Matt Olsen

June 24, 2009

Help! I need your input about old motorcycles.

my el all ready to go!

My '36 Harley EL all ready to go!

While I was on a 1200 mile trip on my 1936 EL trip this weekend, my mind started to wonder like it often does. To no surprise of anyone who knows me, the topic of old motorcycles dominated my thoughts. There is nothing in the world that I would rather do than work on old bikes, ride old bikes or talk about old bikes. It is pretty obvious that I have tunnel vision in my life. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to understand why there are not more people in the world that are as crazy about old bikes as I am.


My 1936 Harley EL Knucklehead and "friend"

Somewhere in the middle of Iowa I started to think about the general motorcycling public’s perception of old bikes. As the one sided conversation evolved in my head I started to wonder what the biggest problems with the public’s perception of old bikes are?

This is where I need your help, I know quite a few people check this site and I need your input, please comment below and let me know what you think the antique motorcycle hobby’s biggest public image problems are.

Do you think that people don’t think old Harleys are useable? Do you think that they are afraid to work on them? Or maybe it is the fact that people just don’t know how to use them. I don’t know, I am sure every motorcycle enthusiast has a different reason. Fill me in on what you think. Thanks in advance.

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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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September 13, 2008

Win A Free Harley Motorcycle (if you are young enough)

Want o win a free Harley motorcycle? Love classic Harley motorcycles? Here is a note I want to share from Matt “Mudpuddle” Olsen about a new contest for anyone aged 18 to 24 years old to win a 1942 Harley-Davidson 45 cubic inch basket case and the opportunity to learn how to build it with experts.

As with many other hobbies, the people involved with classic motorcycles are getting older and we simple do not see many new and younger people joining in. This could be due to the climbing costs of buying, rebuilding and owning a classic Harley or Indian motorcycle. Then again the cost of classic Harley parts is going through the roof.

So, in the time of high costs for classic motorcycles and parts, and weak economy, how do youger people afford to get intot he hobby other than on the side line? I think what Matt and the AMCA people are doing here is a great start, but it is still just a start. And I encourage all of us to share the hobby to more younger people whenever we can. We at American Iron Magazine are pleased to donate a leather jacket and new helmet to the winner of this bike so he or she can enjoy it safely.

I think Matt has a wonderful idea here that I hope is very popular in helping draw in more young people to the classic bike hobby.

Hi everybody,
I am happy to announce a contest that I will be running in association with the A.M.C.A. and the A.M.C.A. foundation. Together we will be running an essay contest from October 1st 2008 until August 15th 2009 in hopes of getting 18 to 24 year old Americans excited about old motorcycles. The grand prize is a 1942 Harley Davidson 45 basket case, and an all expense paid vacation to sunny South Dakota to restore and assemble the bike under close supervision and guidance of trained professionals. You can read the full press release by clicking on this link–

It is my opinion that a Harley WLA is the perfect platform for a project like this, because of their value, and the vast amount of surplus parts that are readily available. Currently I have approximately 65 percent of the parts needed to complete this project. A lot of my friends in the A.M.C.A. and old motorcycle community have chipped in and donated a part here and a part there. I will be posting a detailed list of what parts have been donated, and who has donated them, and also what is still needed to complete the bike within a couple of days. If you feel that this is a good cause and want to donate a part that is missing, then please email me at Supporters of the program will be able to be an active part of selecting the winner in Davenport 2009, and will have their name printed in a supporters list in American Iron Magazine, Iron Horse Magazine, and The Antique Motorcycle. Thanks for your support and enthusiasm!!

Matt Olsen
A.M.C.A. Youth Coordinator

Filed under Buzz Kanter Classic Motorcycle Blog, Departments by Buzz_Kanter

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