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Nightfly
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
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The Harley-Davidson RL 45 was produced between 1932 and 1936. It was their first flathead V-twin and 45 cubic-inch motorcycle. The production of this motorcycle helped Harley-Davidson to become one of only two motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression. At this time, car manufacturers were using Art Deco stylings on their vehicles. Harley-Davidson copied the idea and featured similar images on the tanks of the Harley-Davidson RL 45. Clark Gable owned a 1936 red Harley-Davidson RL 45.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Looks like you figured out how to post a reply.(y)
 

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I was just recently looking at some old Harley's and how to tell the difference between the flathead, knucklehead, panhead and shovelhead.
Since I bought one it seems like I should learn a little bit about them. ?
 

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Nightfly
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I was just recently looking at some old Harley's and how to tell the difference between the flathead, knucklehead, panhead and shovelhead.
Since I bought one it seems like I should learn a little bit about them. ?

That's one of the easiest things to tell about Harley. Don't forget what the call the Blockhead, but I don't know if there is a name for the newer Milwaukee 8.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Didn't the word water come up on one of the recent engines or was that more like locker room talk. Like waterhead??? ? ? ?
 

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Swamp Rat Rider
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No Question on what my Favorite Vintage HD is .. The 1936 Knucklehead in the Color Shown in the Picture when Wheels had one like this up for Drawing had to try $100 worth just in case but as usual didn't win but did get a T shirt .. :)



60074
 

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Nightfly
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Didn't the word water come up on one of the recent engines or was that more like locker room talk. Like waterhead??? ? ? ?
The new Milwaukee 8 is just known as the M8. I few stupid names were thrown out but they were just for laughs - but M8 seems to have stuck.
 

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I saw a lot of old Harley photos, but I was actually focusing on the later 40's models. Since I started thinking about the bike dad owned years ago, I kind of wanted to see one as I never got to see the one he had.
All I know about his was it had the 74 cubic inch engine, tank mounted shift and, I actually think it was a 1948 model, but not sure about that. Don't know if it was a knucklehead or a panhead either. Doesn't matter a whole lot, I guess.
 

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Nightfly
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I saw a lot of old Harley photos, but I was actually focusing on the later 40's models. Since I started thinking about the bike dad owned years ago, I kind of wanted to see one as I never got to see the one he had.
All I know about his was it had the 74 cubic inch engine, tank mounted shift and, I actually think it was a 1948 model, but not sure about that. Don't know if it was a knucklehead or a panhead either. Doesn't matter a whole lot, I guess.
Late 40's Harley's saw the introduction of the Panhead in 48 and 1200cc (74 cubic inches) in 49. The flathead preceded the Panhead....The side shifter was used or tank shifter, often incorrectly called a suicide shifter, was used up through the late 40's into the early 50's. And some prefer to use it on custom choppers...
 

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With a foot operated clutch, front brake on left side of the handlebar and only 3 or 4 gears in the tranny, it would be a trick to ride for anyone used to the bikes today.
Now, was the suicide clutch just a modified factory Harley Davidson clutch, or was it an option made by an outside company?
 

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was the suicide clutch just a modified factory Harley Davidson clutch, or was it an option made by an outside company
My understanding is that the Harley foot clutch was a bi-stable heel/toe device that was spring loaded to stay in either de-clutch or clutch engaged position. This was then modified by riders and mechanics for quicker action by removing or blocking the stable disengaged position, which resulted in the "suicide" function of engaging the clutch when the rider removed his foot inadvertantly. Just repeating what I read though, no personal experience except what I see at shows.

Maybe somebody has some pictures of an original or modified Harley heel/toe clutch control?

I'd love to get an old side valve engine, whether Harley or Indian, even though they were low compression and prone to overheating, but they are asking crazy high prices for even a nasty old block. It was a Flathead Bobber that Lee Marvin road as Chino in "The Wild One". The Servi-cars were the last of the Harley Side Valve / Flathead engines and I recall seeing Chicago cops using these up through the late 80s. You'd think I'd find one on Craigslist, but I might as well face the fact that Miss M. will beat me to it. I guess I'll have to be content with a Cushman!

Check out this Indian side valve custom I saw the 2019 IMA show:
60102
 

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That's a pretty cool old bike. It appears a 2 into 1 exhaust is nothing new. ;)

You might check with Miss M, she might already have what you're looking for. :)

Seems I read the suicide clutch got its name because the rider would stop at an intersection and had to hold the clutch in the disengaged position with his left foot. If he started tipping to the left and had to put his foot down, a bike in first gear would jump in to the intersection and SPLAT! :oops:
 

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That "Old" Indian custom had a lot of non-original parts, but the engine was old..

This business of foot clutches and sudden releases of the clutch resulting in suicide seems a little silly to me. I think It's really best for all parties if my gearbox is in neutral while I am sitting at the light. This is explicit in the manual for my machine, which claims it's not good for either the clutch or gearbox, forget which, to sit and idle with the clutch disengaged. Clearly being in gear is not the safest. Even on a hand control bike, clutch cables DO break, and they usually break when the lever is pulled in. Of course the other solution to this suicide thing is a hand on the front brake, which should immediately stall anything with a front brake that isn't a joke.

So, the suicide clutch thing really only applies to guys who are big fans of peeling out from traffic lights, on their old school chopper with no front brake.

The tank mounted and jockey shifters (jockey shift is on the side of the engine, under your thigh generally as I've seen them) are very cool looking, clutching aside, and getting the controls and cables off the bar defines the old school look. I talked to a guy who rode a jockey shifter custom Harley and he said it was a blast, that there was nothing better than tapping that knob under the seat as you accelerate out of a corner.
 

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Visionary
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If your serious about looking for a Servi-Car there is one sitting in the basement of a Harley Dealer near me, in a whole bunch of other old , some weird bikes. Or at least it was there about a year ago when I stopped in at an open house, and it looked like it had been there for years.
Baer in Honesdale, PA but don't tell Miss M :)

The Servi-cars were the last of the Harley Side Valve / Flathead engines and I recall seeing Chicago cops using these up through the late 80s. You'd think I'd find one on Craigslist, but I might as well face the fact that Miss M. will beat me to it. I guess I'll have to be content with a Cushman!

Check out this Indian side valve custom I saw the 2019 IMA show:
 

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f your serious about looking for a Servi-Car there is one sitting in the basement of a Harley Dealer near me
Thanks for the lead. That seems like a common thing with shops that do motorcycle repair. I have a friend who had a shop for some years, ... when it closed, his shopful of bikes became a basement full of bikes..

I don't think I'll make any moves just yet. But someday......
 

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As far as favorite vintage Harley, not having been raised around Harley's, and most of my life not having any real positive/negative feelings towards Harley, I suppose one used in Easy Rider or Terminator would probably have be my favorite.

But they may not qualify as "vintage".
 
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