Busted Knuckle By Ben Jordan

Featured in the May 2015 Issue Of Cycle Source

Article By: Roadside Marty Photos By:Carsten Fritzen

Feature 1a

When you ask most bikers what their favorite Harley engine is most of them will say either a Panhead or Shovelhead and for a few it may be the Evo or possibly a Flathead but for quite a few the gleam and excitement in their eyes and voices will tell you that the crown jewel would be a Knucklehead! Just the word can start many conversations on how much that individual has always wanted one or knew someone that had one and how much they loved it. At the time Harley debuted the first Knucklehead for the 1936 model year America was still a bit bruised and battered from a number of experiences that only proved how strong we were as a nation, everything from prohibition, World War 1 and the Great Depression all made up the resolve that America is known around the world for. Well Harley Davidson was no different. From 1936 to 1947 Harley produced the Knucklehead in many forms just as they have with some of their other models, everything from police units, military purposes to civilian models, the Knucklehead saw it all. Granted there were a few problems in the beginning that gave the new OHV motor a bit of a reputation but as usual the Factory corrected those shortcomings and for the record many believe that a rush to production to outdo their bitter rival of the day Indian Motorcycle Co, was the main reason for most of these early problems. I’ve heard many people say that they don’t see many Knuckles either on the road or even in museums and I believe that one of the reasons for this to be that the actual production numbers for the entire 11 year run were for the most part very low. That coupled with the 70’s Chopper craze really took a toll on most of them. Ben Jordan was one of those bikers that had always wanted a Knucklehead but never seemed to be able to find one so you can imagine his surprise after looking for one for 10 years he finally scored one at a local bike show in Charlotte N.C. You see Ben lives in a small town called Waxhaw in the great state of North Carolina where he runs an industrial paint business that specializes in painting OEM manufactured parts for companies like Caterpillar, Freightliner and John Deere to name a few. As director of operations Ben feels that you should support your country by buying USA goods whenever you can! Like most people building bikes started out as a hobby and Ben says he still does this for fun which is why he says he only builds one or two bikes a year, always one at a time in his garage like he always has. He’s been known to build a few for friends but for the most part he builds and rides them for a while and then puts them up for sale to help with the next build. He says he hates to work on a build so long only to give it up as soon as it’s done. I first met Ben at a pre Smokeout party hosted by Ian Staudt of Bad Monkey Motorworks in Columbia SC. He was on one of CYCLE SOURCE May ‘15 53 those builds that he was planning to sell and I could tell he was a solid dude who had a helluva eye on what works and what doesn’t. Ben’s not the kind of guy who sets up at shows but the local show where he scored this Knuckle had a small meet that he and a few buddies set up at to sell some parts and swag, they got there early to set up and as they were unloading a few Shovels and his Pan he noticed an older graybeard watching them who also had a booth with a few older parts but mostly had stock take offs. Shortly thereafter Ben said he rolled an older looking bike from his trailer when walked over to take a look he was blown away…a 47 Knuckle in a real deal Knuckle frame…THE HOLY GRAIL!!!! The graybeard saw Ben looking at it and smiled and when Ben asked if it was for sale he replied “The Good Lord told me that if I brought this bike out here today that I would sell it. He also told that you were the one that was going to buy it when I saw you looking at it!” So after a bit of back and forth with the ol boy Ben came away with this baby for a decent price!

Feature 1b

Ben decided to go a different route with this bike once he got it home, instead of chopping it he started researching how to do a restoration but decided that a full restoration wasn’t what he was after. At that point he joined the AMCA and after seeing the detail that some of the guys were putting into their bikes he stepped up the game and found the correct 47 frame in California and since the 46, 47 and 48 models had an offset springer that’s what had to be used. One was sourced in Connecticut while the rest of what was needed came from friends as well as various swap meets and Ebay. One friend that Ben was definitely lucky to have was Matt McManus who gave up his own bobbed 47 Knuckle as a reference point, I’d like to take a moment and agree with Ben in regards to Matt who sold me the heads on my own 46 a few years back, he is a vast wealth of knowledge and has a large collection of hard to find parts. Once Ben began to assemble the bike with the correct OEM parts and hardware he wanted it close to original but he wanted the bike to have a little attitude as well as character. For instance the bars which are actually made up of three sets of OEM bars, two sets of Panhead bars and a top clamp from a set of Knucklehead bars. Our very own Kevin “Teach” Baas hooked Ben up with one of his sweet rippled wheel covers, while Lock Baker is responsible for that incredible taillight! The motor was actually toast when Ben originally got it so he had Ben’s V-Twin do their magic, which included a set of 80” Truett and Osborn flywheels as well as a nice Andrews cam that gives this baby a little get up and go. With the stellar reputation that Ben’s V-Twin has I’m sure she’s rock solid, those Carolina boys know a thing or two about horsepower that’s for damn sure! The incredible paint job was done by Ryan Young at Indocil Art and Design and along with the rest of the gloss black pieces it really grabs your eye! Michael Lewis from Violent Choppers laid that sweet shift knob on Ben and he says it’s one of his favorite pieces on the bike. For some people in the motorcycle community the term “period correct” really irritates them but for me this bike embraces that timeless period of custom bikes that was created mainly by returning veterans from WW2 and lasted until the mid to late sixties, bikes that utilized mainly stock or slightly modified Harley parts that provided the owner the ability to make his or her bike their own and not sacrifice function over form. I think Ben did an outstanding job with this bike and I’m thankful that I was able to write this feature, I certainly hope y’all enjoy reading it as I did writing it!!

Feature 1c

Owner: Ben Jordan
City: Waxhaw, NC
Fabrication By: Ben Jordan
Year: 1947
Make: Harley Davidson
Model: Knucklehead
Value: You Tell Me
Time: 2 Years
Year: 1947
Model: Knucklehead
Builder: Harley Davidson
Ignition: Points
Displacement: 80
Pistons: S&S
Heads: Harley Davidson
Cam(s): Andrews
Carb: Linkert
Air Cleaner: Roth
Exhaust: Jordan Designs
Primary: Primo, Harley Davidson
Year: 1947
Make: Harley Davidson
Gears: Tank
Year: Late 47
Make: Harley Davidson
Rake: The Leaves
Stretch: In The Morning
Type: Springer
Builder: Harley Davidson
Triple Trees: What ??
Front Wheel: Harley Davidson
Size: 19”
Front Tire: Avon MKII
Front brake: Harley Davidson
Rear Wheel: Harley Davidson
Size: 16”
Rear Tire: Avon MKII
Rear Brake: Harley Davidson Drum
Painter: Indocil Art & Design
Color: Black
Type: PPG
Graphics: Indocil Art & Design
Molding: On The House?
Chroming: Not Much
Bars: Jordan Designs
Hand Controls: Harley Davidson
Gas Tank(s): 47 Only Harley Davidson
Seat: Emore Leather
Foot Controls: Harley Davidson
Oil Tank: Harley Davidson
Headlight: Unity
Taillight: Eastern Fab
Speedo: Harley Davidson
Photographer: Carsten Fritzen

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