I was pleasantly surprised to hear that you knew John Harman,
small world I guess. As a 17 year old kid I dreamed of someday
building a Harman, and when I discovered recently that there
is almost nothing about this man on the Internet, I decided
it would be a shame if the legend was forgotten, he deserves
better. I would love to add your story about John to my Harman
page, and anything else you might remember. What happened to
him, did he have an accident or get sick or something?
I have an old Harman catalog here and I have images of the
swingarm frames and the engines, but havn't seen the 4-carb
head setup you mention, or is this a setup with Harman heads
and split manifolds or something?
John had invited me to fly to Palmdale with him for the last
race of 1986 season. The day before we were supposed to go he
called me and said that he was having dizzyness and a serious
vision problem. His doctor grounded him pending test results.
When I got back the next week he told me that the doctors discovered
that he had bone cancer. Bone cancer is incurable and very painful.
The doctors said that he might live 2 years but he didn't have
much quality time left. I spent the next 6 weeks with him helping
him get his him business affairs in order and cataloging and
valuing all of his assets so that his wife wouldn't be taken
advantage of when he was gone. Within a short time he was on
morphine. It was very sad to watch. He had always worked out
and been in great shape. After he got sick he just sort of withered
away. In six months he was gone.
His wife sold the house and shop and moved back to the city.
Kenny Boyce ended up with the frame business and the Harman
engine. Kenny wasn't working for John at the time of his illness
but had been his one and only employee for a number of years.
Seeing the two togather always reminded me of Dr. Frankinstein
and Egor. Kenny never did anything with the Harman engine himself.
The frame business evolved into Kenny Boyce Pro-Street. Kenny
just recently sold the business and is now retired from the
The 4 carb heads were Johns greatest creation. He stopped making
them after he came out with the Harman engine. He would start
with stock Shovelhead head castings (that's all there was in
those days,) The last and best version used two rear head castings.
with the one on the front cylinder rotated 180deg. so that the
exhaust port faced foreward and to the left and the intake port
faced the right rear. He would weld two spigets about 6 inches
long to the mouth of each intake port.
The porting was very sophisticated and the flow was incredible
for a shovelhead. He did this for two reasions.
(1) There were no large carburators on the market in those days
(except the S&S L which was a piece of crap) So he used two
Dellorto carbs (one pumper and one non-pumper) per head.
(2) These were combined with a progressive linkage so that at
low RPM one carb was feeding each head through one small port.
Velocity was very high and throttle response was nice and crisp.