Dan Kinsey aboard the S&S Flathead Power project.
Over the course of the next nine issues, IronWorks is pleased to bring you a series of articles from S&S highlighting bikes built with components from their Flathead Power division. Nothing’s cooler than keeping that old iron on the road, and we’ll show you the lengths to which S&S has always gone to test and prove their products—and better yet, how these components can be integrated into existing motorcycles to extend their serviceable lives. Look for a new bike in each issue; this time we have a conversation-starting 80” UL/WLA hybrid built as much for go as show. -ed.
S&S has a team capable of building any missing part. This is a portion of the military air cleaner system.
In 1942, Harley-Davidson made 462 U model motorcycles, 41 of which were slated for the U.S. Army. Harley-Davidson also produced 426 Sidecar versions for the U.S. Army, and these U Models with sidecars were ironically designated USA models. Since only the U.S. Military can make the great American icon more American, S&S decided to do a military motorcycle for the 2012 Flathead Power road tour. Long time S&S employee, Bonneville record holder, and military vehicle enthusiast Dan Kinsey jumped at the chance to work on this project.
Since the majority of our flathead parts are for Big Twin flatties (side valves to the real purists) the bike would have to be a replica of one of these rare 1942 models. Diving into the historical archives and numerous Internet pages filled with aircraft nose cone art and pinup babes yielded very little information on the U.S. Army U models. Not wanting to give up on the project, we did the next best thing: we duplicated what we knew of the 45” WLA models to create our own UL/WLA model hybrid. Some initial parts and a wealth of knowledge from our friends at WayBack Wheels got us well on our way.
Dan went to work stripping down the “F-Bobb” bike and repainting it in olive drab green. The F-Bobb was originally one of the KBobb bikes that S&S built in 2009 to promote the KN93 engines. This worked out well because the U-Series flatheads fit in the same frames as Knucklehead engines. Starting with cut down fenders, Dan created some parts from scratch and retro fitted other WLA model parts. Given that the WLA 45” engines used a three-bolt inlet flange on their smaller carb, we had to generate a 3D hybrid model in our CAD system. We then used that model to make a rapid prototype of the air inlet casting for the oil bath intake system. Our version has the U model four-bolt carb flange and with S&S being S&S, we just couldn’t resist adding the patented Stinger to the intake.
What outfit are you with soldier? The special designation lettering commemorates the founding of S&S in 1958 and the fact that Flathead Power is part of the S&S family, and it’s the S&S vintage brand.
Getting into the spirit of the thing, Marketing Director Gary Wenzel went so far as to order a replica Tommy gun for the scabbard.
The designation lettering is even unique to Flathead Power and S&S. On the rear fender, the division designation uses the S&S founding year, 1958, in the call out AGF-58C (Army Ground Forces, 58th Cavalry) and the vehicle designation; FHP 1 is, of course, self-explanatory!
After three months of research and hard work, the 2012 Flathead Power display and pit bike was complete. This bike features Flathead Power heads, 80” cylinders, pistons, solid lifters and kicker cover. The rest of the engine is mostly stock components. If you’re thinking “So what, another display bike,” this bike isn’t just for show; it’s a runner. Our show staff routinely takes a putt around the grounds at any event they attend, partly to attract attention, but mostly just for the fun of it. It never fails to turn heads.
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