Lowbrow Spotlight: Billy Balcer's 1947 Original Harley-Davidson Knucklehead

Owner: Billy Balcer
Year/Make/Model: 1947 / Harley-Davidson / FL
Fabrication: Factory Original
Build Time: N/A

Year/Type/Size:  1947 / OHV / 74 c.i.
Carburetor: Linkert M35
Exhaust: OEM Factory Header with Bazooka Muffler
Air Cleaner: OEM Original 7’’

Year/Type: 1947 / OEM ridged
Rake/Stretch:  Original 1947 30 degree / N/A

Front End
Type / Brand: 1947 offset springer / Harley-Davidson

Front Size: 16’’ 16x500 firestone tire, wheel cover w/ wheel lights
Rear Size:  16’’ 16x500 firestone tire

Paint by: Harley-Davidson / Original Paint Skyway Blue
Plating/Polishing: Cadmium, Parkerized , Chrome
Powdercoating: N/A

Front Fender: OEM front fender with Guide parking light, Factory mud flap, Harley Davidson Gunner lights w/ blue lens.
Rear Fender: Factory rear fender with Harley Accessory trim
Gas Tank: Harley-Davidson 3.5-gallon, 1947 Fox co. Emblems, “Johnny” chrome lettering, Eaton Fuel caps, 4 speed shift gate
Handlebars: Harley-Davidson “Hollywood”
Grips: Harley-Davidson Waffle Grip
Mirrors: stock
Hand Controls: Harley-Davidson Throttle, Spark, and brake controls
Foot Controls: Harley-Davidson Brake pedal and footboards With OEM Clutch pedal
Headlight: Guide Cycle Ray 1947
Taillight: Guide “tombstone” 1947
Turn Signals: N/A
License Mount: Original off taillight
Seat: 1947 Harley-Davidson Buddy seat

Custom & Special Details or Accessories:
Front wheel has a cool wheel cover that the original owner made a cool set off wheel light in so it looks like 2 rings of light in the front wheel going down the road. Also has a Bazooka muffler I have never seen another like it. Most have a valve that opens and closes, this one has a removable (by hand) baffle you can take in and out depending on how loud you wanted to be. Original owner said he mostly rode with it in to stay in the good graces of the neighbors on his street.

I got this bike from the original owner who purchased it in early 1948. When I originally went to go see it, I had to unscrew three sheets of plywood off the door of a small single car garage it was in. The owner then told me, "There now you've seen it, can you please screw those boards back up." He wouldn't talk price or even talk about letting it go. It took another 9 months or so of back and forth haggling to get the owner to finally sell me the bike and rescue it from the barricaded garage.

The last license plate that was on it was 1965 and the odometer showed a little over 9,000 original miles on it. (Today it has about double that because I ride it all the time). I never even paid much attention or even looked at the serial number but when I finally took the bike home I looked at it the following day. What it told me was amazing, I learned it was original paint. Knowing the original owner, I wasn’t worried about anything weird with the serial number, so it was extremely  exciting. The next day after spraying it down with a few cans or penetrating oil I got the tool box to open. Inside was a registration from 1951 (The plate for that was next to the bike on the ground in the single car garage.)  The other crazy thing that happened was after I first saw the serial number, I took another quick look at the bike to double check it and sure enough it was the same as the last four numbers of my phone number right in a row… somewhat of a cosmic meant to be kind of thing. I rode the first 200 miles on the bike with the original tires, plugs and all. All the bike needed to get going was a new carburetor float and I probably could have waited a little bit but replaced it to make sure it would run well.

Words by: Billy Balcer • Photos by: Mikey Revolt

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