Riding Vintage publishes articles and photography related to vintage motorcycles. It covers a wide variety of topics including vintage racing, military motorcycles, historical motorcycle advertising, motorcycle history and vintage tech. You'll also find product reviews and ride reports from the author, Panhead Jim.
When I was rebuilding the springer front end for my '33 Harley-Davidson VL, I found it necessary to build a few tools to get the job done correctly. I'll be the first to admit that two of the tools could easily be replaced with a hydraulic press, but the simple tools I designed take up a lot less floor space than even a small press. The only hitch being you'll need a lathe to make these tools or better yet, a friend with a lathe in his shop...
I decided to have my front end powder coated, which meant everything had to be completely taken apart, including removing the bushings from the rocker plates. When the rocker plates returned from powder coating I would need to install new bushings, so I designed a tool to do both jobs.
My basic design was to build a two piece tool that could be mounted in a bench top vise and used a 1/2" bolt to press out and press in the bushings. I carefully measured the dimensions of my new bushings and then set to work on the lathe. The lower half of the tool was made with a piece of 1.25" diameter aluminum round bar stock. Using a 33/64" bit, I drilled approximately 2.25" into the end of the bar. This may sound like an odd size, but it provides enough clearance for a 1/2" bolt to move freely through the tool. Step two was to bore out the end of the bar to a diameter of 0.99" and a depth of 1.25". This created a pocket which would catch the bushing as it was being pressed out of the rocker plate and still provide a surface for the rocker plate to press against. The last step was to cut the bar off at 2". If your friend also has a mill, you can cut a couple flats at the end of the bar to make it easier to hold in the vise. The result is visually similar to a standard 1/4" drive socket.
The upper half of the tool was also made with aluminum round bar, but I started with a 1.125" diameter piece to save time. This half needed to be a little longer, so using the same 33/64" bit, I drilled to a depth of 2.75". Now I turned the rod down so that it had three different diameters. The end of the bar was turned down to .7480" to fit inside the bushing. The total length of this section was 1.03" making the tool slightly longer than the bushing with was 1.00" in length. The middle section was turned down to .934" which created a shoulder to press against the lip of the bushing, but was still narrow enough to pass through the rocker plate. The length of this section was also 1.03" to make sure that the bushing was pushed completely through the rocker plate. The end of the tool was left at the original 1.125" diameter and cut to an arbitrary length of 0.42".
Once the two parts were finished, I just picked up a 1/2" bolt that was 6" in length and completely threaded, one 1/2" nut and two 1/2" washers. Here's how it looks all assembled and mounted in the vice.
To press out the bushing, you simply tighten down the nut with a socket wrench.
Installing the new bushing is just as easy. The only difference is you have to slide the bushing onto the upper half of the tool before assembling it. Important tip: Note that one end of the busing has a slight taper cut into it. This is the end that needs to be pressed into the rocker plate first.
I built a similar tool to replace the bushings in the front brake shackle adjusting the overall dimensions based on my measurements of the replacement bushing.
The third tool was designed to remove excess powder coating which was causing a fitment issue with my spring rod bushings. I decided the best way to clean out the excess powder coating without damaging the rigid fork was to use the original spring rod bushing and some valve grinding compound. To speed things along, I attached the spring rod bushing to my cordless drill.
Starting with a piece of 0.5" aluminum round bar, I drilled and tapped the end to allow a 5/16" flange head bolt to be screwed into the end. This kept the the spring rod bushing from sliding off the end of the tool. Then I moved down the bar 2" and turned down a 1" section to 0.35" in diameter. This narrow section goes inside the drill chuck. To keep the bushing pressed tight against the flange head bolt, I threaded a section 0.75" long with 1/2" coarse threads allowing me to use a 1/2" nut to press up against the other side of the spring rod bushing.
Here it is chucked up in the drill and ready to start grinding.
A little valve grinding compound and the drill does all the work.
These designs are basic enough that anyone with access to a lathe can make them. Always remember to verify the dimensions of your bushings and adjust the design of the tool as needed. It's always easier to go back to the lathe and take off more material than it is to add material back on.
Most photos of Pancho Villa depict him as a fearless revolutionary leader, usually mounted horseback, with a bandoleer of bullets wrapped around his chest and his trademark mustache and sombrero, but the photo below paints a much different picture. It shows Pancho Villa astride a brand new 1914 Indian motorcycle.
It is not known if this was actually Villa's motorcycle or just an impromptu photo opportunity, but it is known that Pancho Villa did use motorcycle's in some of his raids during the Mexican Revolution. Eyewitness accounts verify that Villa used Indian Powerplus motorcycles to attack Torreon, which he successfully captured in 1914.
In 1916, Villa attacked the US city of Columbus, New Mexico, bringing the United States military into the conflict. President Wilson sent General "Black Jack" Pershing down to Mexico with orders to capture Villa. Pershing took 5,000 men, trucks, planes and motorcycles, to aid in finding Villa. This was the first time that motorcycles had been used in an armed conflict by the US military and it was Harley-Davidson who provided them. Harley supplied a number of J models, which were powered by F-head (intake over exhasust) engines and capable of speeds up to 60 miles per hour. A combination of solo motorcycles and sidecar models were ordered by the military. The sidecars models were additionally equipped with machine guns, making them into mobile gun platforms for fast attack missions.
Pershing spent 11 months chasing Pancho Villa around northern Mexico, but was unable to catch him. Some sensational news stories told of motorcycle riders chasing down banditos with their pistols blazing, but these are likely to be completely false as the motorcycles stayed around Columbus, New Mexico. Either way, the US military was pleased with the performance of the motorcycles, which played an important part in recommending them for service in WWI.
1907 was the first year that Postmasters were officially authorized to allow their mail carriers to use motorcycles on their rural routes. Previously, they would have delivered the mail on horseback or by horse drawn cart. Many US motorcycle manufacturers were quick to respond to this change in mail delivery guidelines and soon the National Rural Letter Carriers' Association's magazine was filled with advertisements for motorcycles. Harley-Davidson's approach was to advertise not only how good their machines were for delivering the mail, but also how much fun you could have on them when you were away from work.
Harley-Davidson also made a new vehicle called the motorcycle truck which was tested by the US Postal Service in Wisconsin during the winter of 1912-13.
Everything was going fine until 1915 when the Postmaster General decided to change regulations allowing for automobiles and banning motorcycles altogether by 1916. This was repealed at the end of 1915 and motorcycles were allowed to remain in service as long as they had a waterproof commercial body to protect the mail.
After WWI, the US War Department transferred over 1,000 motorcycles to the US Postal Service. Many of these found their way into cities as well as rural routes.
In the early 1920's following an armed robbery of a US Mail truck in New York, some motorcycles were assigned to escort duty in large cities to help protect shipments of valuable mail. Notice the passenger in the following picture has a rifle or shotgun across his lap.
The US Postal Service continued to use motorcycles through the 1920's, but they eventually gave way to automobiles. Although the US Postal Service no longer uses motorcycles in its operations, at least they still produce the occasional run of motorcycle themed stamps...
These photos are of Merwyn 'Red' Fleming, member of the Riverside Bombers MC in California. They were taken in 1946 at the Box Springs Race Track in Riverside. Red is riding a Harley-Davidson Flathead, possibly a WR, and seems to be quite an accomplished rider. Note the "x" on his rear number plate which denotes he was from California. The Bombers MC were famous for sponsoring a desert race called the Cactus Derby, starting in about 1945. This was one of the "big three" desert races along with the Big Bear Run and the Catalina Grand Prix. This two day event covered a stretch desert starting near Victorville and going all the way to Lucerne and back.
The Harley-Davidson V-series engines began using the Model 32E 3-brush generators in 1932. I assumed that I would be using a rebuilt 32E for my build and went about looking for a reputable builder who hopefully could supply me with a completely rebuilt unit as I did not have a core to rebuild from. After a little searching I found out about Perry Ruiter who rebuilds 32E generators up in Canada. I sent him a brief email telling him what I needed and what I wanted to do with the motorcycle and he quickly recommended that I go with one of his rebuilt 32E's that had been converted to a 2-brush model. Perry went the extra mile and not only educated me on the difference between the 3-brush and 2-brush set ups, but also took pictures of the entire rebuild process explaining each step.
So why convert a perfectly good 3-brush generator to a 2-brush? As you can see from the chart below, a 2-brush generator starts to charge earlier, gets up to maximum output faster and the output doesn't drop off as speed increases. Not evident from the chart, one of the main advantages of a 2-brush conversion is that the generator's output is always matched to the demand. If the battery needs a bit of a charge, output increases until it is charged then drops down. When you turn the lights on, output increases, when you turn them off, output drops down. With a 3-brush generator the position of the third brush determines the charge rate and you're stuck with what you've set it to.
The other main advantage to a 2-brush conversion is you can run a sealed battery. You must use a wet battery in a 3-brush system. In a 3-brush system, the battery is responsible for voltage "regulation" (such as it is, the old bulbs are rated 6-8 volts since voltage bounced all over the place). A modern sealed battery needs a well regulated charge rate. This is provided by a modern solid state regulator. You might get away with a sealed battery in a 3-brush system if all you do is run the grand kids around the block once a month, but hop on the bike and run at highways speeds for a day and you'll have destroyed the battery. It's not uncommon for them to actually explode in this situation. They just can't take a charge from a 3-brush system.
Now let's look at the steps Perry takes to rebuild a 32E and convert it to a 2-brush system.
The generator assembly starts with the commutator end casting and brush holders. Colony's terminal kit is used along with their generator frame screws. Perry swaps out the star washers for parkerized ones and uses custom made brush holder insulating papers which are correct. Fresh cadmium plating, parkerizing and glass beading ensure the appropriate finishes. New fillister head screws, a quality sealed Japanese bearing and a NOS bearing shield washer round things out.
Once the brush holders are installed, Perry checks to ensure the negative brush holder is grounded and that both terminals are isolated from each other and from the end casting, but still have proper continuity with their respective brush holder and terminal. Note that the multimeter is set to ohms for checking continuity/resistance.
The completed commutator end casting assembly is set aside until needed for final assembly.
Here is the generator body with field coils and pole shoes. Since we're converting the generator to 2-brush, these field coils are from a 58-64 Panhead generator supplied by Eastern Motorcycle Parts. You can also convert to 2-brush with the stock 32E field coils by changing how they're connected. See Harley Service Bulletin 418 for more details. Pole shoe screws supplied by Colony. Again quality sealed Japanese bearing at the drive end too. Astute readers will note this is a later generator body that takes the neoprene seal. This style body came into use during the last couple years of Knucklehead production and continued on with the Panhead. It results in a nice little upgrade that is invisible when installed.
Since the field coils were originally intended for a later generator, Perry changed the terminals and extended one lead prior to their installation in the 32E body.
Perry snugs up the pole shoes using a Snap On impact driver with a custom shaped screwdriver tip from Brownells. This lets him get the pole screws dead tight without damage to the screw heads.
Now the generator is ready for final assembly. The gear, spring and oil deflector are supplied by Eastern Motorcycle Parts. The new brushes and reproduction armature come from Dixie Distributing. Perry made a batch of the armature bakelite washers to ensure they are the correct size.
When installing the roll pin in the gear, Perry uses a custom made bench block to support the armature and to ensure that it is not accidentally bent when the roll pin is driven in. Note that most reproduction gears have a 3mm rather than a 1/8 inch hole. To compensate Perry uses 3mm roll pins. Perry says "You can't drive a 1/8 roll pin into a 3mm hole!". In the above photo, you can also see how Perry parkerizes the generator body prior to painting. This helps keep rust at bay should the generator get a scratch or a rock chip.
Once the generator is fully assembled a battery is hooked up to motor it. The generator should motor in a counter-clockwise direction when observed from the gear end. If it rotates the other way you have your field coil leads reversed. Motoring does two things, it verifies that the generator is assembled properly and provides an initial polarization for the pole shoes. The generator relies on residual magnetism in the pole shoes for initial excitement each time the engine is started.
Recall we converted the 32E from being a 3-brush generator to a 2-brush generator. In the photo above you can see that the third brush holder sits empty in the assembled generator.
Since the generator has been converted to 2-brush, a regulator is required. The natural choice is a solid state Vtronic 6V regulator supplied by RetroCycle (also available in 12V). Unfortunately the manufacturer only supplies this unit in a 38 to 57 three post style. Perry has developed a modification of the Vtronic unit to give it a two post outward appearance which is correct for the VL series. The third post is hidden on the underside.
Although he has a Sun generator/alternator test bench, Perry has a strange affection for this ancient generator tester rescued from an old Harley dealer years ago. The generator support is a piston pin push tool. Here the generator is being run at speed to verify that it and the regulator are working together as they should. A Cycleray headlight, just visible on the lower left, is periodically hooked up to provide a load and verify that the regulator and generator respond to the increased demand and then drop back down when it is removed. All of these tests are performed using a multimeter to accurately measure changes in the generator's output. The meter is set to amps for this test.
To finish things out, Perry added a cover on the regulator, a nice old original tag and a period aftermarket chrome cover to complete the generator. The duo is now ready to provide many miles of trusty service.
Shopping List Colony Machine 30012-32 Generator Screws 2126-12 Terminal Kit 9520-4 Pole Screws
For some reason, the previous owner of my springer decided to paint the entire thing with tan spray paint. Springs, fork legs, rockers, alemite fittings and even the inside bearings surfaces all got a good coat of paint. I wanted to return the front end to a more correct look, which meant that the springs needed to be parkerized and the rest of the parts needed a coating of black enamel. I'm not much of a painter, so I decided to send out the black parts for powder coating while I tackled the springs. The great thing about spray paint is that with a little lacquer thinner and a scotch-pad you can remove it fairly easily. I filled a glass container with lacquer thinner and just let the parts soak for ten to fifteen minutes before scrubbing them with the scotch-brite pad. You'll want to make sure you where gloves during the entire process.
Here's how the parts looked after scrubbing. There was still some primer and some older black paint in spots, so everything went in the blasting cabinet for a final cleaning.
In the meantime, my other parts came back from being powder coated. Before I started reassembling the front end, I replaced my spring rods using new rods from Colony Machine. Installation was very straightforward, you simply insert the rods through the tapered holes on the spring fork and then tighten them into place using the supplied hex nuts. My original hex nuts had been welded to keep them from loosening, so figured it would be a good idea to Loctite the new hex nuts to make sure they didn't loosen up on the road.
Once the spring rods were in place, I slid the buffer springs down onto the spring rods. They are held in place with flat check springs which fit into a flat section milled into the spring rod.
Next came the largest springs, known as cushion springs. These slide down the spring rods and over the buffer springs. Now the entire spring fork can be installed on the the rigid fork. I covered the rigid fork legs with a towel to make sure that I didn't damage the finish during assembly.
After slipping the spring rod bushings onto the spring rods it was time for the hard part, compressing the springs. This step can be potentially dangerous since the cushion springs are very strong and need to be compressed a good deal to finish the installation. Often a large clamp is used to compress the springs, but if something goes wrong, parts can end up flying around your shop. I came up with a slightly different installation method which was quite a bit safer and didn't require any heavy duty clamps.
Instead of compressing the larger cushion springs, I compressed the upper fork springs. First I inserted zip-ties into the spring on both sides so that they could be tightened on the middle coils of the spring. Then I compressed the spring using a Quick-Grip hand clamp. While the spring was compressed, I tightened both zip-ties, making sure they were spaced equally on both sides of the spring. Once the zip-ties had been tightened, the clamp was released and the springs slid onto the spring rods.
I also used another Quick-Grip hand clamp to keep the cushion springs lined up correctly while I was putting on the spring rod upper end nuts.
Once the upper spring rod nuts had been threaded onto the spring rods, I removed the zip-ties from the upper fork springs and released the Quick-Grip. The final step to complete the spring installation was to add the upper spring rod lock nuts.
Using the tool, I pressed out the old worn bearings and pressed in new replacement bearings from Colony Machine. I then reassembled the rocker plates using the following layout. Note that the rocker plate with the offset goes on the right hand side of the motorcycle.
Here's what the rocker plates look like on the outside of the fork.
Here's what they look like on the inside of the fork.
Last step was to install new alemite fittings and to bend in the tabs on the nut locks. That completed the front end rebuild and it was ready to be installed on the frame.
Colony Machine 7606-26 Complete Rocker Rebuilding Kit 9862-8 Springer Spring Rod Kit 9417-4 Springer Spring Retainer and Top Nut Set 7706-2 Springer Spring Rod Bushings
It would be another 20 years before the Hendee Manufacturing Company would change their name to the Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company that we are all familiar with. Still, they had been producing Indian Motorcyles since 1901, two years earlier than the first Harley-Davidson. These photos were taken at their Springfield, MA factory in 1908. In this collection you'll find photos of early V-twin engines being assembled, frame building and some sheet metal work.
By the end of World War II, the United States had sent hundreds of thousands of military vehicles to Europe, either for their own troops or to their Allies through the Lend Lease Program. Once the War was over, it was impractical to ship all these vehicles back to the US, so many of them were destroyed. For years, stories have been told about how hundreds of vehicles, including Harley-Davidsons, were dumped off of ships, buried in large pits or otherwise destroyed. There has probably even been a quest or two launched to locate these secret dumping grounds filled with now valuable military machines.
The Canadian forces were left with the same dilemma as the US, but instead of destroying their surplus vehicles, they simply left them behind. Abandoned military bases often contained rows and rows of vehicles and there is no doubt what happened when the last Canadian drove out of sight, at least in Holland...
The Dutch were faced with a major transportation shortage by War's end. For them, these abandoned military machines were not mere junk vehicles, but the basis for a new transportation system. The Harley-Davidson WLC motorcycles were soon put back into service, the first six going to the highway patrol and refitted with Hollandia sidecars.
The WLC's were used by the National Police, Royal Military Police and the Army, well into the 1950's. It seems that the Canadians had not only left used machines behind, but also plenty of new machines still in their original packing crates.
The yellow WLC pictured at the top of this article is owned by the ANWB, which is the Dutch version of AAA. A converted food container was made into a package truck and loaded with tools and other items necessary for roadside assistance of travelers.
Chances are, you've probably seen this old photo of a Harley-Davidson riding through the streets of a German town at the end of WWI. While this in itself may not make for much of a story, the events that led up to it are worth reading. It turns out that after this photo was published in "The Enthusiast" magazine in 1943, the man riding the Harley in the photo turned up at the offices of "The Enthusiast" to get a copy. What follows is an article published in "The Enthusiast" in 1944 which tells the story of that famous picture.
One day not long ago, a visitor quietly stepped into "The Enthusiast" office and stood waiting near the door. He was of medium height, of sturdy build and his thinning sandy hair suggested the first touch of middle age. A weather beaten face indicated much time spent in the open. He had almost an embarassed look as he asked in a low voice if he might have a couple of extra copys of the June, 1943, "Enthusiast" which carried the story of the Army-Navy "E" Presentation." I understand that issue has a picture of me in it and I´d like to get a few extra copies as a rememberance." "Your picture?" we asked in astonishment. "Yes," he explained. Then he stopped as if that explained everything. The whole thing was puzzling. We knew if we wanted any further information we´d have to dig for it. We couldn´t remember publishing his picture and we said: "Perhaps your mistaken." "Oh no, it´s there all right. A friend of mine saw it and told me about it." He started paging through a June copy and when he came to page four he stopped and said: "See, here it is - that´s me," as he pointed to the picture across which was written in ink: "The first Yank and Harley-Davidson to enter Germany. 11/12/18." "You!" we exclaimed. "Yes, that´s me on the Harley-Davidson. I was a motorcycle dispatch rider in the last war...
"Why, you're famous," we gasped in excitement. Up to this point we had been so flabbergasted we had forgotten that we still didn't know his name. Seeing our amazement he volunteered: "Maybe I'd better indtroduce myself. My name's Holtz - Roy Holtz. Live here in Wisconsin up in Chippewa Falls." "You're famous," we repeated. "No - I wouldn't say that. The fact is I didn't even remember when the picture was taken. It appeared first in American newspapers and magazines. An aunt of mine mailed it to me in Belgium. Soon afterward, some of my buddies ran
across the photographer in Spa, Belgium, and they bought extra pictures for all of us. But there's nothing exciting about that incident." "Have any unusual experiences over there?" we asked hopefully. "Well - ", he laughed, "I was captured for a few days just before the armistice, but it wasn't my fault." Then he sat there and under heavy questioning we finally dug out all the interesting facts about his capture which make a mighty interesting adventure.
On the night of November 8, 1918, Holtz - a corporal - and his buddies were stationed in northern Belgium near Spa. The big drive toward the German border was on. The enemy was reeling backward and surrender was expected momentarily. In the night of November 8, a rumor circulated among the Americans, that peace was declared. Late that night Cpl. Holtz was ordered to take his captain on a night mission. It had been pouring rain for days. The roads were thick with mud and well plowed up from the big shells. The corporal started out with his captain in the sidecar of the Harley-Davidson. As they slid along in the darkness, Corporal Holtz who know the country well remonstrated that they were going in the wrong direction and were heading for the enemy lines. The Captain disagreed, first politely, then vehemently. The corporal became more and more convinced as they skidded along that the captain was wrong. They came to the rise of a little hill. At the foot they could see a light in an old farmhouse. When they reached the bottom, Cpl. Holtz was ordered to go in and get directions. The thoroughly disgruntled corporal plodded up to the door and pounded fiercely.
Suddenly it was opened and instinctively he stepped in out of the soaking rain. When he had wiped away the rain he glanced across the room unbelievingly. There at a long table were a dozen or more enemy offcers - all eyes staring at him coldly. Actually they were officers of the Fifth Bavarian division. Col. Holtz and his captain had blundered into enemy divisional headquarters. Inwardly the corporal was boiling. He had a hunch something like this might happen - but orders are orders! The corporal was ordered to call in his captain which he admits was not an unpleasant duty. He went to the door and hollered: "Hey, Sam, come on it," omittin "sir" and "captain". In stamped the captain and when he saw the uniforms his jaw dropped.
"See what your and your blasted directions got us into," snapped Cpl. Holtz. The Captain never answered. They both realized then the armistice report had been a very false one. While the two Americans stood there a German general, hearing the commotion, came striding into the room. "What have we here?" he demanded in German. "Two Americans," the officers chorused. Turning to an orderly, the general, still talking German, asked that an interpreter be sent in. Holtz immediately spoke up and said in German: "It is not necessary to call an interpreter. I can speak German." The assembled officers were thunderstruck. Then the general took Cpl. Holtz into a side room for further questioning. He assumed a very kindly air and commanded the orderly to send in some schnapps. He poured out two schnapps - one for Holtz and one for himself.
Ah, ha, thought the corporal, he's either trying to poison me or get me canned up so i'll talk. Watching the general closely, Holtz assured himself that the general was also going to drink the stuff. Then the general lifted his glass and said: "Gesundheit." Down went the drink. Holtz followed suit and almost choked. It burned like fire. He discovered later it was very potent potato whisky. Three more were had at close intervals. In the meantime, the general did his darndest to pump Holtz about the American positions, their strength an so forth, but the corporal wouldn't talk. At last, in disgust, Holtz was sent back to the main room where his captain was sitting very uncomfortably. It was decided to send the Americans in German general headquarters. The general ordered a German captain to accompany Holtz and his captain on the Harley-Davidson. The German got astride the rear wheel on the hard luggage carrier.
Away they went. It wan't long until the German captain began complaining of the hard seat. the more he'd complain, the harder Holtz drove. He headed for every bumb and hole he could possibly find. By the time headquarters was reached, at Spa, Belgium, the German captain was in awful shape. Spa, incidentally was a town of several thousand near the Belgium-German border. At headquarters, the Americans underwent another cross-examination and were then put in jail. They stayed there until November 11. One of their guards came up to them late in the morning and said: "The war is at an end." After it had been certified that the war was actually over, the Germans returned Holtz's automatic and his Harley-Davidson and the captain got his belongings. They hat to return about fifty or sixty miles, they estimated, to reach their outfit. Naturally, the members of their company hat no idea where the two were. But being reported missing was common and any of several things could have happened to them.
On their way back, Holtz drove his Harley-Davidson as fast as he could over the terrible roads. They got off the right road and wound up in another little Belgian village. They went to the home of the village priest to ask for directions. When he saw the two Americans he was so excited and happy that he ordered the sexton to ring the church bells for an hour. Soon villagers began streaming in. Holtz and the captain were the first Americans to reach the village, the priest told them and he gave them affidavits covering this fact. The joy of the villagers knew no bounds. These were the first two americans they had seen, the first of an army which was coming to rescue them. In a way, it was really embarassing admits Holtz. The happy girls and townsfolk threw their arms around them and kissed them to show their great joy. The kind hearted village priest prepared a soft bed for the two in spite of the fact that they were not entirely free of dirt, the grime of war and the inevitable cooties. they were welcome guests, indeed, in the parish house that night.
The next day after oft-repeated farewells, and with the right directions ringing in their ears, the Harley-Davidson and its occupants started out again. Not long afterwards, the Harley-Davidson bumped to a stop in front of their own headquarters. They arrived just in time as their outfit was ready to move forward. On November 12, Cpl. Holtz crossed into Germany. He rode his Harley-Davidson back and forth across the border many times in the days which followed. He spent a total of eight months with the Army of Occupation in Germany and a total of twenty months overseas. During this time he and his Harley-Davidson carried countless dispatches for American troops as they advanced through France and Belgium. He had the highest praise for the way in which his Harley-Davidson stood up under the constant hammering and battering it took over the shell-torn roads of France and Belgium.
During his visit at the factory, Roy Holtz was accompanied by his brother, Ezra, who also served overseas in World War I and worked on army Harley-Davidsons for a time. Today, the brothers are engaged in the electrical contracting business and just recently finished a wiring job at Camp McCoy, Wisconsin. Thus ends the story of the famous World War I motorcycle dispatch rider whose identity has finally been re-discovered after these many years.
When Ben Campanale pulled up to the starting line on his Harley-Davidson WLDR at the 1938 Daytona 200, he was a relative nobody in the world of motorcycle racing. That soon changed when he was the first rider to cross the finish line at the end of the race. Of course a newcomer can't beat 100 seasoned veteran riders without causing a bit of a stir.
During the race, Campanale found himself running neck and neck with Lester Hillbish who raced for Indian. Whether it was because Campanale was on a Harley or he was just in the way is not known, but it is known that Hillbish forced Campanale off the track. Somehow, Campanale was able to get back on the track and catch up with Hillbish. This time he wanted to show Hillbish that he wasn't going to be pushed around and made kicking motions at Hillbish's front tire. Hillbish got the message and backed off, leaving Campanale open to win the race.
After the race, Hillbish and his crew tried to protest Campanale's win. Luckily, racing legend Jim Davis was one of the race officials and had seen Hillbish run Campanale off the track. The protest was denied, but the controversy seemed to continue as is evidenced by this letter from H.A. Devine, the manager of Harley's Parts and Accessories Department.
To show that his 1938 win was not a fluke, Campanale went on to win the Daytona 200 again in 1939. This time he was on a factory racer given to him by Harley-Davidson.