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      Motorcycle: Motorcycle: Twins - 45-Inch Twin, 1929 - 1951
    Posted on Sunday, October 31 @ 22:59:10 UTC by cars
      Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle 45-Inch Twin, 1929 - 1951 One of the most enduring motorcycles in Harley-Davidson's history was announced in October 1927, hitting the road just over 12 months later. The Model D, as it was first styled, was the first of a new generation of side-valve "flathead" V-twins far cheaper to create than the relatively complex F-head engines. Not much more than a pair of 21-inch "Ricardo" singles on a common bottom-end, it featured three-speed transmission and a spindly frame almost identical to the little single's.

    If the beginnings were lacklustre, improvements came fast. Within a year, the "45" benefited from a sturdy new frame with lower saddle but increased ground clearance. It was now available in four guises: D (low compression solo), DS (sidecar), DL (high compression Sport Solo) and DLD Special Sport Solo. Two years later, it emerged from a comprehensive redesign as the Model R. This included aluminium pistons in place of Dow metal (with magnesium offered as a special option from 1933), new crankcases with improved oiling and a sturdier frame. In 1933, of course, the Depression was at its deepest. A sign of these cash-strapped times was that this much-improved machine now cost just $280 - $10 less than the Model D had at its introduction. After a further steady regime of continuous improvement, the "45" was transformed once again to become the Model W in 1937. Although the most obvious difference was the adoption of styling from the Knucklehead released the previous year, there were numerous engine improvements as well, with its troublesome crankcase oiling and breathing system getting the lion's share of attention. The range now comprised not only standard (W), sidecar (WS), Sport (WL) and Special Sport (WLD) models, but also the WLDR Competition Sport Special, a mean-looking stripped-down racer - though by 1941, the WLDR machine was a "Special Sport" roadster, the racer being known by a simple "WR". Four-speed transmission, adopted from the bigger twins, appeared in 1938 and by 1940 the WLA Army version was on the books. By now, the WLD and WLDR versions carried light alloy cylinder heads with more fin area and a larger carburettor, improvements that would not reach the base models for another five years. Indeed, the engine would receive almost no more significant changes during the WLs final decade a far cry from the 1930s when anything from 15 to 30 modifications were made each year. Instead, Harley-Davidson directed its efforts into its overhead-valve models, confining the "45" mainly to cosmetic revisions, partly inspired by the Hydra-Glide. Civilian production of "45"s ceased after 1951, although some military versions were produced later, and the same side-valve engine would continue to power the Servi-Car into the 1970s. The WL is and was for most of its life a crude, heavy machine better suited to the American Prairies or war-torn battlefields than any road with bends. By the time it went out of production, it was a motorcycling dinosaur. Though it was slow, outdated and *****bersome, it was also strong as an ox and almost indestructible: this model had proved itself to be a tough old Hog that for more than two decades had dependably delivered the bacon for Harley-Davidson.
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