JDH Two Cam was to be the ultimate machine for early timer motorcycle
customizer’s to practice their art. Sam Oppie a founding member of the Seattle
Cossacks stunt riding team was to become one of the most prolific exponents of
the two cam cutdown. Usually finished in Robins egg blue, Oppie maybe built as
many as 20 of his uniquely modified specials. The front downtube was reshaped
to bring the engine forward for better weight distribution. The seat post was lowered
2 inches, creating a shorter backbone, that then required the gas tanks to be
shortened as well. Being a racer himself, engines were optimised for maximum
Our bike has
the late 1929 I-beam forks known for their more robust construction. Open class
hill climber flywheels give a cubic capacity of 86 cubic inches. Cams and
cylinder period modifications give a wonderful power spread. Michael Lange was
entrusted with the engine rebuild and the result gives a strong, easy starting,
oil tight engine. The bike was painted a darker metallic blue probably in the
sixties. The blue Oppie favoured is still present, serving as an undercoat. At
some time, safety rims replaced the beaded edge items, the seat was recovered
and that is about it. An evocative photo shows Andy Decker with the bike in the
1950’s. He took over ownership from his Father Basil who got the bike from Sam.
This bike is
an absolute treat to ride. A motorcycle built by a motorcyclist, for a
The Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Company
certainly reached its high water mark in 1929 with the introduction of its
Tornado and Century models.
Arguably the best performing and best styled of the American
Fours. Their startling performance was not enough to outrun the effects of the
Great Depression. Cleveland ceased production at the end of 1929 after building
some 450 of these variants.
Finished in either Potomac Blue or Mephisto Red. Either
colour highlighted the shape of the sloping streamline four gallon fuel tank
which is the focal point of Tornados distinctive appearance.
The Collection’s Tornado was owned and restored by
Eldon Brown in Canada.
It then went to a prominent collector in New Zealand,
where it was recommissioned for riding. The Collection purchased it in 2022 and
it is ridden frequently.
The Harley-Davidson DAH 45 cubic inch OHV series of factory racers were to become with ongoing development one of Harleys most successful racers ever. The DAH was designed for the Class A and Expert categories of Hill Climbing that was sweeping the USA at this time. Harley didn’t have the experience with 750cc models like their key rivals Indian and Excelsior, so a fresh design was required.
The DAH was introduced during 1929 with a 750cc alcohol burning twin exhaust port power plant, single speed transmission, special cross over leading link forks and a purpose built single down tube frame and while they experienced initial success, it was over several years that these bikes were developed into national championship winners.
Production was limited to not much more than 20 units with over half those accounted for today in various forms.
Our bike shown here 30DAH517 was acquired in 20… from George Wills and previous to that was owned for decades by Harley Dealer Harry Molenaar whose race orientated dealership was in Hammond, Indiana. Harry lent it for some time to Harley-Davidson to display in their York Museum. The configuration of 517 is similar to the majority of the existing bikes and concurs with the available Harley Archives photos. Many photos exist of DAH’s in this style ridden in hill climbs throughout the USA in the early thirties. Riders Ketzel, McKinney, Moore, Reiber and Lindstrom were all successful with them. In 1932 at least 4 of these bikes were recalled back to Milwaukee for a series of updates including a new lightweight duplex chassis. See the story on 513 elsewhere in this book for more details of these modifications and the success they bought those that rode them.
517 is completely operational. During our tenure as owners we have sympathetically upgraded paint, fitted new tyres and put it through the AMCA judging system. Starting is relatively straight forward despite using pump fuel. The style of these bikes has many cues that are still so relevant to current custom trends. Large rear wheel, small gas tanks, low handlebars and short front forks combine to exude a muscular street fighter appearance. Further proof that not only was the Harley Race Shop good at building racers but were great motorcycle stylists as well.
Our Crocker has been with us since 2006. One of the first parallel valve models, notable previous owners have been Harry Sucher and Jim Lattin. Rob Selby of Auto Restorations in Christchurch, New Zealand, did a thorough rebuild of the driveline. Peter Leech from Tasmania did the paint. The bike is in constant use, one of our favourites. It has competed in various hill climbs and sprints around our region. We believe the bike performs exactly as Al Crocker intended it to.
There is little doubt Lance Tidwell and John Cameron owned, rode and built some of the very best examples of the Californian Cut Down. When you add the George Hood restoration to this Lance Tidwell built bike you have one of the very best. The modified 93 cubic inch two cam engine is a superb runner and the bike has been used for various sprint events.
Another year done at Mt Tarrengower Historic Hill Climb! This year, the 90th year of the event, we brought along a special machine that just happens to be also celebrating its 90th birthday, our stunning 1929 Harley-Davidson FDH.
Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the photos we captured from the weekend.
Our EL61 has been in the collection since 1990. The previous owner owned it for 15 years and rebuilt the engine during that period. Used in many ‘Great Races’ and numerous club rides and also as a regular commuter. The engine has never been apart during our ownership testimony to Bill Harley’s original O.H.V. design which would propel Harley-Davidson into the 21st Century.
In the USA during 1932 Class C racing was established to take the emphasis away from exclusive and expensive factory racers to machines that had to be purchased off the showroom floor in full road trim. This worked well initially with racers buying a Harley RL 750 or an Indian Scout off the dealer floor and modifying to make suitable for either the dirt ovals or TT tracks which were becoming popular at the time. In 1935 Harley decided there was merit in incorporating engine modifications to a standard road model and offering it to dealers that were known to support established racing stars. These bikes left the factory in full road trim. Designated the RLDR, 29 were built in 1935 and 79 in 1936. With the introduction of the W Series in 1937 Harley continued the same formula with the WLDR with engine modifications becoming a bit more aggressive each year. The WLDR’s that won at Daytona Beach in 1938, 1939 and 1940 bore modifications that left them with not too much in common with their showroom siblings.
Although it appears that there had been no relaxation in
Class C rules, maybe with the threat of British high performance singles
(supplied with full road trim) or that Harley had enough clout to do as it
pleased it introduced the purpose built WR and WRTT models for 1941. These were
supplied in full race trim and specification included ball bearing camshafts,
slipper cam followers, modified valve angles, magneto ignition and racing
carburettor. 36 were built with the handful of WRTT’s having brakes (not
allowed on dirt ovals) and various other factory options that could include
cast aluminium frame mounted oil tanks and up to 5 gallon gas tanks to greatly
increase fuel range for races such as the Daytona Beach 200 miler.
The Daytona 200 was the most prestigious race in the US and
ironically the WR was destined to never win it. Not to underplay Harleys
success in the event in 1941 while Bill Mathews on a Norton won there were no
less than 16 Harleys in the top 20 placegetters a testimony to the Milwaukee
brands durability in long distance races.
It is believed no more than 10 1941 WR’s exist, so to find one and to find one in original condition would indeed be a tall order. Eric Mathieu’s Beauty of Speed website has a very informative register on WLDR and WR models and includes a photo of a blue WRTT named ‘The Beast’. Imagine our surprise in 2012 when browsing the dreaded EBay, one cool winters evening in Melbourne, there it was ‘The Beast’ up for auction. The description told of its Daytona race history and how the owner, when its racing career was over, put ‘The Beast’ into storage until 1975. Then a friend of the vendor purchased it and promptly put it into storage for another 25 years! The vendor had purchased it in 2000 and had considered commencing the restoration process but fortunately never got around to it. Yes he also left it in storage. We left a bid on it (higher than any sane person would leave, so we were sure) and went to bed. Turn the computer on next morning to find we have won (ironical that expression) and the bike is available for pick up only south of Los Angeles! Fortunately our good friend Joe Koopersmith was duly despatched from Oregon to go and make the pickup for us. Thanks Joe.
Eventually “the Beast” arrived in Melbourne. Certainly time
had taken its toll on various finishes, tyres were rotted, seat was missing and
gas caps had been borrowed many moons ago. What did we do after its arrival?
Along with its 3 previous owners put it into storage! Come 2017 we decided it
was time for 1941 WRTT 1 of a handful to get some well-deserved attention. The
entire bike was given a dunking of Kroil. Those familiar with this wonder
liquid are usually entranced by the magical way it gives rusty components a
wonderful sheen wiping away what is often years of neglect. New Dunlop K70
tyres our tyre of default for such projects were fitted and the seat was
borrowed from our restored WRTT. Its patina matched perfectly. Rear fender was
reinstalled and engine was given a rigorous spin over. How does it run? Well
that is a story for another day. Stay tuned.