Bike of the Month
1948 Harley-Davidson FL Deluxe
by Gus Assuras
My uncle George Assuras purchased it April 8, 1948 for $825 out of Salt Lake City at Chris Drayer HD. They delivered it to McGill, NV and uncrated it. He purchased it to get to UNR economically. During these years he traveled extensively including three trips to Canada and rode year round in all weather conditions with Joe Sertic on his 1947 HD, After college he married a McGill school teacher and moved to Reno to work for Sierra Pacific Power Co as an engineer. The bike sat from around 1954 with 32,650 miles on it in his garage because his wife didn't want him riding it.
In 1965, when I was 13, my dad suggested I try to purchase the bike from him. My uncle agreed and back home to McGill it came. My dad told me when I could start it on my own I could ride it so everyday after school I would try until I got it kick started. I rolled it out of the garage and began riding it down the street. My dad was initially mad but actually wanted me to buy the bike so he'd have someone to ride with. I rode it to high school daily 12 miles with no license plates or drivers license passing the school bus daily. I also worked on a couple ranches in Cherry Creek and Currie, NV, riding 35 miles (15 of dirt) to help pay for the bike. It used to smoke so badly I had to change plugs weekly. When I was 15 all my friends were riding Honda 90's or 350's so I asked my dad for one and he said trade in the Harley. Thank goodness I never made that trade! All the girls wanted to ride on the Harley.
Dad and I tore the motor down because of the smoking. Took motor only to SLC HD dealership and was told parts were not available to rebuild so they suggested I bring in rest of bike and trade in on a new one. Returned to SLC and picked up motor without accepting their suggestion. Bike sat apart while I moved to Reno in 1972. Meanwhile I was riding my dad's 1942 but in 1974 or 75 I returned and got the bike and began putting it back together. I entertained the idea of making a chopper out of it but I didn't have that much money. Thank goodness for being broke! Auburn HD agreed to rebuild the motor. Family friend, Joe Sertic, in Ely, had the nicest 1947 HD I had ever seen so I decided to change color from original red to black with chrome. Spent winter months rebuilding bike in a tiny basement with parts throughout the house. Took me, my cousin, my wife, a tree and a come-along to get that bike up those basement stairs.
Got it back together but 22 miles later on Pyramid Highway all I saw was smoke in my mirror so I called Auburn HD and told them of motor problem. They wanted the whole bike brought in but I couldn't trust them. I located a guy at Reno HD who tore motor apart and found they had bead blasted motor and never cleaned it properly so bead blast went throughout motor and wiped everything out. $1,600 later back on road again in 1977. Rode until 1996 and decided to restore to original red color. Tore it down and repainted. Back on the road February 25, 1997.
Been running great ever since, met my dad and Joe many times in Austin and Eureka on Hwy 50 on way to McGill. After meeting Jim Meadows I've taken several trips including Wendover Salt Flats and Dixon swap with it. Recently found an original fender ornament I had seen on an old pic when my uncle owned it on eBay and now it’s totally back to how it looked when newly purchased with original windshield frame, bags, seat, muffler and ornament. Looking forward to many more miles and years of great service!