Author Topic: 1917 Harley Davidson Chain Lubrication  (Read 1476 times)


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1917 Harley Davidson Chain Lubrication
« on: December 14, 2014, 07:49:39 PM »
Back in 1917 Harley Davidson sold chain lubricant in paste form, and it required the service technician to heat the paste to a liquid form before it is applied to the chain. I think this maintenance task is interesting when you contrast it to modern chain lubrication, which for most riders involves grabbing an aerosol can of chain lube and simply spraying it on the chain. A process that takes less than a few minutes.

Below is a section taken from a 1917 Harley Davidson manual about chain lubrication. The section title is called "How to Lubricate the Chains."

"The drive chains, being of the roller type, must be kept well lubricated at all times. Refer to llustration showing sectional cut of chain link and where lubrication is neccessary.

Lubrication is very important, on account of the number of joints or links in the chain. To neglect a chain means to greatly shorten its life, cause loss of power and speed, besides making the motorcycle extremely noisy. A poorly lubricated chain will cause a jerk at low speeds, and will break on the least provocation.

A chain properly lubricated will keep off most of the water in a bad rainstorm, or when fording streams. On the other hand, a chain which is not kept well lubricated will become rusty immediately after getting wet, and a rusty chain eventually means a broken chain because rollers, bushings and rivets will rust together, and then something is bound to snap.

Very often riders will squirt a quantity of oil onto the chain from an oil can, believing that this will take care of chain lubrication, whereas the oil will not get to the rollers and bushings where lubrication is needed.

The only way to lubricate chains properly is to remove tham from the machine, clean them thoroughly by placing them in an old clean pan or suitable receptacle, and covering the chains with plenty of kerosene or gasoline. Do not be satisfied with letting the chains soak a while, but move them around, "stir" them up, in other words, so that all the grit is removed from between the rollers and bushings. After the chains are thoroughly  cleaned in this manner the proper chain lubricant should be applied.

After taking the chains out of the lubricant, hang them up to dry allowing the extra lubricant to drip into the utensil used for heating the paste.

Use the Harley-Davidson chain lubricant for all conditions of service. This comes in the form of a paste and should be applied in liquid form, after heating. The lubricant should be heated as per instructions on the lable of the container, and the chains than placed in the melted lubricant for ten or fifteen minutes, so that it will have a chance to work its way in under the rollers while it is hot.

In sections of the  country where winters are very severe it is a good plan to use a thin oil such as cylinder oil on the chains during the winter months. The oil shold be applied to the chains the same way as Harley-Davidson lubricant, but the work must be done in a warm room, of course, so that the oil will be thin enough to work under the rollers. If necessary heat the oil. This can safely be done by placing a can of oil inside of a can of water, then heating the water.

Chains properly cared for will give remarkable good service and should not cause any delay on the road from breakage. The best plan to pursue is to keep the chains properly adjusted and wll lubricated, and to give this care to the chains when you have plenty of time and not to wait until something happens on the road.

Caution: -- The drive chains do not need external lubrication since the crank case relief pipe sprays oil on the chains. In country where deep sand and dust abound, it is advisable to keep all the oil away from the chains because sand and dust will stick in the oil, causing excessive sprocket and chain wear. Therefore, where this condition exists, bend the relief pipe so that the oil is not sprayed on teh chain."
« Last Edit: August 07, 2017, 05:38:35 PM by adminjoe »
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