Rare 1942 WL Readers Ride

Posted on 8th April 2010 by Electra Glide In Blue in Harley-Davidson, Readers Ride - Tags: , , ,

Harley Davidson was gearing up for the war effort in 1942. There were few 42 models manufactured for civilian use before a total freeze was put on non-essential war production.

Out of this production year only 142 WL’s were manufactured. The WL, a 45 twin with high compression had a retail price of $350.00.

This rare 1942 WL reader’s ride comes from Jay, out of western NY. Jay tells me this bike came out of Texas and he bought it in Ohio. Jay’s an old school 50’s kind of guy and loves motorcycles and cars that are bobbed or rodded from the 40’s and 50’s.

Be sure to check out the last photo, a reader’s ride bonus.

The 42 WL Engine.

And the bonus, Jays 1928 Ford Roadster.

A big thanks to Jay for sharing his 42 WL and the 28 roadster. Stay tuned for Jay’s Panhead and Sporty pic’s.
As always, thanks for stopping by and ride safe,

Electra Glide In Blue

Motorcycle Kidney Belts With Some Harley History

Posted on 30th March 2010 by Electra Glide In Blue in Classic, Harley-Davidson, Old School - Tags: ,

Its 1920 the road is rutted packed dirt, gravel or in the big towns, paving bricks. Your motorcycle has no rear suspension. You feel every little bump and rut from the rear wheel through the frame and seat to your kidneys. Thank god you have on your riding belt, later to be called the kidney belt.

Harley Davidson Kidney belts

Photograph courtesy of the Harley-Davidson Motor Company Archives. Copyright H-D.

What makes kidney belts so historically interesting is that they were one of the first articles of riding wear that were adapted specifically for motorcycle riding, and they were also among the first articles to be personalized by the rider. Archival photos as early as about 1920, show motorcycle riders wearing kidney belts with personalized studs depicting the rider’s initials and other designs. Other historical photos over the decades show club riders and rally attendees in their favorite riding belts, both “stock” and highly personalized. Numerous belts in the Archives’ collections are as unique and imaginative as motorcycle riders themselves with highlights such as reflectors, hand tooling on the leather and even handles for the rear seatSporting a leather kidney belt rider.

Harley-Davidson began offering belts to riders in the accessories catalog as early as 1927. The “Brown Cowhide Leather Belt” was offered as a “Grade B” for $3, or, if you wanted to splurge, the “Grade A” was available for $4. In later years, Harley-Davidson offered leather riding belts complete with studs, gems, conchos, pockets and the Bar & Shield logo. Alternatives to the typical flat leather construction were a woven leather configuration for flexibility.

On the right is a picture of my uncle sporting his personalized kidney belt. I can remember finding this up-stairs at grandma’s house when I was about ten. I thought my uncle may have been a wrestler, I had seen these things on the TV. The back side of the kidney belt had his initials in chrome studs.

Here is a picture of Bessie Stringfield sporting her kidney belt. It was said at the age of 19 Bessie began tossing a penny onto a map and then rode to wherever it landed.

Bessie Stringfield sporting her kidney belt

Bessie Stringfield picture courtesy of The Selvedge Yard.

With the arrival of rear shocks in the late 50’s the punishment of the road had been tamed. Today the motocross riders are about the only ones to sport the modern kidney belt.

Some of this info is from an article by Bill Jackson, Senior Archivist for Harley Davidson.

You can click on any photo to see a larger image, enjoy.

Electra Glide In Blue

A Little Iron Head Sportster History 1972 early 73

Posted on 26th February 2010 by Electra Glide In Blue in Harley-Davidson, sportster - Tags: , , ,

In 1972 Harley introduced the 1000cc Iron Head Sportster, replacing the 900cc. To accomplish this, for some reason they cast the cylinders using a wall thickness of 3/32. This is why the 1972, E73’s can’t be bored more than .030 over. The bolt hole patterns are also unique for 1972 and early 73 cylinders. For what I have seen and read, the cylinders and heads for 72-E73 Sportster are not compatible with any other years.

Also new in 72 was the Bendix/Zenith carb. The Sportster had the Tillotson diaphragm carb since 1966.

1973 brought on mandatory turn signals and 35mm Kayaba forks with single disc front brakes for more stopping power. Late 73 1000cc cylinders and heads did not change until the introduction of the Evo engine in 1986.

1972 production numbers;
XLH (7,500)
XLCH (10,650)

1973 production numbers;
XLH (9,875)
XLCH (10,825)

The 1972 XLCH is owned by Peter, he has quite a collection of old Harleys. You can check him out here.

Annual Colorado Motorcycle Show and Swap

Posted on 6th February 2010 by Electra Glide In Blue in Classic, Harley-Davidson, KnuckleHead - Tags: , , ,

Last Sunday I did my annual visit to the 32nd Annual Colorado Motorcycle Show and Swap.

This year’s event, as far as finding older parts, was prime for anyone with the money to grab up almost what ever one was looking for. I think the economy had everyone pulling out the old stuff and putting it up for sale. I have seen a few posts around the web stating the good old days of the swap-meet are gone thanks to sites like eBay and Craigslist. This year the Colorado swap proved this wrong. Old parts were easy to be had, if you had the green and the legs to do the walking along with the eyes to do the searching over and under the swap tables.

The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Museum had to best display as usual in the show arena.

This year they featured their 1941 Harley EL and a 49 Indian “249” Scout. The 41 Harley EL was pretty special considering the bike was sitting there in all its glory.

This 1941 61 cubic inch EL Knucklehead is completely original.

The story goes, this bike was rescued from the original owners’ garage. After sitting for years the drive train was seized, and the engines internals were in question. The Museums’ staff, with some outside help, re-built the engine, transmission, drive train and wheel hubs while maintaining the external patina of the bike. Can you say “Barn Fresh”, off and runn’n.

This bike would have set you back a cool $425.00 back in 1941. Throw in the deluxe solo package option, fender tips, lights, crash bars, saddlebags and some chrome extras, this would have increased your total out-of-pocket expense by an outrageous sum of $60 bucks.

Click on any pic to get a larger view.

Here are a few other bikes from the show that caught my eye.

Enjoy and share.