Motorcycle: Twins - 74 - Inch Side - Valve Twin, 1930 - 1948; 90 - Inch Side - V
Date: Sunday, October 31 @ 23:10:12 UTC
Topic: Motorcycle, Motorcycles, Motor Cycle
74 - Inch Side - Valve Twin, 1930 - 1948; 90 - Inch Side - Valve Twin, 1935 - 1941
Far from being the dependable machine the market required, the model which propelled Harley's big-inch fortunes into the troubled 1930s was even more bothersome than that very first V-twin of 20 years earlier. Launched just in time to see the New York stock exchange collapse in 1929, the Model V "Big Twin" began life as a fiasco.
With the original twin, valvegear was the problem. With this new 74-inch model it was almost the entire machine. As William H. Davidson recalled: "bad engine... bad clutch... flywheels too small... frames broke... mufflers became so clogged the engine lost power."
It's a mystery now — and probably was for Harley at the time — why the first of this line were so very poor. The cylinder heads, though now of side-valve layout, retained the proven "Ricardo" pattern of the earlier single.
At 87.3 x 101.6mm, the bore and stroke dimensions were unchanged from the Model D. As before, a single dependable Schebler carburettor metered fuel via a forked manifold. Testing showed that power was up 15 per cent on the old "74".
There were novelties, of course, but nothing suggesting the trouble to come. Primary drive was now based on duplex 'a chain, far stronger than the single chain used previously. Revisions to the oil-circulation system promised the rider a less oil-soaked time, as did full enclosure of the valvegear, which was impracticable on the old ioe twin. Other improvements that ought to have '' been welcomed by serious users included interchangeable quick-release wheels (at a time when punctures were a daily hazard) and an improved electrical system with better weather protection. The frame, too, was new: lower, heavier and reputedly sturdier than before.
For a company trading on unsurpassable reliability, the "74"s problems were serious indeed. No matter how handsome the new machine was, dressed in olive green with red pin-striping, no-one would buy it if it didn't work. To its credit, Milwaukee dropped everything to fix all the faults and the Model V proved dependable for the rest of its days.
Having benefited from the fixes applied to the 74-inch model, the 80-inch model released for 1935 proved almost completely problem-free. The bigger engine was substantially similar to the contemporary "74", the extra capacity resulting from an increase in stroke from 101.6 to 108mm.
For 1937, the V-series gave way to the U-series big twins, with four-speed transmission, improved engine oiling and both the running gear and styling from Knucklehead twins. Both were . capable of up to 90mph (145kph), had vestigial brakes and no rear suspension. Production of the "80" effectively ceased after 1941.
SPECIFICATIONS: 74-INCH (80-INCH) TWIN
Engine: side-valve V-twin
Capacity: 74.2cu in/ 1,216cc (78.9cu in/ 1,293cc)
Transmission: 3-speed (4-speed from 1937)
Wheelbase: 60in (1,525mm)
Top speed: up to 90mph (145kph)
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