Fire & The Wheel

Building The 2011 Raffle Bike

Originally Published In The January 2011 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine

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Each year here at the Wheels Through Time Museum, we take on countless projects of rebuilding and restoring vintage American motorcycles dating all the way back to the beginnings of our country’s two-wheel movement. Whether it’s bringing a bike back to life that’s been resting idle in a barn for 70 years, a project assembled from “parts that never knew each other,” or a full-on nut and bolt, ground-up restoration, we always go to great lengths to make sure that each and every machine is ready to run down the road, and we have a lot of fun getting it there. Without a doubt, one of the most fun projects for us each year is building the bike for our Annual Museum Raffle which takes place every November. In years’ past, we’ve given away several great machines, including a 1951 Panhead, a 1936 Harley VL, a 1940 Knucklehead, and a 1947 Knucklehead, to name a few – all built right here in the WTT restoration shop. Each year, we do our best to out-do the previous year’s machine, and so far, we feel like they keep getting better and better.

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In early October, my dad and I began tossing around a few ideas for the 2011 raffle bike. Knowing we had to raise the bar from 2010’s 1947 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, the boss decided on building up one of the most iconic American motorcycles ever produced: a 1936 Knucklehead. We jumped right in and got to work, aiming to make this machine a true head-turner. Using a combination of genuine HD components, from my dad’s 40 year stash of parts, and parts sourced from the best available aftermarket sources, we hardly pulled our heads up for over a month, working many nights until 2 or 3 in the morning. Within a week, we had the motor built and transmission reassembled. Our buddy John the Painter had us set up with a top-notch paint job in no time. The colors, gold and black striped in red, were chosen right from the rolodex with actual factory custom paint options from the 1930s and 1940s.

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Now building a machine from scratch like this usually requires months and months of work, but with this first year Knucklehead, both my dad and I were impressed with how well it went together. By the 1st of November, we had the machine fully assembled and were ready to give her a little gas and see what she did. A few kicks on prime, turn the key, and wouldn’t ya know, it started on the first kick. Each year, the Annual Museum Raffle provides much needed support for the museum and its programs. Through the give-a-way, we’re able to continue to build new exhibits, release new shows in the video section of our Web site at www. WheelsThroughTime.com, acquire new machines for display, and keep the over 300+ American two-wheel classics gassed up and ready to run. Each ticket holder personally places their thumbprint throughout the museum and helps keep us “The Museum That Runs.” So don’t miss your chance at owning a genuine piece of motorcycle Americana. All you have to do is visit the museum, log onto www. WheelsThroughTime.com, or call (828) 926-6266 to get your tickets. Tickets are just $10 each, 3 for $20, or 7 for $50 (w/ free T-shirt and DVD). Just think, it could be the best investment you ever made, and you can rest assured that you’re helping preserve American motorcycle history that’ll inspire folks just like you and me for years to come.

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