Harley Davidson WLA
This is the saga of the wheels on a 1942 Harley WLA belonging to a friend of mine. He bought the bike some years ago in a complete renovated state but when he started to examine various aspects it became clear that some parts were not to original specification. The most frustrating being the wheels, which were 19inch where they should have been 18's. Not too much of a problem you might think but it made rear wheel removal very difficult with barely enough clearance.
He decided to bite the bullet and ordered rims and spokes from a specialist in Belgium and asked me if I could build the new rims on to the original hubs with these new Parkerised spokes and nipples. I agreed to do this but before I got the chance it was apparent that all was not well in the drive system from the combined sprocket and brake drum and while out riding one day all drive was lost. It turned out that most of the drive bolts which hold the drum to the hub centre had come out and the drive pegs had been forced out of engagement allowing the sprocket and drum to turn without driving the wheel. This seemed strange as even without any of the drive bolts, the drive pegs should still engage with the hub; it appeared that the collars and spacers were incorrect and allowed the wheel to move sideways allowing the drive to be lost.
All of the holes were elongated but should have been round so I decided to make and fit oval pegs, riveted into the brake drum so that there would be no backlash. This was quite a tedious and time consuming job as not only does each peg have to fit but they all have to fit as an assembly.
These are the 5 pegs riveted in and because of the different shapes would only fit one way so there had to be a 'witness' mark.
Although this proved successful, there was still a problem with end float and a decision was eventually made to procure a new drum, hub and spindles. Eventually I had to somehow get this new 18 inch rim to fit these new parts and with more spokes from another source which also were the wrong diameter and length, drastic action was called for.
This is the simple rig I made to ensure that the hub is central and the offset is correct so that the spoke length could be ascertained. By using a 3 cross pattern and a small adjustment to the length, I was able to get close to a result. the problem however was that the rim holes were too small even though the dimpling was correct.
The completed wheel on the rig - it just needs trueing and tightening
The dimpling in the rim was OK but the holes were too small so I had to make a little adaptor to ensure that the newly drilled holes pointed in the right direction.
Back to Bike stories
Back to Main Page