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Old 08-30-2013, 04:33 PM   #1
Night Train OP
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How Harley Used to Build Motorcycles

This collection of photos from inside Harley Davidson's factory has grown to over three dozen images. Covering the v-twins from the early years right on through to the XR-750's from the 1970's. Interesting to see how some of the processes stayed the same for more than 50 years. These were taken when men were men and safety was for sissies.



A Look Inside the Harley-Davidson Factory of Yesteryear
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Old 08-30-2013, 08:24 PM   #2
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Some nice pictures. It's easy to see the attraction those old Harley's have.
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:00 AM   #3
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I love seeing stuff like that. Those frame welding jigs were surprisingly primitive. Can't imagine how they managed to keep it it all true.
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Old 09-01-2013, 02:17 PM   #4
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that is what the cast iron lugs were for,and no required fitting of frame tubes.
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Old 09-02-2013, 09:51 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Night Train View Post
This collection of photos from inside Harley Davidson's factory has grown to over three dozen images. Covering the v-twins from the early years right on through to the XR-750's from the 1970's. Interesting to see how some of the processes stayed the same for more than 50 years. These were taken when men were men and safety was for sissies.



A Look Inside the Harley-Davidson Factory of Yesteryear

VERY interesting. I especially like this line. These were taken when men were men and safety was for sissies.
Seems like on every forum here safety is everything, and everybody believes that ABS and airbags, etc. will give them that. They are willing to give up control of their bikes for the sake of safety. What's even worse is that none of these safety gadgets have actually been proven to increase safety. Rider skill, experience, and the right attitude is what will keep you alive.

I am not a ATGATT rider, but do wear a full face helmet. I have no desire to get hurt, and have never crashed on the street in over 40 years and half a million miles of riding. I'm not bragging, I just think it is something to be proud of.


But back to Harleys. I know it is not yet old enough to be considered vintage, clones of it are still being built by the boatload. But I recently had the opportunity to watch someone rebuild an EVO motor, and absolutely fell in love with it. Despite the fact that it was made into the late '90s, this engine is about as close to a Model T as you can get. Harley (and the aftermarket) made almost every part in different sizes, so it could all be "fitted" together. Unlike Japanese bikes, every little part is replaceable, right down to the rollers in the bearing cages. It is obvious that a skilled and patient mechanic could build a much better engine than Harley did on their assembly line. The cases could be used almost forever, and the cylinders have several oversizes. Even the crank and con rods can be disassembled and rebuilt. And the aftermarket makes several upgraded parts.


Sadly when Harley went to the Twin Cam engine, they also went with the Japanese style manufacturing process in many areas, making them much harder to rebuild. To me, if an engine cannot be rebuilt a few times, it isn't worth very much. Just another disposable hunk of metal that costs more to rebuild than to replace. And since Harley has patented most of the parts on the new motor, the aftermarket will probably not be able to supply parts, at least parts that don't cost a fortune after they give Harley their share.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:33 AM   #6
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What's even worse is that none of these safety gadgets have actually been proven to increase safety.
you really define tedious on a regular basis. ABS will stop you quicker without locking up the back wheel. try hitting an immovable object at speed and try stopping before impact and come tell us all about what works and what doesn't.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by R-dubb View Post
I love seeing stuff like that. Those frame welding jigs were surprisingly primitive. Can't imagine how they managed to keep it it all true.

frame straightener :)

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Old 09-02-2013, 10:53 AM   #8
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What I love about old bikes (besides the way they look) is the total lack of any kind of electronic technology. I even love points ignition. I want a bike that I can ride, not one that rides itself. I once owned a '66 Triumph Bonneville (for about 3 years) and loved it. I would still have it, if it hadn't broken down and left me stranded one to many times. Yes, I learned to carry spares for the stuff that broke most often, but that was not always enough. I had no problem with any other part of it, it was a joy to ride, is why I put up with it's constant problems for so long. I had no issue whatsoever with the brakes, I learned the proper technique for using them. Unfortunately the front brake cable broke constantly.

I want an old bike because I hate modern crap. And I will find one. It is not as easy as it would seem. I found 2 old cars real easy, one is 50 years old with 4 wheel non power assisted drum brakes. I have never crashed it. You have to learn to ride and drive the way people did back in the days before "modern" vehicles. Both my old cars are American. They would be impossible to keep going if they were Japanese, due to a lack of parts. Same issue with Japanese bikes. And 99% of most of the old bikes you find out there for a decent price are Japanese. After getting a really good look in that Harley engine, and finding out how cheap the parts are, I am now pretty sure that's what I want. A carbed non ABS EVO Harley with an actual throttle cable. I'll just have to save up a little more money.
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:02 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by R-dubb View Post
I love seeing stuff like that. Those frame welding jigs were surprisingly primitive. Can't imagine how they managed to keep it it all true.
Have you ever rebuilt an EVO or previous generation Harley engine? Nothing about them is straight off the assembly line. Each engine has to be hand fitted with the size parts that fit best, and often these parts have to be align bored and honed to get the clearances exactly right. Sometimes an engine has to be partially torn down and reassembled several times before everything is right. Harley makes about 7 different size camshaft shims, and a brand new engine can require pretty much any one of them to make it right. Building an older Harley engine is a lot like gunsmithing. No two are exactly the same.
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Old 09-02-2013, 01:48 PM   #10
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you really define tedious on a regular basis. ABS will stop you quicker without locking up the back wheel. try hitting an immovable object at speed and try stopping before impact and come tell us all about what works and what doesn't.
you're talking to a guy who removed one of his bikes twin front disc brakes because it offered too much stopping power
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:15 PM   #11
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you're talking to a guy who removed one of his bikes twin front disc brakes because it offered too much stopping power


did he really??
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Old 09-02-2013, 04:55 PM   #12
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you're talking to a guy who removed one of his bikes twin front disc brakes because it offered too much stopping power
Also he was kicked off the XT225 forum which is really hard to do. He advises mechanics to wash their hands in gasoline.
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Old 09-02-2013, 05:33 PM   #13
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Also he was kicked off the XT225 forum which is really hard to do.
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:02 PM   #14
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A carbed non ABS EVO Harley with an actual throttle cable. I'll just have to save up a little more money.
JerryH,
I thought you said recently that you were set up money wise and getting ready to retire. What changed?
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:23 PM   #15
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JerryH,
I thought you said recently that you were set up money wise and getting ready to retire. What changed?
Nothing has changed. I am all set to retire March 30th of next year at 55. But that plan does not include spending a whole bunch of money on more bikes. I already have 7, and figured that's plenty to last me for the rest of my life. But I still find myself wanting a vintage non Japanese bike.
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2002 Vulcan 750, 2013 Royal Enfield B5
2001 XT225, 2009 Genuine Stella
1980 Puch moped
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