Motorcops: A 100 Year Love Affair Between Police And The Motorcycle

MotorCops:  A 100 Year Love Affair Between Police and Motorcycles

MotorCops at Wheels Through Time MuseumFeatured in the main gallery of the museum’s 38,000 square foot facility, Motorcops tells the story of the long-lasting relationship between law enforcement and the motorcycle.

Dating back over one-hundred years to 1908, police forces across the country began using motorcycles to protect and serve. From the rutted, dirt roads of rural America to heavily populated urban cities and towns, the motorcycle became the motorized vehicle of choice, offering greater maneuverability and a reputation for reliability unparalleled by auto manufacturers of the day. From the first official police motorcycle patrol in 1911 to the operation of over 3400 motorcycle law enforcement units today, the rich and colorful history of police and motorcycles remains as strong as ever.

“Through this historically significant exhibit, the Wheels Through Time Museum pays tribute to the men, women, and machines who have patrolled the American cities, towns, highways, and byways over the past 100 years,” says museum curator and founder, Dale Walksler. “We are proud to share, from past to present, the fascinating history of these two- and three-wheeled uniformed patrol officers, and look forward to telling the story of the relationship that has evolved into what it is today.”

“MotorCops” features the sites, sounds, and stories of that hundred year love affair, presenting countless machines, memorabilia, artwork, and stories from the past century. Several rare machines from the early- to mid-1900s are displayed, including a 1909 Pierce four-cylinder patrol motorcycle, a 1927 Excesior-Henderson formerly used by the New Mexico Highway Patrol, 1942 Harley-Davidson Civil Patrol EL Knucklehead, and a perfectly original 1957 Harley-Davidson Police Panhead, to name a few.

Scattergood Sets a Speed Trap -- An original artwork used on the cover of April 1924 Issue of American MagazineThe exhibit also features hundreds of photographs, memorabilia, and works of art dating back to the earliest days of motorcycle patrol. Works by renowned Harley-Davidson licensed artist, David Uhl, are on display, as well as priceless original works such as “Scattergood Sets A Speed Trap”, which was featured as the cover art on the 1924 April issue of American Magazine. Original uniforms, a collection of patches from forces across the country, and countless stories from the men and women who patrolled the streets on two wheels  also grace the exhibit.

The new exhibit opened on September 25, 2008 and will run for Memorial Day Weekend of 2010.   All law enforcement officials will receive a $2 admission discount to the museum during the run of the exhibit.  Law Enforcement agencies, individuals, and groups from across the country will gather at the museum for the closing of the exhibit Memorial Day Weekend.

Motorcops: A 100 Year Love Affair Between Police And The Motorcycle

MAGGIE VALLEY, NC – The Wheels Through Time American Transportation Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina has announced plans to open its final exhibit at its Smoky Mountain location highlighting the history of motorcycle police in America. The museum, which houses the world’s premier collection of rare and historic American motorcycles and unique automobiles, will open the 60-day exhibit, Motorcops: A 100 Year Love Affair Between Police and the Motorcycle, on September 26, 2008.

{mosimage}Featured in the main gallery of the museum’s 38,000 square foot facility, Motorcops will tell the story of the long-lasting relationship between law enforcement and the motorcycle. Dating back one-hundred years to 1908, police forces across the country began using motorcycles to protect and serve. From the rutted, dirt roads of rural America to heavily populated urban cities and towns, the motorcycle became the motorized vehicle of choice, offering greater maneuverability and a reputation for reliability unparalleled by auto manufacturers of the day. From the first official police motorcycle patrol in 1911 to the operation of over 3400 motorcycle law enforcement units today, the rich and colorful history of police and motorcycles remains as strong as ever.

"Through this historically significant exhibit, the Wheels Through Time Museum will pay tribute to the men, women, and machines who have patrolled the American cities, towns, highways, and byways over the past 100 years," says museum curator and founder, Dale Walksler. "We are eager to share, from past to present, the fascinating history of these two- and three-wheeled uniformed patrol officers, and look forward to telling the story of the relationship that has evolved into what it is today."

MotorCops will feature the sites, sounds, and stories of that hundred year love affair, presenting countless machines, memorabilia, artwork, and stories from the past century. Several rare machines from the early- to mid-1900s will be displayed, including a 1937 Harley-Davidson California Highway Patrol motorcycle, a 1942 Harley-Davidson Civil Patrol EL Knucklehead , and a perfectly restored 1954 50th Anniversary Harley-Davidson Police Servicar, to name a few.

{mosimage}The exhibit will also feature hundreds of photographs, memorabilia, and works of art dating back to the earliest days of motorcycle patrol. Works by renowned Harley-Davidson licensed artist, David Uhl, will be on display, as well as priceless original works such as "Scattergood Sets A Speed Trap", which was featured as the cover art on the 1924 April issue of American Magazine. Original uniforms, a collection of patches from forces across the country, and countless stories from the men and women who patrolled the streets on two wheels will also grace the exhibit.

The creation, opening, and interpretation of the exhibit will be documented in the museum’s Time Machine video archives, featured on the museum website, located at www.WheelsThroughTime.com. The Time Machine will feature several videos on the exhibit, ranging from shows on motorcycle police history to features on the many machines housed within the exhibit.

The new exhibit will open on September 25, 2008 and will run for the final sixty days of the museum’s operations in North Carolina. Law Enforcement agencies, individuals, and groups from across the country will gather at the museum for the exhibit grand opening. All law enforcement officials will receive complimentary admission to the museum during the run of the exhibit and family members will be admitted at half-price. About the Wheels Through Time Museum

The Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina is renowned as the world’s premier collection of rare and historic American motorcycles and unique automobiles. The museum’s mission is to educate and inspire a diverse, multi-generational audience as to the history of American Transporation. Wheels Through Time has been in Maggie Valley, NC since July of 2002, and is currently considering opportunities for its relocation. Known as "The Museum That Runs", its collection spans nine decades of American Transportation, and contains approximately 300 of America’s rarest and most significant motorcycles and automobiles, all of which are in running and operating condition. Many of the machines in the collection are run regularly, to give visitors a glimpse into their purpose, usefulness, and capabilities.

Located at 62 Vintage Lane in Maggie Valley, the museum will be open at its current location through November 30, 2008. Hours of operation are 9a.m.-5p.m., seven days a week. For more information, visit the museum’s website, located at www.WheelsThroughTime.com or call the museum at (828) 926-6266.

Update: The 1942 H-D Civil Patrol

Dale's HD Civil Patrol KnuckleheadA few weeks back, Matt and I started on a new project at Wheels Through Time.  I had bought a running 1942 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead that had been rebuilt about 10 years ago, thinking it would be a great addition to the museum collection.  After about a day and a half, and a bit of "tinkering", we had turned what I had initially thought was a well-done bike into a pile of parts.   Rare parts, but just parts. 

So in brainstorming on how we would rebuild this machine, we realized we had a lot of options.  We could make a stock bike…or a military Knucklehead.  Or we could make a bobber or some other "odd-ball" type of bike. 

1942 was an intersting year for Harley-Davidson.  As most of the motor company’s production was geared toward military production of the 45-inch WLA, production of other models, such as our new ’42 61-inch Knucklehead, was extremely limited.  With less than 200 or so Knuckleheads being produced that year, you probably would have had to have been a company employee, goverment worker, or "preferred customer" in order to get one.  With this in mind, we decided to make the machine a "Civil Patrol" bike.  

Starting from a pile of parts, Matt, my buddy Myron, and I got right to work.  I got the transmission rebuilt in a night, swapping several worn-out parts for good ones.   While I completed the tranny work, Moe and Matt started sorting parts — taking out reproduction pieces and parts that were too "beat-up" and laying out usable, original H-D parts.  After a brainstorming session or two, we decided to go with a chrome look.  I loved this idea, as I got to dip into a pile of chrome from the 30s and 40s that I’ve been stock-piling for twenty or so years.  Chrome rims, chrome bars, chrome crash-guards, primary, clutch pedal, brake pedal and drum — basically as much as we could without making the bike to bright to look at.

The bike is coming along great.  We decided to use a set of big-valve Leinwebber knuckle-heads and lightened flywheels to make it run like a rocket.   The special heads came from Jim Selkirk, an old-time Harley dealer from Canton, Illinois, who sold me a lot of great parts about 30 years ago.  I remember picking up these heads and nearly going cross-eyed when I saw what they were.  Since then, they’ve been sitting in the museum just waiting for the right bike — it didn’t take me long to decide that this was the bike. 

After assembling the bottom end, we mounted it into the frame and mounted the clutch and primary chain.  Its really taking shape.  A couple of hundred more hours and we’ll have ourselves a geniune 1942 Harley-Davidson "Civil Patrol" Knucklehead.  Now all we have to do is decide what color.  What do you think?

Until the next time…….

–Dale

New Features On The Time Machine

Wow, there’s been a lot going on around here lately. We had a heck of a weekend up at the AMCA National Meet in Wauseon, Ohio.  Just got back the other day with some great new additions to the museum and key pieces for several projects were doing in the shop. 

But the real reason that I’m writing you today is to let you know about several new features on the Wheels Through Time Video Website.  To date, we’ve produced over 400 hundred videos, of which about 200 are on the website.  Knowing what our visitors think of the videos is very important to us, and until now, we had no other way than "in-person" to find out about their thoughts.  So yesterday, we came up with a few new ideas. 

The first addition was to provide the ability for visitors to vote on the videos.  Pretty simple.  We want to know how we’re doing in sharing and preserving the history of the collection housed here at the museum, and with your help, we’ll know what were doing right and what were doing wrong.  All you have to do is watch the video, then let us know what you think.  As this program moves ahead, higher ranked videos will move up, allowing new visitors to see some of your favorites.

The next addition was to develop a "comment section", where you can share your thoughts, ideas, and stories as they relate to any of the Time Machine video archives.  Let us know your thoughts.  Did you like the video?  What are your favorite shows? Did your mom, dad, or grandparents have a motorcycle like that?  Do you have a similar story you’d like to share? 

All you have to do is register to the site, go to the video page, and start watching.  The comment section is near the bottom of the page.  If you feel so inspired, share your thoughts.  It’ll make for a much more interactive environment for our visitors, and will all along help us know what we’re doing right, what we’re doing wrong, and what else you want to see!

Thanks, and I’ll talk to you soon.

–Dale

Back From Wauseon

 Hi All,

Just got back from the Antique Motorcycle Club of America’s National Meet at Wauseon, Ohio…..what a time.  My good buddies Myron Pace and Bob White, my son Matt, and a few more of the crew from Wheels Through Time had been looking forward to this one for a long time.  We headed out Wednesday night for a weekend of fun in the sun, drove all night, and made it to the meet just as the host club was opening up the gates.

This years meet was another great one, with acres and acres of motorcycles, parts, memorabilia, and anything else to do with old motorcycles.  I’ve been going to Wauseon for about thirty years, and it seems to keep getting better and better.  This year, like the last, the weather was good and the shopping was better. 

With no plans but to have a good time, we jumped in Thursday morning and before we knew it we were on our hands and knees looking for parts and up to our elbows in grease.  By mid-afternoon, we had already found several key pieces for projects we’ve got going on at the museum, and a few extra goodies that we may or may not use.   One of my particular favorites was a 1947 Harley-Davidson Servicar Box, in perfect condition.  Although we’re not working on a model like this currently, its always good to have a spare box around in case the right project comes along. 

One of the real treasures at the meet was a geniune "Globe of Death" motorcycle shipping crate.  I had talked with a fella from Michigan a few months earlier and let him know that I was very interested.  Upon delivery to the swap meet, a crowd gathered around the crate, staring in amazement.  It was even better than I had imagined. 

Friday, the meet hosted its second annual flat-track races, and I jumped on the old 1913 Thor to compete in the boardtracker class.  The bike ran great, and out of the 10 bikes in the race, every one of them finished.  Quite an accomplishment for a field of 90 year old bikes.  My buddy Pat took home first place, beating everyone by almost a lap on his green 90+ cubic inch H-D racer. Saturday was a blast as well, with more swapping and the antique motorcycle field games at noon.  Matt kicked my butt again.  He beat me in the slow race (again) and took home first place overall.  I know he was pretty excited.  

All in all, the weekend was fantastic.  There’s no place like an AMCA swapmeet.  Where else can you get together with a bunch of old buddies, compare stories, do a bit of racing, search for all the old motorcycle parts, and meet new people all in one place. 

If you’d like to see more on any of the antique motorcycle swapmeets we attend, check out some of our Time Machine Videos.  We’ve got hundreds online, and are adding more all the time.

Talk to you soon,

Dale

The Worlds Worst Tire Change

Yesterday, my old buddy Mike came by the museum on his way through the area.  Mike and I have been friends for 20 or so years and it’d been at least 10 years since we’d seen each other.  Excited to have an old friend stop in, I asked how long he’d be in town, and if he’d like to stick around for a day or two on his way down south.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t stick around, but said he’d be glad to jump in and help out for the day.  Thats were the trouble started.

We walked around the museum for a few minutes, looking for quick fixes that Mike could take care of in a few minutes.  It wasn’t long before Mike spotted my old 1925 Harley JD cut-down.

The bike has quite a bit of history. On a sort of "timeline" of custom motorcycles, the "cut-down" was one of the first types of customs.  This particular style is named for its "cut-down" features — riders would strip all unnecessary items — namely headlights, horns, floorboards, fenders, etc.  Kind of the chopper of its day.  The bike was worked on by the famous Elmo Looper, who was the lucky guy that acquired all of the Crocker Motorcycle inventory after the company closed in the early 1940s.  He put on a set of Ricardo tapered-fin cylinders, which were used on factory racers of the day, and lowered the frame and shortened the tanks.  And, wow, is thing thing a hot-rod. 

So Mike pointed out the flat tire, and said let’s get to work.  I found the right sized tube and before long, we had the rear wheel off and ready for a new tube.  Now the old JD’s had what they call a "clincher rim", named so because the bead of the tire clinches against the rim.  Not the best set up in the world, as the tires are an absolutely disaster to mount and the beads were prone to give out.  I can only imagine having to do a roadside repair on one of these back in the early days under the hot summer sun. 

We wrestled the tire and rim around for a while, being ever so careful not to pinch the new tube.  As it all came together, everything looked to be perfect.  We rolled it around for a minute, and grabbed the air hose.  It took air quickly and didn’t take long to fill up.  We measured the tire pressure — 30 pounds.  We put it back on, and away I went, spinning the tires as I rode around front.  As the small crowd outside the museum gathered to watch, I hit the throttle hard…….BOOOOM.  There went the tire…..great. 

So I rolled it back to the shop and Mike and I gave it another shot.  This time…..a new tire AND tube.  After another 20 or so minutes of wrestling this thing, we had the new tire mounted.  Got the air hose and started to fill it up.  Within 5 seconds, it happened again……..BOOOOOOOOOM.   The bead gave way.  Imagine having a 70 year old tire blow up right in your face.  We all had a good laugh about it, although none of us could hear a thing. 

Try number three…..this time, we were extra careful, of course, to no avail.  This time we pinched the tube.  I guess third time is not the charm.  Frustrated and tired, I called it quits and left Mike and my son Matt to do the dirty work.  I guess they finished the job, but i havent checked the tire pressure yet.  I hope, this time, its holding air!

-Dale

“Wheels” Honors Our Nations Military

During the entire month of July, the Museum will be honoring the countless men and women who have served our country both past and present.  We have always been honored to have this diverse group of individuals as guests to the museum, and this month, we’ll be paying tribute to each and every member of our armed services by offering free admission to them and their families.   And when better to do it than during the month of our nation’s birthday! 

We’ve had thousands of veterans and active duty members through the museum over the past six years, and when they visit, I try to spend as much time as possible sharing the collection with them.  There is much to be learned from those who have come before us and from those who have fought so hard for the country we love so much, and by sharing the collection at Wheels Through Time, we hope to bring back some of those fond memories from days gone by. 

We’ve got a great military exhibit here at the museum, lined with machines and memorabilia from as early as the 19-teens.  We keep each and every machine in the exhibit in working order, and ready to fire up for the first person who asks.  This month, we’ll be giving daily demonstrations of each of these machines, ranging from a 1917 Harley-Davidson U.S. Army Messenger Pigeon Carrier to a 1941 Harley-Davidson TA — a shaft-driven knucklehead military three-wheeler.  Another particular favorite is the 1942 Harley-Davidson XA, an opposed twin-cylinder shaft-drive machine built for the North African desert. 

So if your a veteran, and active duty member, or just a good old-fashioned patriot like me, be sure to stop by Wheels Through Time for Military Month.  I know that you’ll be astounded.

See you soon!

–Dale

Wheels Through Time Honors Our Nation’s Military

The Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC will be honoring our nations military by paying tribute to those men and women who have served our country, both past and present. In celebration of our nation’s birthday, the museum will be offering free admission for both veterans and active duty during the entire month of July.

The museum, which houses the premier collection of rare American vintage motorcycles and unique automobiles, will also be giving the first ever demonstrations of several of our countries rarest military machines. Museum staff will be giving hourly demonstrations of historical pieces such as the world’s only 1917 Harley-Davidson U.S. Army messenger pigeon carrier, one of only 3 remaining Harley-Davidson military 3-wheelers, and countless combat machines from the early days of the 20th century. Visitors of all ages are welcome and all attendees will be encouraged to participate.

This month, the museum is also celebrating its sixth anniversary in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina. The museum opened its doors on July 4, 2002, and in just six short years has hosted over 320,000 visitors from all over the world. As part of the celebration, the museum will be giving special tours and daily demonstrations during the entire month of July, including demos on such special machines as a genuine Evel Knievel Jump Bike and various record-setting long-distance and high-speed motorcycles.

The Wheels Through Time Video Team will also be on hand, hard at work documenting this momentous occasion. Wheels Through Time web television has received rave reviews around the world since its inception in 2006, and continues to produce over 200 video segments a year on the museum, its collection, and its visitors, all available online at www.WheelsThroughTime.com. The team will be shooting several shows to be released throughout the month of July, dedicated to the men and machines that have served our country so proudly.

Wheels Through Time Museum, located at 62 Vintage Lane, across from the visitors center in Maggie Valley, houses over 300 rare and priceless American motorcycles and automobiles set in a fascinating ambience for visitors of all ages to enjoy. For more information, visit their website, located at www.WheelsThroughTime.com, or call (828) 926-6266

Look Before You Leap

Important Lesson — Look before you leap.

1942 Harley-Davidson KnuckleheadAbout a week ago, I got a phone call from a fella who was wanting to sell his Harley.  The bike was a 1942 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, which is a tough year to find, as H-D’s production was largely geared toward military machines.  I received a picture or two via email and the bike seemed to be a good one.  Not a 100% restoration, but what looked like a quality bike…and it ran.   I asked the guy to bring it up to talk about it, and when he got here, we fired it up, revved it a couple of times and made a deal.  

Now I knew we’d be making some changes to the bike — exchanging aftermarket and replacement parts for original ones, and changing a few odds and ends to make it a bit more correct.  We rolled the bike back to the shop and began taking off a few parts.   Then we took off some more…..and some more.   Within a few hours, we had the bike entirely torn down, from the tanks and fenders, to the transmissison, and yes, the motor.  In a half a nights work, I went from having a complete, and seemingly operable machine, to having a "basketcase" 42 Knucklehead project that needed a lot of parts….and a lot of work.  Turns out….the deal wasn’t so good. 

So what do you do?  Thats right — you make lemonade.  Trying not to get discouraged about the bad decision I made a few days earlier, Matt, Myron, and I started brainstorming on what we can do to make this a worthwhile and quality project.  We could make a bobber…no.  A stock bike…nah.   What about a "civilian patrol" model.  Thats it….have a little fun, all the while keeping the bike more or less what it would have looked like 60 or so years ago. 

Despite the bike being in a million pieces, the outlook is looking pretty good.  Many of the parts that are original are usable, and with a little repair work, can be brought back to good condition.  Its got a good frame, nice bars, and a very rare motor (which of course needs some work).  Heck, its even got a rebuilt transmission, or at least it does now. 

Keep an eye out on the Time Machine for several shows on the 1942 H-D Civilian Patrol Knucklehead.  Its going to be quite a project.  I’ll keep you updated.

The H-D Civil Patrol

Custom Colors for Charlie’s 36

We’re working on a new 1936 Harley-Davidson project at the museum and its coming along great.  About two years ago, I was introduced to Charlie, an old bike buff that’d been collecting parts for years and years.  Charlie is quite a knowledgable guy, and over the past 30 or so years, had been collecting parts for a 1936 Knucklehead.  When I heard that Charlie was thinking about selling his ’36 project, I let him know that I was interested.  A few days later, he gave me a call, and the rest is history. 

The project at hand is an exceptional one.  Funny thing about ’36 Harley’s — so many parts were only used for 1936 and even further, many of them were updated several times throughout that year.  Charlie’s ’36 is one of the early ones.  The motor number indicates it was the 6th Knucklehead motor produced, and many of the other parts are from the very first months of production.  Each of these small intricacies make the motorcycle no ordinary ’36 (if ever there was an "ordinary" ’36).

Over the past year we’ve made great progress on the bike.  Frame and fork assembly was first, all the while I was working on the motor on the side.  After both motor and transmission were finished, we bolted them in the frame and had the beginnings of one of Harley’s rarest. 

Then we hit a bump……what color do we paint it…Stock colors in 1936 were red and black, blue and cream, and green and silver — but stock wasn’t what we were looking for.  Luckily, in the mid 1930’s the H-D motor company began to encourage people to create their own color schemes…so a wide array of options were available while still remaining correct. 

In the front showcase at the museum, there’s an old roladex with all of Harley’s custom colors from the 30s and 40s.  After countless debates with myself, I finally decided to go with something different, something I hadn’t seen before — gold and black, with fine red striping. 

So today was a big day.  John the Painter came back to the museum with the tanks and fenders finished.  All I could say was….WOW!!!   After a few minutes, we had the tanks on and the rear fender bolted in, and whoa, did it look good.  The bike needs a few more finishing touches, but is about 85% done.   I’ll be sure to keep you updated on the progress. 

If you’d like to check out some of our videos on Charlie’s ’36, visit the Time Machine.  We’re adding new shows everday. 

Talk to ya soon,

Dale