BELIEVER MAGAZINE: A ROUGH HISTORY OF HOW THE HARLEY-DAVIDSON MILITARY-ISSUED WLA “LIBERATOR” CHANGED AMERICAN CULTURE

Below are a few of the rough sketches I’ve recently completed regarding the “invention” of the stroker engine, as discovered by Gil Armas and C.B. Clausen, both members of the BOOZEFIGHTERS MOTORCYCLE CLUB. This comic depiction of the story is taken from Gil’s own account, as transcribed by Bill Hayes and Jim Quattlebaum in their book, “The Original Wild Ones: Tales of the Boozefighters Motorcycle Club”. I’ve been in touch with Mr. Quattlebaum, who is the official historian for the Boozefighters; Jim Fricke, curator at the Harley-Davidson museum; and Bill Rodencal, mechanic extrordinaire at the Harley-Davidson museum. All of them have been extremely helpful in my pursuit of both historical and mechanical accuracy. But it was probably Jim Wagner at Doc’s Harley-Davidson in St. Louis who has been the most helpful in terms of translating Gil’s text into a visual mechanical breakdown of how the stroker engine was “invented”. I keep using quotation marks around “invent” because it is disputed that Gil and C.B. actually discovered the first strokerengine. Their are stories of others who developed it similarly, either simultaneously, or even (as one account suggests) as early as the late 1930’s. There is no question, however, that Gil and C.B. developed their engine without any prior knowledge of prototypes. Nevertheless, it’s been quite an adventure tracking this material down, has brought me into contact with several interesting people, and has ultimately led me to the purchase of my first Harley-Davidson: A 2005 Sportster 883.

Don’t be fooled: These “refined” preliminary concept sketches for the stroker engine portion of the overall schema took a hell of a lot of work to get accurate.

Ultimately, the entire schema will be included in FOLKTALES.

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