CHARLIE AND THE KNUCKLEHEAD
Motor Cycle enthusiast Charlie Palmer, originally from Euroa but now residing in Sydney, may return home to the Australian National Show and Shine with a very special bike for us to see.
Charlie’s 1937 Harley-Davidson “knucklehead” might be 82 years of age, but it still punches well above its weight in terms of performance. Together with the considerable talents of Charlie its rider, the knucklehead won the 2003 Australian Historic Championships.
The machine is also known as a “Meth Head” due to the addition of special heads which are specifically designed to run with methanol fuel. Apart from the obvious mis-conception that the bike is on drugs (well, sort of) this gives a very significant performance boost which belies its age,
Another claim to fame for Charlie and the bike is the fact that it recently delivered a stellar performance at Sellick’s Beach in South Australia. The legendary Sellick’s Beach race there has been held for seventy years and this year 2019, Charlie won all four of his races emphatically!
Charlie also attended the “Historic Winton” event in May 2019, and won the unlimited class. There seems to be no limit to the Knucklehead’s capabilities!
This in the same model Harley-Davidson that held the mile speed record.
With Hank Syvertson in the US, Joe Petrali, factory rider for Harley-Davidson, built a streamlined Harley-Davidson Model E Knucklehead with twin carburettors, higher compression, different cams and magneto, plus a high top gear that allowed a theoretical top speed of 160 mph (257 kph). On March 13, 1937 at Daytona Beach, the bike went into a serious tank clapper on the first run as Petrali approached 100 mph (161 kph). He came in and ordered all the aerodynamic bodywork be removed, then went out again and captured the mile speed record at 136.183 mph. (219 kph) which he held for 11 years.
We are hopeful that Charlie and the bike can make it to our event. He’s apparently got a pretty full calendar, but we will keep you informed.