Project Knucklehead : Reviving a 1946 Harley-Davidson Part 2

If you missed Part I of the Project Knucklehead series or you would like a recap click here.

knuckle PicWith the motor now out of my 1946 Knucklehead the rebuild can begin. I am turning this part of the build over to Tim Willems, an Knuckle2excellent all-around technician with over 20 years of experience. At first glance its easy to see there are no pushrods and several missing fasteners including rocker cover screws, cylinder base nuts and cam cover bolts. One of the motor mounts is also broken off but is repairable.

The motor has a cracked lower valve cover and heavily worn rocker-arms. When the heads came off we found that they had been “converted” to accept Panhead cylinders. This meant abolt was ran

This broken motor mount will have to be repaired. Luckily this is the only damage on the stock crankcases.

into a stock mounting hole, cut off and then welded into place. A new hole was then bored and threaded into the head. This will take significant machine work to undo.

As expected the motor had no pistons when it came apart. I’m guessing the previous owner couldn’t figure out the cylinder/head configuration so he loosely bolted it together with no pistons and sold it. The cylinders had the oil drains weldedshut in an effort to retro to the Knucklehead and were pretty out of round.

Knuckle Cam Box
Compared to the rest of the motor, the cam compartment is fairly clean and well preserved.

My wallet was thankful to find the cam compartment was in relatively good shape. The pinion shaft and gears looked good. I was also pleasantly surprised to find an almost new Andrews cam.

When the cases came apart we
found two different rods on the flywheel. One looked original Harley and the other appeared to be aftermarket. I added rods and bearings to my shopping list.  The flywheels themselves look great and the cases, thankfully look good. So here is the replacement list at this point:

  1. Valve Cover Tins (Upper and Lower)
  2.  Valves and Springs
  3. Valve Guides
  4. Rocker Arms and Shafts
  5. Pistons
  6. Cylinders
  7. Connecting Rods and Bearrings
  8. Tappets and Tappet Blocks
  9. Motor Sprocket Shaft

I was hoping the motor would have more salvageable original equipment parts but I want to make sure the bike is as reliable and solid when it’s completed. With one call to S&S Cycle I had all of the American made replacement parts I needed on order.

Knucklehead 005
The two copper colored spots are drain oils closed up to retro-fit these cylinders. They will be replaced.
Knucklehead 002
A cracked lower valve cover will have to be replaced.


Knucklehead 003
An almost new Andrews “S” cam was a pleasant surprise!

In the next installment I’ll cover the remainder of the chassis tear down and give an update on the motor rebuild.

Stay tuned!

To read the next installment of the Project Knucklehead CLICK HERE


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