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The Harley Davidson WL. Still enchanting

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There was a story in the corridors that Indian built the better motorcycles, but that Harley-Davidson had the most successful sellers. Harley-Davidson's WLA and WLC models, the 'Liberators' have become 'the' Harleys in our collective memory.


The machines arrived in shiploads to Europe taken hostage by the Germans. There are about 80.000 pieces made of it. The Harley's were too heavy and too low for the battlefield. They were used for ordonnans and police use. That did wonders for their chances of survival and we are still reaping the benefits.

The Harley-Davidson WL was the first Harley-Davidson with an oil cycle system. The oil supply was in the right half of the tank. That was a considerable improvement on the 'total loss' lubrication system used for this. Relatively many Harley-Davidson WLA and WLC engines can be found in the Netherlands. The Americans sent them en masse this way. When peace broke out, the Maaskant company bought all the engines and parts present at the scrap price of 13 cents.

The 'Maaskant Harleys' were born from those enormous stocks. These were army models that were 'banned'. In the sixties, the 45 CUi (750 cc) machines had degenerated into transport for the poor, such as students and braided reinforcing bars. Post-war civilian Harley-Davidson WL are much rarer. Because they were very expensive here.

In civilian costume
Until the sixties you bought a, usually 'bourgeois' WLA or WLC for amounts up to around 300 guilders. But the post-war purchase of an ordinary, civilian, Harley-Davidson WL? You had to take serious money for that. That was a machine for governments, a ferry doctor or a sporting notary.

Moreover, such a Harley-Davidson WL burger is not 'pinched', like the WLA and WLC engines. The civilian models had a venturi with a passage of 1-1 / 6 inch, which is about 3 mm larger than the military models. And that 3 mm more diameter makes the passage of the circle approximately 20% larger.

But with a compression of (optionally 1 on 5 or 1 on 6) that does not make a racehorse of such a Harley-Davidson WL. With the aluminum cylinder heads you can easily read the compression ratio because it is smashed on the side of the head. The military Harleys are usually calculated at around twenty + hp. The civilian models on a pkaatje or 23. But at the cutting edge, a Harley-Davidson WL citizen is slightly less unsuitable for motorway use than a WLA or WLC.

The WLD was just a little faster and was therefore much more pleasant in traffic even at that time. A machine that has been converted to WLD or WLDR specifications does that too.

Consult here for your local side valve specialist

The 'updates' to make such a meanwhile at least 60 + compatible with current traffic usually consist of replacing the venturi in the carburetor, the flushing of the heads, making 'flow channels' in the cylinders, widening from the intake side, the fitting of other camshafts and adjustments to the exhaust system plus the fitting of an electronic ignition. And that without much to see on the outside.

Of course, such an upgraded piece of 'Milwaukee Iron' remains a more than dated engine. That is precisely his charm. But it is becoming considerably more traffic-friendly, more employable. And that is very beautiful.


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Harley Davidson WL

Harley Davidson WL

Harley Davidson WL

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  1. The 61E, known as the 'Knucklehead', was the first pressurized HD in 1936.
    The side flaps, (45ci R and 74ci VL) follow in terms of styling and design that of the E a year later and were thus respectively. the W and U series.

    Why add a WL?
    Then buy a Sportster ...

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