Project Knucklehead : Reviving a 1946 Harley-Davidson

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You might recognize my 1946 Harley-Davidson as the cover model for The Cycle Blog

For the last three years I’ve had a bike patiently sitting in the corner of my garage. To the untrained eye it probably doesn’t look impressive but underneath the oil and grime, sits a diamond. This bike, a 1946 Harley Knucklehead, has sat leaking oil and gathering dust waiting for me to get the time, money, and vision to get it back on the road.

The story began about 5 years ago. Out of nowhere a guy, about 28, started riding it to my shop on weekends. He said he had just got the bike from his Dad, who had restored it back in the ’70’s. It was beautiful, it had a retro white and blue paint job with O.E. tank emblems and era correct saddlebags. Unfortunately, over the next two years the bike was abused, modified and almost systematically destroyed. It got cheap ape hangers, a flat black rattle can paint job, too many oil leaks to count, and finally a seized motor.

Right Before the 1946 Knucklehead Motor Came Out of the Frame
Right Before the 1946 Knucklehead Motor Came Out of the Frame

It was barely more then a basket case when it showed up in the back of a beat up Mazda truck with a hand-written “For Sale” hanging on it. I felt obligated to save this Knuckle.

Last week I finally pulled the Knuckle out of the corner and onto my lift. On first glance it appears to have mismatched cylinders, no push rods, the sprocket shaft key way is destroyed, and I can grab the shaft and turn the motor over by hand so I’m guessing it has no pistons.

I gave my motor some inspiration with this cut out of a factory Knucklehead.
I gave my motor some inspiration with this cut out of a factory Knucklehead.

My hope is to keep the motor as close to stock as I can. There’s just something about knowing 70 year old motor parts are running it up and down the road!

In the next Project Knucklehead post I’ll bring you up to speed on the motor rebuild and my plans for the build.

Update: To read the next installment of Project Knucklehead CLICK HERE

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