The Racer and the Bobber

June 1 2009
Vintage Harley Davidson 1948 frame

Both of these bikes featured here serve a purpose in Bob McKay’s mind, one is a legend from the Canadian vintage racing scene, and the other is just a fun road-worthy bobber project to imitate the antique flat tracker.

For those who don’t know the name Bob McKay, he is one of Canada’s best-known bike builders. For well over thirty years, Bob has been wrenching professionally and building bikes that have appeared in many magazines worldwide. He has built hundreds of engines over the years for the American V-Twin market. So with all that experience, to say he has never been inside a WR race bike engine sounds a little absurd.

Bob heard about a bona fide WR for sale through the grapevine, and after working on so many different Harley engine configurations, he just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to rebuild the race bike back to its former glory.

The WR models were never available to the public and were the Harley-Davidson factory purpose-built race bikes from days gone-by, making them fairly rare in their day, and especially rare today.

This 1951 WR served as a Southern Ontario hill climber in its past life and from what Bob can figure out, it last saw action in 1964. This last race campaign date was determined after calling the phone number on the remaining piece of a bike shop decal that had actually become one with the fender. The gentleman that answered the phone just happened to be part of the race team, but didn’t remember a lot about the bike.

It was in pretty tough shape cosmetically when Bob took possession of the bike, but it did run after applying a little coercion. A quick rundown of the bike’s visible components revealed it was pretty complete with original parts, unlike many race bikes of that era that were bastardized with homemade pieces which were quickly made to repair the bike and get it back into the race.

After a complete teardown of the bike and the driveline; Bob repaired, welded and rebuilt everything that needed attention. Being the perfectionist that he is, Bob found it a little difficult to rebuild the engine to the race specs. “To rebuild this engine was kind of weird to do because you’re rebuilding to worn out specs. Race engines are built to run fast, but for only for a couple of races and then they’re rebuilt again, so they’re built loose to begin with,” Bob said.

After researching the WR series of bikes, Bob realized that a WR motorcycle was a race bike, period. It didn’t matter what type of racing it did, so in keeping with the heritage of the bike, he decided to forego the hill climber version and make it a flat track racer instead, liking the style a little better.

In fact, he liked the style so much he decided to make a bookend to the WR in a more modern street legal version. Taking a 1978 Shovelhead driveline he had kicking around the shop and pairing it with an aftermarket FL frame, he wanted a street rideable track bike that looked old. “It’s designed to look like it came from the 40’s or 50’s.” Bob said, “This one, with the tank emblems and the way we laid it out, looks like a 1946. I even went a little extreme and built a manifold for it so I could use an old brass Linkert carburetor. The bike actually idles and sounds like a Panhead with that carb on it.”

Although Bob will admit that everything is for sale, but for the time being he is content with having an original legend to grace the corner of his shop, and the bookend bobber to grace the country roads around his home.

 

Owner: Bob McKay
Make: Harley-Davidson
Model: Track Racer
Builder: McKay’s Cycle Creations
Time to Build: 3 months
Name of Bike: 46 WRFL

Engine:
Year: 1978 Shovelhead
Builder: H-D/McKay’s Cycle Creations
Displacement: 74 cubic inch
Cases: Harley-Davidson
Heads: Harley-Davidson
Lower End: Harley-Davidson
Carburetor: 1957 Linkert
Air Cleaner: V-Twin
Ignition: Point/Condenser
Exhaust: McKay’s head pipes, V-Twin megaphones

Transmission
Year: 1978
Builder: H-D/McKay’s Cycle Creations
Type: 4-speed foot shift
Case: Harley-Davidson
Clutch: Barnett
Primary Drive: BDL belt drive

Frame
Year: 1946 style
Builder: Edlunds Broderna (Sweden)
Type: Straight leg rigid
Rake: 32 degree
Shocks: none
Modifications: none

Front End
Year: 1946 style
Builder: V-Twin
Type: Springer
Triple Trees: Springer
Modifications: none
Painting: McKay’s Cycle Creations – Harley Race Orange
Chroming: none
Restoration: McKay’s Cycle Creations

Wheels
Front Size: 18’’
Builder/Manufacturer: H-D/McKay’s Cycle Creations
Tire Make and size: Coker diamond-tread 450 x 18
Rear Size: 18”
Builder/Manufacturer: H-D/McKay’s Cycle Creations
Tire Make and size: Coker diamond-tread 450 x 18

Essentials
Gas Tank: V-Twin 1946 style modified
Oil Tank: V-Twin 1946 style modified
Fenders: V-Twin WR style
Seat: V-Twin Bates style solo and pad
Handlebars: V-Twin Speedster
Headlight: Lazer Star twin 100-watt lights
Taillight: V-Twin retro

Owner: Bob McKay
Make: Harley-Davidson
Model: WR
Builder: McKay’s Cycle Creations
Time to Build: 3-months
Name of Bike: Flat Tracker

Engine:
Year: 1951
Builder: McKay’s Cycle Creations
Displacement: 45 cubic inch Flathead
Cases: Harley-Davidson
Heads: K-Model Race Heads
Lower End: WR Roller bearing
Carburetor: MR-3 Linkert
Air Cleaner: Harley-Davidson
Ignition: WICO Magneto
Exhaust: McKay’s Cycle Creations 2-into-1

Transmission
Year: 1951
Builder: McKay’s Cycle Creations
Type: 3-speed handshift/Suicide clutch
Case: Harley-Davidson
Clutch: Narrow race
Primary Drive: Chain

Frame
Year: 1951
Builder: Harley-Davidson
Type: Chromemoly
Rake: stock
Shocks: none
Modifications: none

Front End
Year: 1928
Builder: Harley-Davidson
Type: Springer
Triple Trees: Springer
Painting: McKay’s Cycle Creations – Harley Race Orange
Chroming: none
Restoration: McKay’s Cycle Creations

Wheels
Front Size: 18”
Builder/Manufacturer: Harley, Buchanan’s Stainless Spokes
Tire Make and size: Coker Diamond-Tread 350 x 18
Rear Size: 18”
Builder/Manufacturer: Harley, Buchanan’s Stainless Spokes
Tire Make and size: Coker Diamond-Tread 400 x 18

Essentials
Gas Tank: 1951 WR
Oil Tank: 1951 WR
Fenders: Harley WR
Seat: Bates solo and pad
Handlebars: Harley flat tracker
Headlight: none
Taillight: none

 

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