How Harley Used to Build Motorcycles

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by Night Train, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. Night Train

    Night Train Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    192
    Location:
    North Carolina
    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.

    [​IMG]

    A Look Inside the Harley-Davidson Factory of Yesteryear
    #1
  2. ThumperStorm

    ThumperStorm Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,118
    Location:
    St. Cloud, Minnesota
    Some nice pictures. It's easy to see the attraction those old Harley's have.
    #2
  3. R-dubb

    R-dubb Dubbious Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2001
    Oddometer:
    5,107
    Location:
    San Francisco
    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.
    #3
  4. yokesman

    yokesman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    548
    that is what the cast iron lugs were for,and no required fitting of frame tubes.
    #4
  5. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,069
    Location:
    Chandler, AZ

    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.
    #5
  6. nachtflug

    nachtflug infidel

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Oddometer:
    46,983
    Location:
    Harrys place
    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.
    #6
  7. Monkeyshines

    Monkeyshines Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,393
    Location:
    Menomonee Falls

    frame straightener :)

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,069
    Location:
    Chandler, AZ
    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.
    #8
  9. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,069
    Location:
    Chandler, AZ
    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.
    #9
  10. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    16,729
    Location:
    Parker, CO
    you're talking to a guy who removed one of his bikes twin front disc brakes because it offered too much stopping power :lol3
    #10
  11. nachtflug

    nachtflug infidel

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Oddometer:
    46,983
    Location:
    Harrys place
    :huh:eek1

    did he really??
    #11
  12. Bar None

    Bar None Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,212
    Location:
    WNC SWFL
    Also he was kicked off the XT225 forum which is really hard to do. He advises mechanics to wash their hands in gasoline.:rofl
    #12
  13. nachtflug

    nachtflug infidel

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Oddometer:
    46,983
    Location:
    Harrys place
    :photog
    #13
  14. Bar None

    Bar None Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,212
    Location:
    WNC SWFL
    JerryH,
    I thought you said recently that you were set up money wise and getting ready to retire. What changed?:rofl
    #14
  15. JerryH

    JerryH Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,069
    Location:
    Chandler, AZ
    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.
    #15
  16. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    16,729
    Location:
    Parker, CO
    #16
  17. ThumperStorm

    ThumperStorm Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2012
    Oddometer:
    1,118
    Location:
    St. Cloud, Minnesota
    I find it interesting that you don't seem to believe in most safety gear but admit you wear a helmet, a full face helmet at that, because you don't want to get hurt.

    To me, if an engine has to be rebuilt several times, it is not worth much to me.
    #17
  18. jcf

    jcf Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 28, 2011
    Oddometer:
    249
    Location:
    The state of Me.
    Big plus 1 on all that !
    #18
  19. groop

    groop So much to ponder

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2007
    Oddometer:
    3,375
    Location:
    oc, ca
    10th photo up....what model is that? Doesn't look like any Harley I've ever seen that was made in Milwaukee. Even the plant windows look different from the other shots. That guy...that guy looks eye-talian too.

    Maybe an Aermacchi 250 Ala d'Oro?
    #19
  20. Blakebird

    Blakebird r-u-n-n-o-f-t

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2004
    Oddometer:
    16,729
    Location:
    Parker, CO
    definitely Aermacchi, maybe an early 60's Ala Verde?
    #20