Black Beauty

Article By: GTP

Photos By: Chris Callen

Originally Published In The April 2018 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Just because you want a nice old bike doesn’t mean you have to have a 100 % restoration. Sure, when you’re tryin’ to win trophies an over the top restoration would be in order. However, what if it’s just a bike you have and you’re more worried about riding it rather than impressing some goon with a checklist and a microscope. In this case, you should take a good long look at what you have and choose where you want to spend your money to make the bike nice enough for the road. This was a situation that Jeff “Tennessee” Allen found himself in with this beautiful 1941 WL. Jeff got this bike as a means to seal a deal a couple of years ago. It really wasn’t something Jeff was too into but if it came with a deal that he was already working on, he figured why not grab it and do something with it. Jeff took the bike to his shop, and then decided what his attentions would be focused on and what to leave alone. The bike was originally an 80’s build and is basically a hodgepodge of different parts. Jeff steered his way through everything to find as many original parts as possible.


Although the bike would have probably run in its  current condition Jeff decided to rebuild the top end and would leave the bottom end untouched. As Jeff stated “…it’s a 45 and if something goes wrong, it goes wrong with those bottom ends. As long as it spins free, doesn’t have excessive end play and doesn’t make a lot of noise your good.” While Jeff was rebuilding the motor from the base gaskets up he removed the tins and gave them to John Dills for a quick spray of black paint. While this was going on Jeff rebuilt the cylinders, pistons and went for a total head rebuild while they were off. The Linkert carb was also in need of a rebuild, and it was outfitted with all the new parts that were needed to make the old flatty purr. He also started to gather all the trim for the bike and even scored some NOS trim mounts for the front and rear trim.

John Bordass was given the task of restoring the speedometer, and Wayne Haggler of Heathers Leathers recovered the seat and saddlebags (not shown). When he was addressing the electrical system, he got a real surprise. Jeff found that the original clothe wiring harness was in good shape and completely usable and that the generator was still charging after all those years. With the addition of only a stock HD battery and fluid changes, the bike fired. With all the parts back from their respective craftsmen Jeff and his pals assembled what they had to. Then they started the arduous task of getting it running, which according to Jeff required one prime kick and one with the ignition on and she fired right up and ran just fine. I asked Jeff about his rolling gear, and he stated that the tires that are on it are as they came, and he thinks they even have original tubes in them.


Apparently, it runs and rides fine and he has put a few thousand miles on it without incident. So, the next time you are faced with a similar project, take your time and choose your direction. If you go the restoration route, gut the bike and take out a second mortgage and get to it. If you decide to just enjoy the bike on the road for your own gratification, you might want to choose your repairs carefully and get yourself onto a runner that doesn’t break the bank. Either way, you choose, you should consider yourself happy to have a bike like Jeff’s. “GTP”

Black Beauty Tech Sheet

Owner: Jeff Allen

City/State: Sylva, NC

Builder: Jeff Allen

Year: 1941

Model: Harley-Davidson WL




Year: 1941

Model: WL

Builder: Jeff Allen

Ignition: Harley-Davidson Points

Displacement: 45ci

Pistons: NOS Harley-Davidson

Heads: Harley-Davidson #6

Carb: Linkert M51

Cam: 4 Harley-Davidson

Air Cleaner: 7” H-D J Slot

Exhaust: 2 Into 1 With Muffler

Primary: Dramond Chain


Year: 1941

Make: Harley-Davidson

Shifting: 3 Speed Tank Shift


Year: 1941


Model: WL

Rake: Stock

Stretch: None

Front end

Type: Springer

Builder: Harley-Davidson


Triple trees:


Front: Harley-Davidson Stock

Size: 16”


Front brake: Harley-Davidson Stock

Rear: Star Hub

Size: 16”

Tire: Shinko

Rear Brake: Harley-Davidson Drum


Painter: Dills Paintworks

Color: Black


Graphics: None

Chroming: Harley-Davidson Stock


Bars: H-D Hollywood

Risers: None

Hand controls: Harley-Davidson

Foot controls: Harley-Davidson

Gas Tank(s): Harley-Davidson

Oil Tank: Harley-Davidson

Front fender: Harley-Davidson

Rear Fender: Harley-Davidson

Seat: Heather’s Leathers

Tail light: Harley-Davidson

Speedo: Harley-Davidson

Photographer: Chris Callen

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