Special WTT Museum Opening February 3-5, 2012!!!!

This coming February 3-5, the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC is celebrating its first special weekend opening of 2012. The museum will be open Friday-Sunday, from 10:00a.m.-5:00p.m, and will be holding demonstrations and exhibitions of various new machines on display throughout the weekend.

During the special weekend opening, the museum will be honoring the 2011 WTT Annual Motorcycle Raffle Winner, Chris Hemminger from Centreville, MD. Chris was the grand prize winner for the beautifully restored 1936 Harley-Davidson "Knucklehead" Bobber and will be returning to the museum for the first time since he bought the winning ticket in June of 2011 to pick up his new motorcycles. A special presentation will be held on Saturday for Mr. Hemminger, who was notified that he had won the motorcycle while attending his daughters first birthday party.

The museum closed for the 2011 season this past November, and since, it has been a busy few months at Maggie Valley’s anchor tourism attraction. Museum staff have been hard at work, taking on several initiatives to enhance the overall museum experience for their visitors. New displays have been created throughout the museum, and several current exhibitions have been expanded upon. New and enhanced lighting has also been installed throughout the museum providing a better visual experience for guests.

The museum’s interpretational signage has also been expanded, and in mid April, a new Smartphone component is being introduced, which features a QR (quick response) code that links visitors to the museums vast library of video content on hundreds of the rare and historic machines housed within the facility.

The museum, which officially opens for the 2012 season on March 29, has also announced several preliminary weekend openings prior to their season opener, including a special guest appearance and book signing on March 19th by renowned women’s author, Cristine Sommer-Simmons, who is best known for her recent book titled "The American Motorcycle Girls" which highlights over 50 years of women in motorcycling.

For more information on openings and upcoming museum events for 2012, visit www.WheelsThroughTime.com or call the museum at (828) 926-6266.

New Smartphone Technology at Wheels Through Time!

Inside a Shaft-Drive Knucklead Transmission

Heres a rare one.  The transmisssion for a 1941 Harley-Davidson TA — better known as the Shaft-drive Knucklehead Trike.  This thing is an absolute monster…..HD spared no effort in designing the beefiest transmission they could.  Notice the wider transmission case, and angle-cut gears to mesh the shaft-drive output.  The "EX" casting on the top indicates that its an experimental part right out of the Harley-Davidson engineering department. 

Kind of funny how the shift crossover is on the right side…..Then I got to looking at the factory photographs….and most of the TA’s were right hand shift.  The example here at the museum — the Canadian serial #1 prototype — has the normal left hand shift and a crossover on the rear motor mount.

The transmission takes a standard knucklehead kicker cover, and a stock clutch basket.  I think this one is also up for the "Worlds Shortest Drive-shaft". 

The shiny gear pictured is a brand new reverse gear for this set up.  In the second picture it gives you a good idea of how rusty and crusty the inside of the transmission is. 

This transmission will be going in Serial #3 out of the 17 built by Harley-Davidson in 1941.  Check it out in the military exhibit next time you’re visiting. 

Images from Motorcycle History

From time to time, we stumble across fantastic images from various points throughout motorcycle history.  These candid shots from days gone can sometimes help to give even the slightest insight into particular details of a machine, a rider, or an era.  And sometimes, they can tell an entire story altogether. 

I ran across the photo below while looking around the museum the other day, and immediately fell in love.

In the photo is Mike Verderber aboard what looks to be a home-built dirt track special, surrounded by pit crew and friends.

When looking at photos like this, I comb over every detail, trying to uncover any bit of information I can.  The types of bikes, who is in the picture, what they’re wearing, the looks on their faces… the overall mood of the scene which the photo captured….  There’s plenty of factual information that can be obtained from these images, and at the same time, a world of assumptions that we can jump into to try to help us gain a better understanding of that day in history.

When examining the bike, we see the ultra-short wheelbase, and low seat position — common among short track racers of the late 1920s and 1930s.  From experience, we know the machine is not a "factory" race bike, rather a special construction, purpose-built racer taylored to both the rider and the event in which it is to take part.  Shortened J-model tanks, and the front axle set-up (which slides through the front fork leg) also lend to this conclusion.  The  28X2.25 Firestone Cord Racing tires were the treads of choice, and power was laid to the dirt through what looks to be a late-20s twin-cam 61" with straight-fin cylinders and a single-speed countershaft hidden behind the riders leg. 

This photo was taken right off the racetrack — the stairs and chain-link fence in the background keep what was probably a 1/2-mile dirt oval out of view.  It looks to have been a happy day at the speedway, as smiles and looks of both pride and accomplishment are prevalent.  Even the little guy on the right exudes a confidence only seen within the local Sunday hero…or his pit crew.

Luckily, the a portion of the real story was preservered in the original handwriting of the builder of this exact motorcycle.  These few words lend more to the photo than any assumptions could. 

The caption reads:
"Mike Verderber + some club members and other friends (or admirers) at Jerseyville, ILL, 35-miles north of St. Louis, MO.   This is the last and best "HOME-BREW" Special I ever built.  Shortened tanks + frame; lowered frame + engine; drop bars, home-made chainguard, and rear fender from Model "A" tire cover, racing wheels + tires, bicycle seat, engine all overhauled, balanced, polished + souped up inside.  Handled perfect."

And there you have it.  That candid moment captured in words of the motorcycle builder himself.  But the interesting thing is, he leaves no clue to whether he was even present on that very day.  Is he one of the proud in the photo.  Could he be the man behind the camera?  Or was he hard at work in the race shop on the day it was taken? Who was this guy? 

While a photo like this can answer many of our question, it can pose many others…..

Rumor has it that this machine is still around today, and is very fast, even by todays standard.  Hopefully, we’ll get lucky and see it out on the track at Wauseon or Davenport one of these days.




Huuuuuuge weekend out in Las Vegas this weekend…….three of the most well known motorcycle auction houses are dropping the gavels on hundreds of vintage motorcycles of all shapes, sizes, makes and models.

Click on any of the links below to view the auction live!

Las Vegas Premier Motorcycle Auction — Auctions America/RM Auctions

Bohnams 2012 Las Vegas Motorcycle Sale —

2012 MidAmeric Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction — MidAmerica Auctions

The Need for Speed

Have you ever wondered what its like to round the track at over 75 miles per hour on a nearly 100 year old motorcycle.  Well step aboard a hand-built 1921 Harley-Davidson Banjo Twin Cam Special with builder and racer Mike Lange and see how it feels to go head to head with some of the fastest guys on the track.  No brakes, no clutch, just 61-inchs of pure horsepower, set into a low slung half-mile chassis, specially prepared for turning the fastest laps possible on the Davenport dirt oval.

Guys like Mike and my dad have been at this for a long time, and its truly inspirational to see what these guys can do with almost century old equipment.  And when its time to bring ’em out to race, no one is light on the throttle. 

In this video, Mike reels in Roy Taboada, who piloted Dave Kafton’s 1921 Harley "Iron Dinosaur" boardtracker.  Feel the power as he accelerated out of the curves and down the straights.  Go ahead, turn up the volume….its worth it. 

If this don’t get ya excited about racin’, nothing will.