Tuesday, November 18, 2008

1936 Harley Davidson Knucklehead runs

Early 1936 EL Knucklehead, probably the worst bike i ever built, resolving the endless air leaks
stopped alot of progress. For the motor company its considered a milestone motorcycle. 1936 is the first yr for the "new" OHV or over head valve engines, although earlier JD engines used a over head valve lifter to actuate the valves and the valves were in the top end . 1936 is a one year every part bike, 4 oil bag styles, 3 cam cover styles, 4 head styles, list goes on and on.
heres the early 1936 only front fender brackets , narrow or "skinny". For lack of a HD archivist in the pre and post AMF years , HD did not save literature or fotos of the 1936, so there is much unanswered questions on production , actual numbers produced, vin numbers etc, Its been called a secret weapon motorcycle...its production was kept secret, it was to revolutionyze HD as a motorcycle company, Indian stayed w side valve flatheads while HD offered side valve flatheads and the Knuckleheads, .The 1936 frame was maybe 20 pounds or so lighter than 1937 and later frames and thus more fragile and easier to crack and break, maybe 1900 1936 knuckles , E , EL models produced, i'm guessing maybe a 100 correct bikes survived , and many respectable mixed breed bastards, 1936 cases and every other year parts thrown in, HD was really smart . You can use pan head 1948-1965 parts on a 1936. of course you dont want to do that , but it goes to show the insight in interchangeability of parts.

one of the 1936 era oil pumps. primitive but effective. not enough pressure to blow debris out of a oil line, but then engines should have clean oil.

The wierd 1936 only rear brake drum assembly, i think the Taiwanese are making knockoffs of this less than effective stopping power, 1937 and later all used a beefier assembly.This also shows the prototype rear fender bracket...

1936 only shifter and gate and accessory dice knob, super rare, whats really wierd is that some obscure Super X bikes had a vaguely similiar shifter......

The crown jewel, the 100 mph speedo, no trip, skull dash w oil pressure gauge and amp gauge and the wrong switch, this is a WLA military switch, i have the original. More obscure details , if you were to line up 1936, 1937, 1938 knuckles , you'll notice the 36 tanks sit like 1 inche lower. brackets are just slightly off!!.....I love knuckles, plenty of go and just fun to ride, I'm going to cover more obscure parts like head tins , rockers etc, i very much doubt i'll build another 36, as the parts in 2008 are excruciatingly rare not to mention outragious in price , a excellent 1936 frame is worth some $15,000 , today there are many excellent knockoff parts to keep the old American iron going.but 1936 parts today are dried up and gone. I'm not going to "restore" this early Knuckle. just keep it an honest rider. I got really lucky building this bike , stumbling onto rare parts and some just great motorcycle people who wanted to see it come together.
If you have a 1936 knucklehead , please write me, chopper or correct bike, it would be cool to "track" where all these bikes went around the world. They really are a piece of HD history .
HD produced 9,812 motorbikes in 1936, some 1900 were knuckleheads, the highest engine number is in the 1900s .