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Thread: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"

  1. 1940 knucklehead "barn find"

    Guys, I've been reading on this forum for a while before I decided to finally post. I've seen many of the eBay links on here and the "experts" picking them apart, this is just the kind of place I've been looking for to get some opinions on this bike. I have recently inherited this old bike due to the passing of my father. I have heard stories about it all my life, and that one day he would restore it. Unfortunately that will never happen. I do enjoy motorcycles myself, but don't know much about vintage Harleys (hence this post) I've also got a new wife and family, so it's just not feasible for me to take on a project like this.

    This bike is well used, as are many from that era, when they were a sole means of transportation. My father was an instructor at the Spartan school of Aeronautics after WWII, he was also homesick, and rode from Tulsa, OK to Sanford, FL every weekend, one time pulling a friend on an Indian with a blown engine hundreds of miles. Another trip, he fell asleep and ran off the road, through a fence, hit a tree, woke up and rode the rest of the way with no damage to either of them. It took my father to Niagara Falls (in February....from Florida) for his honeymoon sometime in the mid to late 40s. His ex wife broke her ankle trying to start it without retarding the spark. Over the years I've heard so many stories like this, although he never did get around to restoring it, I think he was just happy knowing he had it, like so many of his "toys." One detail that stands out in my memory is him telling me that he made the megaphone exhaust pipes himself, by cutting the metal, flaring it, and then welding in little wedges and then having it chromed. It's been 25 or 30 years since he told me that, and one of the first things I looked at when I took it outside was the exhaust pipe and sure enough you can see the slits where it was cut and metal welded in.

    It's obviously not a true barn find since it's been in the family since the mid 40s (I think he was the second owner) But it feels like it, since I have been scouring over it to take the pics, and it hasn't been outside in god knows how long. The black and white vintage pics are from 1948, The tag on it is from 1952 and I'd say that was the last time it was ridden. My mother has been in his life since the early '60s and she has never seen it run. It sat untouched in his garage my entire life, with a few of those years out in a shed for some reason, during which time I'd say the majority of the rust occurred. I remember my mom covering it with a tarp as a kid, I was too young to remember what condition it was in at that time, but I do remember the roof leaking on that shed ! Had I known I would have insisted it go back in the garage ! There was also a 1955 MG TF-1500 that completely rotted away in there, the top deteriorated in no time, and then the wooden floor disintegrated over the years, but that is for an entirely different forum !

    In any case, I have a friend who is interested in the Harley, unfortunately neither of us really know what it's worth. I really want him to have it, because I know it will finally get restored, and will be nearly perfect when he finishes ! I don't want to rip of a friend, at the same time, I don't want to short change my mother either, since she could certainly use the money more than a rusty old Harley ! I know these bikes are extremely rare, but I also know it's in very poor condition, so it's tough to value it properly. Feel free to comment on the condition and/or the current value.

    Thanks,
    Brian






















  2. #2
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    Re: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"

    Great story Brian and thanks for sharing it. Heck, take it to Dale at WTT and they'll have it running in about a day or two!

  3. #3

    Re: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"

    Welcome to the forum and great looking bike. It is yours so you make the call. but if it was mine I'd do as little as is needed cosmetically and focus on getting it running basically the way it looks. Very cool. As for price - wow, that's a tough one. I'm guessing mid teens, but could be way off - up or down.
    Buzz Kanter
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    "It is always fascinating to watch the development of rationalizations for an argument"


  4. Re: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"






















  5. Re: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"






  6. Re: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"

    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz_Kanter View Post
    Welcome to the forum and great looking bike.
    Buzz, thanks. And since this was my first post, and I'm new to this forum, how come my pics got resized? I hosted them remotely to avoid this, trying to keep them hi-res without any load on this server.

    Brian

  7. #7
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    Re: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"

    Brian. Think twice if you really want to give it. Take her to a dry and safe place, empty 5 spray cans of HD40 outside and an extra can inside the spark plug holes and wait for a better time to restore it or leave it as it is. They will give you max 20,000 and what will you do with it? The money will be quicly gone. I lost my father recently and I believe we need to keep those things that were so praised for them. This knuckle is so loaded of memory! Memories that are worth only to you. It is part of your heritage and your kids may thank such a decision of keeping it tomorrow.

    If you think I am getting too emotional, then think it as a value if you wish. Selling it like this is selling it in the poorest condition you can. Stop that corrosion and even better let the time keep giving value to it. You will always win by doing so.

    Keep it, Brian. Find the money somewhere else. You won't regret it.
    1918 "Motorcyke" HD
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  8. #8

    Re: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"

    brian normally i would say leave it as it is but it is far enough along that i would probably restore it. it would be cool if you could make it look like it did when you,re dad rode it. you can tell by the pictures it was his pride and joy. as far as price i would say it,s probably priceless to you to someone else 10 to 20 grand. i,ve never seen a rear exhaust pipe like that it,s way cool. as far as the most money for you,re mom i would say e-bay. hope this helps and good luck.

  9. #9
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    Re: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"

    Brian, I believe the forum software does the resizing. And DANG!, those B+W pics are awesome. That is one stud scooter back in the day.

  10. Re: 1940 knucklehead "barn find"

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris in Japan View Post
    Brian. Think twice if you really want to give it. Take her to a dry and safe place, empty 5 spray cans of HD40 outside and an extra can inside the spark plug holes and wait for a better time to restore it or leave it as it is. They will give you max 20,000 and what will you do with it? The money will be quicly gone. I lost my father recently and I believe we need to keep those things that were so praised for them. This knuckle is so loaded of memory! Memories that are worth only to you. It is part of your heritage and your kids may thank such a decision of keeping it tomorrow.

    If you think I am getting too emotional, then think it as a value if you wish. Selling it like this is selling it in the poorest condition you can. Stop that corrosion and even better let the time keep giving value to it. You will always win by doing so.

    Keep it, Brian. Find the money somewhere else. You won't regret it.
    I knew there would be replies like this, since all these old bikes are so full of memories, and I totally understand the emotion and the passion. Unfortunately this was never a "father and son" project, it was his long before I came along, in fact, it was with his ex, therefore it was before my mother's involvement too. It has literally just been sitting. I did "rescue" a few others odds and ends, that I have at least tried to prevent from getting any worse, A '73 Trans Am that he bought new, a '75 Olds cutlass 455, and of course numerous tools, and other mementos. With the economy the way it is, and the reduction in SS and lack of pension, my mom could really use the money, She is not emotional at all about inanimate objects, and if something this old and this rusty can bring her a decent amount of cash, then that is the road she wants to take. I promise to restore and keep the '73 TA, it's one owner and the same age as me

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