October 22, 2011
1924 Harley JDCA – My First Classic Motorcycle Project, Part 1
Having ridden, bought, wrenched and raced a lot of “newer” motorcycles through the years I finally bought my first Harley-Davidson in the late 1980s. Actually I bought two classic Harleys as a package, but that’s a story for another day. Let’s stay focused here on my 1924 JDCA, one of the two first Harleys I ever bought and still have.
Unfortunately I do not know where the photos are of this vintage Harley when I purchased it. But I can tell you it looked much as shown in the photo above, but missing any sort of air cleaner and the original tires were rotting on the rims. When I bought it the engine was stuck and it had not been started in many, many years. Fortunately, all the previous owners never got around to “restoring” this classic.
The closest the owners before me got to redoing this 1924 vintage Harley was to paint a thick red stripe around the edges of the otherwise original paint gas tanks.
If you look closely at the photo you will see it is mostly correct and original other than the aftermarket air cleaner snorkle, new reproduction battery box and odd looking primary cover. I took this photo many years after buying this old Harley and I thought some folks might be interested in the story and details of this machine and what we have done to and with it in the many years I have owned it.
After purchasing this wonderful old Harley V-twin I gently cleaned and parked it on display in my office where I could llook up and see it any time I wanted to. It looked much as it does in these photos but with rotting tires (made it hard to roll) and the kicker would not budge as the engine was frozen. To make a long story short, after several years of sitting untouched in my offices my pal Dale Walksler of Wheels Through Time museum offered to get it running and sorted.
The first day Dale had the bike he replaced the bent valve and damaged valve pocket with an NOS set up he had on the shelf. A new set of tires and within a few days he had the bike running strong enough that he took it for a ride around town. This was the first time the bike had been started in at least 30 or more years.
When Dale felt it was running well enough I brought it back to Connecticut where I would ride it occasionally. I didn’t ride the ’24 Harley much because I found it very uncomfortable. Mostly because the handlebars were bent way back sort of like a wheelbarrow. I later heard this was common in heavily wooded areas as the riders could navigate the old Harley through the trees easier without mashing their knuckles too much.
More on this 1924 classic Harley project to follow soon.