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1942 Harley WLA Flathead Short Chop

Thank God There's Harleys...   So, let's show them!

Joe from Ontario, Canada sent us these photos of his beautiful 1942 Harley WLA Flathead Short Chop.

Joe: "Hey, My name's Joe, I live in Ontario, Canada and this is my 45 Chop.

I bought it as a partially done living room bike, meaning it was only ever supposed to sit in a living room as a show piece. The guy I bought it from had it for a couple years and kids and life got in the way so he never managed to get around to getting it road worthy. What he told me, was that the engine and tranny had a pile of money poured into into them, the frame was powdercoated, the springer was about 4-6 over and a mystery. When I got there to see it, we squirted a couple shots of fuel into the Mikuni and it fired.

So I found the money and bought it."

Image of 1942 Harley WLA Flathead Short Chop with Custom Springer Fork by Joe. Joe with his 1942 Harley WLA Flathead Short Chop.

Joe: "When I got it home I saw that the seat needed mounting, the tank needed cleaning and mounting and fuel lines run, it needed a new brake light switch, 6v battery, and upon closer inspection I realized that it had no upper motor mount bracket on the frame so I unless I wanted to grind off the powdercoat I needed to figure out a mount. I also figured I needed an oil filter and cooler and some mid-controls because I have a serious hatred for forward controls. I prefer to be in control of my bikes. Of course, I put the suicide shift that was missing back on too, so maybe that statement is debatable.

It's gone through some changes as you can see in the pics. After 25,000km and rides all over Ontario, I've rebuilt the top end, changed numerous cables and learned to make my own, used 2 drive chains, blew out the front brake too many times to count. And most importantly, learned how to negotiate 4 lane highways on a suicide shift 3 speed bike that's screaming at 110km/h.

Right now I have a king/queen seat on the way, very low bars on it, Chopper Dave Cheat Death pegs (they're way cooler on a slow bike really), skinny fender and tall sissy bar, back to the mustang tank and I just re-wired it so as soon as the snow melts I'm ready to go.

Love the site. Nice to see Flatheads get their due!"

Photo of 1942 WLA Harley Flathead Chopper motorcycle with springer front fork.

Image of 1942 Harley WLA Flathead Short Chop with Custom Springer Fork by Joe. Joe can't wait till that snow is gone!

Photo of 1942 WLA Harley Flathead Chopper motorcycle with springer front fork. Joe: "The black and white tanks are from an AMF FXR Shovel. I got them for free a couple years ago and put them on last summer for a bit. The paint was reasonable so I just masked off some scallops and spray bombed them white. Then a bit of 3m silver sparkle pinstriping and voila. I left the AMF stickers because they made me laugh. I mostly wanted to extend my range beyond a couple hundred km's, but I could never get them to sit quite right. I'm going to have to shorten and narrow them a bit and they'll work better. It's still cheaper than stock 45 tanks though."

1942 Harley Davidson WLA 45 Flathead Motor

Image of 1942 Harley WLA Flathead motor by Joe.

Photo of 1942 Flathead WLA engine. 1942 Harley Davidson WLA 45 Flathead Motor

Image of 1942 Harley WLA Flathead motor.

Photo of 1942 WLA Harley Flathead engine.

Joe: "The suicide clutch is kind of a patchwork of different stuff. When i got the bike it was set up hand clutch/foot shift. The stock rocker clutch pedal was still there so I reused it, but there's no friction setup so it's a true suicide setup. I also added the star sorta shaped piece on the front of the pedal for extra leverage because the angle was bad.

The pedal is meant to be used with a pogo seat not a sprung solo. Bear in mind though that even with the performance mods this engine is barely pushing 50 horses, so it's not much to hang onto if you have to put your left foot down. Best bike to learn to ride suicide on.

The shifter itself is a modified Paughco. I had to mount it differently and put a bend in it beacause the oil tank is in the way for it's proper mounting. The brass handle on the shifter is just a brass punch that I threaded the end of and used for extra leverage."

Image of 1942 Flathead Harley engine.

1942 Harley Flathead Engine Overhaul

As you can see here, Joe did quite a bit of work on the 1942 Harley 45 Flathead Motor.

Photo of pistons and rods of 1942 WLA Harley Flathead motor. Joe: "Heads and cylinders pulled off to change the rings hone the cylinders etc..."

Image of cylinder of 1942 Harley WLA Flathead motor. Joe: "Turns out the there was alot of carbon and the valves wouldn't seat properly anymore, the exhaust valve on the rear cylinder was choked off down to a pinhole. Almost cleaned at this point."

Photo of cylinders of 1942 WLA Harley Flathead motor. Joe: "Even with the carbon buildup and all the electrics shorting from my first wiring attempt the old girl still made it hundreds of miles from Ottawa down south of Toronto, out to Georgian Bay and back through Algonquin Park at 95km/h. Best bike ever. And started on the first or second kick at that."

Image of top motor mount of 1942 Harley WLA Flathead motor.

Joe's homemade top motor mount. Old drum equipment can be useful...

Joe: "Added a couple pics of the top motor mount. It's made from pieces off an old cymbal stand from my drumset. It's stainless so I just drilled out the rivets and reshaped it a bit to fit the cross bar. Then a few 1/4" bolts, nuts and washers, with a pathetic scrap of inner tube attempting to save the powder coat. Then I made an L bracket and spacer to bolt between the cross bar bracket and the bracket bolted to the heads. Originally the bracket bolted to the heads was home made, but I ended up splurging on the fancy Paughco chromed one."

Photo of oil filter mount for 1942 WLA Harley Flathead motor. Joe: "New mount for the oil filter. Moved it out front near the cooler last year, it broke and i dragged it for a few miles home before I saw it. Changed the filter but all the fittings, hoses and the filter housing itself survived."

New Wiring

Image of new wiring of 1942 Harley WLA Flathead motorcycle. Joe: "My cat and me rewiring in my kitchen, February of 2010."

Things To Come...

Photo of Joe on his 1942 WLA Harley Flathead Chopper motorcycle.

Joe: "Picture this, but with a king/queen seat and that's this year's look. It's a rebar sissy bar and a front fender from an AMF FXR.

Allright, it's all pretty long winded, but it's the same as most bikes like this, every piece is a story in and of itself. That's part of the character of these bikes and part of why I love them so much. I've added a few pics that show it in the process of it's new look for the year.

Thanks again for your interest. Around here it seems no one even knows what it is, let alone have any real respect for it. If it doesn't have a million dollar paint job and isn't as tacky as possible it gets ignored. lol"

(February 2010)

A salute to Puppy DeGroat, wherever he may be:

Puppy DeGroat - AMT - Flathead Repair and Maintenance Specialists - Gulfport, MS, USA