1956 KHK rear tire, chain, sprockets

Production K Models

Re: 1956 KHK rear tire, chain, sprockets

Postby starcain » Thu Oct 29, 2020 10:09 am

Dimpled chains were used in the 1950's and probably into the early 60's. I am no chain expert so can't say for sure when the dimples first appeared and when the practice ended. All I can safely say is that the dimples are a period correct indicator for the 1950's. I have had a few people tell me through the years that Duckworth had the dimples and Diamond did not. However, I have a very used Diamond chain that I have no idea what it came off of that has dimples, so, it would seem then that both the major motorcycle chains at the time came with dimples?

Below is a picture of the original chain that came off my '56 KHK. Is this the chain that left the factory with the bike? I don't know. It was worn out to the point where it may have seen every bit of the 35,000 miles that is on the bike?

The second little picture is of the Special Instructions section of a 1953 Season Order Blank. You apparently could request what chain make you preferred.

Back to the subject of the brake drum.

Strong, the picture you posted of the rear brake drum, does that picture go with the whole bike picture you posted? The brake drum picture lead me to believe that I was looking at an original unmolested bike since it had the dimpled chain with a fair amount of rust on it. ( right top corner ) You could tell in the picture that it has a chrome chain guard but it wasn't uncommon to replace a few items on a bike with chrome.
The bike picture looks like a restored bike to me. If it was original paint and a KHK it would have the KHK decal on the oil tank. As you mentioned it has an aftermarket exhaust system on it. My point is that if that is the bike that goes along with the brake drum picture it should not be used as an example of original. Restored machines are only as good as the interpretation of the restorer for originality and not necessarily how they left the factory. Especially if you don't know the history of the bike or the restorer. Factory photos and documents are the best way to go, along with pictures of original paint machines like Jim Garret's '54 KH. Even original paint bikes can certainly have been fiddled with but still serve as a pretty good indicator of how it was. There are plenty of very correct and beautiful restorations out there and plenty that are so incorrect it makes you wince. I should mention that in an earlier post I used my restored '53 KK as an example for the brake drum not having lugs. Even though I have spent the last 35 years making it as correct as possible through research it should also be excluded as an example of correctness to anyone that doesn't know me and my methods.

Sorry, didn't mean to get long winded.

Strong, in an earlier post on the brake drum subject you said that the lugs on the brake drum didn't come until 1957 along with the return of the 51 tooth sprocket. There must be something that makes you believe that. Right now without having any other proof it would make sense that in late 1956 they started transitioning to the 1957 set ups. My '56 is pretty late in the production year at Vin# 2268 and F6 frame date code. The frame has the indent for the Sportster rocker boxes. Until we find proof otherwise I'm going to believe 1956 was the first year for the lugs on the brake drum.
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Duckworth Dimple.JPG
Duckworth Dimple.JPG (221.36 KiB) Viewed 576 times
'53 Season Order Blank ( Chain ).JPG
'53 Season Order Blank ( Chain ).JPG (27.78 KiB) Viewed 576 times
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Re: 1956 KHK rear tire, chain, sprockets

Postby starcain » Thu Oct 29, 2020 4:55 pm

Strong, A friend of mine just sent me the series of pictures that I think you were referring to on the 1956 picture that you posted. After seeing those I have to retract my opinion that it is a restored bike. It's got enough bumps and bruises in the paint that it could very well be original paint and enough patina on the cylinders to say probably unrestored. Vin # would be really nice to know. Thanks for posting the picture. It jarred my friends memory enough to realize he had the series.

Stan
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Re: 1956 KHK rear tire, chain, sprockets

Postby Coolbreeze » Fri Oct 30, 2020 11:30 pm

wz507, your thoughtful post on 10/9/20 regarding chain size and narrowing sprockets makes sense. I have been reluctant to take metal off a sprocket because of a concern that the sprocket would wear more quickly than it would if it had all its metal. Then, I remembered that sprocket wear is usually due to chain wear. If this is correct, then a chain that resists wear (like an “o” ring chain) would allow the sprocket to last longer than a standard chain – even after the sprocket has been narrowed. Is this correct?

Clearly, I am trying to talk myself into narrowing my front and rear sprockets. If my health holds, I plan to put a lot of miles on this KHK. The advice of participants in this forum will help me do that. Thank you for your input.
'56 KHK
'60 XLCH
'48 Chief
'42 Indian 841
'64 BMW R69S
'84 Moto Guzzi V65Sp
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Re: 1956 KHK rear tire, chain, sprockets

Postby strong56KH » Tue Nov 03, 2020 11:38 am

Stan, thanks for all your thoughts and pictures of your brake drum and Duckworth chain. It makes perfect sense that based on your 56KHK that the rear drum with the tabs (cogs, lugs, whatever) is probably a running change in 56 from K-model to 57 Sportster. The technical section on sprockets indicates that the 49t sprocket was used on all K-model rear brake drums from 1954 motor number 1689-up. If that is correct, and you have the 49t on your 56KHK, then this strengthens the case for a running change in 1956. Like you point out, it follows with other changes that were made to the frame and gas tank on later production 56 K-models. Considering the two drums and sprockets are interchangeable and both are used on the later hub, why the design change to tabs from late 56 to Sportster production is not clear.

You are right that both Duckworth and Diamond made dimpled chains. Below is a picture of the 57XL at the Harley Museum that has a Diamond dimpled chain (in upper right corner). I think that the chain on the picture that I posted earlier is a Duckworth based on the slight difference in the dumbell shapes of the outer links and their color. I have a nice Duckworth dimpled chain with no rust on it and the links have a copper colored plating that differs from the darker plating of the Diamond chain. Mark

57XL_HD_museum.jpg
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Re: 1956 KHK rear tire, chain, sprockets

Postby starcain » Tue Nov 03, 2020 2:09 pm

Mark, Sweeeeet picture of the Diamond chain on the 57XL. I remember the Diamond chain I have that I can't readily find right now had slightly different dimples then the Duckworth that was on the '56. Your picture shows that quit clearly. They each had their own dimple style. With that in mind I would say the chain in the picture you provided of the rear wheel on the OP'56 looks more Diamond then Duckworth. What do you think?

I double checked the rear wheel sprocket on my '56 and it is indeed a 49 tooth sprocket. All evidence so far leads to running change on the rear brake drum in 1956.
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Re: 1956 KHK rear tire, chain, sprockets

Postby strong56KH » Sun Nov 08, 2020 2:02 pm

Thanks, Stan. This is great information. I think we have strengthened the case for a running change to the rear drum in 56 and that the 51t sprocket was resurrected in 1957. An estimate at what motor number the drum might have changed in 56 we still don't know but based on your op 56 KHK it was most likely late 56.

I see the difference in the dimples of the chain, the diamond is circular while the Duckworth is oval. The picture I posted is not great resolution so the dimples are somewhat blurred making it difficult to say definitively which they are. I still think that the link shapes look more like Duckworth to me. Mark
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