Today was the first time in at least 35 years since I have visited the York PA Harley-Davidson facility. I was limited to a morning visit and it was packed then, so I can only imagine how the rest of the day went…
Established as an assembly facility in 1973, Harley-Davidson Vehicle Operations in York, PA assembles the Touring, Softail®, CVO™ and Trike models. They also perform a variety of manufacturing operations – making parts like frames, fuel tanks, and fenders.
At the Vaughn L. Beals Tour Center, you’ll explore exhibits that detail the manufacturing and assembly processes of the factory. You’ll also have the chance to sit on current production motorcycles and visit the gift shop for tour-related souvenirs. The Kids Corner, a specially designed area for visitors under the age of 12, makes the York facility an ideal family destination. LEARN MORE, CLICK HERE.
I began my day at York doing a self guided factory tour. If you are wondering why I haven’t posted any factory images, that’s because absolutely NO CAMERAS are permitted in the factory, for obvious reasons. The tour is fantastic. It’s incredibly amazing how advanced H-D has become with automation & productivity. Each work station on the factory floor represents the motorcycle becoming what we all are used to seeing on the road. I always refer back to the original H-D factory images from the early 1900’s, and ask myself, “What must the original Harley’s and Davidson’s be thinking about the factory I just walked through”. It’s just incredible how far this company has come, and the fact that they stayed true to the USA, makes the brand even more spectacular in this Photographers eyes.
Above and below, the crowds are beginning to arrive, bands playing, stunt riding, and demo riding of all of the 2017 H-D models. I live only two hours from York, Pa, but if you have never visited this H-D factory, try to put it on your bucket list.
Other event highlights:
A five-dealer shopping area with merchandise from 1st Capital Harley-Davidson,Appalachian Harley-Davidson, Lancaster Harley-Davidson, Susquehanna Harley-Davidson, and White’s Harley-Davidson
Jax Teller’s motorcycle from Sons of Anarchy and the motorcycle from CaptainAmerica
No. 17 Fastenal Ford driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Sprint Cup Series
The Guide Dogs of AmericaHarley-Davidson is again the presenting sponsor of Bike Night on Sept. 23 in Downtown York. A motorcycle parade will kick off the event at 6 p.m. For more information, please see www.yorkcity.org/bikenight.
Post by Jack McIntyre, Information from Peter in Sweden
My name is Peter and I live in Sweden I am 49 years old, lives in a suburb of Stockholm called Södertälje, I have always changed and rebuilt bicycles, mopeds, boats, cars and motorcycles, has been difficult to have something that everyone else has, I have to put my own style on it.
We have three Harley Davidson in the family now that I have built, the first one is a FXR Trike to my wife, she has a muscle disease, so she can not run a standard motorcycle. Then I built my Sportster chopper that has been published by many magazines in the United States, England, Germany, Spain, France, Austria and Sweden. Last year my wife’s daughter wanted to ride with us, so I built her a Sportster to this season, the only thing she wanted was purple and that there would be a crown somewhere. So that’s how the name “Purple Queen” became .
Her name is Janine Nikula and she is 22 years old. She is studying music, singing, drama and dance. She started to ride a bike late last summer and she got her driving license this summer (2012).She is quite “girly” so when I started to build this bike for her, her only wish was that it should be purple and she wanted a crown somewhere on the bike.
She has always liked to ride with us and now with her own license and bike, she has been join us on the roads and bike shows a lot. Janine appreciate her bike and thinks it is nice and smooth to drive. “It’s really a nice sidekick from the daily life”
My ideas started when I saw Moons Sportster and thought the style was awesome, I had met on internet Andrea Gallinaro from Italy who engraves. I like the 70s style engraving, flake paint and gold. So I made a mix from Sportster bobber and 70s chopper.
I started with an original Sportster that I tore down completely. I cut away the rear bracket for the stock fenders and welded new mounts for turn signals, raised the mounting point for gas tank, cut out and reinforced the frame in front to make a cleaner look. Bracket for the ignition switch was moved and welded to the battery box, bracket for the new rear fender was made. Brackets for solo saddle was welded after that the frame was powder satin black.
The wheels I tore down, hubs powder coated satin black, then I build up the wheels with twisted spokes and brass nipples. old style tires mounted. The fork I tore down and all the brackets was cut away from the triple trees, then I sent all the parts from the fork and all engine covers to Andrea in Italy for engraving and polishing
Engine is almost untouched, what’s done is engraving on all covers, cylinders are powder coated, special bracket in polished stainless steel with integrated speedometer to the upper engine mount, all bolts have brass covers. Brass point cover from Indian Larry.
The handlebar is Biltwells frisco I welded risers for a cleaner look, Internal throttle installed and electricity was drawn to two mini switches, one in the side of the grip for high /low light and horn and the brass mount from Kustom Tech Italy a mini switch for turn lights.
All electricity is newly drawn, mini turn signals in front and Kellermann Micro 1000 for the rear, Reg plate was moved down to the left side with a new bracket from powder coated steel and Brass. All parts were left to Daniel on Air brush studio in Stockholm who painted mini flake paint and text, Have tried to find as much brass parts as possible, I think it has been a good combination
The exhaust system is made by my friend Kent, Ace Performance and I have rebuilt the mufflers with brass trumpets.
Hope You are satisfied whit what I have write, more tech info is in the other World doc
My Post-address is
S-151 59 Södertälje
Stockholm / Sweden
I first met Roy Chamberlin and Margaret Nicastri in Daytona a couple of years ago. At the time, IronWorks had been asked to give an editor’s choice award at one of the bike shows and a sleek carbon fiber FXR-style looker stood out in the crowd.
Turns out the bike was from C&C Cycle in Severn, Maryland – Roy and Margaret’s independent shop – and we decided to visit when in their area earlier this year. For over 30 years C&C has consistently served the Baltimore/Washington D.C. riding community with a broad-minded approach that addresses two-wheelers of many makes and models. Sure, Roy may state a personal preference for V-twin-configured motorcycles but his mechanical, engineering and design capabilities stretch to cover far more.
Roy is the go-to guy for repair, service and upgrades for most of the “other American” bikes as well as holding the distinction of being a Harley-Davidson extended warranty center. And though Roy would far rather work on carbureted bikes, an art that is becoming more rare each week, he has an expert on staff at C&C to handle EFI tuning. In fact, the shop is an S&S Pro-tuning Center as well as certified to install and tune Thundermax and Power Commander ECMs.
But that’s only part of the story of C&C. Early in the shop’s life, Roy decided on a business plan that not only showed what he could do but served to build the shop’s bread and butter: service work. The premise was simple, he says. “I built a custom bike and took it to shows. I’d tell people, ‘If I can do something this complicated, anything else is simple. So surely I can do the regular service work on your bike.’”
He’d often rebuild the same bike every year, because he couldn’t always afford a new one, then show it again in the new configuration, making the same point about the shop’s capabilities. As the business grew, a delightful side benefit of being on the show circuit developed: winning awards, and Roy’s bikes have won a ton of them. In fact, a high shelf that wraps around the entire C&C showroom, Margaret’s domain, is covered in trophies, including more than one prestigious Rat’s Hole statue. Roy has been invited to show his bikes overseas and his work has been featured dozens of times in all the major magazines.
That said, Roy’s approach hasn’t changed. The shop’s steady flow of service work is punctuated by custom builds like the Kosman-inspired carbon fiber bike we noticed in Daytona. (Featured in IronWorks, Nov. 2013.) When someone brings a bike into C&C for one specific thing, Roy gives the bike a once-over, noting any wear and tear or possible safety issues. More importantly, he considers how the one proposed change will affect the rest of the bike and tells the owner what he thinks..
See, Roy has learned a few things in the last several decades and he’s glad to share his knowledge with his customers. If you give him time to explain and you’re willing to listen to good advice, Roy can teach you plenty. “They come in with one question, say about adding one component like a tuner,” he said. “I like to look at each bike as a whole, see how it can be made more reliable, look better, and do its job better and safer.”
Here’s an example: if a bike owner comes in for a tire, Roy first confirms that the wheel bearings are good then he’ll check the lines to make sure that nothing is rubbing or leaking, and that the brakes are good – things many riders don’t notice or even think about. He’ll describe the pros and cons of different products then say, “If this was my bike I’d do this.”
“If I see anything to be concerned about, I point it out and say, ‘You don’t have to have me do the work but I want you to know about these things for your own safety and the bike’s reliability.’”
He’s often asked about factory specs related to oil changes. “The factory used to use different weights and told you to change it frequently. Now they say one kind suits all purposes,” he said. “They also say longer service intervals are okay with synthetics. I say change the oil every 2500 miles.”
Here’s why, he explains: “Water and hydrocarbons mix and cause an acidic base – the oil is gonna break down, no matter what kind it is.” The same with fork oil. “They used to say it was okay to change it every 50,000 miles, but I recommend every 10,000. Otherwise most people never change their fork oil because they don’t ride a bike 50K miles.”
This is what you get when you work with someone of Roy’s caliber and experience – a critical eye that’s so much more than goal-oriented. Roy doesn’t simply follow a service interval checklist, he thinks for his customers. There’s no hard sell; he’s simply telling you want he knows. You also get the bonus of his design sense and the benefit of his keen attention to detail. All those trophies were won, remember? Better yet, this information is delivered in a no-nonsense, matter of fact way, too. You can listen or not, that’s up to you. It’s holistic motorcycle mechanics and design, with function as the guiding light.
And something else about Roy: he’s fussy. Which is precisely the quality I’d look for in the person I’m trusting with my motorcycle.
From the outside, you’d never guess the treasure trove of vintage motorcycle parts stuffed inside Bill’s Custom Cycles in Bloomsburg, PA. And I do mean “stuffed” because since Bill Morris opened the shop in 1970 he has amassed an astounding array of components for Harleys, especially the early models. If you’re restoring or rebuilding a vintage Harley – 45, Pan, JD, or otherwise – Bill is the guy to call.
In addition to tons of used parts and even some N.O.S. inventory, the shop has the equipment and expertise to rebuild engines, transmissions, front ends and more. They also manufacture some popular parts that have grown impossible to find.
Just take a look at the pictures here. Yes, those are fork covers in the original packages from NEMPCO. Bill has an entire room filled with H-D bearings, too. Need wheels, fenders, seats? There’s a good chance you’ll find them at Bill’s. Gas caps, brake lever assemblies, lighting and electrical? You name it, he’s probably got it! Something we especially enjoyed, Bill even had “vintage” copies of IronWorks magazine from the ‘90s, from the days when he carried it at the shop. Yes, IronWorks featured the shop back then, too.
If you find yourself riding in central Pennsylvania, look them up. Even if you don’t need anything for a bike project, it’s a blast to look around. And you’ll be welcome; everyone at Bill’s is glad when people stop in.
Right up the hill from the shop is Bill’s Old Bike Barn, a massive, rambling menagerie of a collection that defies description. But that’s another story!
To read the story on Bill’s Old Bike Barn click here.
Bill’s Custom Cycles
7145 Columbia Boulevard
The name Vance & Hines has become synonymous with high-performance exhaust systems among V-Twin riders worldwide, most especially in racing circles. And there are good reasons for this.
See, the friendship between the company’s founders, Terry Vance and Byron Hines, began when they met at a racetrack in 1972. When it became clear that Byron was the better tech and Terry was the better rider, they divided duties and quickly conquered records. In the process they developed race components for their own efforts that garnered a following among other racers – and in 1979 a business was born.
Since then V&H has grown into one of the largest V-Twin aftermarket companies in the United States, going way beyond race-only components to exhaust systems for street riders of a dozen different makes and the V&H FuelPak fuel management system. And it won’t surprise you to learn that Vance & Hines has continued to support racing efforts both large and small with unflagging enthusiasm since the company’s inception.
The Vance & Hines manufacturing facility in Santa Fe Springs, California is a vibrant, bustling production factory that makes about 800 sets of exhaust pipes in a day. It’s more than a factory; you might call it a campus because as the company grew it absorbed buildings adjacent to the original one where Terry and Byron first started out, as V&H President Mark Finnie explained while he showed us around.
The manufacturing process begins with raw steel stock that is cut and bent to specification as required. More automation is soon to be implemented in this department to increase productivity. Lines of CNC machines pound out components as carts are filled with the various parts that make up an exhaust system; up to 100 pieces per set, including hardware.
The welding department is huge and impressive. Traditional welding booths surround a central area, supplemented by several state-of-the-art robotic welders, which are mesmerizing to watch in operation. More equipment of this type is being brought online to continue increasing not only production but efficiency and quality, too.
Just as impressive is the expansive polishing department; all polishing is done in house and that’s saying something considering that 3300 to 3500 parts per day come through this area. Then every item is inspected, cleaned, and wrapped. Components being plated or black ceramic coated are sent out, the only processes not handled on site but done nearby. They come back to V&H for final inspection, packing and shipping.
Since this is the company’s home, administrative offices are here, too, encompassing engineering, marketing and a high-tech testing and R&D department, as well. As you might expect, it takes plenty of people to keep an operation of this size churning; they employ about 450 people at this location. Another smaller facility in Brownsburg, Indiana just outside Indianapolis, opened in 2004, initially to house the Vance & Hines race team. Now it also produces handlebars and smaller run specialty items. This “smaller” location has 150 employees.
Since coming to Vance & Hines less than a year ago, Mark Finnie has instituted workplace improvements that have reduced employee turnover substantially. He also started a safety program that rewards good ideas. “Of 255 suggestions, 200 have been implemented just since January 2014,” he said.
In addition to introducing new exhaust systems to meet changing tastes and model requirements, Vance & Hines’ range of products is constantly being improved upon and upgraded. “You always look to get more performance at less cost, to improve the product,” said Finnie. “And reducing production costs keeps retail prices steady for the customer.”
A couple of young drag racers likely had no idea what would result when they decided to join forces back in 1972. Their desire to go faster combined with their ability to make it happen resonated with riders on the strip and street whose goals were the same. And that’s been good not only for American riders but American workers, too.