Tree Money Knuck

Article By: GTP

Photos By: Chris Callen

Originally Published In The January 2019 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

Some days are just better than others. Some days are spent stubbing your toes and finding yourself standing in a field cursing the sky; while others are spent lookin’ at this beautiful Knucklehead and spending time talking to Tim and Susie Wilmoth about the odyssey they took to create what you are looking at now. Today was a good day. In the summer of 1990, a friend gave Tim a lead on an 80” Flathead that a guy supposedly had. It was supposed to be somewhere back in the rural countryside that Tim was originally from, Charlotte County Va. With not much info, he set out to see if he could locate the bike and after a half day or so of searching he actually got to talk to the owner. The old fella told Tim that the bike was, sure enough, sitting in a building at his house but money couldn’t buy it. The story was that after WWII he and his best friend had each bought a Flathead, pretty much just alike, and that one day while they were out riding his buddy was killed in an accident. Of course, he was keeping his bike as a reminder of his friend. Tim understood where the man was coming from so; he headed on back home empty-handed. While driving back, Tim thought he’d ride by a guy’s place that he knew owned a Knuckle. However he had always declined any offers to sell it. Well, Tim figured that as long as he was passing through the area anyway, what could it hurt to ask one more time. Tim saw the guy alongside the road, in a recently planted tobacco field laying out irrigation pipe. He pulled over and preceded to hoof it on over to where they were working. “Billy,” he said, “You ready to sell that ‘ol Knuckle?”. Of course, he was shocked when the guy said: “Yea man, I’m in a little bind, and I’m ready to let it go”: And a deal was struck right then and there.

The project didn’t start right away; it sat in the shed for a while. Tim finally took it apart to see what he did and didn’t have to work with and started acquiring parts here and there. Originally, he had planned to go back to stock, but after looking around, all the “stock” Knuckles started to look the same. The decision was made to go a little more custom, but he did want to stay with the rocker clutch and tank shift set-up. Tim found a ’47 Knuckle frame that someone, back in the day, had cut the seat post and spread the rails so they could get a Panhead and all other “unnecessary” mounts were removed. Gary Woodford of Milwaukee Iron worked his magic on it and made it whole and roadworthy again. The Knuckle springer was assembled with various parts found here and there at swap meets and pieces purchased from friends, and friends of friends. The 61” engine was completely gone through and now has S & S internals that along with the bore on the cylinders makes it somewhere around 68 cubic inches. When it came to paint, the frame was coated with gloss black Imron. The sheet metal is covered in Xotic red candy over metallic gold and HOK snow white shimmering with two light coats of white pearl and gold striping. Tim shot all of it in the lawn mower shed at his house. After sweeping out the grass, and spraying it down with a water hose, he fired up the compressor.

The seat rail was an afterthought. While out riding one day and running through the gears pretty hard, the shift to third slid him right off the seat and onto the fender. He had been thinking about doing one of those cupped, deep radius seats but then the idea hit him for the seat rail which most all of them had years ago. So he welded up some round stock got Hanlon platers, at a local company, to soak it in some shiny stuff. It works well and seems to blend in with the bike pretty good. They didn’t have a big budget for the bike, none actually, so they would save a little and buy a part or a tool as it went along and then would put something back for the next piece. Tim used to climb and trim or take down trees for people locally, on the side, and most of his “tree money” went into the bike. Every birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas…there was always something there for the Knuckle. He remembered one Christmas  in particular that his wife Susie had come across a rare AEE cast aluminum snoot/rock guard from a friend of theirs and got it for him. It caps off the old Linkert perfectly. It was a labor of love that took, off and on, right around 16 years to complete. Tim has always thought the “Knucklehead” was the best-looking engine Harley ever produced and says it’s a blast to ride, but the biggest reward comes when someone looks it over and says ‘Man, that sure is pretty.’ “ Tim and his wife Susie have an attitude that I wish more had when it comes to a build. Although finances were slight at times, their patience and commitment held fast. This perfectly executed Knuck was built from the love of the bike, not for dollar signs or celebrity. Today was a good day.

TREE MONEY KNUCK TECH SHEET

Owner: Tim & Susie Wilmoth

City/State: Amelia C.H. Va.

Builder: Owner & Friends

Year:1947

Model: EL Knucklehead

Time:16 Years Off & On

Value: Doesn’t Matter

Engine:

Year:1947

Model: EL

Builder: Our Buddy Steve (Rip)

Ignition: 12v Points/Auto Advance

Displacement: 68”

Pistons/Flywheels: S&S

Heads: Harley-Davidson

Cylinders: Harley-Davidson

Carburetor: Linkert M-36

Cam:S&S

Air Cleaner: Aee Rock Guard

Exhaust: Paughco

Primary: V-Twin

Transmission:

Year:1947

Make: Harley-Davidson

Shifting: 4 Speed Tank Shift/ Rocker Clutch

Frame:

Year: 1947 Harley-Davidson

Make: Knuckle

Rake: 30°

Stretch: None

Forks:

Make: Harley-Davidson

Type: Springer

Extension: Stock

Wheels:

Front Wheel: 21”

Tire: Avon

Brake:

Rear Wheel: 16”

Tire: Avon

Brakes: Mechanical Drum

Paint:

Painter: Owner

Color: Red Candy Over Gold

Type: Xotic/Hok

Graphics: Panels & Pinstripes

Chroming:Brown’s/Hanlon

Accessories:

Bars: V-Twin

Risers: Paughco

Hand Controls: V-Twin/Harley-Davidson

Foot Controls: V-Twin/Harley-Davidson

Gas Tanks: V-Twin

Oil Tank: Paughco

Front Fender: Where?

Rear Fender: Swap Meet

Seat: Paughco Velocipede

Headlight: Swap Meet

Tail Light: Swap Meet

Speedo: V-Twin

PHOTOGRAPHER: Chris Callen

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