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Pa's 42WLA Build

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Pa

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Post Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:07 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Rich C wrote:Looks great! My scabbard is also missing the brass mounting strap- did you make it out of 3/16 brass rod? I have a friend here who is a super blacksmith but I don't know what size rod to start with. If anyone can measure an original one that would be great- but no hurry I am at least a year out! I still need to find tranny gears and flywheels- Doug at Santa Cruz shipped my cases today!


Actually Rich...I tried brass rod but my torch was to hot for the rod and the heat separated the elements of the brass rod to a point I could not go that route and the brass rod melted very quickly. What I ended up doing was sawing a length out of solid 1/4" thick brass flat stock. From the flat brass stock I was able to gently heat the brass flat stock, bent it on both ends, and then file away all the brass material I needed to remove in order to shape the loop to specs. I then layed it out to the holes in the scabbard, drilled the lop holes to rivet size and distance between each other. finished filing away material and sanded, and then riveted it to the scabbard. It was a tedious task to say the least. Riveting to the scabbard was a real task unto itself. I had to make up an anvil to fit inside the scabbard to press the rivets against. The home made anvil must fit the reinforcement sheet metal box within the scabbard because the lop rivets to both the reinforcement sheet metal box and the scabbard simultaneously. Aftermarket scabbards rivet the tie down strap loop using a washer [ called a burr ] at the peening end of the rivet. OEM rivet setting of the loop to the scabbard did not use a burr.
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Pa

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Post Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:10 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Well…………We are pretty much up to date as my 42WLA early type III sits right now. Pics below. I still need to decide on identification numbering, finish the right side saddlebag and or trade my WLC saddlebag for a WLA saddlebag, obtain a windshield and or parts, restore the legshields, maybe score a radio transmitter receiver, obtain a real Thompson [ of course de-milled ] and then fire her up.

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Pa

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Post Tue Jul 08, 2014 7:39 am

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Since I have a bunch of work to do on my WLA saddlebag, don’t have the windshield or windshield parts I still need, and have’nt restored my legshields yet, I am beginning to direct my attention to the military identification part of this WLA build. There is a lot of information to sift through and a whole lot more of information not to be found. Uncle Sam destroyed much of the war time data though much of the war data was passed over to the government archives. The government archives decided what to keep on record and what not to keep on record. The file below comes from AR 850-5. It is only one page of many in the AR 850-5 documentation. This page is a good start in the process of making a decision of what identity my WLA will end up with.

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The full documentation of AR 850-5 can be downloaded from the link below. It is a pdf file and can be saved to your computer.

http://www.steelsoldiers.com/upload/WW/AR-850-5.pdf
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john HD

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Post Wed Jul 09, 2014 4:52 am

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Pa,

looking good!

I think there was a lot of variance on how markings were applied or re-applied in the field.

here is a shot of the multiple stars i found on my original gas tank when i stripped the paint off.

john
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Pa

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Post Wed Jul 09, 2014 7:50 am

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Thank you John. Yes indeed. There where multiple variances in the stars and how the were placed on the bikes during the war, and where they were serving. Your tank is a perfect example of this fact. I've scrolled over hundreds of war photos which definitely prove that fact as well. As for the star on the tanks themselves, the solid star and the circle star, the circle star being the invasion star, I have found them painted on even under the shift gate. Military forces moved as needed and the theater of battle those forces moved too, dictated markings. I read there were even times when the stars were completely removed, not just on the WLA's but on tanks, jeeps, trucks, halftracks, etc., because the fear of being mistaken for the enemy could bring on friendly fire from the air. It seems pilots would think they saw the Nazi cross and not the star.
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45Brit

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Post Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:18 am

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

That's the reason for the black-and-white bars used on many planes - unambiguous. My father was in the 8th Army in Normandy and he always reckoned the inexperienced American fighter pilots, coupled with the incomplete liaison between ground forces and air forces, let alone between different command structures, were at least as dangerous as the Germans - who had almost no air forces functioning by this time.

The RAF had several years' worth of ground support experience, and experience always tells.

What I will say from personal knowledge is that colours fade when seen from the air, and things which look quite different from ground level look indistinguishable from high above and at high speed - imagine trying to distinguish between things while moving at 4-500 mph. Even the RAF had a number of instances of shooting up their own formations.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Pa

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Post Thu Jul 10, 2014 12:20 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

No doubt all forces were trigger happy. I would think you would have to be in order not to be the target first.
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ohio-rider

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Post Thu Jul 10, 2014 4:42 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Paul, your bike looks great. Do you remember me telling you a couple years ago that you we’re building a Mona Lisa and I had built a stick man? Looks like there isn’t much left for you to do but sign your art work. Hey, are you camping next week at Wauseon? I know you won’t miss the races. Look me up.
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45Brit

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Post Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:12 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Pa wrote:No doubt all forces were trigger happy. I would think you would have to be in order not to be the target first.


This is ancient history and few, if any on here can speak from experience but the Normandy campaign was fought at a time when information management was primitive and weapon systems still depended on personal observation.

My father and his brothers feared and distrusted the American military, and the reason was simple; the British Army had been in continuous action far longer, could no longer replace casualties and was reflective of a population who would conclusively reject their leadership at the first opportunity. They were, accordingly "risk averse" whereas the Americans were still prepared to take high levels of casualties and had seemingly unlimited supplies. I can't imagine Montgomery as an American figure, or Patton as a British one.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Pa

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Post Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:19 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

ohio-rider wrote:Paul, your bike looks great. Do you remember me telling you a couple years ago that you we’re building a Mona Lisa and I had built a stick man? Looks like there isn’t much left for you to do but sign your art work. Hey, are you camping next week at Wauseon? I know you won’t miss the races. Look me up.


I do remember Steve. :lol: Your 45 is a great build Bro. Don't try and get me to race mine up against yours. With all the military components, mine is like a turtle with a whale on its back. :wink: You know.....the little engine that could but can't. :lol: Hope to down a few beers with you at Wauseon.
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Pa

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Post Thu Jul 10, 2014 10:22 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

45Brit wrote:
Pa wrote:No doubt all forces were trigger happy. I would think you would have to be in order not to be the target first.


This is ancient history and few, if any on here can speak from experience but the Normandy campaign was fought at a time when information management was primitive and weapon systems still depended on personal observation.


And that is where the WLA came into play.
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45Brit

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Post Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:55 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

It's a really good restoration, for certain. Hats off to the level of detail (probably the white straw Stetson I bought while visiting my niece in Texas, under the circumstances)

I'd be curious to know what the US military actually used the WLA for. The British forces seem to have used them mainly for convoy escort, outriders for senior officers in rear areas and military police patrols (particularly the RAF). Despatch Riders seem to have been of no real use to the BEF, and motorcycles lacked tbe endurance to be of any independent use in the desert. The Russians seemed to prefer the Jeep, for fairly obvious reasons.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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john HD

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Post Fri Jul 11, 2014 4:10 am

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

45 Brit,

Here in Wisconsin on the home front they used the wla and big twins to patrol the perimeter of the Badger army ammunition plant. The first photo shows civilan guards using army equipment.

Interesting detail, the windshield has the rubber edging, not commonly seen in many vintage photos. I wonder if anyone could decode the unit markings on the rear fender.

john
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45Brit

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Post Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:46 am

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

The RAF used them for airfield perimeter patrol, I believe. The Army regarded them highly for convoy escort because they were better suited to running at very low speeds for long periods than the British machines.

The RAF also had most of the Indians supplied to the UK for "home front" use. The Canadians also brought them in but seem to have replaced them with WL series wherever possible.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Pa

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Post Fri Jul 11, 2014 5:52 am

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

If anyone could decode the markings, Johan of the following website most likely can. Johan has done extensive research on the WLA and WLC models.

http://www.theliberator.be/indexmenu.html

Johan is always willing to help with questions as well.

The U.S. Army used them as the Brits used them. Dispatch riders were probably in the most danger though. Portable radio transmission was limited to 5 miles so dispatch riders carried messages and orders to the front and beyond. Roads could not be used in many dispatch duties due to the messages that were carried. Off road was where the WLA came in to play. The WLA was the dirt bike of the war. It could and did take a beating from the terrain of the European continent.
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Pa

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Post Fri Jul 11, 2014 8:13 am

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Johan has extensive markings data on the following page link of his website. Johan explains the identification of those markings as well.

http://www.theliberator.be/liberator1.htm

For unit identification markings, see the following website page. It is very helpful in identifying markings on U.S. military vehicles, including motorcycles.

http://www.lonesentry.com/panzer/jeep-markings.html
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45Brit

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Post Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:51 am

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

I've always thought that the Motor Company knew exactly what it was doing when it ignored the military specification and offered the WL as a 45" twin. It was probably the most highly developed bike of its type in the world, better than the German sidevalves twins and far ahead of the British SV engines which hadn't been meaningfully developed since the introduction of the ohv engine.

The BMW R75 was a better bike but expensive to make

There are some configurations which are just "right" and the medium-weight 45" v-twin is one of them. Harley have obviously had the same idea! Look at the success to this day of the Sportster, which is far closer to the 4-cam flatheads, than the modern Twin-cam is to the Knucklehead.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Pa

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Post Fri Jul 11, 2014 12:13 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Cost per bike came into play as well. The U.S. Navy preferred Big Twin flatties over the 45's, yet I do have a photograph of my Dad on a 45 in the Navy at Pearl Harbor.

You are spot on. The four cam engines have a long life from the 45 to the Sportster models. In fact, the K model flathead evolved from the 45 and the Sportster evolved from the K model. The motor company definitely got something right.

The Germans though considered their motorcycles offensive weaponry, else they would not have utilized sidecars with heavy weapons on board.
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45Brit

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Post Fri Jul 11, 2014 7:18 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

Personally, I think the 45 was/is a better bike than the Big Twin flathead; they were a dead end technology when built, and the Chief didn't save Indian, did it? The Motor Company were spot on in developing the Big Twin as an ohv design.

If you want a proof if the essential "rightness" of the configuration, look at the huge success which the Japanese manufacturers have had with v-twins in the 500cc-800cc range; not only cruisers, but mainstream bikes like the Suzuki SV650 and the Honda VT. I once owned a 750cc Moto Guzzi v-twin which was very nice.

It's interesting to compare the BMW R75 with the 45. The R75 also formed the basis of a very successful and long-lived range of machines which are still in production. It's sidecar-wheel-drive was far superior to the crude British attempts, and I've never understood why the Germans produced the VW, which was plain wierd by the standards of the day, especially if you look at Citroen's pioneering work with fwd and the hugely successful "Traction Avant"

I've always had a soft spot for the 45 and I'm pleased these old monsters are still among us in such numbers.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Pa

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Post Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:33 pm

Re: Pa's 42WLA Build

As for WLA duties and what not. This WLA rider had an exciting day. Compliments of my dear friend Johan from http://www.theliberator.be/indexmenu.html

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