Jim Davis – Harley Motorcycle Racing Legend

Originally posted on Riding Vintage

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When people talk about early motorcycle racing legends, one of the first names that comes to mind is Jim Davis.  His racing career spanned more than two decades, riding bikes for both Harley-Davidson and Indian as well as a few British manufacturers.  He won titles under the Federation of American Motorcyclists (FAM), the Motorcycle and Allied Trades Association (M&ATA) and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA).  By the end of his career, he had won over 50 national events under the FAM and M&ATA, plus another 21 under the AMA. Continue reading

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Antique Motorcycles In Gasoline Alley in Portland, Oregon

Port1x

This interesting photo shows us a gathering of motorcyclists and their machines in front of the Motorcycle & Supply Company, a Harley-Davidson agency that was located at 209 Fourth Street in Portland, Oregon. In 1913, The Oregonian reported about the first endurance run from Portland to Corvallis and back by the Rose City Motorcycle Club with 37 riders participating. This image may be connected to that or a similar event. The advertisement below by Motorcycle & Supply Company tells of a 428 mile endurance run.

The majority of the machines lined up here are Harley-Davidson’s, but a closer look at the photo will also show you a Flying Merkel, a Dayton, possibly a pair of Clevelands and one or two British machines. Left to right are the Rathskeller Bar, the Motorcycle & Supply Company, a billiard and pool hall, the Hotel Rowland and at the very right-hand top side of the photo the F.P. Keenan Company, who earlier sold hardware but, at the time this photo was taken, sold Pope Motorcycles and automobile and bicycle supplies. The photos are courtesy of the City of Portland Archives

Read the full post with mode photo details at http://theoldmotor.com/?p=110782

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2014 Kickstart Classic Ride For Vintage Harleys & More

The Kickstart Classic ride is open to all makes, models and years of motorcycles (with or without kickstarters). 2014 will be the fourth year American Iron Magazine, Motorcycle Bagger and Motorcycle magazine put on this two-day ride.

This year, the registered riders will meet, once again, at Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, NC for a welcome dinner and reception Thursday afternoon and evening, July 24, 2014. We leave the next morning (Friday, July 25) and ride to Chattanooga, TN where we will be treated to a tour and dinner at the Coker Tire world headquarters. The next morning we depart and ride to Red Boiling Springs, TN for a reception and dinner at Cyclemos Motorcycle Museum.

The ride will be mostly on beautiful backroads where we can travel at our on speed without worrying about modern highway traffic. We will ride roughly 160 miles each day with plenty of stops to enjoy the scenery as well as gas-up, eat (hopefully not associated) and check out each other’s bikes.

We will limit registration to the first 100 riders and registration is $100 per person (rider and passenger). To register, please send your name, address, make, model and year of motorcycle and t-shirt size. Please send this along with $100 per person registration fee to: Kickstart Classic, c/o TAM Communications, 1010 Summer St. Stamford, CT 06905. For more info, please call Rosemary at 203.425.8777 x118.

Please click HERE for the registration form.

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The XLA Sportster, Harley’s Last Military V-Twin

Originally posted on Riding Vintage

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During WWII, Harley-Davidson produced thousands of WLA motorcycles for the United States and it’s Allies.  Some sources estimate the total number of motorcycles at 70,000 units and enough spare parts to build 30,000 more.  Other sources are more conservative, but the fact is, Harley-Davidson produced a lot of motorcycles for the military in the 1940′s.  This left a huge surplus of motorcycles after the war and with the motorcycle being phased out in favor of the Jeep 4×4, it wasn’t until 1957 that the military placed another order for motorcycles with Harley-Davidson.  This time they weren’t interested in an combat ready machine, but instead a patrol vehicle to use on base.  Harley’s answer was the Sportster XLA. Continue reading

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Gene Walker and the Four Valve Classic Harley-Davidson Racer?

David Morrill of Deadly Dave’s Blog

They say a pictures worth a thousand words, and this old photo is certainly worth a few. To start with, Daytona 200 winner Don Emde sent me this photo as part of some research I was doing a few years back. It was taken in 1923, and the rider is Gene Walker, of Birmingham, AL.

Gene Walker - 1923

Gene Walker – 1923

Now some folks will tell you, Gene Walker was an Indian rider, and that is mostly correct. From the time the Birmingham Indian dealer, Bob Stubbs, put young Walker on an 8 valve Indian racer at the Alabama State Fairgrounds, through many of his race wins, and numerous track records, Gene Walker raced Indians.

So how did one of the most famous Indian riders of his time come to be photographed on a Harley-Davidson racer?

And even more interesting, how did he come to be part of Harley-Davidson’s 1923 advertising?

The story starts with America’s entry into World War I. Professional racing was curtailed, and Indian Factory rider Gene Walker returned to Birmingham. As his widowed mother’s sole support, Walker was exempted from the draft. He found work as a motorcycle machinist at the Harley-Davidson shop run by Bill Specht. During the winters, Walker supplemented his income, working as a Birmingham Motorcycle Police Officer. Walker also kept is hand in racing, winning a few non championship races at Atlanta’s Lakewood Speedway on a privately entered Harley-Davidson.

With his return to the Indian Racing Team in 1919, Gene Walker again won races, set track records, and even set the first officially recognized motorcycle land speed records for Indian.

So how did he come to fall into disfavor with the Management at Indian?

In July 1921, Walker agreed to compete in the biggest race of the year, the 300 Mile Coyote Classic in Dodge City, Kansas. A few days before the race, Walker notified his bosses he would not compete at Dodge City. Walker contended he didn’t like the dusty, dangerous conditions, at Dodge City, but he may have had another reason.

Walker entered a race in South Bend, Indiana just two weeks after the Dodge City race. His bosses at Indian, accused him of “cherry picking” races for easy wins, and purses. The dispute played out in the motorcycle press for the next month.  Gene continued to win races on Indians, and it appeared the dispute was settled, until Walker was unexpectedly released by Indian at the end of the 1921 racing season. The reason given by  Indian’s Management, was his failure to meet his Continue reading

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Happy New Year For All Classic Harley Enthusiasts

As the founder of this Classic Harley Motorcycle & Info blog I’d like to thank everyone here for your support and to wish you a wonderful New Year in 2014.

Happy New Year from Buzz Kanter on his 1936 Harley EL Knucklehead.

Every year I try to start the new year with a motorcycle ride. Today I was out in the chilly (mid 20 degrees) New England weather on my 1936 Harley EL Knucklehead. It took a little extra effort to get the Knuck to start, but then she ran just fine and seemed to like the cold.

Wishing you some great rides on some great classic motorcycles in 2014.

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Happy Harleydays To All From Classic Harley Motorcycle & Info

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Classic Harley News: Motorcycle Cannonball 2014 Route, Dates and More

This is the route and planned dates for the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball. In working on this route for the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball endurance event, they have tried to fulfill several criteria:

A coast-to-coast route across the United States. We start the run in Daytona Beach, Florida on the worlds most famous beach. We finish the run after 4150 miles, on the Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.

Approximately a two-week schedule. We start on a Friday in Daytona Beach, and finish in Tacoma two weeks later on a Sunday. The route is 17 days total, 16 days on the road, and one rest day in Junction City, Kansas. The day off is on a Friday, a week after the start, a weekday when shops are open. The two days before the start in Daytona Beach we will have registration, vehicle inspection, an optional practice run, a short classroom session, and a hosted welcome reception.

Most days 300 miles or shorter. Our goal was for all days to be at most 300 miles, but in some areas there just aren’t enough cities at appropriate locations with sufficient hotel rooms for a group our size. Two days are longer, both are after the rest day. The typical schedule for a 300 mile day ,assuming the motorcycle maintains 50 mph on straight flat roads, will be an 8:00 am start and a 4:00 pm finish, for a total of 8 hours on the road. This schedule includes a 45 minute lunch break ,and three 15 minute refueling breaks. Time will also be set aside for viewing scenic and historic sites.

Short days for the Start and Finish. The first and last days will each be the shortest days, with a late morning start in Continue reading

Posted in 45 Inch Flathead Harleys, Big Twin Flathead Harleys, Classic Harley Events, Classic Harley News, J Model Harleys, Motorcycle Cannonball, Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

1934 Harley-Davidson CAC Classic Motorcycle Racer

Originally posted on Riding Vintage.

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In the 1930′s, speedway racing was rising in popularity across the US. British JAP and Rudge machines dominated the sport, racing on tracks covered with fine cinders (a by product of coal fired plants). This was more than Harley-Davidson factory racer Joe Petrali could take and he urged Harley to build their own speedway racer. It is rumored that Harley was not interested in the project at all, but let Petrali build the motorcycle himself at the HD plant on the weekends. Whether it was Petrali or a team of HD engineers, a new machine designated CAC was released in 1934.

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The CAC was powered by a 500cc single-cylinder engine which borrowed heavily from the British JAP engine. The compression ratio was a whopping 16.5:1 and the engine revved up to 6,000 rpm. There was no transmission or clutch as the engine was directly connected to the rear wheel by a short-coupled jackshaft and drivechain. Brakes were left off too, because racing is about going fast, not stopping.

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There seems to be some question as to the number of CAC actually built. Harley-Davidson states that they built 20 complete race bikes and 5 spare engines. Many other sources claim that only 12 complete machines were built. Either way, it is an extremely rare machine with only nine machines currently known to exist.

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If you read Harley’s press release for the CAC, it sounds like quite a machine: “The short track racers we are offering are the result of much study and actual trial by our racing department. Extensive tests were conducted on the West Coast on actual tracks with outstanding short track racing stars and in competition with the best of the foreign machines. Our experimental machines came through every test with flying colors. Improvements incorporated as a result of these trials will make these new racing models even better in power and performance.”  Not the kind of machine you would expect to be cancelled after one year of production, but that’s exactly what happened.  More rumors abound about why Harley ceased production; cam issues, cam timing problems, poor performance etc.

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Still, I’d like to see one sliding around a corner on a cinder track…

Want to learn more about Harley history?  Check out Riding Vintage for more great articles!

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Classic Harley Tech – Penetrating Oil Bath or No?

On the advice of a friend who has been messing with classic Harley and Indian motorcycles about as long as I have, I bought and sprayed a can of Gibbs penetrating oil all over my mostly original paint 1924 Harley JDCA.

I soaked my classic Harley in Gibbs penetrating oil to look and run better.

I am told this oil was designed for high tech applications and is used by collector gun enthusiasts. I am told it will help the life and the look of raw metal, plated metal and even old painted metal. I bought a few cans and just sprayed the bike down.

The other side of the classic Harley after spraying it down with penetrating oil.

I plan to leave the oil on the old Harley for a week or so to penetrate in. Then I will carefully wipe off the excess with paper towels. I have tried other products including StrongArm and Kroil, both of which seem to work well.

Anyone else have other suggestions on similar processes?

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