How I Crossed America on Neracar for Less Than $20
Written by Erwin Baker
Friday, 02 December 2011 06:36
By “Cannonball” Baker
WHILE I was in Los Angeles last September preparing to go after the transcontinental speed record with the Ace, I happened into Rich Budelier’s place one day and saw a Neracar standing there. Although I previously had seen it at the Chicago Show last November, I had not looked it over very closely then. However, there seemed to be considerable interest in it out in Los Angles and most everyone who came into the Harley-Davidson store, noticed it, looked it over and made some remark about it. This rather unusual interest in it, somehow impressed me and I took a ride on the little jigger, just to see how it behaved.
I want to say right now that I was very much surprised with the way it handled. I never had ridden anything like it before; in fact never had ridden any lightweight machine since the early Indians which were in style when I broke into the game. That ride left me with a very friendly feeling for the Neracar and the thought came to me, “Gee whiz! There's quite a kick in this thing. It’s different from a motorcycle and is mighty fine to get around on. I'd like to own one and probably there are a lot of other people who would, if they could try it and find out about it.” I noticed that I attracted a lot of attention from people on the sidewalk and in automobiles when I was taking a jog on it. That showed that people recognized it as something new and different and were ready to look at it anyway. Of course, they joked about it and apparently regarded it as a freak machine, but that was to be expected, because it is so different in looks and in construction from the ordinary motorcycle.
Anyway I got thinking about that Neracar after I returned to the hotel and the next day the inspiration came to me, “Jiminy crickets! I'd like to take that jigger across the continent, not for speed, but to show how cheap the trip could be made.” The more I thought about it, the stronger I was convinced that I could turn the trick. I thought a lot about it for the next few days and nights and when I satisfied myself that I could ride a Neracar from coast to coast cheaper than it ever had been done before, I inquired the address of the factory and wired them a proposition.
They wired back that they were interested and to send them full details of my plan. So I wired them again that I would be in New York soon and would go and see them after I finished my Ace job and talk it over. After I had knocked over Bedell’s five year old transcontinental record for Ace, I went home to Indianapolis to rest up a bit and get acquainted with my family again. Then, one day I wired the Neracar people that I was coming up to see them. I was met at the train by President J. Allan Smith, Vice President E. K. Gordon, Engineer Carl Neracher and several others, all of whom gave me a first class welcome. They whirled me out to the plant where I met some more of the factory heads and then I went through the place and got a line on the organization and what they were turning out.
Cannonball sponsor Replicant Metals is dedicated to providing quality parts to help get your Harley JD coast to coast.
A concentrated effort to improve previous versions of replacement fuel tanks was unveiled at Davenport 2011 by Replicant Metals. The main panels of these tanks are now formed from one piece sheet steel with the same deep draw process used by the Harley Davidson factory in the early part of the century. However those parts are now assembled by tig and spot resistance welding. The interior baffles are attached to the outer shell before spot welding the top overlap panels in place. Next the inner embossed panels are seam welded to the main carcass. The fuel and oil chambers of the left tank are separate cells with a 1/4" vented isolation area between them exactly as oem originals.
Inner panels have all the correct reinforcing ribs and detents. The mounts on the underside have the proper backing plates and are bolted through the tank and sweated in place. The shift lever pivot and oil outlet are bolted on the tank before being soldered tightly in place. All the machined brass hardware is securely soldered and will accept original caps, spigots and pump or we can supply exact replacements from our inventory.
No acid flux has been used to minimize corrosion. Even though we pressure test each tank before detailing and primer we recommend the application of quality liquid tank liner to prevent future rust due to fuel condensation. Each set will need to be internally cleaned and externally detailed to your satisfaction before final paint application. Replicant Metals now provides accurate 3501-25 JD, 3501-28 Sport Solo, 3051-30 and 3051-32 VL tanks in the deep draw and fully welded versions.
Primary covers, battery boxes, mudguards, tool boxes, rear stands, chain guards, jiffy stands, tail lights and J/JD associated hardware are the finest available on the planet. All are produced with the enthusiast rider in mind. No details have been overlooked to save on production costs. Assembly techniques are exactly as the factory originally engineered and fasteners are the appropriate size, in the correct location and highest quality currently available. All castings and jiffy legs are heat treated to proper Rockwell hardness, rivets are properly clenched and the heads are accurately formed, die forming marks are present as factory originals.
Our limited edition Mesinger and Persons saddles are hand stitched from the finest leather available. Half pans are die formed exactly as originals and assembled with proper pommels, correct gauge springs and hardware. No contest these are the most opulent saddles offered anywhere, available in sienna, umber and black.
At the beginning of the race we were lined up for a standing still start.
Art Farley( 1909 Excelsior ), Dale Walksler( 1911 Indian ) and I went into the first corner close and the earlier bike, the 09 Excelsior Art was racing began to show its weakness where superior technology of the two 1911s of Dale's and mine began to shine. In Dale's case shine to much as far as I was concerned. That Indian of Dale's is fast, I could not shake him at first and was not sure why. Finally after a few corners the 1911 double began to show its superiority and some distance was put between the two of us. Becoming complacent to soon and from out of nowhere came Dale flying past me at speed.
I was shocked with his ability to come up with a head of steam as he did. Consequently it was time to get back to work. I cracked the throttle wide open and watched Dale continue to pull distance. At this point confusion set in, I thought Dale and his Indian were going to beat the double.
Then a flash of an idea, I reached down and grabbed a couple more clicks of the belt tensioner and the double lunged forward, Immediately I was gaining on Dale in a down hill run for the Horseshoe left hand corner, the equalizer.
Going into the corner it was Dale at the lead, he chose a line just a little wide allowing me the inside. I dove under Dale and passed him from the apex and out of the corner into the lead. At this point I decide to beat Dale I must stay focused and ride the wheels off the little 49" twin.
Much like the 1914 Gray Ghost these early Harley's do handle well and I was able to run the corners at speed, one look at the tires (with 55 pounds of air) will convince you of that, they are worn beyond the buttons of the tread.
The rest of the race was very fun I did not need to keep looking over my shoulder, just keep the speed up and the lean angles down to a point where motorcycling's greatest pleasures comes from.
The Barber race park and museum are a do not miss venue. My suggestion, if you have not been there yet make plans for next year and bring a 1912 something ! Mr. Barber has built a first class facility with our comfort, safety and entertainment his primary concern.
The Year of the Henderson
Written by Lonnie Isam
Friday, 07 October 2011 23:57
The allure of the highly attractive Henderson motorcycle has captivated the imagination of riders for a century now. In October of 1911 when the Henderson motorcycle company of Detroit, Michigan announced a new inline, 4-cylinder motorcycle for the 1912 season, motorcycle enthusiasts were immediately intrigued.
William Henderson’s creation, a long sleek black and red machine, would soon do more than captivate a nation. It would also circumnavigate the globe, winning the hearts of generations of fans along the way, and be the first motorcycle to do so. A sound machine that would stand up and give a good account of itself in every test, the Henderson proved to be in a class all its own.
Henderson fans will celebrate a milestone in the machine’s history since next year marks one hundred years and millions of miles since the dawn of the inline age. The 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball will pay special tribute to the Henderson motorcycles by putting them to the ultimate test of endurance when no less than a dozen of the sturdy machines will take up the challenge of our stringent course.
In an attempt to recapture the glory days of the roaring twenties, when the brand dominated the market, the Henderson Deluxe and KJ Streamline models provide a comfortable means of touring the country in style and our riders will surely appreciate that comfort as they travel the nation along our nearly 4,000-mile ride.
A total of six streamline Henderson KJ’s will make up a crew dubbed “The Wolf Pack, a team specially engineered just for the Motorcycle Cannonball ride. Five entrants comprised of the Deluxe models from all over the United States and one from Germany will assemble in New York along side the rest of the Cannonball riders as we embark on our cross-country adventure that will have us arriving 15 days later in the famous “City by the Bay,” San Francisco, California.
Cannonball rider John Rhodes starts his 1928 Henderson Deluxe.
2010 Cannonball rider Dale Walksler starts a 1926 Henderson. This potential Cannonball contender goes up for auction next month.
The Roaring Twenties
Written by Lonnie Isam
Saturday, 10 September 2011 14:25
In 2010 the brave riders of the Cannonball proved that antique motorcycles could indeed be put to the ultimate test. A test that would pit rider and machine against the North American continent. Reviving a tradition as old as the motorcycles themselves, they took a ride into history. Not only proving the capabilities of the machines,but also confirming the pioneering spirit this great country was built upon.
Collectors from around the world are realizing their dream of using their machines for the purposes they were originally intended for, and they are enjoying every minute of it. Restoration takes on a new meaning as skilled motor builders put over 100 years of mechanical knowledge into ancient iron. Motorcycles that lay silent for decades now have a reason to live. To run thru the great wide open as they did nearly a century ago.
The rapid decline of the motorcycle industry in the late teens was followed by an era of prosperity known as the "Roaring Twenties". Only three factories remained in the United States as motorcycle design advanced considerably. The competition between the "Big Three" defined motorcycling for over a decade. We aim to revive this rivalry in 2012. Although the majority of our field will be from these three marques, we invite all makes and models of motorcycles built before 1930 to join us in an epic adventure of man and machine.
Like the first run ,your Cannonball will be coast to coast. This time we will take the more scenic route to the north, New York to San Francisco. While planning a relatively direct route, we also made sure to take in some of the best scenery our country has to offer. A quick look at the new route includes a dozen national parks, and forests, the great lakes, the Mississippi river, the plains, the Black Hills, Rushmore, Devils Tower, Yellowstone, the Rockies, the high desert, Shasta, the Avenue of the Giants, Pacific Coast Highway,and the Golden Gate Bridge to name a few. We will also be visiting four nationally recognized motorcycle museums. An ambitous ride to say the least, averaging around 300 miles per day, this will be a true endurance run.
Competition between motorcycles and riders has been around since the very beginning, and the Cannonball will be no different. This will be a run against the clock, where one rider and one machine will claim victory. A victory that will be well earned. Now is your chance. On the 7th of September 2012, 50 riders will start a two week journey across the United States on motorcycles built before 1930.