Wishing Everyone Happy Holidays And Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our wonderful friends, family, and supporters of The Wheels Through Time.  We would again like to Thank You for supporting the WTT and look forward to incredible year ahead of us.  Please be careful and considerate this Holiday and think twice before you drink and drive, or drink and ride.  Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dale Walksler
Founder and Curator

 

Farewell 2016

It is with great pride and gratitude that we close the 2016 Season at Wheels Through Time. It was an exciting year with record numbers of visitors experiencing the new “look” here at Wheels Through Time.  New to The Museum this year were several 4 wheel machines, and nearly a dozen new motorcycles from several different eras.   Among the new artifacts and machines, was a new exhibit of art displayed by the incredibly talented David Uhl, http://www.uhlstudios.com, which surrounds the magnificent pair of Crocker motorcycles used in American Restoration!  David’s art enhances the depth and beauty of the historical artifacts that rest at The Wheels Through Time.

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The American Restoration television show featured on the History Channel broadened the museum audience and many are now discovering their own passion for American Motorcycle History.  While many visitors and fans are asking what show is next, I have quietly been putting together something special set to debut in Winter of 2017!  Make sure to stay tuned in to our website for updates and a release date!  Simply put, if you’ve read this far, you surely won’t be disappointed!

We also introduced the LifeTime Donorship Program allowing free lifetime admission for the Donor and 3 friends.  The Donorship program will help ensure Wheels Through Time will remain open for future generations and continue to educate people on the history of American Motorcycles.

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The Donors’ name will remain on a placard at the entrance of Wheels Through Time as a token of the Museum’s appreciation. An individually numbered and signed David Uhl print of The Discovery is included with the Donorship as well as a few other WTT goodies!  Click here http://www.wheelsthroughtime.com/life-time-donorship-main/to learn about becoming a Lifetime Donor!

In closing, I would like to thank my fiancé Trish who has been amazing and has spent tireless hours helping with anything and everything that required attention,  She has been incredible to say the least.

I would like to extend a huge Thank You to the visitors, volunteers, members, and supporters of this American History Experience. Each day our special friends share their stories and memories while surrounded with running artifacts of days gone by. The museum experience was undoubtedly enhanced by our incredible staff and volunteers – Nikki, Brittany, Betty, Cat, Jan, and Andy the Tour Guide.  Also, a special thanks to Jack Harrell who has been with us at the museum from over a decade.  Thanks Jack!  Throughout 2016, we fired up over 150 rare machines and helped educate over 75,000 people that came through Wheels Through Time!

Stay tuned in over 2017 to our Facebook Live, Monthly, and Quarterly Newsletters and stay up to speed on new exhibits, merchandise, gear, and of course motorcycles that are heading to Wheels Through Time in 2017!
Dale Walksler
Founder and Curator
Wheels Through Time

2017 Calendar of Events

Thank you for taking a moment to visit our events page. As 2016 comes to an end, we would like to thank all of you who supported the WTT this year as wells as past years. 2017 is going to be an exciting year at the Wheels Through Time and we can’t wait share whats happening! Stay tuned for the 2017 Calendar of Events! Below were some of the highlights of 2016! Sidecars in the Smokies

-Dale

May 19-23, 2016 – American Motor Drome Wall of Death

The American Motor Drome Wall of Death will be in operation May 19-23 (Thursday-Monday).

Our friends at the American Motor Drome Company have shared their passion and enthusiasm for motorcycling around the country for decades. They have kept the 100+ year old art of the Original Motorcycle Thrill Show, The Wall of Death, alive through their travels and performances.

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July 29-30, 2016 – Kickstart Classic

Based from the world-class Wheels Through Time museum, in Maggie Valley, NC, the 2016 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic will be held July 29 and 30.

The all-make motorcycle event is open to all two and three wheelers – old or new. We prefer older motorcycles with kickstarters, but more modern ones are also welcome. The new ones just have to ride behind the old ones to pick up any parts that fall off.

The two-day event will include a welcome dinner July 28, and free admission to the museum as well as organized rides on some of the best motorcycle roads in the country. Registration has been held at $100 per person (rider and/or passenger) again this year. For more information, please visit www.aimag.com

Kick logo Sept 13

Two Cam Glory

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I always like a challenge and this is a great example. A worn out bike and 45 days!

But this is not the first time Buzz has thrown me a challenge. I almost can’t count, but the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is always a great finish and some ink in American Iron magazine. American Iron, for those not in the know- is the largest news stand cycle magazine in the country. Good ink is always good, GREAT ink is always GREAT!

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Looking back, there have been some memorable builds with Buzz. In 2010, Buzz and I each raced 1915 Harleys across America from Kitty Hawk NC to Santa Monica, CA in the Motorcycle Cannonball. In 2012, he raced across America again in the Cannonball with his other Two Cam Harley. Once, Buzz had me revive a 1924 Harley that was great fun considering the old girl had not run in 50 or 60 years. There has been old bikes made to look like new, and new bikes made to look old.

But back to this one- The ultra-rare 1929 Harley JDH Two Cam. Approx. 2000 of these machines were made in 1928 and 1929 only. Many of these machines were hot rodded like this one. They were built as reliable, fast machines consequently they got used up, abused and eventually became extinct. The few surviving examples have been scooped up by collectors and some examples have sold for well over 100k.

What we started with was actually a pretty good start. The bent frame is pretty common. Remember these machines were raced! With the limited time at hand, it became an exercise in precise calculation of what parts get what finish. The big credit goes to John Dills who painted the bike in luscious two tone maroon. I believe there were over 22 individual parts that got the glowing maroon Matrix paint. Oops, forgot to mention the 15 or so parts that were sprayed in jet black to compliment the maroon.

Now, I love the fact that the History channel allows me to share our passion with the world, but what the viewers did not see is the work of fine artist Mark Peters from Asheville, NC, who did the intricate detail work pin striping over 27 feet of freehand and the incredible lettering. I truly wish his multifaceted talent is filmed on future episodes of the show. (BTW Mark did the work on MR. Lucky bike).

Two Cam Glory pinstriping

Back to the bike. Many of the parts were nickel plated. This process puts a micro layer of nickel on iron and steel parts. My pals at Plating Specialties in Michigan supplied that work in short order. They did me a huge favor by cleaning the parts prior to plating saving me 20 or so hours.

As you saw on the show, we stripped the tanks, but after a close examination we opted for tanks that have welded seams. These tanks are supplied and produced by my pal Tom Feezer at Replicant Metals in PA. He makes, sells, and distributes a huge range of parts for Harleys from 1910- 1948 AND MORE.

Some of the unusual details of this old hot rod bike go like this. The front wheel had a massive non Harley brake put on likely in the 60s. The front wheel is attached to a fork that dates at least 4 years from the year of the frame. This is where it gets interesting, meaning it does not handle like a 1929 road bike. It handles more like a 1940 s dirt track 750 Harley racing machine. Ah, the handlebars are next. Hand built in one week by the talented Tom Faber who is in the business of making handlebars for Harley Davidson motorcycles from 1909 to the 50s. Hundreds of styles, thousands of bends. I have used Tom’s bars on bikes I race/ride and put my life on the line. They never fail and are always perfect. No simple task! Faber Machine!!

Two Cam Glory WheelsI forgot to mention the wheel rings. If you noticed the wheels/rims were in good shape but in need of restoration. WE CHEATED. We cleaned them up. Touched them up, and the magic. Back in the day you could purchase 2 inch wheel rings. They were aftermarket parts made to give your bike that extra snaz. These re-manufactured rings were made at great expense by my friend Matt Olsen in Aberdeen, SD. Matt and his dad Carl have been restoring Harleys to the highest standards for years. Well it all came together. Painted in the lighter maroon and striped by Peters. It was a great way to save $ without compromising appearance. So much for detail!

The work started with the tear down. It was late and the hardworking film crew had their 12 hours in, so they left a young and talented shooter. He did not work long. We took it apart in about 45 minutes. And the bent frame. It sure as heck was off. The beauty was the genuine 1922 Harley frame table we have on hand for such a task… The fork was bent also and the same table facilitated a quick fix. The reassembly went well. I used very little of the nut and bolt crappy (I mean crappy) hardware and replaced it with left over nickel bolts and nuts from my Crocker project and a few other leftovers.

Two Cam Glory Frame

Two Cam Glory Frame Instructions

The real challenge is doing a bike in short time is all the plating and painting coming back in the right order to finish the job on time. It all was coming together and then one late night while installing the most critical, up front visual part, the right gas tank. The tank had come from PA late! John did the paint and decal but then off to the stripper for the gorgeous thin stripes. Back to John for clear coat. A thousand miles later here we go and then SH**-. I was trying to align a top bolt with a punch and pushed too hard, snapped the punch and gouged the paint to the metal. Three days before the ride up Maggie Mountain, John Dills and Mark Peters were back to work. About 200 miles back/forth and around. I was more careful the second time and the installation was filmed. I was nervous.

Two-Cam-Glory-PedalThe kick starter. I kind of figured this would happen. We dumped the crappy single tube pipe and opted for some custom made duels and added some fun by installing some Indian DNA to the bike. Thanks to Jerry Greer in Sturgis, SD. His company Jerry Greer’s Engineering manufactures an enormous line of Indian replacement parts from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. And they are all perfect. Every one! The high quality fishtails for the tips of the pipes were finished in clear lacquer only so they would have a profound look after 100 or so miles… I really think they make a statement right out of the 30s.Back to the kick starter arm. It is made by my pal Michael Breeding in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is among the most talented fabricators of cast steel and forged steel replacement parts for Harley Davidson from 1909 through 1940s and more of course. One of the many great things about Michael is he started making Indian parts 40 years ago. Mastered that, sold the line and did the same damn thing with Harleys. Epic.

Anyhow I knew the arm was going to be perfect. But I did not expect the bushing to be undersized. We were really about a day out and it was nothing short of a miracle to have a Stone Age tool exactly the right size! It all came together to the day. The reveal was fun, the motor was dead cold and did start on the first kick. Buzz was truly impressed and that was the goal.

The ride was short but real and someday there will be a story in American Iron Magazine.

-Dale Walksler

Two Cam Glory Finished
Two Cam Glory RideTwo Cam Glory GroupMany people contributed to the success of this project, we would sincerely like to thank everyone involved. Just to name a few:

Buzz Kanter – American Iron Magazinewww.aimag.com

John Dills- Dills Paintworks- Sylva, NCwww.dillspaintworks.blogsot.com

Mark Peters- Peters Auto Art- Asheville, NCwww.petersautoart.com

Plating Specialties Inc. -Madison Heights, MIwww.platspec.com

Tom Feezer- Replicant Metals- Lancaster County, PAwww.replicantmetals.com

Michael Breeding- Sante Fe, NMwww.mikespartsforharleys.com

Tom Faber- Cedar Springs, MIwww.fabercycle.com

Matt & Carl Olson- Aberdeen, SDwww.carlscyclesupply.com

Jerry Greer’s Engineeringwww.jerrygreersengineering.com

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil

I will never forget meeting Basil. A gentleman in all manners. I spotted him in deep concentration looking at a machine that is very close to my heart. The bike is called Mina. An attention to detail tribute to my mother who passed away, well, a long time ago. I think of her daily as an inspiration to all good things. My mother was aware of my entrepreneurial skill when I was about 6…and I now realize I was to follow in her footsteps. Mina was a pioneer woman actively involved as a real-estate brokerage opposed to the more traditional “sales MAN” of her time. Eventually she succeeded in owning her own real estate agency. This all happened where I tried to grow up in suburban Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Ah the 70’s. I built this tribute bike in her honor in 2008. The Time Machine logo that appears on the tank is also her inspiration to my video website I started in 2008… Called the TIME MACHINE.

Back to Basil looking in awe at the bike. When I approached him smiling, I told him the story and asked him if he wanted to hear it run, a few kicks and the 61 incher is idling perfectly. I’m always stoked and proud of the old 1946 knuckle I call Mina. I think it was about then that he smiled and asked me if I would/could build one like it for him. I had already decided that I would and then he gave me his speech. It went like this… Basil explained that his father indeed was close to his heart and somewhere in the conversation he called him Mr. Lucky. And that’s when it was decided the bike would also be called affectionately MR. LUCKY!

I tore into this project with a whirlwind of ideas and organization. Back up! When I told Basil I could/would build a bike, I told him it would NOT be a knucklehead. Back up! About 10 years ago I bought a polished 55 pan motor from Patty Kramer in Oley, PA. It just looked SPECIAL!!! Back up!! Patty tells me this story how Basil tried to buy THAT same motor for 25 years. Half of its 60 year life… it just been sitting around, till now. Now its Mr. Lucky forever!

Back to the build- the motor was pretty easy. I re-polished all the parts inside and out, bored the original cylinders, I used replacement heads sold by V-Twin with the 54 and earlier plumber style intake– I just like them better than the 55-65 jobs. All stock motor. Polished transmission I had built back in 2005 likely.

V-Twin 1955-1957 straight leg frame. Stock springer forks, and the rest is a combination of parts from many years of HD history and dozens of dozens of hand built components that define what I call REAL SCHOOL mechanics. And some great gadgets. The double ride control, the right side adjustable baffled duel exhaust. Dual acting front/rear right hand brake lever… The new old stock pile got somewhat depleted with the 65 panhead rear left crossover dual exhaust that blended to these unusual upswept trumpets, capped with my pal Ken Curtis’ exotic baffle arrangement. I want to stop right here and tell you I had a lot of fun doing this one.

The overall layout is LOW with LOW and wide double layered custom Tom Faber built bars. These bars resemble the bars on the Mina bike, which is another book. The bike handled so easy with the wide and low. The other look I wanted was to have a lot going on in the headlight area and also something to compliment that on the rear. What better than CHROME. Load it up and put it on!!! In some style!!

Now the paint, Painter John Dills really put in work to do this job, there was a lot of moving parts and changes in a short period of time, starting with the wheel hubs. When all of that is in various stages of completion, our pal Mark Peters is busy stripping the multi layered paint. Nerves of steel. The paint started with off white with some design with detail white on fork /bars/rockers and about a dozen other parts.

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil - Tanks
Then it happened… I was mocking up the look on day 1 or 2 and reached for a pair of tanks close by. They were green with odd paint. A pair!!!!! The realization of two things. One was they were a pair all right, but not matched, BOTH the right side, odd. One was flathead 74 and the other panhead odder, WHAT! What’s the story!? They were painted a long time ago. (Notice dirt dauber nest).

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil - Tanks

The second thing I realized is that I now have the paint scheme that I was unsure of. Time for John to do his magic…The period graphix work well with the two tone and the white. Well anyhow, I like it. Paint done (well almost), chrome on. Ready to run, Damn, this bike started and ran as well as any I have built. FROM THE FIRST STROKE. Proud moment. Then I opened the baffle! No words! Ask Buzz- he was there.

Down the road, works great…Then the dreaded thought, “ITS NOT MINE”.

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil - Tanks

Mr. Lucky Meets Basil

Wall of Death

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AR3 GradyI met my old pal Kent Wadell in 1978 at a Harley Davidson dealer convention. I was 26, and old Kent was in his 60’s. I was a dealer in MT Vernon, Illinois and Kent’s shop was in Abeline Texas… We somehow struck up a conversation about old motorcycles and a friendship was made.

We would get together each year at the Dealer convention somewhere in the country, and talk about old motorcycles. My first of many trips to his shop was years later about 1985.

AR3 WOD...4I admired his collection of Indians and Harley’s, but always came back to an odd looking yellow and red Indian carnival bike. Kent told me what it was, a “WALL OF DEATH” bike. I asked him if I could buy the machine every time I visited and he always declined, telling me stories of its former glory days on the famous “Wall of Death”.
And years went by, 20 plus years.

AR3 WODKent passed away several years ago leaving his legacy to his son Grady, The old Indian was still leaning in the same place it was the first time I saw it in 1985. It was dirty and grimy then and about the same 30 years later. I told Grady that the Wall of Death was going to be at the Museum in a month and jokingly said we should get it running and put it on the wall. No kidding, to my surprise he said “OK!”

AR3 WOD...5The rest you saw on the show, just as it happened step by step. I am probably not supposed to mention that when we got the bike on Wednesday we knew the only chance to film the bike on the wall would be on Thursday, leaving us 24 hours to sort it out. Well filming TV is like molasses sometimes and we did not start filming until 5 pm. We did miracles in a short amount of time, but after the film crew left there was still much to do.

I won’t go into the details of the locked up transmission that night, but I will tell you what you did not see on the show was the courage that only Bob and I witnessed.

Some of the best moments making television is not on the film, but in our memory.

AR3 WOD.

AR3 WOD..

Clara Wagner Lives

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My fascination with the Wagner Motorcycle goes back to about 1980 when I saw one at my old pal Chuck Lipskys shop in Galesburg, Illinois. It was 1994 before I found a nice original 1909 model Wagner at an auction. I still own that machine and have always been amazed with the company’s history and the genius inventor.

First of all, Minnesota was not a manufacturing hub at the turn of the century. It has been noted the driving force of the brand was its founder George Wagner. How he was able to design, build and market his machine for a period of 12 years is nothing short of a miracle.

14365282980_1bd998d0e8_cAnd a reliable machine it was. As the story goes George’s daughter Clara successfully completed many competitions and cross country races in the day. No small accomplishment for a lady rider in 1911. In fact when she won the Chicago to Indianapolis road race in 1911, and was denied the trophy because she was a woman!

Fast forward to march of 2015. The EJ Cole auction of rare American motorcycles. Over 150 machines netted EJ over 12 million dollars during the 2 day event, shattering world records. The auction included a 1907 Harley, dubbed the “Mona Lisa of Harley-Davidsons”, that fetched $715,000,  and a 1915 Cyclone that brought a cool $852,500.

These two machines were the highest price at the auction, both breaking world records. The 1915 Cyclone was formerly owned by Steve McQueen.

These two machines were the highest price at the auction, both breaking world records. The 1915 Cyclone was formerly owned by Steve McQueen.

This is where Cris and Pat found the 1911 Wagner. All original with damaged original paint. Cris was very familiar with the Wagner story, particularly Clara Wagner. Cris is an avid motorcyclist, and has many accomplishments under her belt, including being an author. She wrote, “The American Motorcycle Girls”, & “The American Motorcycle Girls Cannonball Diary”. Cris has been inducted into several “Hall of Fames” and has also raced her vintage 1915 Harley (named EFFIE) in the 2010 race across America; The Cannonball.

Cris Simmons pictured in famous artist- David Uhl's "Leading Ladies" painting.

Cris Simmons pictured in famous artist- David Uhl’s “Leading Ladies” painting.

Rumor has it that when the Wagner came up for auction and Cris opened the bid, the house became quiet in a hurry and the hammer went down.

Shameless respect. When the machine arrived at Wheels Through Time, Bob and I were very excited and could not wait to start. Unfortunately, we had a camera crew and a TV show to make. On you mark, get set, wait…. and again. Eventually we got started.

daleandwagnerWe made quick progress turning the motor and finding spark for the plug. Discovering the initials “CW” is still haunting us all. Also a tool box key was found with the same CW… We did not add one piece or part to the bike. The all night work on the paint was most rewarding for Bob, as was the seat rejuvenation.

When Pat and Cris arrived, we had not run the machine and this is where things got interesting. In front of all, we tweaked and turned, removed and revitalized several key components and in the end it started and ran – perfect.

The scariest part of the process was the 104 year old belt. All the pedaling and it did not break and remains in the same shape today. The Wagner is now on the most generous loan at the museum from Cris and Pat and she runs– thank you Clara!

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Teresa’s 46 Knucklehead

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The Wheels Through Time Museum is a melting pot for motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world. Great stories are told, memories relived and sometimes deals are made. I made a deal with Jim Bentley to work on a 1946 Harley-Davidson. He told me the fascinating story of his father-in-laws pride and joy, the 46 Knucklehead. His wife Teresa was also excited to tell us the story of the family treasure. The bike was originally blue and she said her dad always regretted painting it red. I believe Teresa shed a tear when the bike was left here for restoration.

A simple tune up was in order for Jim and Teresa Bentley’s 1946 Knucklehead. Jim knew all along we would have to completely restore the bike. You see Jim is a deal maker. He owns and operates one of the most reputable Harley-Davidson Dealerships in the land, Man O’ War Harley Davidson in Lexington, Kentucky. The note under the seat to fully restore the Knucklehead was real and the clock was ticking.

It was really a matter of pride and professional courtesy that I took on the task. It takes several hundred hours to complete a machine to that standard. Credit is due to all that participated in the restoration. John Dills produced the quality paint job. Tires are made by the Coker Tire Company. My pal Chuck at Kick Start motorcycles is always helpful with hard to find parts. Replicated parts are supplied by the V-Twin Company with many of their high quality fasteners manufactured by the Colony Manufacturing Company in Ohio. Heathers Leathers constructed the leather work, and many thanks to John Gustafson for partial assembly.

Shortly after the bike was completed, Teresa sent me a letter which relates her personal connection with her father, his machine and of course Harley-Davidson. She also commented on me “making” her start the bike featured in episode 1 of American Restoration.

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Friendships were made, history was recounted and the old 46 has a new life.

The following message is a tribute of the restored Harley-Davidson Knucklehead on display at Man O’ War Harley-Davidson- written by Dr. Teresa Bentley: 1946-1946 ½ Knucklehead owned by Elbert Ray Beachum of Union City, Tennessee. Restored by Dale Walksler of “Wheels Through Time Museum” in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.

This restored Knucklehead was owned and often ridden by the father of Dr. Teresa Bentley, wife of Jim Bentley of Man O’ War Harley-Davidson. This machine has been a part of the family since purchased in approximately 1951. Ray, a farmer in northwest Tennessee, bought the bike from a “river man”, colloquial term for a bargeman of the nearby Mississippi River. The “river man” needed $500 and offered the motorcycle to Ray on the condition that at his return, the bike would be resold to the original owner. He never returned and the Knucklehead would become a member of the Beachum family for 60 years. Ray often rode the bike when Teresa was a young girl. She can remember riding behind her dad when she was 5 years old or even younger. Family members were enamored of the bike, and all takers tried to conquer the “suicide clutch” and tame the unruly bike.

AR1.22With a spirit and personality all its own, the motorcycle survived the family of 5 kids, the wear and tear of Tennessee cotton, soybean, corn, cattle farm, and life in the rural south. Ray kept the bike in its original condition for many years and did his own servicing and repairs. He ultimately allowed a few changes to be made then parked the motorcycle for years. In 1992-95, the Knucklehead briefly lived with Jim and Teresa in Somerset but wasn’t ridden. Ray then decided, after the death of Teresa’s mother, that he wanted to ride again, and “rescue” the bike. After firing it up, he promptly ran into a brick retaining wall in Somerset. Unharmed and undaunted, he loaded the bike and returned home to northwest Tennessee. After disassembling the bike, painting it bright red, and putting it back together, he began to regularly ride the cantankerous old bike. Ray would take lady friends on rides and occasionally allow the bike to be shown at local events. He rode until he died in 2003 at the age of 75.

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After Ray’s death, the bike sat abandoned for over 10 years. Only to be “rescued” again, restored and reborn in its original colors and ready to ride, thanks to the generosity of Jim Bentley and the passion and talents of Dale Walksler of Wheels Through Time Museum. Dale fell in love with the story of the bike and has restored it to its full power and glory.

We are so proud to be able to present this beloved iconic family treasure to the public thru “Man O’ War Harley-Davidson”. The love, hope, passion and pure gut and tenacity of Harley-Davidson and the legacy of one family are shown here. It is a true reflection of Ray Beachum, his passion, optimism, grit, and to his family, his star power.

An American icon, an American dream for an American family…

An American icon, an American dream for an American family…

 

American Class C

The “Class-C” Racing Era 1934 – 1969

Class-C was intended to foster amateur racing and to discourage factory involvement. As both Harley-Davidson and Indian built 45-inch side valve V-Twins, rules limited entries to that engine design.

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With the expansion of an affordable venue for racers and race promoters, Class-C flourished. Depending on what part of the country you lived in, you could race multiple days per week, almost year round.

"Goggles Up" by Tom Fritz

“Goggles Up” by Tom Fritz

The “Ride to Track” rule didn’t last long and soon racers found ways to bend the rules to make their machines more competitive. Before long, racers often worked for their sponsoring dealer, who gave them access to parts and machine shops. As racers constantly experimented with their machines, showroom-stock bikes could no longer compete.

In 1941, Harley introduced the model WR, officially ending the “Pure” Class-C era. However, Class-C Racing continued to gain steam, largely influencing where the motorcycle industry is today.

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1941 Harley-Davidson WR Daytona Special

The Great Depression took its toll on the motorcycle industry, forcing manufacturers to cut back on costly endeavors used to promote their products. Professional racing budgets were slashed, and teams of eight to ten riders, along with mechanics, and engine turners, dwindled down to one or two favored riders. With the impact of “Class-A” racing at an all time low, manufacturers needed a new outlet to help sell their product.

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With the close of Excelsior in 1931, and the future of the motorcycle industry uncertain, representatives from Indian and Harley met with AMA President E.C. Smith in hopes of reviving motorcycle racing in America.

Class-C racing made its debut in 1934, and would change the very concept of our country’s motorcycle scene. Rules stipulated machines be registered to the person who raced them, racers had to use pumped gasoline, and at least during the early years that riders had to ride their bike to the track.

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The Class C exhibit is home to several of Caroll Resweber’s National Championship machines, including the most famous “Duck Bike”. The other four championship bikes are displayed in original, as raced condition. The legendary Caroll Resweber will forever be remembered for his short, but brilliant racing career, and his outstanding dedication to the sport. Over six seasons, Resweber would win a remarkable 19 AMA nationals, on a variety of circuits, including road races, short-tracks, half-miles, and miles.

The Carol Resweber Collection

The Caroll Resweber Collection & the most famous “Duck Bike”.

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American Cafe

The American Cafe is Dales cornucopia of rare, unusual, exquisite, bizarre but always desirable American iron. And two foreign cars!

20160424_111603-01Enter the gallery and on the left, find Cletus, Americas’ first street rod. Hand built by Cletus Clobes in 1932. And right a pair of postwar Cadillac’s- An original 1954 Eldorado convertible and Steve McQueen’s 1949 sedan.

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Among the other distinct autos in the collection are the 1915 custom Locomobile, a stylish 1932 V12 Lincoln convertible , and a 1932 Packard Roadster to name a few.
Sometimes Dales’ first bike is lurking in the Cafe. A custom 3-Wheel Chopper built by an old Chicago police unit. Dale bought this machine out of a barn for 25 bucks in the summer of ‘71. It was not long till the rubber hit the road on this two up, three wheel chopper, and it’s been running ever since.

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“What’s in the barn”- Next in the Café, another 80 plus machines and things get very serious here.

A pair of Hemi-head Crockers on the right, straight ahead, a ‘36 Knucklehead and a pair of 1939 iconic Knuckleheads, complete with sequential serial numbers and it goes on. Barn find to barn find, the rare 1949 Veritas and a pair of 1915 Harleys that raced across America in the prestigious Motorcycle Cannonball, scoring 3rd and 9th place in 2010. We hope you like sidecar motorcycles, there are plenty in the cafe.

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The “Bikes in Pairs” displays over a dozen pairs of custom built machines, built by Dale Walksler- the wizard of American Restoration on the History Channel.
These pairs of bikes stretch the imagination of any bike builder. Newest bike in this section is a 1946, and they’re all fast as the wind!

20160423_110607-01Wait there is more… Police bikes, Police trikes, Indian bikes, Indian trikes, toys, and more!

 

But what Dale is most proud of is our map. PIN IT and MAKE YOUR MARK IN MAGGIE VALLEY.

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1936 Style & Function

Among the 1936 Harley Davidsons on display at Wheels Through Time, is the unique pair of pairs.

Among the 1936 Harley Davidsons on display at Wheels Through Time, is the unique pair of pairs.

Willie G. Davidson and his wife Nancy have been to the Wheels Through Time museum 3 times and this 1936/1937 Exhibit is their favorite place here.

In this space style and Function are intertwined with a design template that would carry the Motor Company into the next Century. Not only was the chassis redesigned with streamline fuel tanks and an integrated dashboard, but the new heavyweight V-Twin also offered a standard 4 speed constant mesh transmission. But the big news was the new 61 cubic inch over head valve engine that utilized a newly developed dry sump oil system. This was the first Harley that recirculated the engine oil to and from the oil tank. It was given the model designation EL. It has been affectionately called the Knucklehead since its inception in 1936. In 1937 Harley’s outdated side valve engine was redesigned incorporating a recirculating oil system. Redesigned crankcases allowed the side valve to fit the same chassis as the OHV machine streamlining cost and production time. Now Harley had the market covered the the newest designs.

In white, 1936 Knucklehead and Flathead Eighty Prototype UX6. Serial number 36EL1850.

In white, 1936 Knucklehead and Flathead Eighty Prototype UX6. Serial number 36EL1850.

The man who led the design of both the Knucklehead and the improved Side Valve engine was chief engineer William S Harley. W. S. was one of the 4 founding fathers of the Company.WS had spearheaded the development of their machines along with Willian Ottaway who joined the Motor Company in 1913. W.S. Harley did see the success of his new design before he passed in 1937.

In Nile Green and Maroon, 1936 Knuckleheads Prototype UX2. Serial Number 36EL1744

In Nile Green and Maroon, 1936 Knuckleheads Prototype UX2. Serial Number 36EL1744

In 1936 approximately 2300 OHV machines were produced. Quite a remarkable number considering each machine went down a primitive assembly line and were certainly “hand built”.

Although the early production machines experienced various oiling problems, its potential was immediately realized on street and track.

Dale built this 1936EL for his sweetie Trish. She doesn't ride, but she sure loves that white bike! Serial number 36EL1526

Dale built this 1936EL for his sweetie Trish. She doesn’t ride, but she sure loves that white bike! Serial number 36EL1526

Joe Petrali who was Harley’s lead tuner/ racer/tester and promotional rider set a record of over 136 miles per hour on the sand in Daytona on a modified streamlined built in the Harley racing department. The new OHV was also successful in both enduro races and hillclimbing. The success on the track proved successful in the sales department which gave the Indian company great concern.

The Knucklehead design remained reliable and successful until it was replaced 11 years later with the new alloy head V-Twin called the Panhead in 1948.

It is difficult to determine how many of these machines survived, however 6 examples of the 1936 OHV, 2 examples of the 1937 side valves and three 1936 Prototype side valve grace this exhibit. Each machine has a great story that would make a good book.

1936 Knucklehead Serial Number 36EL2391. This was a unique Harley Davidson custom color; Gold and Black.

1936 Knucklehead Serial Number 36EL2391. This was a unique Harley Davidson custom color; Gold and Black.

America’s Rarest

Americas Rarest 01

Americas Rarest 02

Museum founder Dale Walksler believes that this machine was built and owned by none another than Mr. Oscar Hedstrom himself; inventor and creator of the Indian Motorcycle. This machine features nearly two of everything, with all parts, engineering, and design being unique to this particular bike. It remains in its as-built original condition, and is a testament to the ingenuity of the Indian Motor Company.

Museum founder Dale Walksler believes that this machine was built and owned by none another than Mr. Oscar Hedstrom himself; inventor and creator of the Indian Motorcycle. This machine features nearly two of everything, with all parts, engineering, and design being unique to this particular bike. It remains in its as-built original condition, and is a testament to the ingenuity of the Indian Motor Company.

This "one-off" machine was built by Louis Flescher of Omaha, Nebraska. In all, Flescher made five models, including this rare machine. Perhaps the most interesting features of the Flescher Flyer are the "working footboard" used for clutch and brake and the 61 cubic inch deluxe motor.

This “one-off” machine was built by Louis Flescher of Omaha, Nebraska. In all, Flescher made five models, including this rare machine. Perhaps the most interesting features of the Flescher Flyer are the “working footboard” used for clutch and brake and the 61 cubic inch deluxe motor.

This 1912 Thor was purchased by museum founder Dale Walksler at the Lee Hartung Estate sell. Dale had admired this bike from a distance for many years. This machine is believed to be owned by William Ottaway, chief engineer and head of racing department for Thor. Harley Davidson hired William in 1913.

This 1912 Thor was purchased by museum founder Dale Walksler at the Lee Hartung Estate sell. Dale had admired this bike from a distance for many years. This machine is believed to be owned by William Ottaway, chief engineer and head of racing department for Thor. Harley Davidson hired William in 1913.

Found behind a brick wall in a Chicago apartment building in 1967, the Traub was discovered during the building’s renovation.  To this date, the machines origin remains a mystery.  Its builder, and its history may never be known, making the Traub one of the rarest motorcycles in the world.

Found behind a brick wall in a Chicago apartment building in 1967, the Traub was discovered during the building’s renovation. To this date, the machines origin remains a mystery. Its builder, and its history may never be known, making the Traub one of the rarest motorcycles in the world.

The Dayton Motorcycle was made by the Davis Sewing Machine Company in Dayton, Ohio. This unique Dayton is a one of a kind, with its flexible sidecar, electic light and horn. Also, this machine features a two speed transmission. It is displayed in as-found original condition.

The Dayton Motorcycle was made by the Davis Sewing Machine Company in Dayton, Ohio. This unique Dayton is a one of a kind, with its flexible sidecar, electic light and horn. Also, this machine features a two speed transmission. It is displayed in as-found original condition.

The “Swim Shop”

The glory days of the Harley Davidson dealer in the late 1940's and early 50's. This represents George Swim's shop in Energy, Illinois.

The glory days of the Harley Davidson dealer in the late 1940’s and early 50’s. This represents George Swim’s shop in Energy, Illinois.

The “SWIM SHOP” has been a favorite at Wheels Through Time since the museum opened in 2003. This lifelike exhibit exudes the pride and passion of the young entrepreneurs that came back from the great war with the desire to own and operate their own Harley Davidson dealership.

These small shops were most likely to pop up in small towns giving the owners the comfort of low overhead and the ability to bring something special to their hometown.

Swim Shop 01Often these “MA and Pa dealerships were heavily involved in racing and local club activities. Many formed their own clubs, enabling a sense of not only customer loyalty but more importantly brand loyalty. Hundred of these small dealerships popped up around the country, however, the manufacturing capabilities of both Harley and Indian had been diminished by the inability for the factories to purchase raw materials.

This was the heyday of the Harley and Indian wars and it is not surprising the ability of these small dealerships are what kept the remaining two manufacturers alive. It was often said back in those days “we were lucky to sell a quart of oil, in order to buy a quart of milk”.

But times did not get easier for these new businesses. Profits were minimal and many “dealerships” were a combination of garage and living quarters. Most dealer relied on frugal business practices combined with the enthusiasm for the sport.

After 1950 dealers survived on true grit, combined with the efforts of the American Motorcycle Association, still known today as the AMA. The AMA sanctioned not only clubs but sporting events on not only the hill but the ever growing Class C dirt track events. Both remaining manufacturers provided dealers and factory sponsor riders with special racing machines and a firm hand on the use thereof.

1953 marked the end of the production of the Indian motorcycle leaving Harley Davidson as the single remaining manufacturer in this country. This left the door open for foreign machines from England and other European countries to expand their markets to America. This was an uphill battle for those manufacturers for several reasons. First of all it is arguable that the foreign machines were not designed for the long open roads and highways in America. But more so, their difficulties came from the organization that wholly sanctioned the sport in America, the AMA.

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To confound matters further Harley Davidson had an enormous voice in all of the decision making practices of the AMA. Racing rules were established that favored the American V-Twin. An example of this is the fact that the 750 cc Harley and Indian side-valve engines were pared against the European and English machines that were limited to 500 cc, claiming the EURO overhead valve machines had a distinct advantage in the ability to have a higher compression ratio. So the AMA limited that as well.

All of this so called favoritism was bittersweet for Harley Davidson. Not only had their road going machines become bigger and heavier, but the enthusiasm for the sport in general had severely diminished. Controversy had caused AMA membership to diminish at the same rate the corporate profits at Harley Davidson, the sole surviving manufacturer in America.

The “SWIM SHOP” at Wheels Through Time is a testament to the rugged individuals that not only survived the great war but the rigors of the independent businessman in small town America.

When George sold Dale the remnants of his old dealership in the mid 1980's, it was very important to George that his old sign went with it. George Swim was a dutch man, notice the shape of his sign.

When George sold Dale the remnants of his old dealership in the mid 1980’s, it was very important to George that his old sign went with it. George Swim was a dutch man, notice the shape of his sign.

George and Wanda opened their dealership in 1948 in the small town of Energy Illinois. George had experience in mechanics and Wanda was the everything else parts person, bookkeeper, and mother.

They started in a small building with a three room apartment in the back with a galvanized bathtub for bathing and an outdoor toilet. In 1952 they moved into a 2 story brick storefront on State Hwy 148 also in Energy, IL, Population 734.

George was a powerful 6 foot 3 man. He was a decorated WW2 veteran serving the US Army in both the Pacific theater and with the occupation forces in Tokyo in 1945. His huge stature and competitive edge kept him involved in enduro races including the famous Jack Pine enduro. George was also known for his generous support of a fellow racer ,many time costing him valuable time. good natured George.

While George was racing and running the Dealership , Wanda was involved the the operations of the local club that “ran out of the shop’.

Swim Shop Star of Egypt Sign

The Star of Egypt Motorcycle Club had quite a few interesting events. The early spring "Easter Egg Run" was always a favorite because it was one of the first rides of the year.

The Star of Egypt Motorcycle Club had quite a few interesting events. The early spring “Easter Egg Run” was always a favorite because it was one of the first rides of the year.

The club was called the STAR OF EGYPT MOTORCYCLE CLUB and was the pride of the community. Parties and socials mostly took place at the shop and road rides were frequent. George and Wanda were smart, they realized that putting on miles , wearing out valuable parts, tires, and lots of oil. It also gave dealers a chance to sell GENUINE HD Accessories. This was profitable but many times the “credit system” was established and dealers got their money- a little bit at a time. The Swims raised a 3 children above the old shop and each helped out with not only household duties but oil changes and tune ups were commonplace. The club lasted many years and the Swims operated the shop until 1972. In 1987 Museum founder Dale Walksler was contacted by Geoge Swim to “come down and look at this junk”. And the rest is history.

Fast forward to the present. In front of you, around you, above you is…George and Wanda, their bikes, the shop, the parts, the tools, the signs, their papers…but mostly their memories.

George's favorite Jack Pine Enduro bike. He competed in several races on this machine. It still has the engine seal tag from the Jack Pine circa 1956. The bike is in perfect running condition at Wheels Through Time.

George’s favorite Jack Pine Enduro bike. He competed in several races on this machine. It still has the engine seal tag from the Jack Pine circa 1956. The bike is in perfect running condition at Wheels Through Time.

George's famous 1936 VLH Eighty Enduro Bike. Notice the plate, 1958 and original green and silver fenders that came off this 1936 beauty.

George’s famous 1936 VLH Eighty Enduro Bike. Notice the plate, 1958 and original green and silver fenders that came off this 1936 beauty.

George Swim was quite the Enduro rider. He rode this 1931 Harley in many Enduro races. He was also proud to be American- note the 'Bought American' decal on fuel tank.

George Swim was quite the Enduro rider. He rode this 1931 Harley in many Enduro races. He was also proud to be American- note the ‘Bought American’ decal on fuel tank.