Success stories are great and they’re the stories everybody wants to be able to tell. Racing is a test, with racers pushing their machines to the limit in order to get a passing mark. After all, almost setting a record is the same as not setting a record. Sometimes you win, but sometimes one of thousand things that could go wrong does go wrong, and you don’t. It’s how you deal with that situation that shows your measure as a racer. Will you consider a loss to be a defeat, or will you pick yourself up and look forward to the next opportunity to win.
Here is a letter from John Endrizzi from the Joe Taylor Racing Team to Eric Wangen, the S&S product line manager for Flathead Power®. Eric provided support to the team by sending some much needed FHP engine parts the build the knucklehead race engine.
Hi Eric, I wish to send a very big thank you for all you have done in getting the Joe Taylor Racing Team off the ground. Without the S&S FHP sponsorship, our Land Speed Racing efforts would be dead. There was a whirlwind of activity at Terry Spears Gunners Cycle shop in Webster Wi. prior to BUB. Most of the fabrication on “The Goose” (formerly EL Bonnie Knuck) had been completed over the winter months. Lee Wickstrom had a full plate when he stepped up to do our motor build. He spent many hours wrenching after he should have been home with his wife. We took delivery of the motor about 12 days before taking off for Bonneville. We had arranged to do Dyno testing at Fairbault HD. The dyno operator called the day before we completed the bike to say that he had blown up the dyno. I made a frantic call to my friend Pat Lehmann who is the dyno tech at Rochester HD. He volunteered to run The Goose at the dealership on his day off. A baseline was established and the bike loaded up, leaving for Wendover two days later. A blown out trailer tire made the trip extra exciting! I flew out and joined the Team on Sat, Aug 25. We spent Sat and much of Sunday preparing The Goose for tech. After passing tech Sunday afternoon we had a freak thunderstorm, which left 2 inches of standing water on the Salt. Racing resumed Tuesday morning! We made our first pass that day after waiting in the starting queue for over 4 hours. By the time Terry set off from the starting line a very brisk crosswind had come up. He found the bike being blown from one side of the course almost hitting a marker flag on the opposite side. This was in the measured mile. He backed off the throttle. Later, he said that he was at 1/2 throttle and accelerating when the gust of wind hit him. The result was 115.929 mph. This was enough to break the Sid Biberman Vincent’s standing record of 109.079. By the time that we got the bike back to the pit, the wind speed had not died at all. It was decided not to make the return pass, which would be needed to post a new record. The next morning it was another long wait for our turn to run. Terry got off the line in good fashion and the bike sounded good thru 1-3rd gears. At the top of third, a little change in the motors rhythm was heard. While on the way down the return road, we heard the announcer say that our bike had run 59 MPH! Once back at the pit we found the rear cylinder had a holed piston. That was end of racing for The Goose! As I write this, the motor is still together. We are taking the motor down to Lee’s Speed Shop tomorrow for teardown. We suspect that the hole was NOT caused by a lean or detonation condition. More on this when we are finished with the examination. Well that’s a brief run down. I’m thinking of making a scouting trip to Wilmington, Ohio on Sept 29-30 for the ECTA Throttle Nation Bike only Land Speed Races. This would be in preparation for running The Goose there next April. We are down right now, but far from out! Thanks again Eric!
John K. Endrizzi, Joe Taylor, and Terry Spears
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 w/ sidecar ironically were 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 the big twin flatties, the bike would have to be a replica of one of these rare 1942 models.
Built and painted by Bonneville Record Holder, Dan Kinsey, of S&S® Cycle.Diving into the historical archives and internet pages filled with nose cone art and pin-up babes, very little on the U.S. Army U models could be found. Not wanting to give up on the project, we did the next best thing, duplicate what we knew of the 45" WLA models to create our own WLA/U 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” (an S&S built U model flathead bobber style motorcycle) bike and repainting it in olive drab green. 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 model and 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.
Jumping in on the replica rage, Marketing Director Gary Wenzel went so far as ordering a replica Tommy gun to fill the empty 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 Calvary) and the vehicle designation; FHP 1 of course! After three months of hard work and research, the 2012 Flathead Power display and pit bike is complete. This bike features Flathead Power heads, 80" cylinders, pistons, solid lifters and kicker cover. But this bike isn’t just for display – we’ve set it up with a foot shift and a hand clutch so our show staff can easily tool around the show grounds.
You'll can see this bike at these shows:
Perkiomen AMCA Swapmeet
Oley, PA - April 27-29
National Motorcycle Museum Show & Swapmeet
Anamosa, IA - June 1-3
J&P Open House
Anamosa, IA - June 23-24
Oshkosh Air show
Oshkosh, WI - July 23-29
Blackhawk Vintage Races & Swapmeet
Davenport, IA - Aug 31-Sept 2
The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry – Robert Burns
These words of wisdom can also be applied to hogs. Whether they are made of pork or steel. No matter how well you plan, something can still go wrong. That's also one of the variations of Murphy's law.
So why are we getting all literary and philosophical? Well we are trying to come to grips with a frustrating and disappointing situation. A short time ago we announced that Flathead Power® would have UL cylinders available at this time. Well, we don't have them yet.
Like many companies in our industry, S&S isn’t immune to vendor delays. Oddly enough, this is a sign of economic recovery. Several of our vendors have seen an upturn in the economy and have had to go from a minimal inventory, survival mode to an "I need it yesterday" mode, and it takes time to ramp up. We are working with our vendors to rectify the situation, but we do not want to rush things and make a bad situation worse with quality issues. Any part we sell under the S&S or Flathead Power brands has to be of world-class quality.
This all has been really disappointing to us, and to our customers who have been patiently (mostly) waiting for us to deliver quality replacement cylinders. The delay (4 to 6 weeks) is unfortunate and we apologize for any inconvenience. Just know that S&S is committed to customer satisfaction. If we need to make the choice of disappointing a customer now with late delivery, or disappointing him/her later with poor quality, we will choose to take the time to do things right.
High performance v-twin engine manufacturer, S&S Cycle Inc. announced that they have received the coveted "Engine of the Year" award for the new KN-Kone engine, at a ceremony held during the V-Twin Expo in Cincinnati, Ohio. The award was given at a ceremony on Saturday evening February 6, at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati. The KN-Kone engine is a new product sold under S&S' Flathead Power® brand of vintage engine parts.
Accepting the award for S&S and Flathead Power were S&S VP of Product Development Scott Sjovall, and Flathead Power product line manager Eric Wangen. Eric was the driving force behind designing the KN-Kone and getting it into production. When asked where the KN-Kone rated on a coolness scale of 1 to 10, Eric immediately replied, "It would at least be an 11!"
The V-Twin Expo is a three-day dealer-only show, which is presented by Paisano publications, the home of both V-Twin and Easy Riders Magazines. This is one of the largest, most important, and certainly the most historic shows in the v-twin industry.
The KN-Kone is a cool combination that looks like a knucklehead top end grafted to an alternator style shovelhead crankcase. The result is a very unique retro looking engine that will drop into any 1970-'99 big twin chassis. It can be used in an earlier chassis if the longer late style transmission shaft is used. Klassic knuckle kool has the bright lights of an alternator charging system and the compatibility with the modern primary, clutch, and transmission goodies. The joins an extensive selection of high quality vintage engines and components in the Flathead Power product line.
One of the most popular features of the S&S website is the Flathead Power® forum. This surprises some people, but it doesn't surprise me. Flathead Power is S&S Cycle's brand for motorcycle vintage parts and since nobody throws a Harley® away, it makes sense that all those old bikes that are still out therewill eventually need to be fixed. S&S Cycle has been in business since 1958 and my father was making high performance parts on his own for years before that. As a result, we have a pretty good feel for "vintage". One thing we know for certain is that the guys who are into vintage motorcycles are "really" into them - bordering on fanatical. So it's no surprise to me that the forum is popular.
Those who have followed the vintage scene for a while will know that Flathead Power actually originated in Sweden. A gentleman named Anders Nygren was producing parts for flathead and knucklehead engines and gained quite a reputation for producing high quality performance and restoration parts. In the late 1990's Mr. Nygren formed a partnership in America so the parts could be manufactured in the USA. Unfortunately, that arrangement did not work out and in the end, the company went bankrupt. In July of 2007 S&S purchased the Flathead Power (FHP) brand name and intellectual property (trademarks, patents and designs) along with the remaining inventory of parts and tooling.
When S&S got all the material from FHP, it was not just a simple matter of resuming production. We needed to validate the quality of the parts, and in most cases improve the design and material. This is the same thing we do with all the parts S&S manufactures. S&S has always been driven by the need for quality, and the basis for quality is good design and sound engineering. That means we had to dot all the "i's" and cross all the "t's" to ensure that we could consistently make excellent parts time after time. In our plant we have state of the art CNC machining centers, which can rapidly and efficiently machine parts, with one part virtually identical to the next. The investment in time and effort to make sure that everything was right before those machines started making chips was job one.
This very necessary up-front work resulted in over a year's delay before we could actually begin to supply parts to satisfy the demand for quality vintage products. We introduced the KN-Series engines shortly after our 50th anniversary celebration in 2008, and of course if we can sell a complete engine, we can sell all the parts needed to build it. We've come a long way, but it's not over yet. Our next FHP product release is likely to be cylinders for big twin side valve UL engines, or flatheads as they are commonly called.
There is a strong demand for vintage motorcycle parts, and part of the reason is that there just weren't that many flatheads manufactured back in the 1930's and 40's. At least the number is not large by today's standards. Another reason is that back in the day, they weren't held in the reverence that they are today. They were just old motorcycles. Since the 4-9/32"stroke of a 74" UL motor was longer than the 3-31/32" stroke of the 74" knuckle or pan, it was common to take flywheels from UL engines and use them to build "stroker" knuckle and pan engines. According to some conversations we had with a couple of old timers at the Cincinnati Dealer Expo, the UL crankcases were just smashed with a sledgehammer to get the flywheels out. The rest of the motor was just thrown away. I'm not sure that's really true, but it makes a great story. It does make me cringe to think of what those engines would be worth today!
The popularity of the Flathead Power forum just goes to show that "vintage" never gets old.
Until next week . . .