Two years ago Buzz Kanter, Editor-in-Chief of American Iron Magazine, rode his 1915 Harley-Davidson across most of the United States in the first Motorcycle Cannonball endurance ride. And now he’s about to do it again on this very rare 1929 Harley JDH. That’s 3,956 miles (6,366 km) on an 83-year-old bike.
This JDH will be a little quicker than the machine Buzz rode two years go: It’s essentially a detuned factory race engine in a standard JD street chassis. Harley offered the JDH “Two Cam” in very limited quantities, and only during 1928 and 1929. Many believe there are less than 1,500 real JDHs left in the world, and most of them are in museums or private collections.
Buzz purchased his JDH less than a year ago and immediately stripped and rebuilt it from front to back with Dale Walksler of Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, NC. While basically stock and original, Dale and Buzz wanted to improve any potential design weaknesses. So Dale replaced the thin pushrods with stronger ones he modified from Panhead units, adding a grease filled plastic hose over the bottom of the pushrods to keep everything clean and well lubricated. They also replaced the four muffler exhaust with a smaller and lighter single fishtail pipe. The unusual dual headlight arrangement is unique to 1929 and 1930 Harleys.
The Corbin speedometer was an era-correct accessory. The windshield is a very rare Hanson Sport Shield that can fold up or down as needed. It was produced briefly in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Buzz added the correct luggage rack and aftermarket saddlebags to hold his backup gas tank, oil, spare parts and tools… just in case.
The 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball departs from Newburgh, NY on Friday September 7 and ends in San Francisco, CA on Sunday, September 23. Buzz has been showcasing the build and prep in recent issues of American Iron Magazine, available in print or in digital.
Keep up on Buzz’s progress across the US on any of his web sites—American Iron Magazine, Classic American Iron or Classic Harley Info. He’s planning to post photos, reports and videos on a daily basis.