Reviving a Flooded Flathead Harley Motorcycle – A Total Rebuild Story After a Decade of Sitting

Reviving a Flooded Flathead Harley Motorcycle – A Total Rebuild Story After a Decade of Sitting


When it comes to restoring vintage motorcycles, there are always challenges that arise. However, nothing quite compares to the task of reviving a flooded 1939 Harley-Davidson Flathead. This iconic piece of history has not only survived two floods but has also been sitting idle for a staggering ten years. In this article, we will take you through the journey of our total rebuild story, highlighting the steps we took to bring this magnificent machine back to life.

Heading 1: Assessing the Damage

Sub-heading: Two Floods and Ten Years Later

Upon inspecting the motorcycle, it was evident that the floods had taken a toll on its components. The electrical system had been rendered useless, rusty patches covered most of the body, and the engine was in desperate need of attention. Additionally, the passage of time had caused various parts to deteriorate, requiring a complete disassembly and replacement.

Heading 2: Seeking Expert Help

Sub-heading: Collaborating with Steve from VL Heaven

Knowing the magnitude of the rebuild, we reached out to Steve from VL Heaven, a renowned expert in vintage Harley-Davidson restorations. Steve’s experience and guidance would prove to be invaluable throughout the entire process. With his expertise and our determination, we set out to restore this 1939 Flathead to its former glory.

Heading 3: Disassembling the Motorcycle

Sub-heading: Taking It Apart Piece by Piece

To commence the restoration, we meticulously dismantled the entire motorcycle, ensuring each part was cataloged and evaluated for damage. This step was crucial as it allowed us to identify components that could be salvaged and those that needed replacement. With each part carefully stored, we were ready to move forward with the extensive rebuild.

Heading 4: Flushing the Oil Tank and Replacing Parts

Sub-heading: Maintaining Fluid Integrity

A motorcycle that has experienced floods needs special attention when it comes to the fluid systems. We thoroughly flushed the oil tank, eliminating any potential contaminants that may have accumulated over the years. Additionally, we replaced worn-out components, such as gaskets and seals, ensuring the integrity of the oil system, while also preventing any future leakage issues.

Heading 5: Rebuilding the Engine, Transmission, and Clutch Drive

Sub-heading: Precision at Its Finest

The heart of any motorcycle lies in its engine, transmission, and clutch drive. In our rebuild, these vital components demanded utmost attention to detail. We carefully disassembled each section, refurbishing or replacing worn-out parts. The engine received new pistons, providing a revitalized power source, while the transmission and clutch drive underwent meticulous repairs to ensure seamless performance.

Heading 6: A Complete Overhaul

Sub-heading: Breathing New Life into Every Component

Reviving this flooded Flathead Harley required a comprehensive approach. We left no stone unturned, examining each aspect of the motorcycle to determine the extent of the damage and the necessary repairs. From the frame to the smallest nut and bolt, we meticulously restored and polished every part, guaranteeing the motorcycle’s structural integrity and aesthetic appeal.


After countless hours of hard work, dedication, and collaboration, our total rebuild story reached an end. The once-flooded and neglected 1939 Harley-Davidson Flathead now stands as a testament to the resilience of both the machine and those who revived it. Through the expertise of Steve from VL Heaven and our commitment to preserving history, we have successfully brought this motorcycle back to life, ready to hit the open road once again.

In reviving this flooded Flathead Harley, we have learned that the journey of restoration is not only about rebuilding a machine, but also about preserving a piece of history. It is a testament to the passion and dedication of enthusiasts who refuse to let the passage of time dampen the spirit of these iconic motorcycles.

So, the next time you come across a vintage motorcycle in need of rescue, remember that with the right expertise, determination, and hard work, you too can breathe new life into a piece of history.