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  1. #1

    Join Date
    May 2015
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    768

    Default WL vs UL Why not the UL?

    20 years ago I restored a WLA, 45 incher of course.

    In that 2 year build period I did ALLOT of homework on the 45 in both civvy and military dress. It was easier/cheaper back then to restore a WLA. All the B/O military and mil specific attachments were cheap and plenty of vendors were out there that had them. Whole trannies, WLA fenders, gas/oil tanks, etc. The real things, not repops. And anything related to the motor and tranny were plentiful: Hell I got a set of MIL SURPLUS, with actual dated service bulletins from the Army, in a set of crank bearings and piston rings I ordered once, still in the cosmoline (I still have the boxes and bulletins) I got a whole tranny, NEW, for $250

    Stock WLA and WLs have a top speed of about 45 MPH. Allot folks find that hard to beleive, but its all relative. The tanks, trucks, jeeps, etc back then had top speeds of less or about the same

    So I ask the question: Why didnt the military go with the UL instead? (If it was available at the time): Bigger engine, hauls more stuff, etc (Please leave the XA and Indians out of this one)

    And also, since the servi car 45 was made until 1974(?) why wasnt the UL used instead or eventually? Again, bigger motor, hauls more shit, etc
    Last edited by docmel; 10-28-2022 at 9:45 AM.

  2. #2
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    Short answer: fuel economy and lower initial cost. Note that the U.S. Navy used the U models for stateside shore patrol. There are many pics, and a few restored U models in Shore Patrol livery (gray and black, very handsome).

    Jim

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2015
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    768

    Default

    JB, You are in NC

    I lived there until 2008. When I built this WLA there was guy in NC that had a really cool working old school cafe with a display of a shop from the 1950's nearby. It was FULL of parts that folks would kill for today

    In the back he had about 4 or 5 semi trailers full of nothing but WLA parts. Man, I cant remember the town or the name of the place. It wasnt that far from me (Fayetteville NC), maybe sw or so of me. I heard he eventually sold all contents of the trailers to a single buyer. Thats where I got my tranny and gas/oil tanks. Not a dent in the tanks

    I also got a few very hard to find WLA parts in Spring Valley, NY. This guy had a WLA IN A CRATE (maybe a display gimmick), but one was even hanging off the wall. He had a windscreen with plexi, canvas and frame for a WLA that looked like it was made yesterday, to include Tommy scabbards, thier frames, front ammo/storage box, bags and solo seats: none were repops. He also had jeeps, a tank, and alllot of very weird Army vehicle surplus parts

  4. #4
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    You are thinking of Ed Rich, in Asheboro, NC. American Classics, with the restaurant. He is still there. I saw him at the Denton AMCA meet two weeks ago. And I don't think he has sold all of his stash. He is still well supplied with vintage parts.

    Jim
    Last edited by JBinNC; 10-28-2022 at 11:59 AM.

  5. #5
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    Motorcycles and other military vehicles tended to have at least one gear suited to infantry marching speeds of the time. Power didn't much matter and 1930s/40 roads were usually dirt. They didn't need to be quick but they needed to survive draftees beating the shit out of them. Modest HP engines are less likely to shit the bed, fuel quality was frequently terrible and in general a small, slow flattie was ideal for an era of human dispatch riders (comms weren't remotely as reliable as today) and MPs doing traffic control.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2015
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    768

    Default

    [QUOTE=JBinNC;860502]You are thinking of Ed Rich, in Asheboro, NC. American Classics, with the restaurant. He is still there. I saw him at the Denton AMCA meet two weeks ago. And I don't think he has sold all of his stash. He is still well supplied with vintage parts.

    Thats it Jim. My thanks Ed was a great help during my build

  7. #7
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    It was my understanding that the military wanted a cheap disposable bike that could meet certain military criteria. They didn’t expect a long life out of them in the field hence such cheap build quality as a 3/8” axle. Which , when looking at one , is pretty insane.
    Back around 2005 I saw a NOS military springer with the tags still on it for $600.00. New transmission in a box as well as a 45 motor in it’s original crate for $3000.00 .
    Years later I saw that same motor at Rhinebeck AMCA meet . It was the talk of the meet .
    Who knows what it’s worth now.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Posts
    768

    Default

    Slight disagreement here The civvy version of the WLA had the same small axle as well (I remember when I restored that 45's springer and I saw the axle I was like, Really? It looked like a pencil): I dont beleive a cheap build quality bike to the public, or the military at the time wouldve been a good idea. I get what you are saying though

    There are WW2 archive films where soldiers are just killing those 45's in training. Jumping hills, fast whoop de doos, laying them down. Crazy

    There was a cheasy 80's film where a unit had a set of 45s preparing and going to WW2. Cant remember the specifics, but they put them thru the wringer in that film (CAnt remember it was faked or not). You know, like the Movie Captain America (An EVO dressed like a WLA) or some Indiana Jones films where an evo is dressed like a knuck
    Last edited by docmel; 11-04-2022 at 1:45 PM.

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