I have been asked how to assemble the forks on an early Harley and check if you have all the parts, if you have bought everything as reproduction and do not have an original set-up to follow. This should work for all 1910-14 models (and presumably some years just before that).
My example below is on a 1914 twin using all original parts. If you buy pattern springs from Competition or others, you will need to cut then to size as they are supplied long enough to cover all eventualities.
I happen to have the forks loosely set up in the frame but you can do this using a bench vice or even standing free. Image two shows the two fork plungers and the plunger coupling that joins them together.
The coupler has a right hand and a left hand thread. Turn one end into one of the plungers just about a half or one turn just so it grips. Then slide the coupler through the rear fork boss and hold the other coupler at the other end. In the middle of the boss is a small cut-out and you will be able to see a small hole drilled into the centre of the coupler. Use a thin screwdriver or bar and rotate the coupler. This will have the effect of screwing both threads (lh & rh) into the two plungers as in photo 3.
Insert the lower fork springs into the front fork legs as in photo 4.
Next slide the tubes upwards so that they slip over the plungers. Use the plunger coupler to adjust the width of the plungers so they fit into the tubes. The longer end of the plungers face downwards.
Then slide the forks up as far as they will go until you can drop the top springs into the top of the fork tubes. Then place the two spring guide rods into the top of the springs as in photo 6. Then fit the fork tube caps (I forgot to take a photo).
The fork rockers will not align as in photo 7. The best method for ‘one man’ operation is to use a ratchet strap as in photo 8 to pull the front fork upward until they align. If you need to add extra spring length to adjust the ride then using the ratchet straps to undo everything is an easy option.
Like most things, it’s easy when you know.