Restore   Chapter 11   1948 Model 125 ←  Up  →     

1948 Model 125


1948 was the first year for the Model 125. After the end of WWII, Americans were clamoring for consumer goods, and American factories were rushing to convert from wartime production to fill the demand. The Model 125 was rushed into production, like many other things in the late 1940's.

We think the Model 125 was originally scheduled for release sometime in 1947 (the part numbers are all -47), but production was delayed even past the start of the 1948 model year. It was finally unveiled at a H-D Dealer convention in Milwaukee on November 24, 1947.

The photograph at left has an "error" - The seat springs shown were never used in production. But it's not really an error. Why?

The model year, for motorcycles and automobiles, starts in September-October and runs to the following August. Factories make the changeover around July and start production in August.

Marketing departments are on a different schedule. They need pictures of product about two months months in advance, so they can prepare brochures for the dealers, magazine ads to attract customers, etc. So they beat on the engineering department to "hurry-up" some prototype machines for the marketing photos.

Most of the photographs used in factory literature are photos of pre-production machines. Most years they are indistinguishable from production specimens. But some years, especially with new or radically re-designed models, the prototypes differ greatly from the production models. Throughout the How To Restore section, we'll try to point out any discrepancies when we see them.

The Model 125 was rushed into production, but was still late getting to market. We believe the first models didn't hit dealer showrooms until around December 1947. The first "Operations and Maintenance" manual was a handmade affair that was dated December 1947. The real Rider's Handbook appeared in January 1948. See 1948 Literature for several examples of early prototype material.

The 1948 frame was changed in mid-year at serial 48 S 4746, and the early frames were recalled. However, there seems to be no visible difference. (See, Frames for more details)

The 1948 (and 1949) gas tank front mounting tabs were welded to the tank inside the "tunnel".

The 1948 Seat Springs were an accounting problem as well as a production nightmare. There were a "left" and a "right". Not only did this require H-D to purchase and stock two different springs, it required assembly line workers to put the "left" spring on the "left" side, and vice-versa. Eventually, someone realized this stupdity, and henceforth two "right" springs were used. We believe that the "left" spring was discontinued at the end of 1948 production, but again, there is no factory documentation of this change.

The 1948 starter crank was a poor design. The "slit" was positioned so that when the crank was operated, the slit would tend to expand under load. This undoubtedly caused a lot of stripped knurls, and was quietly changed sometime in mid year. The slit was then positioned on the other side, so it would tend to compress when operated. This change was never documented anywhere, and if you look in the 1966 Parts Catalog, the illustration still depicts the early 1948 crank!

While we're introducting the subject of discrepancies in factory literature, we need to mention that H-D Parts Catalogs are notoriously inaccurate - at least for restorers. Parts Catalogs were designed for H-D dealers - not restorers. The dealer needed to know that the "new improved part" would "fit all previous years". Restorers need to know "what part came on that year". The two goals do not completely coincide.

Another thing to remember was that 50 YEARS ago, parts books illustrations were done by "pen and ink" drawings - NOT computers. The cost to re-draw an illustration in the parts book was considerable - so obsolete illustrations were often used, although the part number alongside might be corrected.

Remember typewriters? Fifty years ago, "cut and paste" required scissors and glue. Revising minor inaccuracies in parts book cost real money. And it didn't get done unless it really had to.

Does that mean that Parts Catalogs are not good resouces for restorers? Au contraire. Parts Catalogs are great resources. But you have to accept their limitations and realize that they are the product of their times. Apply the same logic to your wife/husband, and you might see them in a different light!

H-D Parts Catatlogs give us "clues" to when things changed. Throughout "How To Restore" you will find some statements like "this part changed this year" with no definitive explanation. That's usually because we really just don't know - but we have a clue that -something- changed, and we want to point that out to you, the restorer. If you figure out the details, or find a mistake, please let us know via the Hummer Exchange

One egregious example would be the 1948 "left" spring, which was discontinued by the end of 1948 production. The 1966 Parts Catalog still shows the "left spring".

The 1948 Model 125 sold for $325.00 There was one color available: Black. There was one option available: Chrome Rims - $7.50 Life was a lot simpler back then.

Motor - General

Motor - Cylinder - Piston

Flywheels - Shafts - Connecting Rods

Crankcases and Fittings

Carburetor and Air Cleaner


Not used on this model.


The 1948 and 1949 Model 125 used a 2-brush generator. This was replaced in 1950 with a 4-brush generator, and a recall instituted. Some 1948 and 1949 bikes were retrofitted by dealers with the new 4-brush unit.

See the Generator chapter for details.

Spark Coil and Spark Plugs

Starter and Transmission

Clutch and Clutch Control

Chain and Sprocket

Rear Wheel and Brake

Rims and Spokes

Front Wheel and Brake

Front Brake Control

Front Fork

Frame and Rear Fork

See the Frames chapter for details.

Safety Guard and Splash Shields

Jiffy Stand and Footrests



Dual Seat and Trail Seat

Buddy Seat

Luggage Carrier



Fenders and Chain Guards

Gas Tank

Tool Box

Muffler and Exhaust Pipe

Battery and Holders

Speedometer and Drive

Headlamp and Tail Lamp

Front Fender Lamp and Parts





Voltage Regulator

The 74510-47 voltage regulator is about 2.5 inches square. The cover is held on by bend-over tabs. This style was used from 1948 until 1954.

Auxiliary Seat and Footrests

Saddle Bags



Miscellaneous Common Items

Accessories - Not in Parts Catalogs

Paint Colors

Standard: Brilliant Black
Optional Colors: None

See the Paint Colors chapter for details.


Brilliant Black

  Last updated: May 11, 2011 ←  Up  →