Jonathan Hughes of Poughkeepsie, New York, has had a long-time love affair with vintage motorcycles. Working as a motorcycle cop keeps him in the saddle most of the day, so you would think that motorcycles would be the furthest thing from his mind during his time off. You would be wrong. Jonathan lives and breathes vintage bikes. His fully restored collection consists of a vintage '26 "B" Peashooter, a '34 VL, a '41 and a '42 WLA (one with complete sidecar setup), a '65 Police Model panhead, and, just to round out the collection, a '57 BMW.
Jonathan's bikes are faithful restorations and are meant to be ridden. He has spent years scouring swap meets and recently the Internet on his worldwide search for the correct original period parts. He has now accumulated quite a pile of them. With such a collection, the only thing Jonathan felt he was missing was a chopper. What to do? He decided to build one from the spare-parts pile. Jonathan contacted his buddies at Harbor Vintage Motor Company in Jonesville, Vermont, and ran the idea by them. They were happy to pitch in and help out.
The design for this bike came from the mind of Dave "Rat" Scherk, along with input from Jonathan. The idea was to use leftover antique parts that Jonathan had from restorations, operating on the idea that it was the late '50s. What would a guy build with parts left over from the '30s, '40s and '50s? Some items had to be cheated on, such as the 12-volt solid-state ignition, a decent V-Twin drum dual-piston front brake, and a few new parts from catalogs.
Jonathan had a complete '47 61ci EL knucklehead motor in his garage, so they decided to use that as the bike's powerplant. The knuck still had its original stock cases, which were chromed, as well as original flywheels. They freshened up the pistons, polished the stock cylinders and heads, and added a cam that was a little hotter than the original knuck cam. Jonathan and Dave went with an S&S D-3 carburetor and custom-made pipes with '58 "K" model Sportster mufflers. They opted for a '50 Harley-Davidson transmission, although the ratchet top had to be changed on the old tranny to accept a foot shifter and a hand clutch. The stock cases were chromed, along with the stock gears and clutch basket. They kept the original primary chaindrive as well.
A lot of work went into making the '47 knuckle engine fit into a '34 VL frame. First, the frame had to be modified, the engine mounts had to be moved 3/4 of an inch to the left, and a new top mount had to be added. Next, the spine tube was raised to accommodate the knucklehead motor. The seat tube was removed, and new seat brackets were welded into place. The frame's powdercoating was done in-house by Harbor Vintage.
The front forks are from a military '45 H-D XA Springer. The XA Springer frontend was made stock 2 inches over the standard 45ci frontend for easy use in the North Africa desert sand, which made it a perfect chopper frontend. They had to go with a set of Custom Chrome triple-trees to make the setup work. The front wheel is a 21-inch spoker from V-Twin with a V-Twin dual caliper drum-style brake with a Dunlop MH90-21 tire. The rear wheel is a 16-inch rim off a stock '58 FL with a '34-style drum brake with a Dunlop 130/90B16 tire.
The '34 VL fuel tank also required a bit of modification. The left half of the fuel tank that held the hand oiler and oil tank was reworked as a fuel-only holding unit with a front-mounted petcock. A new Custom Chrome oil tank was also added down below the seat. The original fine-thread VL gas caps were cleaned up and reused. The front fender was modified from a Wide Glide unit, and the rear fender struts were custom-made to house the new rear fender, which was fabricated from one off a '37 Plymouth automobile.
The 8-inch ape hanger bars from Custom Chrome sit nicely on a set of vintage 4-inch Flanders Dog Bone-style risers. The hand controls are also from Custom Chrome and blend in well with the vintage speedometer and the '29 vintage U.S. Gauge amp meter. Lighting the way for Jonathan is a '40 Cycle-Ray headlight as well as a vintage '34 VL taillight. The footboards and controls are also vintage '30s VL, with the exception of the aftermarket foot shift lever. The solo seat was also made up from spare parts and reupholstered in black leather.
It took Jonathan and the folks at Harbor Vintage Motor Company 14 months to get the project ready for its first test ride. Jonathan was so pleased with the result that two weeks later he took the bike from upstate New York down to Daytona Bike Week, only having to stop for gas along the way. We were happy to run into Jonathan in Daytona. He renewed our faith that there are people out there maintaining the craftsmanship of a bygone era. Our hats are off to folks that can take vintage parts, and with a little imagination, turn them into something new and special.
|THE VITALS: |
|OWNER: ||JONATHAN HUGHES |
|YEAR/MAKE: ||'30S TO '50S/MOSTLY HARLEY- DAVIDSON |
|TITLED: ||1947 EL |
|FABRICATION: ||HARBOR VINTAGE MOTOR COMPANY |
|ASSEMBLY: ||HARBOR VINTAGE MOTOR COMPANY |
|BUILD TIME: ||14 MONTHS |
| ENGINE: |
|YEAR/SIZE: ||'47/61CI |
|TYPE: ||EL KNUCKLEHEAD |
|CASES: ||STOCK |
|FLYWHEELS: ||STOCK |
|RODS: ||STOCK |
|PISTONS: ||STOCK |
|CYLINDERS: ||STOCK |
|HEADS: ||STOCK |
|CAM: ||STOCK BUT A LITTLE HOT |
|CARB: ||S&S SUPER D-3 |
|IGNITION: ||12-VOLT SOLID STATE KICK-START |
|PIPES: ||CUSTOM WITH '58 K MODEL SPORTSTER MUFFLERS |
| TRANSMISSION: |
|YEAR/TYPE: ||'50/H-D FOUR-SPEED |
|CASE: ||STOCK CHROME |
|GEARS: ||STOCK |
|CLUTCH: ||STOCK |
|PRIMARY DRIVE: ||CHAIN |
| FRAME: |
|YEAR/TYPE: ||'34/Harley-Davidson VL modified |
|RAKE: ||Stock |
|STRETCH: ||Stock |
|SWINGARM: ||Rigid |
| SUSPENSION: |
|FORKS: ||2-INCH-OVER '45 XA |
|&NBSP; ||SPRINGER |
|EXTENSIONS: ||2 INCHES OVER |
|TRIPLE-TREES: ||CUSTOM CHROME |
|REAR: ||&NBSP; |
|YEAR/TYPE: ||NONE |
| WHEELS,TIRES, & BRAKES: |
|SIZE/TYPE: ||21-INCH/V-TWIN |
|TIRE: ||DUNLOP MH90-21 |
|BRAKES: ||V-TWIN DRUM TWIN PISTON |
|SIZE/TYPE: ||MH90-21/DUNLOP |
|TIRE: ||DUNLOP 130/90B16 |
|BRAKES: ||H-D '34 STOCK DRUM |
| FINISH/PAINT: |
|COLOR: ||BASIC BLACK |
|PAINTER: ||HARBOR VINTAGE |
|POWDERCOATING: ||HARBOR VINTAGE |
| ACCESSORIES: |
|BARS: ||CUSTOM CHROME 8-INCH APES |
|RISERS: ||4-INCH FLANDERS |
|HAND CONTROLS: ||S&S AFTERMARKET |
|HEADLIGHT: ||'40S CYCLE-RAY |
|TAILLIGHT: ||'30S VL |
|GAUGES: ||AFTERMARKET SPEEDO, U.S. GAUGE AMP METER |
|ELECTRICAL: ||12 VOLT |
|FUEL TANK: ||'34 HARLEY-DAVIDSON VL |
|OIL TANK: ||CUSTOM CHROME |
|FRONT FENDER: ||WIDE GLIDE |
|REAR FENDER: ||'37 PLYMOUTH |
|FENDER STRUTS: ||CUSTOM |
|PEGS: ||'30S VL |
|FOOT CONTROLS: ||'30S VL BRAKE, AFTERMARKET FOOT SHIFT |
|SEAT: ||SPARE PARTS |