Wheels Through Time Museum PDF Print E-mail
Written by Terry Miller   
Sunday, 20 June 2010 13:20

he Wheels Through Time museum is located in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. It bills itself as "the museum that runs" meaning that most if not all motorcycles on display are operable. While some motorcycles are clearly inoperable they may not always be that way given the effort expended in finding original parts by the museum's owner/curator Dale Walksler and his son Matt.

Both Dale and Matt are active in the AMCA. It's an organization that anyone with an interest in old motorcycles should join. The quarterly magazine is worth more than the annual dues. 

Most of us would consider Dale a pretty lucky guy. He found his passion and managed to make a living out of it.   So why should we support him? He can and will answer questions that you can't get answered anywhere else.

I went there trying to understand how early Harley step starters worked. I'd asked at the Harley Davidson museum and no one could answer my question. Not only was my question answered, I got to see it in action. 

It's nice to see someone working so hard to keep our history here with so much interest from foreign buyers lately. The prices of raw carcasses far exceed the price of similar new parts.


The probable most famous bike in the collection is a 1940 Crocker. Crocker motorcycles were among the first to successfully use overhead camshafts instead of push rods. Somewhere between one and two hundred Crockers were built with 60 to 70 motorcycles remaining. Notice the motorcycles are placed where the museum visitors can study them in detail.

Crocker Motorcycle

 1937 Crocker Motorcycle.

 Crocker Cam Chest

 Cam Chest and valve arrangement of early Crocker Hemi head motorcycles. 



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Dale doing a burnout on the Crocker.


One of the rarest motorcycles in the collection is a 1908 or 9 Reading Standard board track racer.  There are several unusual features about this motorcycle. Notice the right twist grip operates a linkage that runs between the cylinders to the magneto and adjusts the timing. The right twist grip operates a linkage connected to the oil pump. Fuel flow into the intake is controlled by a small valve on the carburetor.

Also notice the pistons drop so low that they're open to atmospher through the slots in the barrels of the pistons. This is visible in the third picture. Apparently this allowed enough extra air in to make it worth the loss of compression on the up stroke.  

 Reading Standard Motorcycle full view.

Reading Standard Full left view.



 Reading Standard motorcycle carburetor


 The next most interesting motorcycle to me was this rather nondescript 1915 Harley JD fitted with a 3 speed transmission. Dale will ride it in the 2010 coast to coast Cannonball run. The cannonball run is a 3300 mile race from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to Santa Monica, California that will take place over 16 days in September. The core of each competing motorcycle must be pre 1915 although upgrades to brakes, tires and lighting are allowed and even encouraged. 


 Cannonball JD



 A rare and often overlooked motorcycle is this model BA "Peashooter". The model BA featured overhead valves in 1926, 3 years before the side valve (flathead) model D and 10 years before the knucklehead model EL.

Model BA's were 350 CC singles manufactured to satisfy racing requirements to slow down board track racing. Technology increased so rapidly that the small 22 cubic inch engines were attaining speeds as high as the earlier 61 cubic inch engines. In 1935 Joe Petrali won all 13 American Motorcycle Association National Championship dirt track races on a Peashooter and set 4 records in the process.


Harley Model BA at the Wheels through time museum


 Harley model ba engine at Wheels through time


This particular motorcycle is sporting the 1933-1934 tank emblem that I think is the nicest Harley has ever used.  It was especially attractive in the black/China red color scheme of the model VL shown below.

 1933 Harley Davidson VL at the Wheels Through Time Museum


 The rest of the pieces I photographed can be seen at my Wheels Through Time photo Gallery


Some more reading about the Wheels Through Time museum and its motorcycles.


Fred Ham endurance record. 


VL Land speed record. 


Classic American Iron web magazine. 


Some or the motorcycles you'll see there.


 Thor motorcycles.

 Excelsior motorcycles.

 Henderson Motorcycles.

Ace Motorcycles. 

 Pierce Motorcycles.

 Indian motorcycles.

  Pope motorcycles.

 Elk motorcycles.

 Flescher motorcycle.


Last Updated on Monday, 21 June 2010 00:44