WTT’s John Dills’ Panhead on IronWorks Cover

I thought I’d share the news about our good friend and painter John Dills and his 1953 Panhead Chopper’s cover appearance and three page spread in the March issue of Ironworks Magazine.  Johns been helping out here at the museum for about five years, and has probably painted over 40 bikes for us since 2005. 

John likes to say that he "paints for parts", and over the last several years, he’d collected enough old H-D stuff to build his dream bike.  Last winter, we got to work, and between John, Matt, and myself, we had her running down the road in just a few months.  The entire build was a lot of fun!

Completed about a year ago, it didn’t take long for it to catch the eye of builders and enthusiasts everywhere.  A big thanks to Marylin Stemp of IronWorks for seeing that John’s ’53 made it into IronWorks!

WTT's Own John Dills Panhead on March IronWorks Cover!WTT's Own John Dills Panhead on March IronWorks Cover!

1937 Harley UMG Videos Now Online!

  After years of searching out the few remaining parts for the 1937 Harley-Davidson UMG, I’m proud to say that what is possibly the only remaining Harley UMG Flathead is finally finished and back in running and roadworthy condition.  I can’t stress enough how rare of a motorcycle this machine is.  Originally built for the New York Police Department, H-D produced very limited numbers of these from 1937 to 1939.  You see, the NYPD had always used Indians……and around mid 1936 Harley decided they wanted a piece of the contract.  The NYPD had one of the largest motorcycle squads in the country, and you can imagine that Harley was eager to sell another three or four hundred bikes, especially to an entity as prestigious as the NYPD. 

However, it wouldn’t be as easy as you’d think.  You’d think that the new, powerful H-D 61 OHV motor would be a shoe-in for the job, but as the department had always used Indian’s flathead motor, Harley decided to base this new machine around their 74" U-Model.  Often referred to as an "Indian-ized Harley", the UMG featured, like Indians, a left-hand throttle, right-hand shift, three speed transmission, and "heel-to-go" clutch.  All opposite from a standard Harley.  The UMG was painted none other than "Indian Red" and also featured an indian-type Bosch Magneto/Generator, which is where the machine picked up is lettered model designation — U-model, Magneto, Generator. 

To my knowledge, this is the only remaining UMG in existance. 

Check out the entire build of this rare Harley-Davidson in the video section of our website, and next time your visiting the museum, be sure to keep an eye out for one of the rarest motorcycles on the planet…the Harley-Davidson UMG!

Dale’s 1915 HD Cannonball Ride


Here it is!  My 1915 Harley-Davidson that I’ll be riding in the first ever Cannonball Run.  I know it looks a little rough, but its a great bike with a great story.  The bike is a true survivor, sold new in North Carolina in 1915.  After sitting in the original owners barn for over 60 years, the machine changed hands in the 1980s, moving just a few blocks down the road, and remaining untouched until I received a phone call on a sunny August afternoon. 

After so many years of neglect, the bike was at Wheels Through Time just a few days later…..ready to be brought back to life for the first time in who knows how long.   Check out the rest of the 5 Part series on my 1915 Cannonball Machine!

Motorcycle Cannonball Update!!!

The 1915 HD Wayne will be riding, new bars and all!Much progress has been made on the two machines that Wayne Stanfield and I will be riding in the Cannonball Run this coming September 2010. For those of you who haven’t heard yet, the Cannonball Run, which was set up by my good friend Lonnie Isam, Jr. of Sturgis, SD, is a coast-to-coast motorcycle run for machine made before 1916. So far over 50 riders are entered, and for the last several months, everyone has been working hard to get their machines into tip-top running shape.

The Cannonball will be no easy race to win. As a matter of fact, it will be extremely difficult to even finish. Approximately 3400 miles on a nearly 100 year old machine…..

The route has been set, as Lonnie got the help of world famous rally organizer, John Classen. The route, which stretches east to west, from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to Santa Monica, CA was chosen for several Get ready to tear the engine apartreasons, including mileage, road condition/type, weather trend, etc. Keep in mind that the machines we’re riding, most of which were never meant to sustain speeds over 35 or 40 mph, are not meant for any road. The route had to be carefully chosen, and John did a great job of putting it all together.

Over the past few months, Matt and I have been working hard to get the machines that Wayne and I will be running back into roadworthy shape. Both are 1915 Harleys, one restored, and one original. The first step for both machines was an engine rebuilt. Although I had been into one of the engines before, it never hurts to take everything down and have another fresh start. So that’s what we did. I’ve been comparing several different components from similar years, including pistons, cylinders, cams, valve pockets, etc, in an effort to find a great combination that will produce enough power, but not too much. The idea here is endurance, and often, the lower compression, detuned motors have the ability to stay together longer than, say, a hot rod stroker. Sure, the stroker would be faster, but I hold the belief that Harley-Davidson knew how to get the most out of their machines back then. Their main goal in those days was durability and reliability, and that’s exactly what the Cannonball Run is all about.

The 1915 HD I'll be riding in the Cannonball -- nice and rusty!We’ve also been brainstorming as to what chassis adjustments we should make to try to gain an extra advantage. For example, we’re changing the handlebars to be more accommodating to long distance riding. The original style handlebars are very hard on the wrists, and offer much less control than later style bars. Aiming to get our hands in front of us, as opposed to underneath us, we decided on a set of Duo-glide buckhorn style bars. With a more forward set of foot controls, the riding position would be revolutionized–comfortable, with plenty of control.

We also decided to run a set of smaller wheels. The early teens bikes have such a higher center of gravity. By running 26" tires instead of 28"s, we can drop the machine down a bit, and make it much more road friendly. Combine that with interchangable gearing on the rear hub, and these machines will be ready to go anywhere.

We’ll be continuing to work on these machines for several more months, so stay tuned for whats next.