WTT 10th Anniversary Celebration — July 5-9, 2012!

This coming July 5-9, 2012 the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC will be celebrating it’s 10-year Anniversary here in the Great Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Since opening its doors on July 4th of 2002, the museum has welcomed over a half-million visitors through its doors who’ve come to get a taste of American transportation history at its best.

The museum houses over 320 of America’s rarest and most significant motorcycles and automobiles, and is renowned for its "non-traditional" approach to preserving a vast collection of two- and four-wheeled machines that spans over 100 years. While most automotive and motorcycle related museums in North America house near static collections of shiny, restored machines kept in glass cases or behind velvet ropes, at Wheels Through Time each and every machine inside the museum walls is kept in running and operating condition, many of which are fired up and run regularly for visitors. Over 75 percent of the collection stands in original condition — untouched survivors tracing back to the roots of motorized transporation — indicating the museum’s emphasis on originality.   

This very approach has been an integral part of the museum’s success in Western NC. And as it continues to grow in both size and scope, visitors from far and wide are more than willing to share their unique experiences with friends and strangers alike, giving the museum even more momentum as it looks toward the future.

So far this summer, the museum has experienced record visitation, and things only look to be getting busier.   

"Over the past 10 years, Wheels Through Time has enjoyed enormous success here in Maggie Valley, NC" says museum curator Dale Walksler. "We owe a vast part of that success to our visitors, and for our 10th Anniversary, we’d like to recognize and pay tribute to all those who have helped us become the museum that we are today."

From Thursday-Monday, July 5-9, in celebration of its 10th year in Maggie Valley, museum staff will be giving special tours and demonstrations of many of the rare machines at WTT, including nearly a dozen early American racing motorcycles, several significant automobiles dating back to the 1920s, and one of the newest additions to the museum collection — the "Belly Tanker" race car seen on numerous episodes of "American Pickers".     

For more information , please visit the Wheels Through Time Museum website, located at www.WheelsThroughTime.com or call the museum at (828) 926-6266.


Operation VLH

A few months back, good friend and Antique Motorcycle Club of America board member Steve Slocombe from the UK contacted me about an interesting project he’d been developing in his head for quite some time. Steve is the owner and operator of VL Heaven, a company that specializes in 1930-36 Harley-Davidson V-series motorcycles, and over the past 20 years, he’s spent his life collecting and producing parts to keep these bikes on the road. When it comes to VLs, Steve is the guy to contact, and probably knows more about this era of Harley’s history than Harley-Davidson itself.

About a year ago, Steve got the wild idea to recreate a newsreel segment that was filmed by the California Highway Patrol in 1935. The newsreel featured several members of the CHP, aboard their brand new Police pursuit motorcycles — all 1936 Harley-Davidson VLH 80 cubic inch flatheads — demonstrating the superior qualities of HD’s new top of the line machine. ’36 was the first and only year that the VLH was offered, making it a very rare bike, so when I heard that Steve was building a total of five of them for the project, I didn’t know whether to believe it or not. Well after a few emails back and forth, there was no question — by mid-March, two had already been completed and three more were well on their way to being finished by the first of May.

Now Steve is a bit of a perfectionist.. he likes his machines to not only run and operate well, but also look the part too. Before each of the machines were shipped to Wheels Through Time, they were rigorously judged for accuracy at various AMCA meets — each receiving 90+ points on their scoring card.

{gallery}operationvlh{/gallery}So where do we at Wheels Through Time come in? When it comes to old motorcycles, or motorcycles period for that matter, what matters most is that they run like they were designed to run. Here at the museum, we pride ourselves on the fact that over 98% of the museum collection is kept in running and operating condition, so when Steve made the decision that each of his VLH Police bikes had to run top-notch, he knew right where to take ’em. "Don’t be light on ’em," he said. "I want you and Dale to really put some miles on these bikes……after all, they each need to run 100 mph for the video."

This is where I raised an eyebrow. 100 mph??? Who takes their lifetime collection of parts, builds it into near perfect restorations, has them judged for accuracy, then sends them down to us to ride the wheels off ’em? Thats right, Steve Slocombe from VL Heaven does!

By the first of June, all five bike had arrived at Wheels Through Time. While very nicely restored, each machine was only run for a few miles, and all needed to be dialed in and tuned for performance. Over the course of two or three weeks, Dale and I had the chance to make several necessary changes and adjustments, and managed to put a total of a hundred or so miles on the five bikes.

When it came time to shoot the video, Steve arrived with three other tank-shift riders from New Jersey ready to put on the miles. They spent a good portion of the first few days continuing to dial the bikes in, giving each the proper amount of break in before their 100 mph test. Each machine had a few minor issues over the break in period, but nothing 6 good mechanically oriented old bike guys couldn’t fix.

Now VLH’s are pretty fast … no very fast. But redlining a 76 year old machine within only a few revolutions of exploding is risky. Equally punishing five bikes is even riskier. But after a thorough warm-up, a few carburetor adjustments, and the twist of the wrist, each of the five machines mustered up the strength to push past that milestone 100 mile-per-hour mark that Harley had prided so much.

We’re currently working on finishing up the recreation of the 1935 Newsreel, so keep an eye out at WheelsThroughTime.com for the new video. As for the bikes…..all five are currently on display at Wheels Through Time Museum in our "MotorCops: Police and Motorcycles" exhibit, and will be for the remainder of the summer.

For more information about Steve Slocombe and VL Heaven, visit his website at www.VLHeaven.com.


Sneak Peak

World renowned Artist David Uhl recently visited Wheels Through Time to research and develop anew pieces for his Sturgis Commemorative Edition Series of motorcycle artwork.  For years, David’s artwork has captured the vivid imagery associated with motorcycle history, bringing candid moments of motorcycle culture of past and present to life.  His art is collected world-wide, and is among the most sought after motorcycle artwork in the world.

Here, David and Dale pose for a picture with the 1909 Indian Twin, while Kevin Beanre looks on with a watchful eye.  Keep an eye out for Davids new painting at the 2012 Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  You will most certainly be impressed.

For more information on David Uhl and his artwork, visit www.Uhlstudios.com.


Some Great Shots from the 2012 Spring Kickstart Classic

Another Motorcycle Kickstart Classic is in the books!  The 2012 Spring ride for kickstart motorcycles took place on May 16-18th, and riders came from near and far to get their fill of some of the best twists and turns these mountains have to offer.   The Route — Wheels Through Time to Denton, North Carolina for the AMCA National Meet, via as many backroads as we could fit into our schedule!

The ride was put on by American Iron Magazine, and sponsored by Baker Drivetrain — and these two really did a great job putting everything together.  We all met here at Wheels Through Time on Wednesday for a special evening museum tour and cookout before heading out on Thursday morning.  This year, we had all sorts of special guests, including Bert Baker and James Simonelli from Baker Drivetrain, "The Worlds Fastest Knucklehead" — Mr. Pete Hill, Mike "Kiwi" Thomas of Kiwi Indian, and of course, Mr. Buzz Kanter — editor and publisher of American Iron Magazine. 

{gallery}kcclassic{/gallery}The turnout for the two-day ride was fantastic, with over 60 kickstart riders in attendance.  Everyone came well prepared and eager to put miles under their belt.  Day 1’s ride featured over 200 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway, before descending into North Wilkesboro for an open house at Crossroads Harley-Davidson.  The folks at the dealership took great care of us, with cookout and open house for all in attendance.  Day Two’s ride was just as fun, as we made the 100-mile ride into Denton without loosing even one of our riders to mechanical trouble.  We received a very nice welcome from the folks putting on the meet, and were featured in a parade lap around the grounds upon our arrival.

Its not too often that we can get together with so many close friends for a few days of riding, so weekends like this are particularly memorable for me.  I’m already looking forward to the next time around! 

Click on the photo to see more pics from the 2012 Spring Motorcycle Kickstart Classic