I started this 42WLA early type III 45 Harley Davidson out as a bike as from the factory. I collected all the, as from the factory parts, per say. As I progressed into the build, component by component, and with an all oem or nos oem parts collection to create the completed bike, I had a change of direction along the way. After considering the duty this bike historically would have served, I decided to deviate from the original plans as from the factory. My decision was to build the bike as it would have been when it returned home from its service in the military. After all….was this not the true history to be told in this build ??? Was this not the bike named the Liberator ?? Was not the bikes glory in its service to our nation ?? All WLA’s went through changes and upgrades during the war years. New WLA’s already had those changes and upgrades made to them as they left the factory before seeing service. Thus the several different types of WLAs were produced, from the type I on up through the type VII WLA’s.
Earlier bikes were upgraded as they made their routine maintenance checkups or when they came in for repairs from other failures and damages in the field, such as scheduled checkups, flat tires, burned out bulbs, etc… Many parts and components on earlier bikes were left untouched during upgrades. Parts such as air cleaner boxes, handlebars, paint schemes, fastener finishes etc., were left as is. Only the upgrades were incorporated into the earlier machines. Upgrades such as radio interference equipment were installed. A bonding wire to the front cylinder head to the oil tank was added. The timer wire was changed out to a shielded type. Blackout equipment was added, which included parts like the magnetic field switch and its wiring. Additional capacitors were added to the generator and ignition coil. Spark plug wires were changed out with suppressors incorporated into them.
The Harley Davidson WLA model 45 went through an extensive transformation over its life span. The WLA evolved into what it ended its life with in 1952. My particular early 42WLA type III had two transformations during its type designation. The type III 42WLA had an early and late switch over in its history. My engine serial number and USA registration number, fell in at the midway point where those changes occurred, early and late model 42WLA type III. High and low ammo box mounting, headlight mounting, blackout light mounting and whether or not the blackout lighting was even installed, are just some of those changes made in the type III 42WLAs during that mid type III WLA change over. All welded frames and handlebars from mainly brazed ones were changes made as well. A fording tube to the crankcase breather was incorporated for crossing streams.
Documentation can go either direction based on the facts known, in order to determine exactly when that change over occurred. Sadly much of that exact and factual documentation is gone which dictates precisely when all parts changeovers were put into place. That change over is a very small window but that change over window does exist and is missing. Since that change over window cannot be precisely proven, I made my decision to go with the left the factory as is, and complete the project to the returned to the states after the war state, as the bike would have been changed out. I have also put aside, all the parts for which I had already collected, which this bike would have left the factory with, and that would have been replaced or upgraded, when the as returned from duty transformation, would have taken place.
I have many years of research into this project. I would like to publicly acknowledge a special thanks to those who helped me in this build project. Without the guidance from my good friend Bruce Palmer III and his special circle of friends, I would not have had a solid foundation to start with in pursuing this bike build. Bruce’s research eliminated much of what I would have had to discover on my own. Bruce’s book “How To Restore Your Military Harley Davidson” reduced my research tasks significantly and was critical in finding the much needed missing data on this bike. Other individuals whose names are to many to acknowledge, and range from people all around the globe where the WLAs served the United States Of America in war time……to those who possession original unmolested bikes…..and to those who possess the parts in dated packaging….. And….. to the hundreds who supplied those parts as I required them, I offer even more thanks.
Now back to the actual building of this bike…. The bike is quite along in its build progress as I type. I did however, document most of the build. The pic posted below is of the completed build of the transmission as finished per documentation available. The white painted side cover on the transmission is about the only other detail I did not show in picture form in the trans build topic link above. Engine pics are to follow, and as this topic progresses, are not as detailed as the transmission build is. I did not do a thorough account of the engine build as I did with the transmission build. I have documented the engine build enough to satisfy me though. I assumed, after I did the transmission build, that someone else would do a thorough engine build topic to match my transmission build topic. Alas….That did not materialize.
Anyhow….I am not finished with the bike build but will present to
you what has been accomplished and what is still in limbo. Hope you all enjoy. Pa