1915 ICE SAW
This unique piece of equipment was discovered in the Pacific Northwest. A prolific area for motorcycles for many decades. It was found in remarkable condition for its age. Power unit for this ice-cutting machine is a nearly complete 1915 Harley Davidson three speed.
1928 MILLER LIGHT MOTOR DRONE
In 1927, Wilson Miller of Oneida, NY invented and developed this unique experimental mid-wing aircraft. The history of the lightplane is well documented including the original blueprints and scrapbook of Mr. Millers accomplishments. The aircraft remains in its original condition and is in running (not operational) condition.
1908 INDIAN TWIN CYLINDER
Established in 1901, in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Indian Motorcycle Company was a leader in the industry from its earliest days. Production of its cylinder model designed by Carl Oscar Hedstrom featured a 38 cubic inch I over E twin cylinder motor with a unique intake valve mechanism.
This engine design was upgraded and produced through 1915. During these years, Indian was the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in America. This unique 1908 model survived in Colorado for ninety-two years. It features a unique tandem seat and bars and a large non-standard fuel tank on the upper frame tube. The bike remains in original condition. Truly a milestone in American motorcycling.
Unusual features on this bike are the tandem seat arrangement. Also, the front fuel tank which is a non listed item on the sales brochure. The bike has the original colored license plate and original G & J tires. The serial number for this bike is #T778.
Most historians consider 1914 & 1915 to be a turning point from the archaic early years to marvels of engineering. Multi gear transmissions, electric lighting, more user friendly controls were all characteristics the rider was looking for.
In 1914, one Louis Flesher, from Omaha, Nebraska, developed his modern motorcycle. His invention was a combination of rider comfort (footboard) and easy to operate controls (footboard with clutch and brake).
He was certainly proud of his machine as evidenced in his footboard casting which bears his name.
1914 – changes were in the wind at the Indian Motorcycle Company. A new engine was being developed after years of being the most popular bike worldwide. The engineer credit for this feat went to one Oscar Hedstrom. He and George Hendee founded the company in 1901. Oscar Hedstrom retired in 1914. It is believed this rare prototype was his swan song. The pictures speak for themselves.
Discovered in Chicago, IL in 1967, this unique machine and its history remains a mystery. Not one clue to its origin has ever surfaced.
It was found behind a brick wall during the renovation of a Chicago apartment building in 1967. It was then sold to Bud Ekins, a Hollywood Actor most recognized as Steve McQueen’s stuntman, while he was on set for “The Blue Brothers” movie in the mid-1970s. Ekins later sold the bike to Richard Morris, who kept it until 1994, when Wheels Through Time Museum curator, Dale Walksler, purchased it for the museum collection. Each owner has tried to trace the Traubs past with no success.
From an engineering standpoint, this teen’s model has no rival. It is far more refined than any of its contemporaries. It features a side valve 80 cubic inch motor, dual stand, 3 toolboxes, and 3-speed transmission with a unique dual action rear brake. It’s fit and finish in all aspects is remarkable.
1917 HENDERSON SPECIAL
Cross country racer Cannonball Baker held the 24-hour endurance
In an unfortunate incident in the early hours of morning, Maldwyn Jones followed a lamp that had been moved and rode up the wall of the track on his "headlightless" racing motorcycle and crashed. Maldwyn Jones suffered nothing more than cuts and bruises. After the crash, the bike was lost for 75 years. Dale Walksler rediscovered the bike in 1996. He recovered its history and had the bike restored to its present condition by Steve Huntzinger, west coast restoration expert.
Famed endurance rider, Alan Bedell, rode a Detroit Henderson similar to the Maldwyn Jones bike when at 11:00 p.m. on June 5, 1917; he left Los Angeles, California in an attempt to break the existing trans-continental record also held by Cannonball Baker. Headlines from June, 1917, announced Bedell’s arrival in Staten Island and proclaimed he had chopped "3 days, 19 hours, and 54 minutes" off Cannonball Baker’s earlier record. Bedell finished the trip in 7 days, 16 hours, and 16 minutes averaging 17.89 miles per hour and claimed the record.
On June 5, 1997, 80 years to the day after Bedell left Los Angeles, Dale Walksler retraced Bedell’s route from Los Angeles to Staten Island on the Maldwyn Jones Special. The record-breaking ride took 6 days and 6 hours. Mr. Walksler did the ride as a fundraiser for the Grand National Dirt Track Racers. During the 1997 Grand National season, over $30,000.00 was distributed in a unique non-qualifiers dash.
Although both record breakers rode similar routes on similar bikes, it must be noted that today’s modern roads cannot be compared to the rugged dirt and sand wash roads of the teens. Allan Bedell’s efforts covered 3296 miles across 12 states averaging a speed of 17.89 m.p.h. with little sleep. His mission was to carry a special military message from the West Coast Commander to the Army’s East Coast Commander. Certainly 80 years has seen incredible change.
Harley Davidson’s faithful dealer network supported hundreds of rides throughout the country. It was likely riders would participate in competition three and four days per week in the post war years.
Harry Molenaar, Harley Davidson dealer from Hammon, Indiana, sponsored many riders. He was well ahead of his time with his Red, White and Blue Harley WLDR.
Harry established his dealership in 1934 and continued operating into the 90’s. Harry’s foresight allowed him to collect other rare machines during his life. Many of his machines have become part of the Wheels Through Time Museum.
TEAMWORK – Leonard and Brad Andres
Leonard Andres was ever the calculating man. His attention to detail and perfection combined with his devotion to Harley Davidson were a large part of his success not only as a racer and engine tuner/builder but also as a Harley Davidson dealer. His outgoing personality enhanced his business and attracted great riders during his forty plus year career.
The great Cal Raybon rode his Andres tuned KR 750 to many victories including the last Harley Davidson Daytona win in 1968.
But the real glory day for Leonard was even earlier. In 1955, Rookie Rider and Son, Brad Andres, captured victory lane in Dayton as he did in 1956. Brad was also a 1955 National Champion and in 1956, took second place honor. In all, Brad won three Daytona titles. He was also a four time Laconia winner.
In 1998, the legacy of Brad and Leonard Andres was passed to the Wheels Through Time Museum in the form of chassis, motors and assorted parts/memorabilia from that dynasty. Careful research has resurrected these machines to their former glory. A fascinating display has been created to preserve these memories.
THE LEGACY OF RALPH BERNDT
The man behind the scenes is sometimes overlooked. The man behind four time National Champion Carrol Resweber, the likeable George Roeder and road racer Jack McNary, was Ralph Berndt. Ralph had a colorful life.
Ralph worked at the Harley Davidson plant in Milwaukee, in the frame department. At night, he perfected the Harley KR engine. Ralph made his own cams (by the hundred), developed port and head configuration with his manmade flow bench and reworked frame geometry. He allied his talents with a novice rider from Texas, Carrol Resweber. Their combined effort earned Carrol four national titles. Carrol was ultimately injured at the Jerseyville 1 mile, ending his career. Ralph then tuned for George Roeder and accomplished many victories.
Ralph also helped develop a more modern frame (The Lowboy) before retiring from the racing game. In 1994, relatives of Ralph (three daughters) sold the remains of Ralph’s racing stable to the Wheels Through Times Museum. The stable consisted of seven motorcycles all which were dismantled. With considerable research, the parts were assembled and the racing machines of their earlier years were reborn. It may be noted, all the bikes retain their original paint jobs. A testimate to the pride in each victory they achieved.
Thanks for saving the stuff, Ralph!
Following their 1938 Dayton win, Harley Davidson continues to update their racing models. Magneto ignition and special ball bearing motors were allowed in 1939.
Ben Campanale and Babe Tanerede continued to outclass Indian in long distance races. Although riders received little compensation for their efforts, the bond between riders and manufacturers became inseparable.
The pictured 1939 WLDR features a special Edison racing magneto, large capacity tanks and M5 carburetor. All were the best offering from Harley Davidson at that time.
By 1937, Indian had an advantage over Harley Davidson. Magneto ignition and improved engine performance was giving the stock Indian an edge. In addition, Indian also gave their riders a paycheck.
By mid-1937, Harley Davidson reacted to their decline by inducing rule changes to level the playing field. They also developed a recirculate oil system and improved valve timing in their motors. They also updated their obsolete transmission. Ahead were the best years for Harley Davidson. This 1937 model WLDR features these improvements. It also features the long distance large capacity fuel and oil tank.
The Wheels Through Time Museum currently maintains a stock of seven WLDR models, the predecessor to today’s modern racing dirt track model.
This early Class C Harley is documented as a factory “cheater”. It features nonstandard cams, intake manifold and larger carburetor. All of which enhance engine performance. It also has a frame with less rake to improve handling.
Early Class C rules required riders to own their own machines. In addition, no factory sponsorship was allowed.
The factory modification on this machine and its serial #34RLD2214R indicate this was a true factory special. Adding an interesting twist to our racing past.
As the Harley-Davidson Motor Company emerged from the early 1920’s with great success, competing manufacturers upped the ante and began to field highly developed machines that were on par with the sales-leading Milwaukee company.
With the success of the Excelsior Super-X, a smaller displacement lightweight road model introduced by the Chicago-based firm in 1926, the American Motorcycle Association created a new 45 cubic inch racing class by 1927. At this time, only Excelsior and Indian had developed 45" racing models, while Harley-Davidson chose their 30.50 cubic inch to compete against the other brands’ larger machines. As a result, Harley-Davidson would be out-shinned in both the diminishingly popular board track events and new national hillclimb events.
As hillclimbing came to the forefront of the American racing scene, Harley-Davidson would see its competitors dominate the 1928, 1929, and 1930 seasons. However progress was in the works, as H-D realized the need to be competitive on the racing circuit in order to maintain a high sales volume.
With the introduction of the new production Model-D for the 1929 season, they could now compete in sales with the dominant Indian and Excelsior companies. However, competing on the hill would take much more than the medium-compression, side-valve machine could offer.
As early as 1928, Harley-Davidson had been developing 45-inch racing technology in the basement of the Milwaukee factory. Their first attempts combine the companies successful 61-inch twin-cam bottom end with modified heads and cylinders from their 21" OHV "Peashooters". These undocumented models proved complex and ineffective, as they continued to fall short in many of the biggest events.
With a resurgence of motorcycle sales as an incentive, Harley-Davidson would authorize the development of a dedicated 45 cubic inch racing motor with the hope of regaining their formerly dominant position in the American Racing scene. Debuted at a Pittsburg, PA hillclimb in July of 1929, Harley-Davidson’s new overhead valve "DAH" would announce its arrival, as John Grove piloted the companies first machine to a victory in the 45-expert class. By 1932, Herb Reiber, Windy Lindstrom, and the famous Joe Petrali would all claim national hillclimb championships aboard the DAH.
As the Great Depression would takes it toll on all motorcycle manufacturers of the era, Harley-Davidson would soon see its sales of new motorcycles reach their lowest levels since the company’s infancy. As a result, America’s most successful motorcycle company would choose to sell the entire run of overhead valve DAHs produced in order to generate revenue. Their price — a mere $300.
The DAH 750 is considered one of the rarest Harley-Davidson’s ever produced. Approximately 25 of these unique Hillclimbers from 1930-33, few of which still exist today.
The Wheels Through Time Museum proudly displays three of these machines, each in running and operating condition.
|As the glory days of American board track racing faded, American motorcycle manufacturers looked skyward. Hillclimbing became the venue for the “big three”, Harley Davidson, Indian and Excelsior. During the late-1910s and early-1920s, large wooden stadiums across the country filled to capacity as spectators watched their favorite riders lap the tracks at speeds in excess of 100 mph. However, the introduction of several new classes of racing provided more than a distraction, as the 21, 30.50, 45, and 61 cubic inch classes fought for the limelight. American spectators failed to identify with the riders of these small purpose-built machines, preferring the larger big-twin production models as their mount. As a result of decreased attendance, and quickly deteriorating riding conditions, America’s board tracks were taken down one by one, and a new form of racing would capture the interest of fans, riders, and manufacturers alike.Taking much inspiration from the race-proven technology of their board- and dirt-track racers, manufacturers looked towards the hill to prove the merits of their machines. Hillclimb competitions were a place where the “Big Three” could show the power and durability of their equipment, thereby increasing sales and brand loyalty, ensuring the survival of the company during increasingly difficult times.While the earliest professional hillclimbs featured many modified street and “track” machines, it would not take long for Indian, Excelsior and, finally, Harley-Davidson to take on the limited production of purpose-built, factory specials for their riders. By 1928, both Indian and Excelsior had highly developed both their 45 and 61 cubic inch factory climbers and dominated the sales-leading Harley-Davidson on the slant, taking the 1929, 1930, and 1931 National Hillclimb Championships. While Harley-Davidson had produced an effective 61 cubic inch machine that was competitive in the late-1920s, it wasn’t until the 1930 sales season that they would introduce a factory hillclimber for the increasingly popular 45-inch class– the infamous “DAH”.But tough times for the entire motorcycle industry had set in, and by 1931 Excelsior President, Ignaz Schwinn, closed the doors at the Chicago factory. Indian was operating on a mere 5% of capacity and Harley-Davidson sales figures reached an all-time low in 1933. Still, the spirit of competition continued, and the fight for top honors remained a priority for the America’s only two remaining manufacturers.The great depression had taken its toll on motorcycle production and sales. However, the big three maintained a racing department that was essential in sustaining operations. While Excelsior officially ceased motorcycle production in 1931, without the tremendous effort of manufacturers to be “King of the Hill”, perhaps neither Indian or Harley would have lived to see the next chapter in American motorcycling.The Wheels through Time Hill Climber Collection is unparalleled in the collector world today. With over a dozen factory specials and many additional “privateer” machines, the museum’s Grand Exhibit is a tribute to the glory days of American hill climb history.|
The DAH 750 is considered one of the rarest Harley-Davidson’s ever produced. Approximately 25 of these unique Hillclimbers from 1930-33, few of which still exist today.
|Excelsior’s dominance in hillclimbing peaked in 1930, as Gene Rhyne captured the National Hillclimb Championship at Mt. Garfield, Michagan on August 17th, 1929.|
1930 EXCELSIOR OVERHEAD 750
|With the help of factory sponsored riders, Indian would win the 1930 and 1931 National Hillclimb Championships on the “Altoona”, and secure their place in hillclimb history.|
The first board track built for motorcycle racing opened in 1909 in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Coliseum motor dome was a little less than a third of a mile in circumference; nevertheless, the new track was nearly twice as long as the bicycle velodromes which had preceded it.
Almost immediately, the spectacle of men hurtling at “break-neck” speeds around the wooden circular track became a passionately attended spectator sport and new tracks sprung up, literally over night, across the land. By 1910, the length of the wooden “dromes” had grown from a third of a mile to as much as a mile in circumference, while the banking had increased from a modest 25 degrees in the corners until 60 degrees became the norm.
Spectators looked down on the track from grandstands constructed above the boards, as the riders lapped the track at speeds approaching 100 m.p.h. Rivalry was fierce, for the race was not only between the daring riders, but also between the manufacturers for the increased sales that were a direct result of victory for their brand. By author Daniel Statnekov.
|1916 Big Valve Excelsior|
|1921 Harley Davidson Single Cylinder Factory Board Track Racer|
|Million Dollar Motorcycle|
|1914 Harley Davidson A Motor Racing Bike|
|1912 Model SR Thor|
Wheels Through Time Museum Receives Federal 501 c3 Status
The new museum facility located in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, will be operated by Wheels Through Time Museum, Inc. The museum was awarded the not-for-profit status on February 22, 2002, giving the museum the capability to take on many new challenges.
The mission of Wheels Through Time is to educate and inspire a diverse, multigenerational audience as the the history of American Transportation. The museum will also be offering this education opportunity to several local educational facilities to further its vision.
This federal status will also allow tax opportunities for donors in which said funds will be used to support operational costs.
In 2002, museum founder, Dale Walksler, had a vision. His vision was a new location, a new look, and a new structure for his 35-year collection of rare American motorcycles and automobiles. A custom built structure was designed for the 230-vehicle collection in the lovely community of Maggie Valley, North Carolina, located just a few miles off of I-40 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Maggie Valley is a quiet community of 400 people nestled in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains.
The facility resides on a 46-acre site and is located above a ten-foot retaining wall cut into the mountainside. The interior of the facility has several unique features. A few of these features are a working 1920’s era shop, a special exhibit that has been created for the glory of the hillclimber history and a gallery of memorabilia, artwork, and literature which bring the full effect of the museum to life.
A 7500 square foot mezzanine houses American Dirt Track history. Below the mezzanine, a 10,000 square foot section displays the automobile collection, which is described as a "decade collection of American motoring past." The facility also includes a first class restoration facility, gift shop, classrooms, and a library.
From The Founder of Wheels Through Time
Renowned as one of the best museums of its kind, Wheels Through Time is much more than a display of vintage transportation. The Museum combines history, culture, art, and science and in fascinating timeline of American Transportation set in an ambience that is the only of its kind. A unique glance at 20th century history through primary artifacts, first-hand stories, and modern engineering marvels, Wheels Through Time is a historic, living collection of the culture and sport that has influenced our society for over 100 years.
Nestled in the beautiful mountains of Maggie Valley, North Carolina, the museum sits at the eastern gateway to the Great Smokey Mountains and is just minutes from many world famous attractions. Just five miles off of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Wheels Through Time is a perfect destination for all types of visitors. The beauty of the area is sure to be a fantastic experience for anyone who visits.
The museum and its volunteers pride themselves on the hospitality given to each guest, ensuring that they leave with a lasting experience of wonderment and joy. Special attention is given to every Wheels Through Time visitor, as each and every guest is an integral ingredient to our success.
The museum is happy to accommodate all types of groups and will consider private parties, ceremonies, banquets, and receptions. Information on group rates or private parties can be obtained through contacting the museum.
Of course, the proof is in the pudding; Wheels Through Time’s collections are alive, running historic vehicles combined in a gallery arrangement of artifacts and memorabilia of our treasured motoring past. We are excited to share these treasures with all.
Please make Wheels Through Time Museum your next destination.
In the Interest of the Sport,