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Bike of the Month
August 2021
1947 Harley-Davidson FL
By Kris Phelps

This bike was a gift to me from my older brother, Eric, who was an Airman in the U.S. Air Force in 1973. Like every other “garage rat” interested in old cars, trucks and motorcycles, he was always on the hunt for great projects. He found this motorcycle in Clovis, New Mexico and knew it would be a positive distraction for his 15-year-old younger brother. Eric made the purchase for $750.00 before being reassigned to a new duty station in Germany. My Dad and I borrowed a pick-up truck and drove from Richmond, CA to Clovis, New Mexico to pick up my brother and the coveted knucklehead. 

This motorcycle has taken on many different versions of itself.  In 1977 it had the look of a 50s bobber with a 21” front wheel, a Bates headlight, three-inch risers, Flanders #1 bars, dual fishtail up sweeps and a bobtail rear fender. Paint by Kelly Wheeler, black with blue pearl, $40.00, chrome by ABC Plating, unknown cost and an engine rebuild from Armando Magri of Sacramento, CA., $502.00. Total cost: $2,300.00.

The most current version of the knucklehead was assembled as a stock motorcycle with the exception of an electronic ignition and 12-volt system. The exhaust system is once again, dual up sweep fishtail straight pipes. The engine was tired, and so, was rebuilt and brought back to stock by Shoeman’s of Reno. The paint and body work were completed by “Scotty” at Mo Music. The chrome was completed at ABC Plating of Sparks.  Risers, frontend springs and offset triple tree were obtained at Paughco. This project began in 2013. Due to slow going financial reasons and other obligations, the project was not completed until 2019. Finally, I can devote my time to riding the other motorcycles in the shop. Building them is fun, riding them is better. Ray Horstmeyer was always available with good information and a helping hand during assembly and wiring. Gus Assuras always had those original off the wall parts available for nothing. Joe Tracy and Dan McMullin were there for the heavy lifting.  


To date, I have owned this motorcycle for 48 years. I have no intension of selling as it has always been a part of the family. My wife has instructions to push it in on top of me when I die, unless of course, some guy with a wad of cash happens along first.   

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