February 3, 2014 – If you’re friends with me on either Facebook or Instagram, you’ve probably seen teaser pictures of our new project, a 1936 Harley-Davidson VLD: like the first picture I posted of the gigantic headlight and springer front end, or the flathead engine, or the Picasso-like top of the tank (I first wrote tank top, but no, the bike isn’t wearing a sporty summer shirt).You may have noticed, I never posted a picture of the bike in its entirety. There’s a reason for that. The freaky beast had been seriously uglified over the years, and I didn’t want to humiliate the poor thing until we had a chance to, as my feller so perfectly put it, have an intervention. Okay. So don’t laugh. Remember, by the end of the post, you will see an improvement. Here she is. The Circus VLD:
Stopped laughing yet? Okay. Good. The bones are there. I promise you.
A couple of months ago, our pal Neil called Brian to see if he’d be interested in his dad’s old VLD, a 74″, side-valve, flathead. His dad, an outlaw-biker-landspeed-racer-lifelong-motorcycle-guy, passed away a couple of years ago, and Neil is now starting to sort through the storage sheds of his stuff.
He knew Brian and I would appreciate this bike, even in its current not-so-pretty state. Even though we were both coming down with colds, we hopped in the truck last Sunday and drove out to the Salton Sea near Palm Springs to pick up our new project. Due to my somewhat cloudy head, I totally forgot to ask Neil the story behind the bike. Can you believe it?? I love to know the stories! I’m a journalist, for goodness sake, and an author. Anyway, Neil still has more parts for us, so hopefully we’ll find out a few details about where this bike came from and why… WHY… it ended up looking the way it did!
With both of us feeling better a week later, we finally brought the bike to the Orange Motor Palace and unloaded her.
Task number one? To take off at least the majority of the oh-so-wrong things on the bike, like the mirrors…
The fender, while cool, isn’t the correct one for the bike, so that came off too.
While I knocked out the rivets to free the seat from the mount, Brian took off the mirrors and lights.
The giant light is a mystery. It looks like it must be from a motorcycle since it has indicators on the back, but it’s way too big for this little bike. The passing lamps had been clamped to the handlebars in the wrong position, so those came off too. All of the lights on the bike are Guide brand. If anyone knows anything about the beast of a headlight, please let us know. It likely won’t go back on this bike, but it’s very cool and will eventually find its way onto something.
In addition to taking a whole bunch of things off…
…we need to put a whole bunch of stuff on. But first we need to find it. Like what you ask? Oh… the innards for the Flathead, a generator, carburetor, the tranny guts… lots and lots of stuff, and lots and lots of cleaning. As for the tank? Sadly, I’m guessing the right side won’t hold fuel for very long.
We have our work cut out for us, yes, but we both love flatheads and couldn’t be more excited about bringing this beauty back to life. We don’t plan on a full restoration. We plan on doing an antique strip down. It will be a huge learning project for us both and hopefully a whole lot of fun along the way. And hey! If you have any information or resources or advice to pass along, please scroll down to the bottom of this page and leave a comment!
Okay. So do you want to see it again, slightly de-uglified? First the ugly again, and then the somewhat refined…
Boy. Those gold wheels really, really need to go. So yeah.. still lots of wrong stuff to take off, but man! Does she ever look better. Brian and will both chronicle the progress, so if you’d like to read more, pop on over to the Motor Palace site and check out his pictures. He’s in the process of re-working the site so everything is in one place instead of three: the legend, the blog, the store, and galleries. Feel free to roam around while you’re there and get a feel for things.
For now, I’ll leave you with a few more pictures of our new love.
Until next time…
P.S. The Jeep was just begging for this rear fender to cover her spare. Pretty snazzy, eh?
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