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Thread: Cleveland Motorcycles Fours History

  1. #1
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    Default Cleveland Motorcycles Fours History

    Hello All,

    I am trying to compile information about Cleveland Motorcycles and in Particular, cleveland fours (~1925-1929).

    The Ultimate goal is to write an in depth history of the models with information such as which parts interchange, dimensional differences between models etc,

    I would also like to scrounge up enough dimensions to draw technical drawings so people can reproduce cleveland four parts like they can now do for other vintage motorcycles.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Andrew

  2. #2
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    Dear Andrew, that's a challenging project. Have you seen the privately published 'Pluricylindriche' by Ing. Stefano Milani? He describes all the 3-8 cylinder motorcycles built 1895-1968, and includes 14 pictures of Clevelands from brochures plus two good colour shots of restored bikes, probably from his own collection. He estimates some 1500-2000 four cylinder Clevelands might have been built 1926-29.

  3. #3
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    Accurate history writing is plenty challenging... best of luck to you Andrew. I for one will be interested in what you come up with. Cleveland's have to be my favorite among the Fours.
    Cory Othen
    Membership#10953

  4. #4
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    Thanks guys for your replies,

    I did not know about that 'Pluricylindriche' book, its a pity it is a privately published book as that means I really have no chance of finding it in a library in Australia!

    and at a hundred euros to buy a book that is in Italian for only a handful of pages about Cleveland motorcycles is a bit steep!

    Steve would you have a copy of this book that you could scan a few pages for me?

    I did find the build numbers for Cleveland Motorcycles for 1920-1929 in another book called "Inside American Motorcycling - and the american motorcycle association" which says as follows:

    Cleveland Motor Company

    Year Numbers
    1920 5607

    1921 4960

    1922 5109

    1923 3560

    1924 4012

    1925 2693

    1926 541*

    1927 171*

    1928 467**

    1929 451**

    * T-head Fowler designed four.

    ** 45 and 61 Cu. in. F-headed models.


    Thanks,
    Andrew

  5. #5
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    Sorry Andrew, I am not going to violate copyright on another author's work. Stefano should still be contactable and might be pleased to help if you ask him. 100 euros for 14 pages of info is not so bad when you see what original brochures cost... For Cory, I like the Clevelands too. I helped restore a 1926 four a few years ago and thought it a bit flimsy. The gearbox case was badly broken where it joined the rear of the motor, and I understand this is a common fault. The frame sections are long and thin with little bracing, and I guess the engine/transmission flexes as the bike goes over bumps. William Harley was offered the whole company in 1929 but turned it down, and I wonder if this was because of the engineering work they would have to do on the Cleveland design, or if Harley were short of cash after the Eclipse patent settlement.

  6. #6
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    Steve, I think it's the stance of the Cleveland's that gets me. They just look right. Having said that, I've also heard of some of the faults you mentioned. I'm wondering if Herb knows why Bill Harley passed on the offer?
    Cory Othen
    Membership#10953

  7. #7
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    I got to look inside a Cleveland engine or two being restored. Very interesting, one thing I remember - they had an oil pump that pumped the oil into a little pan and the connecting rodes had dippers. To dip into that pan,if I remember correctly, it had a pump - but seemed to be a splash system. Also ben lucky enough to ride along side one, they are a neat machine.

  8. #8
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    The last design was the best. Finally, Cleveland got a truly viable four design, and the Great Depression snuffed 'um out! A shame.

    As part of your book, don't forget to include a mention of the post-Cleveland very streamlined exercises in design that were built in France, I think it was, using left-over Cleveland engines. One went up on Ebay a couple of years ago, but I didn't save the photos of it. I searched my files, but only came up with a photo of the "Cleveland 4-61 Tornado," the 1928-29 Cleveland the motor was designed for:


  9. #9
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    Thanks guys for all of your replies,

    Sorry Steve I did not mean to offend you when I asked if you could copy the sections of the book, I have just emailed Stefano Milani to ask if it is possible to purchase sections of his book on Cleveland Motorcycles.
    It is not considered copyright to copy under 10% of a book for educational purposes, in Australia (5% in the UK).

    One of the reasons I like the Cleveland four is that you can see the design evolution for the engine and frame through all of the different fours, whereas other companies started with ideas bought from other manufacturers.

    In regards to the takeover proposal for HD I found a little information in the Book "Harley Davidson Memories" By Bob Tyson:

    "Indian bought the remains of the Ace Motorcycle Company in 1927, and marketed an indian Ace four cylinder machine in the following year.
    In 1928, Harley-Davidson considered buying the Cleveland Motorcycle Manufacturing Company which made lightweight singles and large four cylinder machines, possibly to compete with the Indian four cylinder machines.
    Cleveland was in financial trouble, and had offered to sell out to the Milwaukee firm. H-D officers finally decided not to take the chance with Cleveland, reasoning that they planned on developing their own four cylinder motorcycle in the coming years.
    This proved to be a well-timed decision, as in October of 1929. the Wall Street Stock Market collapsed, leaving many of the smaller motorcycle companies no choice but to close their doors forever."


    Thanks Sargehere aswell, I did not know about the french using left over Cleveland engines in another motorcycle, I will definetly try to find some infromation about that.

  10. #10
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    There was a very interesting restoration article in the Fall, 1963 issue of the 'Antique Motorcycle'. It was written by Eugene J. Marty of San Francisco. In 1961, he found a derilict 1920 Cleveland at the Napa County dump. He goes on about his journey of finding parts, but this paragraph was most interesting:

    "I wrote a letter to the Postmaster at Cleveland, Ohio, asking him to kindly put me in touch with anyone who might have parts for a Cleveland Single. He answered by letter telling me he had checked several parties and that I would be hearing from one. Subsequently a letter came from a chap in Cleveland who had a $50,000 inventory of Cleveland parts for several years, but had sold the whole for iron weight just a few months before because of no demand. However, this chap did send me a few leads and I obtained a few more leads from one of these."

    Makes you wonder how much Cleveland Four stuff went to scrap.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

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