The WTT DVD Collection

Hello All,

I hope this spring has been a great one for all of you so far!  Here at the museum’s we’ve been working on all sorts of great new things, including ramping up our virtual museum experience for our thousands of online visitors.  Currently, our Time Machine Video Archives have over 300 great videos online, and we’re adding more regularly.

The reason that I’m writing today is to tell you about the growing Wheels Through Time DVD Collection available in our Online Museum Store.  Ever since we started the Time Machine Video Archives over three years ago, we’ve heard from visitors far and wide that DVDs would be a great  way for physical museum visitors and online visitors, alike, to stay up-to-date and informed about all of the latest happenings at Wheels Through Time.  You were right, and as of right now, we’ve got seven great new DVD titles to choose from that’ll bring the world of Wheels Through Time right to your home. 

One of my favorites is the new "Archives Series".  With so many rare and historic machines inside the museum walls, it can be a bit overwhelming at times to take it all in.  Thats why we created "The Archives Series".  With "The Archives" you can tour the museum one-on-one with me, as we highlight many of the rarest and most significant machines at Wheels Through Time.  From hillclimbers and boardtrack racers, to prototypes and production models, "The Archives" brings history right to your doorstep.  We have a lot of fun in these shows, and we’re always sure to get ’em running — stuck piston or not!  "The Archives: Volume 1" has been a huge hit so far, and "Volume 2", just released earlier this month, is sure to be just as good.  Look for a bit of a different flavor with this one, as we bring you several Wheels Through Time built machines, all of which will change the way you think about vintage bikes.  You’ve heard of "old school" — Well, this is "Real School". 

Another of my favorites, and our newest addition to the Wheels Through Time DVD Collection, holds a very special place in my heart.   "The 1936 VEL" highlights the build of a machine dedicated to the man responsible for my inspiration — my dad, Bernie Walksler.  This one brings the build to you with over 15 shows from concept to creation, and all the hiccups along the way.  I guarantee you won’t be dissappointed, and will see one of the wildest customs I’ve ever built come together to make one truly unique and inspiring piece of American motorcycle history.  From a pile of parts to a one-of-a-kind custom, "The 1936 VEL" is a must have if you’re accustomed to straying from the norm!

For more great new DVDs from the Wheels Through Time Collection, and many other special offers only available from Wheesl Through Time, visit our Online Museum Store. 

And if you’re wondering which DVDs you should get first, don’t hesitate to ask!

Hope to hear from you soon!

Dale

H-D Civil Patrol Videos Online!

See the bike build videos on The Time Machine…

Several months back, we were tracking the progress of one of our latest bike builds here on my blog.  The bike being built was quiet a rare one — a 1942 Harley-Davidson FL Knucklehead.  We captured much of the build on video, and as of today, you can see them in our Time Machine Video Archives!

Civil Patrol Videos OnlineThe project at hand came to my doorstep in an interesting way.  One day at the museum, a fella pulled up with truck and trailer, came up and introduced himself, and let me know he had something that may be of interest to me.   After talking a bit, we made our way out to his trailer and, to my surprise, he uncovered a 1942 Knucklehead.  "Its for sale" he said.  And after a bit of talking, we made a deal.

The bike looked good at first, but after a few days to look at it, we decided it wasn’t all that I thought it was.  It was a real "look before you leap" story.    After removing a few parts, and then a few more, then a few more, we had the bike torn down to a bare frame and set of engine cases.   Not were I expected to be.  

So after a bit of brainstorming, we came up with a great project.  Being that very few ’42 Knuckleheads were produced, and of those produced, few were available to the public, we decided to build it as a "Civil Patrol" Knucklehead.  Kind of a cross between a civilian bike and a police bike, if you will.

The project was a fun one.  With plenty of parts around the shop to choose from, we scrapped most of the parts that came off the bike, and began building something truly different.  A set of widened gas tanks from Harry Molenaar’s old-time H-D dealership in Hammond, Indiana were perfect for the project.  I’d had them for 25 or so years and had been waiting for the right machine to put them on.   Lots and lots of chrome really help to set the bike off as well.  I’ve been collecting old chrome parts for years, and this was a great opportunity to dig into the stash. 

To many oddities to list went into this one, and when we finished, we all agreed that we had one sweet running piece of motorcycle history. 

Catch the build in our Video Archives, here.

Until next time,

–Dale

A Nice Surprise

The best thing about the U.S. Postal Service is that, once in a while, something extraordinary arrives. 

Today I received a package in the mail from long time enthusiasts, Carl and Macy Donaldson.  The package was quite unexpected and when I opened it, to my surprise, I found a wonderful large format photo of a particularly fond memory at the museum. 

The photo was taken during the Drag Specialties mountain ride in 2007 during their stop at Wheels Through Time.  Pictured from left to right are myself, Roland Sands of Roland Sands Design, Carl Donaldson, and Brian Klock of Klock Werks Kustom Cycle.

The bike that Carl is sitting on is the legendary Leapin’ Leena.  The bike was built way back in 1950 by George Swim, a Harley-Davidson dealer from the little town of Energy, IL.  George had been a dealer since the mid-1930s, and started the Star of Egypt Motorcycle Club back in the late 1940s.  The club scene back then was a much different one than today, with social gatherings, road-runs, and field-games prevalent on any given weekend.  Having fun was the goal and these guys were good at it. 

So, as you can guess, Leapin’ Leena was built for one purpose and one purpose only — FUN.  Set up with offset hubs, when you ride Leapin’ Leena it hops and jumps at even the lowest speeds, and must have been quite a spectacle in its day.  The bike has seen many Sunday club gatherings and over its 70-plus year life-span, I imagine, has bucked off even the best of riders.

As the Drag Specialties group and I toured the museum, we stumbled across Leapin’ Leena sitting quitely near the back door of the museum.  We began talking about the bike and within minutes, someone had asked if it ran.  "Everything runs," I said.  "Do you want to ride it?"

Before long, we had out a few tools, tightened up a few nuts and bolts, slid in a battery, and were ready to crank her up.   Just then, someone tapped on my shoulder, and when I turned around it was none other than Carl Donaldson, who had, just by coincidence, come to visit the museum on the same day. 

I hadn’t seen Carl in at least 15 or 20 years.  I set my wrench down and we began catching up a bit. Then I noticed that Carl seemed a bit distracted.  He looked over my shoulder with a smile, hesitated, then said, "Why that looks like Leapin’ Leena!"

"It is!!!" I said.

"I haven’t ridden that bike in 50 years!"

As it turns out Carl and George Swim were close friends and over the years, Carl had attended a few "Star Of Egypt" events, himself.  "Do you want to ride it?" I asked.

Carl politely declined, but we went ahead and rolled the bike out anyway.  After a short roll to the grass (you don’t want to ride this thing on pavement…trust me), we kicked it twice and cranked it up.  "Who’s first?" I asked.  

Carl was right there with a smile.  He hopped on, shifted into first, disengaged the clutch, and he was off.  If you didn’t know, you’d have thought he rode it yesterday.

–Dale

The 1936 VEL

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been into just about anything old motorcycles. I started with a transmission, traded that into a pile of parts, and quickly built that into my first vintage motorcycle — a hot-rod Harley-Davidson 45" three-wheel chopper.

Throughout my career, I have been very fortunate to have the encouragement and support of my father, Bernie, in fulfilling my dreams. This is something that, unfortunately, doesn’t happen as much as it should. Since I was young, my father gave me the freedom to pursue my own goals. He put his trust in me that I knew the life I wanted and gave me the confidence and self-belief I needed to reach my goals. Through good times and bad, he was always there with positive reassurance, and kindly helped me find my way if I had gotten lost. There cannot be enough said for people like this, and I hope that I can be the same person for my son, Matt, as my father has been for me. Everyone should be fortunate enough to have someone like this in their life.

Mock-Up StageA few years back, I decided to do something for my dad to show him my respect and admiration. The project at hand — a one-off custom H-D to be built in his honor. It all started about two years ago, when I found a pile of rare custom-modified parts at the Davenport Swapmeet. After getting back to the museum and quickly "mocking up" the bike, I knew it would take quite a bit of inspiration to get this one finished. And who better to dedicate it to than the man that inspired me.

Consisting of an early 1930s Harley-Davidson VL frame and the infamous 1936 Knucklehead engine, this machine would be a far cry from your average knucklehead or flathead. Countless friends chipped in on the project, from fabricating tanks and fenders to the finish-up pinstriping. Heck…we had two Brians, two Johns, a Myron, a Matt, a Jason, and a Dale…just in making the tanks!!!

The '36 VEL TanksOver the next year and a half, the bike would progress slowly, as I waited for that final burst of inspiration to get the project finished. When it came, the at one time near stagnant project came together as if it had been waiting to be fired up for the first time. Matt, Moe, and I completed the final steps of assembly, and my friend Mark Peters’ steady hand made the machine glow with his pinstriping.

As we rolled the machine off the lift and out the garage door, we all knew that the moment had arrived. It was time to crank it up. A couple kicks to prime, and one to go. It started on the first kick. And man does it roar.

We documented the build of this machine on the Wheels Through Time video website and also have released a full length DVD on the VEL and its story. Over 15 shows were produced on everything from finding the parts to fabricating sheet-metal to its first run down the road. Its one of my favorite series that we’ve produced and it’d make a great gift idea for your friends and family. So be sure to order one from our Online Gift Shop today. I know you won’t be dissappointed.

Without the help and support from my family and friends, this machine would not have turned out like it did, if at all. I’m grateful to have so many people in my life that have stood behind me in what I do and have helped me become the person I am today. I never could have done it by myself!

Until Next Time………

–Dale