Friday, August 21, 2009

Hey Chris, two can play this game! (HAHA!)

I see over at Chris Kallas' blog MC art, that he had photos of several full-dress barges today. I see Chris shares my love for these bikes. Those dresser riders have as much dedication to their style of bikes as I do for customs, and you gotta appreciate that for what it is. Ladies and gentlemen, that being said, I give you THE LIBERATOR, by Harley-Davidson.
I took these pictures of this FLH with the Liberator package I think in '88. I had to, I was too knocked out by it's outrages-ness. I remember they were available in white, red, and black factory-matching colors. We used to call that tour pack the "porta-potty". Inside the fairing, there was a cast dash panel with a full set of SW gauges, switches, and idiot lights, and an AM/FM radio. Below the dash(?) was a little brass plaque rivited on that said:
Manufactured Exclusevely for Harley-Davidson
By Vetter Fairings

What I think is cool, is the fact that H-D had Guide (GM's lamp division) as an outside vendor for a lot of their lighting needs. Check out the fact that somebody at H-D styling department chose a GM transit bus headlamp assembly for the fairing!

Harley-Davidson offered the Liberator package as a factory dealer installed option from '74-78, then they dropped it for '79, and came out with their own dual headlight fairing for the new rubber- mount Shovel FLT TourGlide. They would retrofit back to '72, so you could look as spiffy as the guys with their new bikes did.

Last summer when things were slow here, I did a short stint over at Deluxe Motorcycles, and a guy brought one of these in - almost a carbon copy of the above pictures, in original condition, for a starter motor. Are you shitting me? Randall, who did the job said, "I'd rather swap an engine and tranny into an Econoline!".

We all took turns "road testing " the thing, and it was a pig - but a funky pig, you know what I mean? The thing had to have weighed 1000lbs. easily, and it literally wallered down the street on those old Goodyear Speedgrips. It belched, farted, and oinked aroud like a true Shovelhead should. Cornering it was like cornering a Honda Civic split down the center. But, oh my God, I fell in love with the things funkeyness! It was too cool for words riding it down the road. You would pull up next to people in their cars, and you could see them mouthing "Holy shit! Look at that barge!".

Craig Vetter doing the clay mockup for the Liberator Fairing in '73.

I even found the "official factory AMF/H-D" mounting instructions and parts list in PDF for the Liberator on Vetter's website! :

I swear to god, one of these days I'm going to put a Shovel FLH together with a full-tilt Liberator package...painted RED! Hmmmmm, lemme see......I know where there are two complete Liberator fairings hanging up in people's garages, and I know where to get a "porta-potty" tour pack.......


Chris K said...

Rich, Your story of road testing that Buffalo made me literally laugh out loud.

The Liberator is a little known piece of H-D history and your a smart dude for posting it. Damn, you keep beating me to the punch on stuff.

Recently,I was trying to find out how many of Elvis' rides I could find and discovered he had one.

I have one of those giant tour packs myself. I've thought about putting it on my bike for swap meets.

You trying to start a dresser war?

Unknown said...

The Harley in the picture is mine. Purchased in East Liverpool Ohio from some old fart-Air horns and all. I was 23 at the time. It is the only thing I would never sell. I have been through at least 80 motercycles and cars since. The best thing about this barge is it has allways put the boys to sleep when they rode with me growing up. There also has been some women in my life with irritability issues. The H.D LIBERATOR is the answer! All that vibration and those megaphone pipes always calm over even the toughest issues-Its a magical machine that frees up psycoligist fees for more harley parts. At 53 I am now the old fart. This bike is the oldest known liberator #L 1071.

norman kepner said...

hay chris just thought id let you know that i had a liberator awhile back.saddley the turn events forced me to sell it.just me i regret it!now im trying to locat another for my 1975 flh.any they where a beauitful and worked great,even in texas.well thanks for the pic.on the internet.mybe if i find another one ill send pics of my harley with it.thanks norman e. kepner

norman kepner said...

anyone whating to sell one send me a email at id like to get another one or two.thanks norman