Matt Olsen’s Blog

Matt Olsen’s take on classic Harley motorcycles – especially Knuckleheads and Panheads

January 15, 2009

Motorcycle AMCA Youth Program Harley Giveaway

Harley WLA Parts Bike

Win Harley Parts Bike Like This (but not this one)

Hi everybody. It has been freezing cold up here in South Dakota, sub zero temps, ice, and a lot of snow.  This may sound stange to some of you, but I actually like this weather, and consider it a vital part of my work schedule.  If I lived in a tropical place like California, or any place down south that lacks snow, I probably wouldn’t get any work done on the classic motorcycle restoration, because I would be out enjoying them, doing the minimul amount of maintanance to keep the wheels rolling on the road.   The reason that I bring this up, is because I feel a little bit guilty about not writing here more often.   I will try to pry myself away from the shop to post something fun on here on a more frequent basis.

The main reason that I wanted to do a post tonight, was to show you guys one of the parts that I just got in for the Harley motorcycle giveaway contest that I have been working on in a Harley magazine and here.  It is a set of NOS Harley front and rear springer fork legs.  They were donated by my good friend John Lindeman from Golden Valley, North Dakota.  There are a couple of neat things that I noticed about this front end,  the first was that the wires that held More on Motorcycle AMCA Youth Program Harley Giveaway

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December 12, 2008

Intro To Matt Olsen’s Classic Motorcycle Blog

Matt Olsen’s Blog- Wow, I never thought that I would have a motorcycle blog. I remember the first time that I saw the word blog being used – I was a freshman in high school browsing the internet and I ran across a site called It was a site where a special education teacher talked about all the predicaments that she ran into while working with her special needs students. Man, that site had a ton of good stories filled with humor, suspense and drama. Unfortunately, the word about got out and some of the parents of the special needs students found out about the site and understandably, had it taken off the internet.

When Buzz asked me to help out with adding content to this site, I thought that it would be a lot of fun, but I have to confess, I have a bit of stage fright. In the back of my mind, I wondered if I could bring practical and entertaining stories to my peers – you guys. To me, the word blog describes an outlet for someone to talk about their lives; well, my life is old motorcycles.

Well, luckily there are quite a few things for me to write about as I have a lot going on in my life right now. I am running an essay contest with The Antique Motorcycle Club of America where the grand prize is a 1942 Harley Davidson WLA in pieces and two months shop time to learn how to rebuild it. From time to time, I will post news on this contest in this blog, whether it be a part that just got donated or another tidbit of information. If you would like to know more about this contest please look at and the young riders section in the forum on this site.

I am also building a bunch of Harley Knuckleheads and Harley Davidson Panheads at work. I will set you guys up with some fun and useful tech information from different projects that are going on. Some of the tech info that I’ll post here will be basic knowledge to some, but will hopefully help somebody out. We don’t always do things the easiest way at our shop, but most of our methods are tried and true, plus we have made a ton of mistakes over the years, and learned from them. This is a great opportunity for you to learn from our mess ups.

Well, guys, I look forward to sharing some info with you and hope that you can find something to take away from it and help you with your personal projects. I’ll start with a step by step piece detailing some of the steps for rebuilding a 1947 Harley springer front end for a Harley Knucklehead project that we’re currently working on.


Now you see it

Now you don’t!


The other piece that needs to have the paint taken off before the fork can be assembled is the left tab on the rear leg.   Harley either removed the paint from this tab or sanded it off to ensure a good ground for the headlight.   I will show you what they did to the headlight bracket later.   Anyways, it is a lot easier to take the paint off of this tab now, than later since the springs are out of the way.

ooo shiny

where did the paint go!

 Next up is bending the inner fork springs.   If any of you have ever ridden a springer over railroad tracks and heard an annoying rattle, then you will understand why this step is so important.   First you clamp the inner fork springs in the vice and then you bend it with a piece of solid stock that is close to the same diameter as the spring rod.  Make sure that the spring is tightly clamped in the vice.  It really hurts when the springs come loose and hit you on the top of your head

 Straight motorcycle fork springs are my enemy


 Problem solved

Now we are ready for final assembly,  this is the easiest part, thanks to the handy springer assembly tool that I got from Teds,  I know there are dozens of other ways to do this, but this works best for me. You can see the posts that were masked off for paint clearance in this pic.   Don’t forget to tighten the acorn lock nuts when you are done, because it isn’t any fun when you lose one on your test ride.

Check it out!!!

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