Allstate Motorcycle CHOPPER STORY presented by J&P Cycles Exhibit
Allstate Motorcycle CHOPPER STORY presented by J&P Cycles Exhibit
To put it mildly, Bill Morris collects things. And while it’s true that there’s a strong gearhead vibe to Bill’s collecting, it would be far too limiting to call Bill’s Old Bike Barn a motorcycle museum. Because it’s so much more than that! To see a related article on Bill’s Custom Cycle, click here.
The building itself is deceiving: you think you’re stepping into a pre-fab steel structure and find yourself instead inside an 1880’s barn, a building that was purchased, dismantled and re-built inside the museum. A balcony of galleries circles the top of the main room, where huge signs hang from the ceiling and the skylights are packed with badges and patches.
The motorcycle collection here is impressive and includes a ’41 Police UL, Indians, Knuckleheads, Triumphs, a 1913 Silent Gray Fellow and more. You’ll find scooters of various marques and military bikes, too. Several oddball vehicles such as an AMF-era H-D bobsled and a Moto-Guzzi-driven dump truck will have you scratching your head.
Turn the corner and head down a fully reconstructed main street complete with a café that can be rented out for functions. The town, naturally called Billville, has a police station, a firehouse, fix-it shop, shoe shop, general store, newspaper office, dentist and, not surprisingly, the Billville Harley-Davidson shop. All are fully detailed and stuffed with authentic bits.
Bill’s Old Bike Barn is as much a chronicle of iconic Americana as it is a motorcycle museum. One room leads to another, each as packed as the last with toys, mousetraps, Mardi Gras doo dads, suits of armor, Matchbox cars, license plates, bicycles, carousel animals, and of course there’s a room dedicated to Elvis. But motorcycle and motorcycle memorabilia dominate. There are framed articles and motorcycle toys, posters, models, tank badges, trophies, awards, hats and gear. One hallway is covered by framed catalogs from motorcycle-related companies that aren’t in business any more!
We definitely recommend you visit Bill’s Old Bike Barn – with this one precaution: give yourself plenty of time. This is not a place to briskly cruise through. There’s so much detail and so much worth looking at you owe it to yourself to spend the proper time. Even at that, return visits are just as much fun!
Bill’s Old Bike Barn
7145 Columbia Boulevard
Hours: Thursday & Friday from 10 AM – 6 PM Saturday from 9:30 AM – 3 PM Sunday from 1 PM – 5 PM Admission: $5.00 per person
This past Saturday, November 15, over one thousand visitors gathered at Wheels Through Time to witness the museum’s 12th Annual Vintage Motorcycle Raffle Giveaway. Sunny skies and brisk temperatures kept the crowd on their feet as the museum made 2 lucky ticket holders the winners of the 1935 and 1936 Harley-Davidson VL Flathead Bobbers.
The days festivities began as the 23rd Annual Haywood County Toy Run left downtown Canton headed for Wheels Through Time. Despite morning temperatures well below freezing, over 250 motorcycles braved the weather to help the children of Haywood County. After a catered barbeque lunch put on by the Blue Ridge Thunder Motorcycle Club, all attention turned to the stage in anticipation of the drawing that would determine the new owners of 2 genuine American classics.
This year, 2 Grand Prize machines were up for grabs, a pair of 1935 and 1936 Harley-Davidson VL Flathead Bobbers. Over the past year, these 2 beautiful machines helped the 2014 Museum Raffle become the largest Wheels Through Time fundraiser to date, raising much needed revenue for WTT to build new exhibits, expand its interpretation, and improve the overall museum experience for its visitors.
When it came time to draw the winning tickets, all in attendance fell silent, then on Dale’s mark, began a 20 second countdown as an energetic youngster dove in to the thousands of tickets head first. As the countdown reached zero, the little girl held out 2 tickets, 1 in each of her outstretched arms.
As indicated in the drawings rules, the first ticket pulled would be the proud new owner of Bike #1 – the 1935 Harley-Davidson VLD Bobber. The winner was Pat Brase from Ft. Wayne, IN. Pat first visited the museum 3 years ago, and after having such a great time during his first stop, he came back this past 4th of July weekend with friends. During his visit he donated a 1951 AMA Riders Book, which he proudly mentioned include a mention of his uncle, who was one of the first racers in Indiana to have an AMA national number. Before his visit was over, he decided to buy 7 tickets for the museum’s annual raffle.
Pat’s family has been riding motorcycles for over a century. One of his prized possessions is a photograph from a motorcycle race in 1910, with his grandfather and great-grandfather in the front row. Pat himself has been riding for over 50 years, and is the senior Chaplain for the Indian Patriot Guard Riders. He even has owned a few “old bikes” along the way. “When I started riding, you had to be a mechanic, so I learned,” Pat said. “My dad rode Harley’s, and taught me a lot.” His first motorcycle was a Harley-Davidson 125cc “Hummer” and later, he and his brother together bought a 1936 Harley-Davidson VLH. Although the bike was a basketcase and incomplete, the 2 had big plans to get it running. But when an interested party made them an offer they couldn’t refuse, they decided to let it go.
Now, decades later, Pat is again the proud owner of a genuine Harley-Davidson VL Flathead. With the help of his wife and son, he has decided that he’ll be taking the bike instead of the alternate cash prize.
Winner of Bike #2 — the 1936 Harley-Davidson VL “Dale Special” Bobber — is B.J. Whitley from Garner, North Carolina. While B.J. lives only a few hours away, he had never visited the Smoky Mountains until this year. He and his wife’s first visit to the area, and to Wheels Through Time was the during the exact same week that Pat Brase, winner of Bike #1, visited the museum. B.J. is the second Carolina winner in the past 2 years (last year’s grand prize was taken home by a South Carolina resident).
When speaking of his July visit to Wheels Through Time, he said he was impressed by the diversity and the number of machines on display, citing the American Board Track Racing Exhibit and the Chopper Graveyard as two of his favorite areas of the museum. He recalled watching in amazement as Dale and Matt cranked up bike after bike, and couldn’t believe it when Dale jumped aboard a 1915 Harley and rode out the front door. During his visit to Wheels Through Time, B.J. bought 14 tickets for the annual raffle, mainly to help support the museum’s mission. Little did he know that just over four months later, he would get a phone call that would change his life.
B.J. and his wife Shelby have been riding motorcycles most of their lives. His first bike was a Honda 450, that he eventually converted into a 3-wheel machine with a Harley Servicar rear end. Although he has never ridden a bike with a foot-clutch and tank-shift, he is excited to give the ’36 Flathead Bobber a go.
Also during Saturday’s festivities, Wheels Through Time unveiled the new Grand Prize for the 13th Annual Vintage Motorcycle Raffle in 2015. Next year’s lucky winner will take home a stunning 1939 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead Bobber custom built by Wendell Turner at Turner’s Cycle Shop in South Lyon, Michigan. Tickets are on sale at WheelsThroughTime.com/2015raffle.
The Wheels Through Time museum would like to thank each and every participant that contributed to the 2014 Vintage Motorcycle Raffle. Each year, thousands of generous individuals support the museum through its raffle fundraiser, and make it possible for WTT to continue to fulfill its mission to educate and inspire a diverse audience about the history of American transportation.
Source and images: Wheels Through Time
Posted by Sam Kanish
Whether you had a Honda, Triumph, Harley or Yamaha scooter back in the early ‘70s Tracy’s Fiberglas Works had ready-made body panels, tanks, fairings and more to instantly transform your stock bike to custom cool. Take a look through the pages of this 1974 edition and we bet you’ll be itching to hop in a time machine just so you can place an order!
Though the company is long gone, the ideas and designs represented here still look fresh and interesting. If nothing else, this blast from the past might inspire you to start a new project or rethink how your bike might be improved.
By Bob Tyson
So maybe it wasn’t the classic barn find that most motorcycle collectors imagine, but when Bob Tyson’s Aunt Doris decided to discard a box of old photo negatives from her attic, it was the next best thing. It turns out the negatives depicted Bob’s extended family and friends riding motorcycles in the early part of the 20th Century and the incident inspired his book: Harley-Davidson Memories, The Golden Age of Motorcycling.
Part personal memoir, the book is also a grassroots glimpse at intrepid riders of the early days: people who loved riding motorcycles, embraced the lifestyle it offered, and took the good with the not-so-good—people like us. That approachability makes for pleasant reading. The solid backdrop of the author’s well-researched motor-history adds authenticity, as you might expect from a man who’s been a member of the AMCA for several decades.
The images themselves are worth it: early hillclimbs and dirt races with nary a safety barrier in sight, women riders way before their time, and regular folks “touring” on clunky dirt roads which were typical back then. Better yet, the book is generously peppered with period advertisements bearing such slogans as Breeze Away to Joyland, Ride and Save, and Split the Air Like a Rocket, reminding the reader that what mattered then, still matters now.
Meeting Bob and learning about his book led to a visit to his garage and a peak at part of his eclectic collection of antique bikes. There’s a ‘46 Indian Chief that has been converted to right hand throttle and a 1936 Indian Four with the infamous one-year-only up-side-down engine. According to Bob’s research, estimates indicate they made only 300-600 of them. “A 90 + mph motorcycle was totally crazy for the time,” he said.
Bob has a 4-cylinder Danish motorcycle, a Zschopau sidecar outfit, and a 1941 WLA that he paid about $300 for in the ‘80s. He also has a sweet collection of singles and small bikes including the Honda Dream with that square headlight, the bike that many American riders started out on.
Bob’s garage isn’t a museum, either; it’s a collection of bikes in various states of repair that are tended to and—more importantly—ridden. And as those people in the old photographs printed in Bob’s book show, that’s what motorcycles are for. —M. Stemp
Harley-Davidson Memories, The Golden Age of Motorcycling
by Bob Tyson
Turner Publishing Co.