Sunday, July 31, 2011

Colonial Chapter Picnic and Ride

Big George manning the grill

Adult beverage break during the road ride

Jason and his...VL

Let's take a better addition...Sprint tank

A tradition on every ride...George's Indian requires adjustment

Headed to Big George's house in Jersey yesterday on my '50 Pan to meet him and ride to the Colonial Chapter Picnic and Ride. Way up in North Jersey. We met up with Kenny along the way and were an hour or so late as usual. The rest of the guys (and gal) were waiting impatiently for us to begin the road run. Jason led the ride on his Crazy VL which runs great. Amy was riding her "Smokin'" rigid 59 Triumph (valve guides would be nice). We had about 14 bikes and did about 50 miles or so through lake towns and into NY State and back. We stopped for an adult beverage or two and headed back to base camp. Many more members showed up while we were gone and were on round two of the food (which was great). We ate drank and were merry...

Me, Kenny, Bob, Doug and Paula headed out to hit the Mountain Rest Inn on the way home.

Georges 41 Indian was doing the "Crab Walk" on the way out. Apparently his Indian was conflicted...His back wheel decided to make a left turn while the rest of the bike wanted to go straight. We pulled into the Mountain Rest parking lot and got to work.

With Doug and Kenny's help (me, Bob and Paula pretty much just watched and busted George's balls) the Indian was tracking properly again. We celebrated by letting George buy us all a round.

Kenny and I split off and headed back across Jersey. I left Kenny around 8 PM and headed back toward PA. My 50 Pan was pissing oil out of the distributor gasket and onto the pipe which made for a smokin' good time while waiting for lights to change.

I almost made it back to PA (15 miles from the border!) when some of my old friends in New Jersey law enforcement decided it had been too long since we chatted...(riding an HD in Jersey back in the early 80's this was an almost daily occurrence).

It turns out the officer couldn't tell what state my Antique PA plate was from, so he decided to pull me over, detain me on the road side and run my paper work just for old times sake...all was in order and I was released. GOD I MISS LIVING IN JERSEY!

All in all I put about 250 miles on the Pan and hit three states.

I shoulda took more pictures...

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Hill Climber's History - Franz Racing Jersey Collection

From left to right: Jerry Franz Number 82 Racing Jersey, Larry Franz Sr. H-D Racing Jersey, Larry Franz Sr. Number 88 Racing Jersey, Larry Franz Jr. H-D Racing Jersey, Larry Franz Sr. Number 88 Racing Jersey.
The two on the left I just acquired from Jerry Franz. The other three I have had for many years and acquired from Larry Franz Jr.

A Hill Climber's History - Racing Apparel

Larry Franz Sr. in 1941 check out the pants

also you get a good look at the air intake on the Schebler that I got in the pile
Larry Sr.'s Racing Apparel... yes those are the same pants from the picture above!

Larry Sr.'s Racing Jersey

The pants he wore since the 1930's. They are in great condition!

"Fliers Cap" he had since the 1930's

In addition to the bike, parts and literature; I also acquired some great racing apparel from Jerry Franz. Racing Jersey's, Flier's Cap and check out those racing pants from the 1930's. They are in amazing condition. I picked up a bunch of this type of stuff many years ago from Jerry's brother Larry Jr. these make a great addition!

It was really cool finding the picture of Larry Sr. wearing those pants in action back in 1941! (that's my white framed hill climber prior to being painted white)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Hill Climber's History - The Trophy

Pic from the Oct 1952 Motorcycle BUZZZZ Magazine

Larry Sr. wins two National Titles in one day!

Pic from American Motorcycling Sept 1952

Jerry with a death grip on Dad's trophy

The cat that ate the canary....

For 20 years I had been staring at the picture of Larry Franz Sr. holding those two National Championship Trophy's that he won riding my white framed 45 inch Hill Climber and wondering what had become of them. Turns out that upon his passing, Larry Sr.'s wife gave one trophy to each of her sons...Larry Jr. and Jerry.

Jerry Franz, who spent many years traveling and hill climbing with his dad held on to this prized possession. Larry Jr. (now deceased) who I got to know over the years, was an interesting character to say the least. He traveled the country in his old van which was covered with the signatures of the people he met. Behind the van on an old opened trailer was his dad's Excelsior Hill Climber. Since Larry Jr.'s death a few years ago the twin trophy to the one pictured above has been missing in action...maybe someday...hhhhmmmm...the search continues...

While at Jerry's house I inquired about the object of my obsession for two decades...Jerry was teetering on throwing it in to cinch the deal. He finally and reluctantly said that he would! I was soooo close...and then, I heard the words come out of my mouth..."No Jerry, that was your dad' keep it"...did I really say that? Yup...Jerry smiled and promised that someday he would entrust it to me, so that I could reunite it with the bike that had put his dad into the history books.

I asked him if I could at least see it...he said of course! We both posed with it and snapped these pictures.

Notice the Franz Dairy sign on the wall. Jerry's grandfather had a dairy in the "old days", Larry Sr. worked there as a young man and they had some great pictures from the teens and earlier.

What a day!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Panhead Chopper For Sale

My buddy Skitch Rich from Jersey is selling his 70's style 1965 Pan Chopper. I saw him riding it around up at the Rhinebeck NY meet this he's decided to let it go.

He wants $9,000.00.

If your interested contact him at,

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Wauseon 2011 Part 3 - Forgotten Cell Phone Pics

OHV Climber

I just love barrel carbs!

The heat of battle for "Fresh Kill"

Dave walks away victorious!

Tag 'em and bag 'em

Found some additional Wauseon 2011 pics on my cell phone...enjoy!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Hill Climber's History - From The Franz Family Album

Larry Sr. on my white framed climber in 1953. Some major mods including an OHV Motor

Larry Sr. Gettin' 'er done!

Larry Jr. on the white framed climber. Back to a side valve and scallops.

Probably my favorite picture. Larry Sr. and Jerry Franz getting ready to hit the hill.

During the six hours I spent digging through stuff and listening to Jerry's story's of the Franz family and Hillclimbing, I got the rare opportunity to page through the family albums. These are just a few of the incredible pictures from that album that Jerry showed to me and explained detail. The ones above are various configurations of the white Hillclimber that started it all for me 20 plus years ago.

New (cooler) Header

Since we are in the "umpteenth" day of a heat wave in the North East and temps are going to hit 100 degrees again today, I figured I would change my header picture to something cooler.

Oh yeah and by the way my well is broke and I haven't had water since Wednesday...but that's another story...

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Hill Climber's History - A.W. French Motor

Re-united and it feels sooo good!

Early WLDR Top End

A.W. French's 32R Motor that was in the bike when Larry bought it in 1940!

Schebler Alchy Carb with Larry's 90 degree manifold

Above are pictures of the 32 Hillclimb motor that was in this bike when Larry Franz bought it from A.W. French (Who raced and worked for A.D. Farrow's Harley Davidson Columbus Ohio) in 1940. It's amazing that after all these decades they are in the same room!

More to come...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Hill Cimber's History - Larry Franz's Last Harley finds it's way to me

The Proud New Owner!

With the original fork, wheels, bars and tail section

Jerry Franz (son of Larry and Hillclimber in his own right) lets Thom have a whiff of Nitro...
(Thom happens to be the one who sold me Larry Franz's First HD Hillclimber decades ago)

Fill 'er up!

It fired up and ran GREAT after a" few" kicks.

Jerry let me do all the "mule" kicking and he took the Victory Kick!

This chapter of the Larry Franz story starts like this:

Last year at Wauseon my Canadian friend Rick Wolfe sent a gentleman my way who said he had a Hill Climber for sale. I spoke to this gentleman for a few minutes and realized it was Jerry Franz! I told him that I had one of his dad's bikes and a bunch of his dad's racing stuff. He said, "your the guy in Pennsylvania that has my Dad's first Harley." ...Yup that's me.

Well we got to talking and he said that he still had the bike that he (Jerry) hillclimbed and that his dad ran up until '84. It was his dad's last Harley Hillclimber a much modified 1937 factory model (Larry Sr. retired from Hillclimbing that year).

I said I was interested and gave him my info....months went by and I didn't hear from Jerry. Then one cold winter day there was a thick envelope in the mail. Jerry sent me a note saying he had heart surgery just after Wauseon 2010 and, was I still interested in the his dad's bike and "stuff" that he had. In the envelope were many pictures of the bike and a vast amount of parts and literature that all belonged to Larry Sr.

I studied the pictures and thought...Hell Yes! I'm interested! We worked out the details and it was decided that I would stop by and have a "look see" on my way to Wauseon Ohio in July.

Well the day came and I headed out with only my WLDR (for racing) in the van. I wanted to have plenty of room for what awaited me in central Ohio. I arrived at Jerry's place at noon and look and see I did! I spent 6 hours looking and seeing!

Jerry and his wife treated me like family, the Mrs. even made me lunch and brownies for the ride to Wauseon.

Some of the fantastic "stuff" that I loaded into my van that day were all the original pieces that came off this bike when Larry designed and fabricated the extended swing arm and gas shock rear section. The bike had been through many iterations over the years to remain competitive, the swing arm was the final version. Jerry kept everything, the original hard tail section, spring fork, handlebars, wheels, etc.

Now... parts to this particular bike were not the only extras that Jerry had in the pile...

The "Holy Grail"(to me) was also mixed in...the original 1932 R Engine with WLDR top end complete with the Schebler Racing Barrel Carb that was in my (Larry's first HD) Hillclimber that I have had for decades! Holy shit! There it was... the motor that A.W. French won the 1939 Championship with!

The literature was also incredible. Among the four boxes of letters, articles, magazines, parts books, manuals, etc. was a letter to Larry Franz Sr. from the Harley Factory Engineering Department dated March 1941 answering some questions Larry asked them about his HD Hillclimber including a question about the very same Schebler Carburetor that I was holding in my hand when I read it! Wow!

I will get some more pictures posted soon...still digging!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Hillclimber's History - The final pieces of the puzzle?...maybe...

Here is a sneak peak at one 0f the pieces that make up this amazing story of Racing History that was once scattered across the land and that has now been reunited. This has been a quest that has been decades in the making and something tells me that this is not the end.

Start by looking back at a post I did in January 2010 (1/27/2010) titled A Hill Climber's History...looking back at that post I seemed to have a premonition of what was to come... but I could not have imagined this outcome...
I will have to take a deep breath and just start typing to get the whole story out....but not tonight.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wauseon 2011 Part 2...Racing!

Sverre (AMCN) and I in the pits...

My home brewed WLDR

Pusher Man Racing Team

Wayne and the Pope


...Solution (Muffler tape and a hose clamp..Thanks Carl)


The competition...yikes!

More competition

Board Trackers

Dale Walksler's Track Buggy

Mike Lange's machine

Minor track side repair...

Nice grouping...

Worn out Wayne after the race

Man I'm glad I was talked into racing this year! I had a blast! My old "Charlie Jacob" motor gave it all she had (still can't compete in the straight aways). I didn't come in last and I didn't crash...that's a win in my book. The competition was tough, with experienced riders and technically superior machines in the Hand Shift Class. The track was beautiful especially for our main event. They gave it a fresh grooming just before our race.

The Board Trackers race was excellent, Pusher Man racing chalked up another win. The run for second and third was a tight one. Matt Walksler came in second with John Rhodes in third.

All in all it was a great day!

More posts to follow....