Back in February, 2022, the guys at Bikes and Beards brought what they thought was a Harley-Davidson WLA engine over to Matt Walksler at Wheels Through Time. As the story goes, they’d found an entire disused WLA that had sat, unridden, for decades—and then rode it back home (after sticking some new tires on it). Once there, they knew it needed a whole lot of TLC, and they weren’t totally sure what they were looking at, so they decided to bring the important bits to someone more knowledgeable than they were.
Walksler and WTT are the kinds of experts that put your mind at ease, knowing your precious baby is in good hands. After learning that the suspected WLA engine did, in fact, have all kinds of rare and valuable WLDR racing parts (especially those cylinder heads), the Bikes & Beards guys made the extremely smart choice to leave it in Walksler’s hands for a full rebuild.
If you’ve been waiting to see what that rebuild would turn out like, this is absolutely the video for you. It’s just over 40 minutes long, but not a single second is wasted as Matt Walksler talks us through and shows exactly how every piece fits together. Everything that’s being reused has already been fully cleaned up. The bores were honed (with beautiful cross-hatching), and all parts were laid out neatly on the workbench to make assembly as stress-free as possible.
First, the bottom end goes together pretty easily, with those magic cams slotted neatly into place. Then it’s time for the top end, with Matt talking you through every little step of the way. While some stuff may seem kind of familiar if you’ve worked inside any engine before, there are of course plenty of quirks that are specific to this engine—and that’s where Matt and all his years of knowledge come in.
Where items had to be replaced, Matt either had or sourced new-old stock items in order to keep the bike as true to itself as possible—except, of course, for that aftermarket rubber ducky float for the Linkert carburetor that’s apparently just one of those upgrades you have to do. All in all, if you’re the kind of person who loves watching a mechanical artist create, then you’ll definitely want to check out this video.