How Our Army Trains Its Motorcycle Specialists

This comprehensive and detailed description of the U.S. Army motorcycle training program is so interesting that it is printed in its entirety. The story, pictures and captions were furnished by the Bureau of Public Relations, Washington, D.C., and transmit

By Major Gorton V. Carruth, Photography by Holabird Ordnance Base

During this final 30-day period, students learn to regrind or re-hone and finish cylinders which need “cleaning up” and possible honing to a true size for the installation of new oversize pistons. All other numerous special tools are employed and instruction on their use is given by “Pop” Walker, who sees to it that students get training in correct handling and reading of inside and outside micrometers, depth gauges, and the like.

Special electrical testing devices are also taught as to correctness for testing generators, armatures, field coils, and condensers. Correct nomenclature of parts is taken up by Instructors Bleichner and Walker, who have at all times a large stock of parts.

Students are given riding experience in the Senior Class. Sgt. Lindenmoyer, the riding instructor, gives them a thorough workout on the test course at Holabird. They learn to operate motorcycles on convoys, and the test course has enough obstacles to give the most expert rider something to think about.

Summing up the final 30-day period, the student receives instruction on major and minor repair of motorcycles, ordering parts, inspecting machines for repair, operating instructions, riding, trouble-shooting, and also a few pointers and short-cut methods in repair under field conditions. A final examination tops it off.

The Motorcycle School, through the courtesy of the manufacturers, has cutaway motors, transmissions, carburetors, generators, and wheel hubs which are a great help to students in solving motorcycle mechanical problems. Display boards are also used. Made by students of the school, they include special Indian tools, special Harley-Davidson tools, complete blackout wiring of Indian and Harley-Davidson machines. There are also boards to assist in teaching students proper nomenclature of parts.

Quite a program that is “to develop a motorcycle mechanic” and teach him the “Three R’s of Motorcycles.” The graduate of the Motorcycle School is really a doctor of motorcycles. Just as the family doctor knows the function of each human organ, so he knows the function of each device on the two military motorcycles.

When a motorcycle specialist is able to converse at will on such technical topics as motorcycle assembly, transmission, primary drive, ignition systems, proper timing, generators and batteries, carburetors, wheels, spoke lacing, wheel bearings, brakes, chains, gas and oil tanks, oil pump, frames, controls, forks and handle bars for the ‘74 and ‘45 machines, Indian and Harley-he can and does call himself a motorcycle specialist.

A motorcycle specialist then knows there is more to motorcycle study than he thought when he started out in the Freshman class at Holabird. He is convinced as never before that there is more to it than the “open road and stimulating slipstream.” He finds out many things he’d never dreamed of before. He finds out that the highly-maneuverable and speedy thing he merely called a motorcycle is a marvel of complicated ingenuity, and his capitulation to the science of preventive maintenance is another way of saying that he is a top-notch mechanic who knows his business. He knows instinctively that if one, two, three…or a thousand, motorcycles must keep rolling, every single one of them must be cared for-just like the cavalryman’s steed whose comforts took priority over those of the rider.

Several hundred motorcycle specialists have been graduated since the Motorcycle School started its first class at Holabird in the fall of 1940. It is not a large number, but it can be considered large from the standpoint of motorcycle technicians turned out, especially in times when good motorcycle men are hard to find. These Holabird graduates are now doing yeoman service for the army in the field. Some of them are instructors, giving other soldiers the technique they acquired at Holabird. They are helping in other duties, because the Army has a big job to train men how to use motorcycles on convoys, for messenger service, and for combat duties such as leading tanks in armored divisions, scouting, patrolling, reconnoitering, spotting mines and traps, reporting enemy movements, reporting on the conditions of roads to motor transport officers who have convoys of trucks to move.

By Major Gorton V. Carruth
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