This Harley rider has to stick a shotgun shell in his bike every time he wants to go for a ride.

Scrolling through social media earlier this week and I came across a motorcyclist sticking a shotgun shell in the V-Twin of his vintage Harley. Shortly after he fires it off, and engine components turn over.

Sticking a shotgun shell in your engine? What is this guy on about?

Check out his video below.

The motorcyclist in question is Aaron Loveless of Central California Coast-based Loveless Performance Inc.

If you didn’t already tell from his video caption, Loveless is building a one-off, vintage Harley-Davidson with a period correct Koslow Racing engine for an upcoming bike show in June 2024.

Instead of the Harley’s traditional kick-starter, he’s replaced it with a literal shotgun starter, aka cartridge starter. This one is specifically called a Coffman Engine Starter.

“This way this works, it has a rotary breach, it self-cocks and unlocks, and fires. You take a blank shotgun shell, load it in there, and that’s how you start the engine.”

I’ve come across shotgun starters on tractors on Youtube before, so the idea of starting an engine with a shotgun blast isn’t anything new. However, this is the first time I’ve seen it used on a bike.

Researching the history of shotgun starters, not only were they used on farm equipment (as shown below,) they were also typically used in aircraft engines where aircraft often had to be started without the aid of a battery or electricity from shore power.

These shotgun shells were filled with a smokeless gunpowder called cordite which, when fired, shot enough gas to turn a screw thread that, when connected to an engine, provided enough inertia to start it.

Shotgun starters and what they could start seemed to be only limited to how large a cartridge you could make.

I came across this video of a shotgun starter starting a whole jet engine!

Cartridge start of Canberra…APU? Oh, my sweet summer child…let me show you a cartridge-start jet. The sound alone is worth it…
byu/LateralThinkerer inaviation

As Coffman’s video shows, this is a proof of concept to show that it actually works, turns over, and if connected 100 percent, would start that rare Koslow racing engine.

This build looks to be a testament to the bike builder’s creativity and craftsmanship, and I look forward to videos of it firing off for the first time via 12-gauge blast soon.


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