Motorcycle: Hardware - Oddballs
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 13:59:57 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
Harley-Davidson began as a company with lofty aspirations, but some developments must have surprised even the founders. In 1924, a Harley-engined (18hp) plane built by Harvey Mummert won the speed and efficiency contest at an air race at Dayton, Ohio.
Four years later. Flying and Glider Manual published plans for Grafting a propeller for a 74-inch Harley twin. By the mid-1930s, several hundred light planes were powered by Harlequin engines, using Harley-Davidson cylinders on special, horizontally-opposed crankcases. The resulting boxer twin produced 30 horsepower and could be built for less than $100. At the opposite end of the spectrum was the bicycle built for Harley by the Davis Sewing Machine Co. from 1918-24 - a "Hog" with no engine at all.
Milwaukee twins have also been used in boats and as all manner of stationary engines. Contrary to popular belief, it has not been a single, seamless tide of thundering big twins from almost the dawn of the 20th century into the 21st. Other than the early singles, perhaps the best-known variation from the V-twin theme was the Sport Twin of 1919-22, using a 37in (584cc) horizontally-opposed engine, similar to contemporary Douglas motorcycles. A generation later, the military XA appeared during the Second World War, powered by a transverse, horizontally-opposed, flathead twin.
Even the oddball XA might not have made it had other military prototypes reached (production. These included a three-wheeler for use over rough ground, an armoured machine-gun carrier and a small tank powerplant consisting of a linked pair of Shovelheads. By then, one Milwaukee three-wheeler was an everyday part of American civilian life.
They called it "Servi-Car" when introduced in 1932. Although the front end - "borrowed" from the Model D side-valve V-twin - was fairly conventional, what lay behind caused surprise. Above a two-wheel rear axle sat a metal-framed "boot" (trunk): this ungainly-looking device was a cheap delivery vehicle which found a ready market in Depression-torn America. For many Harley fans worse was to come, beginning with the 1947 Model S and ending with the Topper Scooter.
One of the strangest ventures was a Harley two-stroke actually manufactured in the United States - without wheels. The Harley Snowmobile, powered by either 400 or 430cc engines, was built for four years until 1975.
Another quest for diversity saw the company branching out to build military bomb casings, computer circuit boards and "Holiday Rambler" recreational vehicles.
If nothing else, this demonstrates just how far the company had strayed from what it now regards as its essential roots. Legislation permitting, in the future, all Harley-Davidsons will be air-cooled, 45-degree V-twins with both cylinders precisely in line. You can bet your house on it.
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