My Cannonball adventure

My Cannonball adventure
Meet "Effie" our 1915 Harley-Davidson Twin 3 speed

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The beginning...

Just a little background. I found out about the Motorcycle Cannonball Ride back in November. I mentioned it to my husband, suggesting it might be something he would want to do. It's a cross country ride for pre-1916 motorcycles. It starts in Kitty Hawk, NC on Sept. 10, 2010 and ends up in Santa Monica, CA on Sept. 26th.
Long story short, he couldn't commit to it because of his work schedule and suggested I do the ride. Though we own a 1915 Harley, we had never had time to work on getting it running. My husband had owned it for many years and it sat for the past 20. So, not only would we have to get it running, but I would have to learn to ride it. I have been riding for many years, but this type of bike is whole, other world. It's like nothing I had ever ridden before, but I am always up for a challenge... and this would be the ride of a lifetime for me. I am an experienced cross-country motorcyclist, but again, I had never ridden anything this old. It has a tank shit and a foot clutch, a whole new way of riding.

I looked at the website for the ride. It’s beautifully done with loads of information. There are 3 classes of bikes. Class 1 is single cylinder bikes. Class 2 are twin cylinders and Class 3, ( my class) is multi cylinder with multi speeds. My bike should cruise at 50 mph pretty easily I am told. My bike also has electric lights. First year for H-D electric lights. They made 3,700 of these bikes and the original cost for one was a whooping $310.00!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Lots happening...

I know lots of time has passed since my last entry. We got the parts from Lonnie and the compression relief now works good. We replaced the rods and put the correct ones on too.

Took a week of and went to Fort Bragg to see my mom. While there we poked around in our old parts stash in the garage and didn’t find anything for the ’15.

( Just a complete wiring harness for the VD though!)

BUT, we ordered a gasket kit from Lonnie that came with new screws for the carb. The old screws were pretty beat up.

We’ve had some trouble with the carb leaking gas… the float looks pretty original and apparently the newer gas melts the old shellac on the old cork floats. I called a nice guy from Antique Motorcycle Works today and he’s going to see if he has any new ones. They are making them out if some composite material that can handle gas. Also, someone is making them out of brass, which would probably be even better I would imagine.

We figured out that the original washer on the bottom of the carb was made out of cork. After looking all over town for cork washers we made our own. Not an easy task. Pat started making it and gave up, went to try and drill out a fiber one he bought at Home Depot. I finished cutting out the center of the cork and got it to fit on the carb base. I left it square, didn’t want to round the corners as I was afraid to weaken the old cork. We tried it and it didn’t leak! Yipee…

The BIG news is that 2 days ago, on Jan. 30th. We started the bike, (after taking that carb on and off at least 20 times.) It had been so long since Pat had started one of these that he forgot that you had to open the spark all the way, pedal it, then pull in the advance at the right time. I even started it! Yeah… BIG moment for my confidence. I was starting to get discouraged and began to think w should just send the bike off to Steve in CA to get it running good. I really need this time to learn to ride it. I can’t imagine how freaky it would be to start off in Kitty Hawk on a bike I haven’t had much experience on. Scary thought.

So… not only did we (and I) start the bike… we pushed it up the hill and started it in the driveway, on the straightaway. Pat went first…than goodness. Then, I took the handle bars… made 2 or three good passes up and down! I only rode it in first gear, but it felt pretty good. Talk about a confidence booster! I think I can get netter at this if I have more time. I would have ridden more… BUT got a flat tire on the rear. Unreal.. we worked so hard and now a flat? Oh well. Back to the drawing board for another day. We hung it up for the day. Oh and the carb started to leak again… my beautiful, squared cork washer failed!

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Tires and Tubes on and ready to go!

Got the tires on, ready to start the bike.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wrong Parts!

After much trial and error, we figured out that the compression relief lever wasn't working. The motor was way too hard to pedal start. Pat and looked through some old parts catalogs and realized the bike had a lever that was for a new model, in the late teen's twenties. The control rods were all wrong too. No wonder! I guess people just put on whatever old parts they could find, even if they didn't work!
We found some new parts from Lonnie at Competition Distributors in Sturgis and ordered what we needed. Got them a week later and we were in business!