Home > EDITORIAL > Columnists > Rear View Mirror: What was news in ’92

Rear View Mirror: What was news in ’92

By Kip Woodring

The World:

  • Roman Catholic Church reinstates Galileo Galilei… after 359 years.
  • McDonald’s opens its first restaurant in China.

The Nation:

  • President Bush apologizes for raising taxes after promising not to.
  • Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster win Oscars for Silence of the Lambs.
  • Johnny Carson makes his final appearance as host of The Tonight Show.
  • A free newspaper called THUNDER PRESS appears in dealerships. In this pre-Facebook, nascent Internet world, the calendar section was the core feature. Fans of American V-twins had the knowledge, places to go and things to do.

The Factory: 

Harley-Davidson builds 76,000 motorcycles… a new record for the nearly 90-year-old company… yet the waiting list doesn’t get any shorter.

On The Surface: 

1992 was a transitional year in the evolution of the Evolution. First of all, The Motor Company had just completed a brand-new, high-tech, high-dollar paint shop. It actually cost them more than the buy-back from AMF had, a decade earlier. The big idea was to offer custom paint schemes to customers (which they sure have) as well as improve the quality, variety and quantity of production paint work. Then the paint shop fixed a bottleneck restricting production. Today it’s responsible for the finest finishes and color schemes in the industry… so good idea!

Anyway, like most any of us with a new toy, they decided to play with it… with fabulous results but one little initial kink. The prime examples were the two new Dyna Glides, namely the Daytona and the Custom. The Daytona was absolutely resplendent as anyone who’s seen one will attest. The Custom (code name FXDC) was the one in beautiful, bright metal-flake silver… frame and all… courtesy of the new paint shop! Only, it wasn’t really. The press releases, factory brochure, some history books and even Wikipedia (for Pete’s sake) hype those frames. But, if you ever see a 1992 FXDC on the street (as opposed to one on the brochure) that has a silver frame… take pictures! They’re rare; the first silver-painted frames had a problem… the flake would gravitate to the corners, turning black, while the rest of the tubing turned white. Not good! So they were repainted by hand… all of about 200 of ‘em. From then on, the factory gave up and all the rest have black frames. True story!

The Inside Story: 

More importantly, changes were made in the crankcases of 1992 Big Twin models. In January, the old reliable Torrington (cageless) inner cam bearing was replaced with a so-called INA (caged) version, which proceeded to cause all sorts of grief and agro for anyone with the audacity to install a high-performance camshaft… and some who didn’t.

In preparation for the switch to EPA-mandated “head breathing” by 1993, the 1992 models retained the “case breathing” plumbing, dating clear back to the Knucklehead but because of the casting changes, with minimal tweaking (including umbrella valves in the rocker boxes) they were capable of both!

Naturally enough, H-D took advantage of the opportunity to change to a much cleaner oil pump design as well. I’m not sure why they decided not to make the new pumps interchangeable with the older ones… but stud spacing precludes a retrofit.

Sportsters were in the second year of a fifth gear and the news there was all good. It seems strange now, but not many people realized at the time that adding a five-speed and a belt drive to the 1200 Sporty was a major step closer to perfecting the beast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*