See, Smell and Hear the Birthplace

Most of our readers will agree that Harley-Davidson builds great motorcycles. We love our Harleys! We love to buy em, we love to own em and we definitely love to ride em! Sometimes we even like to argue and complain about em.

There are only four Harley-Davidson factories listed on the factory tour page of the Harley-Davidson website. Two are in Wisconsin and one in Missouri. The fourth is less than 70 miles from my house and sometimes riders here forget how lucky we are to be so close to the Vehicle Operations facility in York, PA.

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Every September the York Open House invites the mass riding public to come into the plant, tour the facility and have a party in the parking lot. It’s like visiting motorcycle meca! It’s pretty cool and I think this might be the third time I have gone. Friday September, 28th 2012 was the first time I went on a weekday. I used vacation time from work to see the newly renovated York facility with new modernized technology and robotics to build the world’s best motorcycles. It is awesome to enter the factory and smell the metals. Lathes are turning, drills are drilling, presses are pressing and welders are welding! Worker driven carts are driving around with parts and beeping to warn people to get out of the way. Orange robotic carts are following electronic pathways on the plant floor with first just a frame mounted and on them and then travel station to station until a finished motorcycle passes through final inspection and is removed from the cart. I was expecting to see hundreds of the same model motorcycle in the same color being mass produced all at once like a line of cookie cutter model A’s… but that is not how they do it now. Each one of those robotic carts has a different model in a different color and the workers assemble different motorcycles one after another. It is really cool to watch! And then after you see the entire process you get to watch a movie in a small movie thearter about the company history from their beginnings in a humble shack in 1903 that we are all familiar with. It takes you through the WWII era the AMF days, then into the eighties and then to current times.

Seeing all the workers on the line on a Friday putting each piece on a motorcylce was ten times better than my past visits on a Saturday where you were lucky to see a fender stamped out of a sheet of metal. If you live near any of the Harley-Davidson factories you owe it to yourself as an American motorcyclist to visit the birthing place of the only American motorcycles! Smell the metal, hear the noise and see with your own eyes the mechanical art being turned out for delivery to Harley dealers so you and I can own and ride an American legend!

One Response to “See, Smell and Hear the Birthplace”

  1. That sounds like a really cool tour. I would like to make it to one of them some day. I would want to go on a weekday like you said. Then I could really see the bikes getting made! Here’s another cool place to talk about similar topics:

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