Jim Haubert Engineering

Softail Project Introduction

This page offers a glimpse into the process to build a Prototype Softail  from an existing FX model

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At Harley-Davidson on April 30, 1980 an Engineering Order was issued authorizing Department 832 to begin work on a rear suspension design concept. This order states,"It is desirable to explore a revised rear suspension system that will have the look of a "hard-tail" motorcycle.

Engineering orders were internal documents used to establish account numbers that projects would reference for funding. 

There are notations on this order tracking the hours from 5-17 to 6-28.

I still have more boxes of records to go through, but I remember that the project was handed off to me later in the year. I received a standard Wide Glide to start with, several sketches and a few "layouts".

A layout was a term that H-D used to describe a type of drawing that was a step up from a sketch, being done on a drafting table but not as complete as a blueprint. These sketches and layouts were the only "directions" I received.

I still have them, but I didn't follow them at all. For me, the project started as an open ended one. This meant no deadline and I was completely free to come up with something for viewing and possible approval.

Years ago, my first two Harleys were Knucklehead choppers and I was very familiar with the design/style of these earlier rigid frames. I always liked the way the lower frame tubes ran parallel to the ground and then bent up slightly near the rear axle. I remained faithful to this detail as you can see here:

The lower frame tubes are on the right in the top two views. Another feature that I liked was that the fender was supported by two tubes hidden inside of it. I had to reshape the corner radius of the fender along its curve but I believe the effect was worth it. This next composite shows the bike more complete and two details of the shock/battery configuration:

 
Because my design was fresh, it would have required more testing and tweaking than the one already marketed by Bill Davis. Harley took the path of least resistance and purchased his patents and rights.

All material on these pages is copyrighted by Jim Haubert 2002 - 2016
 
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Now Located on "The Mother Road", Historic Route 66