1916 Harley-Davidson Model 16F Twin
Engine no. 5899M
Boyhood friends William S Harley and Arthur Davidson began experimenting with powered transport in the early 1900s, producing their first complete motorcycle in 1903. Little more than a motorised bicycle, the prototype Harley-Davidson proved fragile, prompting a major redesign and the establishment of a reputation for ruggedness that endures to this day. Like many of their contemporaries, Harley-Davidson laid out their first engine along De Dion lines. A single-cylinder four-stroke displacing 25ci (400cc), the latter remained in production essentially unchanged until superseded by a 35ci cubic-inch (575cc) version in 1909. Of greater significance though, was the appearance that same year of the firm's first v-twin. Dropped at the year's end, the twin returned for 1911 in redesigned form boasting mechanically operated inlet valves (replacing the 'atmospheric' type inherited from the single) and production really took off. Known by the sobriquet 'pocket valve', this inlet-over-exhaust engine - built in 61 and 74ci capacities - would remain in production for the next 20 years.
The Harley single's transmission arrangements - direct drive by means of a leather belt - were continued at first on the twin, but the need to make better use of the engine's power characteristics, particularly for sidecar pulling, prompted the introduction of a two-speed rear hub for 1914, by which time chain drive and a proper clutch had been adopted. Later that same year a conventional, three-speed, sliding-gear transmission with 'step starter' was introduced on the top-of-the-range version of the twin which, with full electrical equipment, was listed from now on as the Model J. Two important developments in the twin's evolution occurred in 1916: the most immediately obvious being the adoption of a gently curved fuel tank that replaced the slab-sided tank used previously. Inside the engine, the cams were altered from two-lobe to four-lobe, making alterations to valve timing - previously achieved by reshaping the followers - that much simpler. The Harley-Davidson twin in this general outline would endure for the next eight years.
An older restoration, little used since completion, this three-speed Harley is equipped with luggage rack and Nesinger saddle, and comes complete with its preserved original saddle. The current vendor purchased the machine at Bonhams' sale of the Richard C Paine Jr Collection at Owls Head, Maine in September 2008 (Lot 812). Since acquisition the machine has formed part of the Fabergé Museum collection in Germany and will require re-commissioning and safety checks prior to returning to the road following a period of static display. It is offered with old (1981) State of Michigan Certificate of Title (in the name of Ethel Tomczak) and 1984 bill of sale recording the change of ownership from Curt Whitehouse to Richard C Paine Jr.
- Please note that this motorcycle is titled under its engine number and its title is in transit.
Please note, that this motorcycle is subject to California Highway Patrol VIN inspection--a simple procedural matter on which the condition or history of the motorcycle has no bearing. Following the auction, this lot will be transported to San Francisco, at no cost to the buyer, and will be available for collection from San Francisco on January 23rd.