Born To Rebuild | 1941 Harley Davidson Knucklehead - Hot Bike Magazine
The drum brakes of the past don't work quite as well as today's brakes, but they get the job done.
The old H-D gauges were simplistic and classic even back in the day.
Carl Olsen from Carl's Cycle Supply had a paint chip from the one-year-only '41 Knucklehead color that he sent Hank to be color-matched by Scott Hultquist of Riff Raff Customs.
"When this bike was being built, no detail could be overlooked no matter how small. Everything had to be perfect."
Hank Fisher is meticulous when it comes to restoring old iron. He has an eye for detail. Actually, he's obsessed with detail and knows what it takes to really restore a true work of art to its original state. His '41 Knucklehead says it all.
"I liked the fact that the 1941 had a lot of old-style parts and was the first year of the 74ci motor. The '41 had 'short-ribbed' cases, many of which broke due to [it being a] bigger-inch motor," Hank explained.
After Hank put the word out that he was in dire need of a '41 Knucklehead, one of his outlaw biker buddies said he knew of one in Seattle, ironically sitting in an old barn. "It had the basic parts that I needed; matching original motor cases and heads, the correct frame, frontend, transmission, fuel tanks, and fenders, but it was a rolling basket case. Everything needed serious restoration and total rebuilding," Hank recalled.
A deal was struck and Hank became the proud owner of the Knuckle barn find. The next challenge was gathering all of the period-correct parts to do the build. "I started by doing all of the serious research. This includes the correct finish (cad plating, Parkerizing, chroming). Then you have to figure out what the correct parts are for this year bike. When all of the research is done, then you start your search for the parts which is its own challenge," Hank said.
Finding the "one year only" parts was the most challenging part of the build according to Hank. The type of taillight spans from 1939-1941 only, the front brake perch is a 1941-only part, and the front fork rockers, front and rear hubs, the '9' bolt horn, and the Linkert M-25 carb are all very rare, extremely-hard-to-get-your-hands-on parts, Hank said. Also very rare is the original restored 1941 seat with dealer-matched shift knob.
Just to give you an idea of how meticulous Hank's attention to detail is, he had to find period-correct hardware otherwise it wouldn't have been truly original. "I build these bikes back to 100 percent original, or as close as humanly possible. This means that every nut, bolt, and washer must be correct. The hardware on pre-'42 Harleys was made in-house at Harley-Davidson and is very difficult to find. Once you have all of the hardware, it then has to be Parkerized, which is a flat black oxide [treatment], like a gun barrel, or Cadmium plated, which is a silver-colored protective plating," Hank said.
After Hank found everything he needed, there was one final hiccup. To get true colors correct without a sample can really pose a problem. Especially when in 1941, Cruiser Green was a one-year-only color. "It was six months before I even found a correct paint chip of the color, which was finally given to me by Carl, from Carl's Cycle Supply in South Dakota. He had an old 1941 Cruiser Green gas tank that was rotten except for the section under the dash. He sent me a section of this tank and that's when the work started.
When the paint chip arrived, Hank employed his good buddy, Scott Hultquist, owner of Riff Raff Customs, to color-match it to as close as he could. "Scott then started hand-tinting the paint and doing spray-outs for the next three weeks until he got it perfect. It's a very rare color that looks different depending on the light. It was well worth all of the effort," Hank remembered.
Being a member of the Fort Sutter Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America (AMCA), Hank never misses the Fort Sutter Chapter meets, especially in Dixon, California, which is where we encountered Hank with this bike along with tons of other antique and vintage treasures. Stay tuned for upcoming Fort Sutter Chapter events (amcafortsutter.org) or other AMCA events across the country (antiquemotorcycle.org). The AMCA meets allows all the old-iron enthusiasts to get together and show off what they've been up to and just appreciate each other's fine efforts. It's all about the details.
"When this bike was being built, no detail could be overlooked no matter how small. Everything had to be perfect. Even the wiring that you will never see, inside of the switches and taillight, is perfect. I never take shortcuts with a restoration," Hank said. "Never."
|BIKE OWNER||Hank Fisher|
|SHOP NAME||Black Star Vintage|
|FABRICATION||Hank Fisher, Black Star Vintage|
|ASSEMBLY||Hank Fisher, Black Star Vintage|
|BUILD TIME||Seven months|
|BUILDER||Chino's in Fremont, California|
|CASES||H-D, short-ribbed, matching belly numbers|
|EXHAUST||Carl's Cycle supply and original H-D|
|CLUTCH||H-D, first year of the wide clutch|
|YEAR/MANUFACTURER||'41/H-D straightened and repaired by Tim Scott|
|MANUFACTURER FRONT||Original "inline" Harley Springer|
|WHEELS, TIRES, AND BRAKES|
|TIRE/SIZE||Firestone four-ply/16 inches|
|TIRE/SIZE||Firestone four-ply/16 inches|
|COLOR||Cruiser Green, original '41 color|
|PAINTER||Scott Hultquist, Riff Raff Customs|
|REAR FENDER||Original '41 Harley-Davidson|
|FENDER STRUTS||Original '41 Harley-Davidson|
|GAS TANK & CAP||Original '41 Harley-Davidson|
|OIL TANK||Original '41 Harley Davidson|
|HANDLEBARS||Tom Faber, Inline Springer "Standard"|
|HAND CONTROLS||Original '41 Harley-Davidson|
|FOOTPEGS||Parkerized, original floorboards|
|HEADLIGHT||Original "Guide" cycleray|
|TAILLIGHT||Original '39-41 "Boattail"|
|SEAT||Heather's Leathers, North Carolina|