Updated: November 15, 2015
|My 1921 Harley-Davidson Model J Replica Racer|
It's been a while since I wrote Episodes #8, and #13, on building my 1921 Harley-Davidson replica racer. These two technical episodes get more page views than any of my history episodes.
While I have done a couple of updates on these earlier episodes, I've decided start a new continuing episode on upgrading my racer.
Like most of my projects, this one begins with the delivery of a box. One day my wife told me I had a large box from Europe sitting in the garage. I'd been waiting for it for a couple months, and was excited to see if it would work. Once I got the box down to my shop, and unwrapped, my earlier suspicions about the amount of work this conversion would take where confirmed.
|The Mystery Box|
In 1912, Harley-Davidson introduced a single speed clutch built into the rear wheel hub. Known as a "Free Wheel Clutch", it allowed riders the ability to have the engine running, while the bike was stationary. This clutch setup was also an option for the factory produced racers.
|Harley-Davidson Free-wheel Control Ad|
Motorcycle Illustrated - 1912
|Replica Freewheel Clutch|
I checked the function of the clutch assembly, and it worked fine. Several folks familiar with the overseas supplier, had warned me it would be a waste of time, to try and return it for a refund. That meant that I would have to do whatever was necessary to get this clutch to work on my frame.
My weapon of choice in taking on this task, was my leather belt drive vintage South Bend metal lathe. I think my wife's grandfather bought this lathe for the family lumber mill sometime in the thirties or forties. A few years ago, I became the care taker of this family mechanical heirloom.
|My Belt Drive South Bend Metal Lathe|
I've never claimed to be a trained machinist, so this project really tested my machining skills. Most of what I learned about operating a metal lathe, came from watching my grandfather, who was a master metal worker all his life. After countless hours of measuring, and lathe work, I was able to fit it in the space available, and the clutch worked properly.
|Clutch fit to my Keystone Frame|
Lacing and truing spoked wheels is an acquired skill best left to professionals. I usually use Buchanan Spoke & Rim to build my spoked wheels. They did the original wheels on my racer, but that was not really an option in this case. I have only laced, and trued, a couple of wheels in my time, but that was many years ago. My first mistake, was not photographing my original rear wheel before disassembling it for the spokes & rim. I laced, and re-laced, the rear wheel countless times, before I finally got it right. Pretty much, what I remembered of lacing the first spoked wheel 43 years ago!
|Finished Rear Wheel Ready for Truing|
|Horizontal Wheel Truing|
|Vertical Wheel Truing|
|Completed Freewheel Clutch Rear Wheel|
|Clutch Lever in the Drive Position|
Live Engine Clutch Test Video
|Rear Wheel Alignment Check|
|Front Wheel Shows a 3/8" Rear Wheel Misalignment to the Right|
So, what lessons did I learn from this experience?
Early Harley LLC