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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my fuckin dog talked me into getting a side car for an existing project. I need to know what parts i need to convert a 4 speed into a 3+ reverse. I know the case i can still use from my research so far. List of parts and/or #s would be great, or even better if you want to sell what i need. Thanks!
 

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Klunkers!

If I may ask:
Are you certain your case has been machined for the idler,

and,

Why do you feel a need for reverse: Forgive me, but are you physically impaired?

Otherwise, HD's reverse is hardly worth losing a forward gear.
In fact, it sux.

....Cotten
 

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Actually, 3+reverse on a sidecar rig is a blast-and-a-half, if contrary opinions are welcome! Primarily, you can back the thing the hell up when parked on a hill! Imagine your car with no reverse. That's what a sidecar with a 4-speed is like. Hell, I back my sidecar OUT of my garage.

If you want to see a list of parts, look in the 1940-47 Knucklehead/Flathead Service Manual, pages 133 and thereabouts. It pictures, lists and describes every stinking part. You get a competent machinist to drill the hole through the reverse gear well in just the right place, and it's a bolt in.

I bought a well-wore factory 3-speed from a guy on the internet. He had no idea what it was, thought it was a 4-speed. I saw the special Reverse shifting fork in his photos of it and told him what it was. No one else bought it, so I got it from him for his base price after the sale expired. A factory 3-speed is just a 3+Reverse without the other reverse gear parts: the countershaft reverse gear, idler gear and and idler gear axle. The shifting drum in the lid is common to both of them, too. It's the one with the big "V" in it. You can probably score all the parts on eBuy if you keep a look out at the trans gears. The factory book shows what they look like and even how many teeth they have. That's where I scored my extra parts to convert the 3-speed to a 3+Reverse. Rebuilt it and vi-ola!

The only thing different from a 4-speed is the gear set, that installs in the same box. The box does have to be bored for the reverse idler gear axle. That goes in the bottom, all the 36-and-later boxes have the little well where the reverse idler gear runs; its got the drain plug on it, the lowest point in the box.

Who needs more that three gears? Especially with a sidecar rig, and particularly if you built the motor so it can pull its way out of a paper bag. 4-speeds and 5-speeds and 6-speeds are mostly cutting the same pie, (from "low" thru how many tiny steps to 1 : 1 "high" out to the trans sprocket), into smaller pieces. That's just a bunch of bunk, IMO. Something foisted on us by aftermarket manufacturers that it's somehow "better" or "cooler" to run through a bunch of unnecessary gears to get to cruise in high. "Overdrive" is a little different story, but nobody needs 6 gears if your engine makes any torque at all, and you're not racing at Daytona's roadrace course.
 

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Cotten is dead on on this one!
Giving up a forward gear for reverse severely limits your function. I have a '44UL with a sidecar and 3&R box. I love it in town, but it truly sucks on the road. Living in the mountains really makes it worse. On a long uphill 2nd is too low but it won't pull high (and the RPM drop shifting makes it even worse!)
So unless you just want to cruise to the dog park or try to pick up chicks by the local college, keep the 4 speed. And by the way, a sidecar rig is easier than a solo to move around since you don't have to hold it up, just roll it around!
Robbie
 

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Klunkers doesn't live in the mountains, Robbie. He lives in Orlando, a coupla miles from me. Flat, sandy Orlando, Florida.The land of the 360º Horizontal Horizon.

The biggest mountain we have around here is "Sugarloaf Mountain," that overlooks Lake Apopka from the western shore. It's about a hunnert feet high. You can see allaway across the lake from up there. Kids usta go up an park on top of it on date nights, until they platted it for building sites and ruined it with fancy McMansions, starting about twenty years ago.

There's one other road, next to it, a rural road, County Road 455, that has a challenge. It usta be fun: people in cars and on bikes could get their speed up on the half-mile down hill to go around a gentle right curve and up the other side, just as high. It worked, too, to get speed up to climb the hill, ever since Model T days.

"Big Brother" finally realized that was 2much fun, though far less "dangerous" than it looked, and they think "average"modern cars don't need the "push" the momentum used to give us, and allowed a developer to install a stop sign and a roundabout right at the bottom of it!

Talk about panic the first time local folks saw that! Now, it's a miserable chug up the hill in first on my old flathead with sidecar; in 1st gear all the way.
 

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that storey on shovel.us, nice pics off the side car, im sure that sidecar fender must be worth a pretty penny

you ever plan to paint it OG colours? i really dig the brown that the factory painted them in
 

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that storey on shovel.us, nice pics off the side car, im sure that sidecar fender must be worth a pretty penny

you ever plan to paint it OG colours? i really dig the brown that the factory painted them in
I guess you're talkin' to me, Mark. "Are you talkin' to me? You talking to me? Well, you must be talkin' to me, I'm the only one here!" (with apologies to Travis Bickel, Taxi Driver, 1976)

What you see on Ol'Tex is OG, or US Army "Olive Gloss." It was copied from a paint chip provided to me by the guys who worked at the workshop of Patton Museum at Fort Knox years ago. They were the restorers of this:


(photo by the author)
That's the 1939 Cadillac limousine Gen. George S. Patton was riding in when he had his fatal collision with an army mess truck in Austria, December 20, 1945. It's all repaired and on display.

The reason that's significant is that it's the same color as the 86 or so UL Harleys and sidecars, and some Indians, that were painted Olive Gloss and issued to the 1st and the 13th Cavalry Regiments "(motorized)" at Fort Knox before WWII. That was the first attempt to get the American Cavalry off its horses and get modern. On holidays, like "Decoration Day" (May 30, now called Memorial Day) and the Fourth of July, the shiny army sidecars, all dressed up and still with a few chrome-plated parts displayed, used to parade in Louisville, Ky., about 30 miles from Fort Knox.

The cavalry's traditional function, for thousands of years, has been to serve as the scouts, the eyes and the ears, of a land army. World War I proved once-and-for-all that machinegun bullets and horseflesh did not mix, so in the 1930s, in response to what they saw the Nazis building over in Europe, the US Army experimented with using available technology: plain civilian 74 sidecars, as off-road and through the woods cavalry scouting vehicles. It was a learning experience from the start to end. They were designated 3-man combat vehicles: a Private for the driver, another Private on a "tandem seat" on the back (another solo seat, with a grab handle and footrests, on a couple of coil springs underneath), whose main function seemed to be to pull the combination out of the mud when it got stuck, and a Corporal or Sergeant in the sidecar with the maps, the "Vehicle Commander."

They prepared to go to war in these things; Springfield bolt actions in their old horse scabbards were slung on each side of the sidecar body, and two of their old horse equip. saddlebags were secured on the back deck, for their lunch, ostensibly.

I knew people who lived in Hardin County, around Fort Knox, when I was stationed there in the early-80's that recalled to me seeing long lines of sidecars, led by officers on solo 45s and followed by civilian trucks painted the same colors (Deuce-and-a-halfs and all the rest weren't developed until WWII) going down the country roads in convoy and suddenly doing a right flank across the field & into the woods next to the road. They must've beaten the pee out of the rigid-frame Harleys, not to mention the crewmen, just to see what they could take.

The final report, written in 1941, criticized the combinations for too little ground clearance, one wheel, open chain drive (filled with grit), spoke wheels (that worked loose and broke) and a whole list of other things; they still had the civilian side skirts on the fenders, making it hard to clear mud that caked up in them.

Development was planned from "lessons learned" from the sidecars to replace them as a next step with specially-built 3-man trikes, that addressed the shortcomings that had been discovered at Fort Knox. Both Indian and Harley built prototypes. Harley built 16 "TA" ("tricycle-army?") military trikes. Many of them are still around. One or two are even in the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.


(photo: Wheels Through Time Museum)


(Official Harley-Davidson photo)
The 1940 Harley model "TA" was a 68 cubic inch Knucklehead (combination of 61 EL and 74 FL parts):
Shaft driven, with a u-joint sticking out the back of the stock H-D Big Twin transmission. Sixteen were built


Fortunately, as it turned out for the Allies, that was the end of the line for the "cavalry tricycles." In 1941 the Jeep was invented, in response to a completely different government specification, and anybody could drive a four-wheel-drive Jeep! General Patton even called the Jeep one of the American inventions that "won the war," and it was far superior to the sidecars that the Germans stuck with. It was a leap-forward in technology, in comparison to sidecars, when for the same purposes.

Oh, yeah, to get back to your post, the "brown" that some Harleys were painted was an olive green, much like almost all the 1920s Harleys were painted, and which was the standard "export" Harley color in the '30s. This is an original paint '36EL that was exported to Holland before WWII, won a medal in the 1937 ISDT, then was taken apart and hidden from the Nazis through the war. It wasn't reassembled until about 1998:



I hope I've answered your questions, Mark! Oh, yes, that sidecar fender is a repro, to which I attached an original "hog snout" fairing for the 1934-38 original "Beehive" taillight. Yes, don't get me started. The original name for the small, round, conical taillight ,'34 to 38, was "Beehive" (notice that it looks like one, turned on its side). The 1939-46 was called by the factory the "Streamline" taillight. It got all balled up because of an Easyriders article that got it wrong back in the '70s.
 

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that one 36el is an incredible beautiful machine, totally perfect :)

My dad was actually a harley dealer at one point, so we have collected a few odds n ends over time, dad actually aquired to dead stock original wlas, and one is believed to have never been run since it was sent from the factory, they have documentation from when it was shipped to hear and it has never run in this country. ill try and dig up a few pics off the pair off them



This was the brown i was referring to asweel, beautiful bike asweel

Mark
 

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I know we've hijacked this thread on Klunkers, who started it. I hope we've answered his questions, or give him sumpin to chew on. It's not good "netiquette," tho. :eek:

I'm bad. I know I've been bad. Mea culpa! self-flagellation!:(

Whip! Whip! Whip!

"Ouch! ouch! ouch!"

Really sorry, Klunkers!

Okay, got that over with. Now, what were we talking about? Oh,

Yup, that's the factory-standard color, "Bronze Brown," introduced in 1937. It didn't go over too well with the public, initially, according to the lore. It got some less than favorable reviews. It was "supplemented" with a good ol' standby blue, called "Delphine Blue with Teak Red Striping and Gold Edging."

That Bronze Brown has had a few different interpretations that I've seen over the years, too. Kinda like from "bronze" to "brown!" Here's a couple pitchers I snagged off the internet:


This 61 Knucklehead looks about the same reddish color as the one in your photo.




And this 37UL is almost green. Both were called "Bronze Brown" by their builders. Who knew?
 

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Klunkers!

If we can get back to reality for a moment,
First, let us be certain that your case has the bore for the reverse idler shaft, as shown by the attachment. This one has a typical plug to the kicker chamber.

Next,
Rubone's observation upon the ease of pushing a hack makes a reverse silly.
My little wife has no problem putting her hands on the windshield and safely pushing the rig anywhere she wants it.

But the real flaw of the HD reverse is its gearing, as it is incredibly tall. Instead of tractoring up to a practical three miles per hour, it could probably do thirty-plus in the hands of someone with a death wish.

Damn good for showing off, though.

....Cotten
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Excellent info, no my case isnt machined so all this BS on the net isnt always true. So a complete trans is the way to go, However i'd still like to find a unit to put up on the shelf for the future. Thanks again all!
 

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In USA side cars mounted on the right side , where the pipes are , dogs gonna be deaf in no time.
Ive seen dogs riding on the tank with a carpet strip for gripping on to.
Farm dogs in OZ and NZ are always on bikes.

Years ago their was a cat cruizin the roads until a dick head killed em both head on. cat even had his lid on too!!

http://www.purr-n-fur.org.uk/featuring/adv15.html

good luck with the 3 speed,( convert a harley to an indian.)
 

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Just a thought, but couldn't you use a small electric motor cleverly hidden with a friction drive on the wheel of the side car? I mean it of course will not be anything like original, and I'm unsure that the side car is original either, but one could mount an electric motor with small battery in the side car and use it for the too lazy to get out and push moments. And no compromise of a 4 speed gear box.
 
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