Black Dog 1931 VL

Article By: George The Painter

Photos By: Melissa Shoemaker

Originally Published In The March 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

During the Lonestar Rally, Galveston TX, November 1-4 2018, Copyright Melissa Shoemaker

It’s the fear of the unexpected that gets you when you hear your phone ringin’ a little too late and a little too close to deadline. You know it’s the call from the higherups as their airborne fortress circles the globe. A calamity of some sort has befallen a previous plan, and you need to get 6-800 words done “…like yesterday man.” That’s when the fear crawls in. There is an email waiting for you containing the bike that you need to focus on to create a spread that will both dazzle and impress. Your brain goes straight to full panic as your finger hangs over your mouse poised to open as you pray, each time, that whatever lies on the other side isn’t as bad as your fear has led you to believe it is. In nanoseconds, you will look at a bike and speak to its maker at length whether you like what it and he represents or not. Oh, and it must read like it’s the greatest thing to hit the road since Johnny Chops “True Blue.” With a simple click, your life for the next couple of hours is going to be an exercise in literary restraint or something and someone you can honestly gush over. “…3…2…1… click…

During the Lonestar Rally, Galveston TX, November 1-4 2018, Copyright Melissa Shoemaker
During the Lonestar Rally, Galveston TX, November 1-4 2018, Copyright Melissa Shoemaker

Hallelujah and pass the potatoes! My life hit an uptick as my eyes gathered all the coolness they sent me this month. Thanks, you giants of the publishing industry, I am once again your obedient minion. I bow my head in humility. Looking at the bike, I knew I liked the man. The tech sheet says it’s a 1931 VL, but in actuality, it’s a culmination of some really cool parts surrounding the very cool VL motor. I got on the phone lookin’ forward to flappin’ gums with the owner/builder Dennis Wise. Dennis hails from Galveston Texas and has probably forgotten more about bikes than most of us will ever know about old iron and the parts that make them up. He’s been buyin’ and sellin’ parts forever, and the bike you see here is just a good old swap meet special. It was pieced together from parts Dennis collected when wandering around the Pasadena Swap Meet not too long ago.

During the Lonestar Rally, Galveston TX, November 1-4 2018, Copyright Melissa Shoemaker
During the Lonestar Rally, Galveston TX, November 1-4 2018, Copyright Melissa Shoemaker

The frame started as a chopperized Knucklehead frame – 1940 vintage. Dennis and his friend Kushde Farina (please excuse the spelling, I’m a writer, not a speller) straightened, reattached the tabs and finally removed the pie-wedge rake job bringing the frame back to something resembling stock. The same went for the offset 45” springer. It was bought at a swap meet and repaired as needed. The rolling stock are off an ’07 and incorporates that year disc brake set up adapted to the Knucklehead frame. No front brake is used, keepin’ it simple. The motor is also a swap meet score. Dennis bought it completely rebuilt from Big Greg of MC Creations. Dennis says that the motor has performed flawlessly, the only trouble he had has been a blown head gasket he got racing a Twin- Cam, which he won after running the intersection!

 

Set in behind that VL motor rests a 1956 Panhead four-speed ratchet top tranny, another swap meet score. Dennis runs a sprocket ratio that operates the trans as it did originally, first through third leaving the fourth gear as an overdrive numerically allowing the bike to carry him at freeway speeds. A set of ’66 fat bob tanks were used. He converted the left tank to an oil tank to feed the constant loss motor. The pressure plunger was removed from an original oil-side tank and silver soldered into the new tank. Just three pumps will get you started, and additional pumps are added when you hear an engine noise “you’re not familiar with.” How cool is that?! Dennis retired in 2010 and is always collecting parts. He is now the caretaker for “The Horde.” The Horde is a parts stash that has been assembled over the years to help fellas keep their old iron running. To put it as Dennis did, “…to keep a brother on the road.”

During the Lonestar Rally, Galveston TX, November 1-4 2018, Copyright Melissa Shoemaker
During the Lonestar Rally, Galveston TX, November 1-4 2018, Copyright Melissa Shoemaker

If your bike is down and you need parts from the stash and are worthy, you can use the parts stash through Dennis. If for some reason motorcycles fall out of favor in your life you better to be ready to return ‘em along with the parts you bought for them. Dennis is the kind of guy that still lives up to what a grey beard should be. He’s one of the tough-as-nails bikers that looks to keep his brothers on the road while swimming neck deep in his passion for bikes and building them. It’s not often that you meet someone with old fashion biker values in both the bikes he builds and the way he helps others he respects. He seems to be a holdout from some mystical time of old, where money is never as important as brotherhood and brotherhood doesn’t come right away. It was a pleasure!

During the Lonestar Rally, Galveston TX, November 1-4 2018, Copyright Melissa Shoemaker

BLACK DOG TECH SHEET

Owner: Dennis Wise

City/State: Galveston, Tx

Builder: Dennis Wise

Year: 1931

Model: Harley Davidson VL

Value: “How Much You Got”?

Time: 10 Months

Engine

Year: 1931

Model: Harley-Davidson VL

Builder: MC Creations/Big Greg

Ignition: Points

Displacement: 74ci

Pistons: Stock

Heads: Stock

Carb: Mikuni

Cam: Stock

Air Cleaner: Swap Meet

Exhaust: Swap Meet

Primary: Belt Drive

Transmission

Year: 1956

Make: Panhead

Shifting: Heel Toe Clutch With A

Butt Scratcher

Frame

Year: 1940

Model: Knucklehead

Rake: Stock

Stretch: Stock

Forks

Builder: Harley-Davidson

Type: 45” Springer

Triple Trees:

Extension:

Wheels

Front Wheel:

Size: 21”

Tire:

Front Brake: No Front Brake

Rear Wheel:

Size: 16”

Tire:

Rear Brake: Disc

Paint

Painter: Rattle Can

Color: Black

Type:

Graphics:

Chroming:

Accessories

Bars: Ape Hangers

Risers: 4”

Hand Controls:

Foot Controls: Heel Toe Clutch

Gas Tank(S): 2 1966 Fat Bob Tanks

Oil Tank: Left Tank W/ Hand Oil Primer Pump

Front Fender: None

Rear Fender: Swap Meet

Seat: Swap Meet

Headlight: Swap Meet

Tail Light: Swap Meet

Speedo: None

Photographer: Melissa Shoemaker

One thought on “Black Dog 1931 VL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *