The forks are XA-springers and seized. Turns out an American mystic had once voodoo-ed them and simulated years of hard riding by bending the front fork forging, making the bottom too wide and the sliders too narrow.
Clearly something was wrong.
As if by magic... or by a bit of heat and a squeeze... they are hetero once more.
The XA springers are two inches longer than the standard WL, same as the pre-1942 flathead forks. Better ground clearance, not quite the same steering feel.