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1920 Harley Model F

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  • 1920 Harley Model F

    Hello folks, this bit of my "Bike Build" is a repeat of a post I put up on caimag a couple of weeks ago. I will update them both as (hopefully) the bike comes together.

    As I said in my intro I am a guy from England with a new Harley Davidson project.

    I acquired the project a few weeks ago through an unlikely set of circumstances. I had not been looking for a new bike project because I have another one, the Matchless, that I was intending to start about now. I was certainly not expecting to get a Harley, HD's dont have a wide following in the Uk and are not that popular. Of all the bikes I expected to get I would say that a Harley was the very last on the list.

    It cam with a sidecar and even lower on my list of thing that I want (if you can get lower than the bottom) is a sidecar or "chair" as us Brits call them sometimes.

    Funny how fate takes you to unexpected places!

    Here is the "bike" when I got it home.



    Here is the chair.



    Here are the documents etc that came with it.



    Like I said in my intro, it needs a bit of work. I have build a basket case up previously (the 1938/9 Triumph 5T in my intro) which I think was harder than this one will be. This one, despite appearances, seems to be mostly complete.

    The bike was first registered in the UK in May 1921 but it has a 1920 number on it.

    The bike was purchased by a guy in 1988 after the bike had sat for many years in a shed which had a leaking roof. This guy stripped the bike down seemingly with the intention of fixing it up but did not get too far.

    What he did do was send the engine, gearbox, clutch, magneto & carburettor to William Healing Restorations or Bill Healing as he seems to be known as. He seems to have been a very well known engine specialist for American bikes here in the UK. I have the invoices for this work and the come to £3,544. Thats English pounds in 1988/89. In todays money using an inflation calculator it is the equivalent of £8,496 in todays money or $12,939 US dollars at todays exchange rate. Thats quite a bill for engine work.

    Here is a pic:



    The engine, gearbox etc have had everything done to them (I will post details at a later time) and were kept inside a house since 1989 so I am hoping that there will be a minimal amount of work to do to them.

    The rest of the bike has had almost nothing done.

    The sidecar has had a new body made.

    The guy who took the bike apart put every fastener back onto the parts that they held together and sub assemblies were put in small containers and labeled. There are even some original tools out of the tool box in a can marked "contents of tool box". He also took over 100 photos which came with the document. I have scanned them all for reference because there are lots of detail pics.





    Continued due to picture limit.

  • #2
    Re: 1920 Harley Model F

    Continued

    This is my favourite shot from 1988.



    The bike when I got it home.



    And in my workshop



    The bike came with 3 petrol (gas) tanks. The original tank plus 2 spares

    The original tank, i.e the tank that was in the pictures from 1988.













    You can see that there must have been moisture lyeing in the right side as it was laid up. The right, despite the pitting, seems quite sound.

    Continued due to picture limit

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: 1920 Harley Model F

      Continued

      Spare tank 1












      The red on this tank is spilled red primer. It scratched off easily with my fingernail so I will see if I can cerefully remove it and get back to the green underneath. It is a bit dented.

      Spare tank 2










      The left side of this tank is red over-painted on top of the green but only on the top and side of the tank. I am wondering if I can remove the red and leave the green? It looks like the red has been brush painted over the green only and not over the decals and pinstripes. The right side seems sound but has no trace of green so will need new paint.

      Continued due to picture limit

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: 1920 Harley Model F

        Continued

        Re the perennial question of restore vs preserve my intention is to preserve as far as possible, ride it and then decide what, if anything, I want to change. In the meantime I will use a rust stabiliser and inhibitor on the brown bits to keep it safe.


        I have stainless spokes on my 38/39 Speed Twin which was also a basket case when I got it (although much more incomplete). They are OK but dont look like dull nickel plate, more like bright nickel which wasnt invented until about 1930. I need to put some spokes in the front wheel and also replace the spokes in the rear wheel so I need to get some steel spokes and heve them dull nickel plated. They seem to be 9 gauge spokes but can anyone tell me if they are plain or butted? The ones in the rear wheel are too rusted to be be certain of what type they are.

        Like I said above, it is an unusually complete basket case. Here are a couple of the boxes of bits.








        This is unusual to find in a complete bike let alone a basket case.





        I am currently going through the boxes of stuff and working out what needs to be done. I will post some more progress when I have made some.

        Comment


        • #5
          good luck with it , you have a well cared for bike , your lucky with the motor and trany been already restored ,great photos too ,Rob

          Comment


          • #6
            That looks beautiful. I look forward to watching your progress.
            Nothing like the feeling of towing home a new bike.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: 1920 Harley Model F

              Thanks for the nice comments guys.

              I noticed that my question in my above posts is a bit lost so I will repeat it here so it gets seen

              Originally posted by TechNoir View Post
              I have stainless spokes on my 38/39 Speed Twin which was also a basket case when I got it (although much more incomplete). They are OK but donít look like dull nickel plate, more like bright nickel which wasnít invented until about 1930. I need to put some spokes in the front wheel and also replace the spokes in the rear wheel so I need to get some steel spokes and have them dull nickel plated. They seem to be 9 gauge spokes but can anyone tell me if they are plain or butted? The ones in the rear wheel are too rusted to be be certain of what type they are.
              In other words should the spokes be plain, single butted or double butted?

              Also am I right in saying that they are 9 gauge.The parts book gives 2 options for this year, 9 gauge and 10 gauge?

              Comment


              • #8
                I see that one set of tanks you have there are quite rare 1916 only. Gray paint underneath with red primer that you were scratching off. You will notice that the three bolt tabs as well as the shift lever pivot are cast brass as opposed to folded steel stamping so as on the other tanks. Looks like decent original paint underneath too.
                GOOD item!
                Mark
                Mark Masa
                www.linkcycles.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: 1920 Harley Model F

                  Originally posted by MMasa View Post
                  I see that one set of tanks you have there are quite rare 1916 only. Gray paint underneath with red primer that you were scratching off. You will notice that the three bolt tabs as well as the shift lever pivot are cast brass as opposed to folded steel stamping so as on the other tanks. Looks like decent original paint underneath too.
                  GOOD item!
                  Mark

                  Thanks for the info Mark, someone on caimag also pointed this out but it did not register with me until you said it again. I am assuming that this means that this tank is not as common as the green 1917 and later tanks?

                  Here are some more pics:











                  I will post pics of the right side in the next post due to pic limit

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: 1920 Harley Model F

                    Right side gray tank













                    It seems to be in quite good condition for some 100 year old tinware.

                    The bad points are:

                    Rust hole in the right side tank at the top front. The rest of the metal seems quite solid. I would hope that someone could repair this without impacting the rest of the tank too much.

                    There are some dents. Maybe they can be pushed out at least a bit using tools through the filler necks?

                    The red primer over the gray. Most of it seems to be "splashed on" rather than brushed on. I think it can mostly be removed with great care and leave most of the gray intact.

                    If this tank is not right for my 1920 then I will see what I can do with the other two tanks and see if anyone with a 1916 bike needs a tank. I will investigate this further when I get to thinking about the tinware for my bike.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: 1920 Harley Model F

                      Hi, our family and guests who came for Christmas departed yesterday so today I was able to spend some time in my workshop. Mostly I have been opening boxes of parts and cleaning them up and making lists of things to do.

                      Remember the front hub picture earlier in this thread, here it is cleaned up fresh from the washer.



                      There are lots of items like this so I wont bore you with loads of pics of the same sort of thing but here is a picture of the two petrol taps, one cleaned up and one not done yet. The original finish is largely intact due mainly to the fossilised oil and grime on them. They take ages to clean and I have left some of the more stubborn dirt on for fear of taking off the finish.



                      One part, the hand lever for the clutch, had a thick layer of what seemed to be household gloss paint. I used a rotary wire brush to remove it but was careful to wear a mask because I assume it is old and full of lead. It is actually white paint underneath the surface but has gone a yellow colour on top.



                      I found a few spares as I worked through the pile. I have a spare Bosch ZEV magneto plus a spare, NOS, rear numberplate to replace the badly rusted original plus a pair of spare footboards and a spare ratchet attachment for the brake.

                      The bike has the rear brake plate suitable for hand operation plus the remains of a hand brake lever. I believe that this was an optional extra from new. I would imagine that this was a popular option given that the clutch is foot operated as well as the brake.



                      The cable is OK to use again but the lever is history. I have seen later 1920's repop levers for sale, does anyone know where to get a 1920 lever from? I am OK with repop as long as it is good quality.

                      Also, the inner band is OK to reuse once it is relined but the outer band is badly corroded. I have found new inner bands for sale but could not find any outer ones. Does anyone know if these are available?

                      Part way through the day I took a break from the parts washer and started cleaning up the frame.

                      First job was to remove the seat. I would like to rescue this seat if at all possible so I took some detailed pictures and sent an enquiry off to a specialist leather guy to seek an opinion on the feasibility of preserving it in a state that would be useable.

                      Here are a couple of pictures of the saddle.

                      First on the bike



                      Then a couple of pics of it showing the condition.





                      After that I started at the back of the bike and gave the rust a relatively gentle wire brushing by hand making sure that the small amount of original paint was left intact.

                      Once I got to the headstock I wanted to remove the handlebars and forks.

                      Unfortunatly the handlebars are stuck solid. The top triple clamp is not stuck but the bars are immoveable. I have doused them in ATF/Acetone and left them but apart from brute force and ignorance does anyone have any suggestions on un-sticking them?



                      Finally, with the seat off I can verify the frame number at the back of the top tube. I am happy that the bike is a 1920 bike with numbers as follows:

                      Engine No = 20T 218**
                      Gearbox No = I 217**
                      Frame No = 20F 216**


                      To summarise questions I need to answer so far:

                      Are the spokes plain, butted or double butted? I believe these are also called single diameter, swaged double diameter and Center reduced spokes

                      Are suitable 1920 correct hand brake levers available?

                      Are new outer brake bands available?

                      Ideas gratefully received on removing the stuck handlebars?

                      What should I treat the rust with? I had intended to use Owatrol Oil to stabilise the rust and prevent further rusting but the finish is too shiny on a test piece I did. Can anyone provide any suggestions on other products to treat the rust with. I have heard that boiled linseed oil and white spirit is an older method but I have no experience of using it. What have others on here used? Remember I live in England and it rains here. (in fact at the moment it is raining A LOT!)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: 1920 Harley Model F

                        I am running parallel threads on this bike on here and caimag so In the interests of keeping them both roughly at the same point here is a small update. Someone on caimag commented that they were not sure that the brake should have a hand lever. I pointed out that it was an optional extra and posted the following extracts which I think the guys on here might find of interest too.

                        The bike came with a 1920 brochure. It is in such good condition that at first I thought it was a reproduction but then I found the cover letter that was in worse condition. Here is the letter (address redacted) plus some extracts from the brochure. I am sure you might find it of interest.









                        A small update on todayís progress.

                        I spent a few hours today sorting and cleaning parts. I noticed that the 2 footboards that were on the bike in the 1988 pictures are corroded at the edges with some of the edges rusted away. There are 2 replacements that are in better condition that I will use. When taking a closer look at them I note that the 2 original boards have remnants of green paint on them but the replacements have remnants of gray paint. I assume that the guy who sourced the spares that came with the bike must have got a batch of pre-1917 stuff.

                        I have been putting ATF & acetone on the stuck handlebars for 3 days now so I found a stouter block of wood and a bigger, 4 pound, hammer and gave the bars some hefty blows and lo and behold they moved. That was easier than I expected!

                        I can get on with the forks now and finish off cleaning the frame up. When it is clean I will check the tubes to see how sound they are.



                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Beautiful bike, sir, and a great project. I'll be looking forward to following your progress. Nice work on the handle bars. Sometimes it's a balance of patience and force.


                          Kevin

                          .
                          Kevin
                          https://www.youtube.com/c/motodesoto

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Another quick update on todays progress. I managed to get a bit of time to finish cleaning down the frame and forks. I got my automatic centre punch out and tried it in a few of the worst pits and frame and forks seem sound.



                            I stripped the rear hub down and was pleased to see it full of fossilised grease. The cups and cones and spindle all seem good as do the same components on the front that I cleaned down a little while ago.

                            The same can not be said for the head bearings. See pictures






                            Next job is to order new head bearings and also some fork rocker bushes. While I wait for them to come I will finish cleaning up small parts.

                            I still have an unanswered question.

                            The parts book says 9 gauge spokes and I assume that they are plain spokes, not double diameter or centre reduced? Looking at my rear wheel the spokes are all tapered, I assume that this is just caused by rust and not in fact because they were double diameter spokes?



                            John

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              John, those frames rot from the inside out. You want to use a regular center punch with a ballpeen hammer. I mean give that lower loop a couple of good shots in different areas. Just because it looks good on the out side doesn't mean so on the inside. Your life could depend on it. I had one in the shop last summer that looked beautiful. The center punch when right though. There wasn't but a 1/16 of an inch of material left in that bottom loop. Bob L

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