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Thread: Peter's 42WLA refresh

  1. #1

    Peter's 42WLA refresh

    On a bit of an impulse I bought a 1944 42WLA in October last year. Never owned a HD before and although I own a vintage car and some 70s Hondas, I don't really have any experience with a bike like this. So that's why I'm here to share my experiences in bringing the bike up to scratch and draw on this massive pool of knowledge that you guys have here.
    The only history I have of the bike is that I bought it from a guy who owns a motorcycle shop in Cambridge, UK, who only rode it a couple of times and he bought it into the country from the Netherlands and got a UK registration for it. I understand he bought it from Dutch Lion Motorbikes. I contacted them and they could not provide me with any further information which I found frustrating but I guess they didn't want to let me know how or where they came by it.
    Anyway, before I paid money for it, I sent the wonderful Johan of theliberator.be some photos and he gave me a little guidance and what it was worth. He pointed out some of the obvious (not to me) things that were incorrect about it so given that advice I've been slowly working my way through putting them right.

    Here's a link to a video of the bike running before I bought it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixIv2HzYd1A

    Going to fit the rear stand now so I'll post more later.

    Peter.

  2. #2

    Re: Peter's 42WLA refresh

    She sounds very strong Peter. Johan is a fantastic source of knowledge. I chat with Johan quite often and all of our communications have been great and productive.

  3. #3

    Re: Peter's 42WLA refresh

    Hi Peter, welcome to the wonderful world of classic Harley's.
    WLA's are fairly easy to work on, so exchanging wrong parts for the right ones should be a straight forward job.
    Please put her up in the Yahoo register, I'd love to see more detailed pics of her.
    1944 and a small datatag...type V I guess?
    You know of 'War Department' near Ashford I hope?
    Last edited by Lib45; 06-28-2017 at 01:54 PM.

  4. #4

    Re: Peter's 42WLA refresh

    Quote Originally Posted by Paps View Post
    She sounds very strong Peter. Johan is a fantastic source of knowledge. I chat with Johan quite often and all of our communications have been great and productive.
    Yeh thanks Paps, she does run pretty good normally (except for oil bath air filter issue).
    I bit the bullet and bought those two books you recommended, ouch. But looking forward to soaking up lots of information. I've also been working my way through your resto thread (think I'm up to about page 7!) and got to say, wow, there's some great information there so thank you for documenting all of that. By reading it I've already learnt that I have a repro primary cover (clashes with oil bath), there's a spare blackout tail light, what the hole in rhs of the front cylinder head is for etc, etc, etc.

    Also reading your thread I learnt that you had a guy restore your saddle and I'd really like to have mine done but just not sure the logistics of that would be prohibitive (due to my location and his) but I'm really not keen on a new reproduction one. I already got some reproduction saddle bags and they really stick out like a sore thumb. Have to think about it some more.

    Thanks again Paps.
    Peter

  5. #5

    Re: Peter's 42WLA refresh

    Quote Originally Posted by Lib45 View Post
    Hi Peter, welcome to the wonderful world of classic Harley's.
    WLA's are fairly easy to work on, so exchanging wrong parts for the right ones should be a straight forward job.
    Please put her up in the Yahoo register, I'd love to see more detailed pics of her.
    1944 and a small datatag...type V I guess?
    You know of 'War Department' near Ashford I hope?

    Hi Lib45,
    What is the yahoo register?
    Johan (theliberator.be) advised me it was a type IV i think from the serial number. But I understand I have the wrong front fender and on further investigation I think the rear wheel is also the wrong size.
    I actually called the War Department about buying a WLA (before I found mine) due to an ad they posted over here. However, when I got through the guy said the bike had been sold a long while since and his Dad (who started the company) had died and he was just selling off all the old stock. He seemed really disinterested and not very helpful at all. In fact I emailed a request for some parts a couple of weeks back and he just didn't respond. The website seems unmaintained also. So I wasn't really impressed with that at all and had given it up as a source for parts. Have you had better experience with them?

    Thanks, Peter

  6. #6

    Re: Peter's 42WLA refresh

    Hi Peter.

    Sadly Kieran is no longer with us any longer, I've had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife Sandra when I was in Kent for holidays.
    Never done business with them though, just wanted to visit the place and chitchat over old bikes.
    Lovely couple...I really hope their son will continue WD and not just sell off old stock and close up..we'll see.

    Based on what info you give us (1944 built), it's either a type V or VI.
    If it is a type IV as Johan says ( based on info you shared with him), it should've been built in '43.
    Again, I don't know its VIN, casenumbers nor tag ( little cartouche underneath motorsprocket on the left case).
    A type IV , assuming it's that, should have the first lipped type fender as did most of the 42WLA's have.
    A later type V, VI or VII should have the second pattern fender, sometimes referred to as 'desertfender'.
    If you have the Palmer books, you can see what I mean.

    Yahoo has a 42WLA-group, which has a datalist of some 200 WLA/C's.
    You'll need to enlist to be able to read it though.
    Very handy to compaire your bike with others in the same range.
    Cheers
    Last edited by Lib45; 07-22-2017 at 12:46 PM.

  7. #7

    Re: Peter's 42WLA refresh

    Okay, I may have misremembered and it may be a type V, it was definitely manufactured in 44 as the engine case numbers say so.



    and the serial number here also.



    Peter

  8. #8

    Re: Peter's 42WLA refresh

    When I got it the first thing Johan pointed out was that the headlight was in the high position which was indicative of a really early WLA which of course didn't gel with the numbers and other equipment on the bike. And it had some POS aftermarket horn on it too.



    That was one of the first things that I wanted to put right as I thought that just looked awful. So after some searching for a headlight bracket (got one from US eBay eventually) and a reproduction horn, wiring plate and luckily the blackout light came with it and I found a NOS bracket for that so I put all that stuff on.



    Peter

  9. #9

    Re: Peter's 42WLA refresh

    I also got some saddle bags, of which I don't like the colour but I'm pretty sure you can't get originals!



    I also needed a Thompson and found a replica from France as the gun laws here are super strict so an original isn't an option.



    The boy loves it though.



    I managed to get hold of a rear stand, catch and mounting hardware this week but it came in black so I'm currently painting that stuff. Also the catch doesn't seem to be the right angle (don't know if I ordered the wrong part) but I'm going to heat/bend it a little to make it work. So I'll post some images of that when it's all done.

    Peter
    Last edited by Liberated; 06-28-2017 at 03:27 PM.

  10. #10

    Re: Peter's 42WLA refresh

    That's a type V.
    Based on the info in Palmer's books and some simple math, it's possible to give a fairly accurate Date of Manufacture.

    Type V's were built from Sept '43 to May '44, that's 9 months or 39 weeks.
    There were 9171 known type V's built, so (9171 : 39) some 235 per week.
    Yours is 54190, type V's started from 50829 so yours is the 3362th built type V.
    3362 : 235 makes it built in the 14th week of the 1944-productionrun.
    Starting from Sept 1 1943, that makes the second week of December 1943...which is confirmed by the sub-5digit casenumber 9845...
    Last edited by Lib45; 07-22-2017 at 12:49 PM.

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