removal of the headbolts.  My heads only had a few broken fins, so I chose to “massage” the broken fins with a grinding wheel to get rid of the jagged broken edges.  This cleans up the heads visually and you’ll hardly notice the missing fins once everything is painted and installed.  For more serious damage, I’d recommend contacting Tom Faber to have your fins replaced.  You can see examples of his top notch work at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, which is one hell of a reference!


Moving down to the cylinders, I was lucky enough to find a set without any broken fins and close to a stock bore.  My cylinders had been bored once already, but that only brought them out to .005″ and .010″ from stock.  All that was needed to prep them was some time in the blasting cabinet to clean off the old paint and a fresh coat of aircraft primer.  The cylinder heads received the same treatment, leaving me with a set of clean green cylinders and heads.


The real work began when I started on the engine cases.  First there was a general cleaning using lacquer thinner before moving onto a couple hours of more aggressive cleaning in the blasting cabinet.  Then the cases were carefully inspected for damage during which a hole was found in the right front engine baffle which needed to be repaired.


This proved to be a time consuming repair as a number of custom tools had to be built to complete the job.  To start, a piece of copper plate was fabricated to cover the hole and clamped into place.   Copper doesn’t easily weld to aluminum, so with the copper plate covering the hole, I could TIG weld a new bead right across it.  Then the numerous cracks which spread from the hole were each welded up.  The removal of all the excess weld material required another custom tool and a hand held router.  I started with a standard 1/2″ four-flute end mill and made an aluminum sleeve to cover the cutting surfaces on the sides of the end mill.  This kept the end mill from cutting into the sides of the case, but left the bottom of the end mill exposed to cut away the excess weld.  I made slow passes across the baffle, lowering the end mill 1/32″ each pass until I reached the desired height.  I did this with the cases bolted together, which allowed me to measure the finished heights from the intact left side baffle.


With the cases repaired, I moved onto chasing all the threads in the various tapped holes before doing a really thorough cleaning.  All that welding, grinding and tapping, along with being cleaned in a blasting cabinet meant there was potential debris hidden in every nook a cranny of those cases.  Every hole was cleaned with wire brushes and blown out with compressed air, before the entire case was submersed in warm soapy water and scrubbed with bristle brushes.  This was followed by more compressed air and another scrub/soak.


The last step was to coat the inside of the cases with a sealant called Glyptal.  All the surfaces that I wanted to remain clean were taped off and then a nice smooth coat of Glyptal was applied with a brush.  After a two hour bake, the inside of the cases were smooth and sealed.


A good portion of my internal engine parts are being replaced with new parts from Eastern Motorcycle Parts, so things like valves, springs, pistons, shafts, etc will all be new.  That still left the cams, tappet blocks, flywheels and connecting rods which needed to be cleaned and repaired.  All of these parts were placed in the blasting cabinet to be cleaned up.  For the tappet blocks, flywheels and connecting rods, that was all that needed to be done and they were gone over with a wire brush before being washed with lacquer thinner and placed to the side.  The cams needed a little more work since the #4 cam had broken threads on the worm gear with drives the oil pump.


Since these were a matched set of cams, I didn’t want to just replace the broken cam, but instead used another #4 cam as a parts donor.  V-series cams are not made from a single piece of stock, but instead are made in two parts.  One part being the shaft and the other the drive gears and lobes.  These are just pressed together, so to repair my cam I just needed to press out the shaft with the damaged threads and press in the donor shaft.


The last major component to tackle was the cam cover.  The oil pumps and the timer are mounted on the cam cover, so all of these had to be removed and disassembled before cleaning could begin.  The cam cover was by far the dirtiest piece and took a bit of scrubbing with lacquer thinner just to get it clean enough to go in the blasting cabinet.


Like all the other parts, a trip through the blast cabinet followed by going over the parts with a wire wheel made them look good as new.  After many hours of cleaning and repairing, all the pieces were ready.  Now it’s on to the transmission!


For more in depth articles on this project, check out Riding Vintage.

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