Harley Knucklehead

October 10, 2012

AMCA Southern Coalition National Road Run

Day 1

A large storm system that had brought days of rain was just working it’s way out of central North Carolina as I pushed my 1964 Panhead outside to begin my ride to Maggie Valley.  I planned to meet up with another rider at 7:00 AM, down in Pittsboro, about a 45 minute ride from my house.  The roads were still wet as I made my way toward the old courthouse located downtown.  Within a few minutes, Steve showed up on his 1947 Knucklehead and we were headed for the highway.

Early morning departure from Pittsboro, NC

Early morning departure from Pittsboro, NC

The plan was to ride secondary highways all the way to Maggie Valley, about 250 miles total.  We stuck to the plan for the first 100 miles of the ride, which took us through a few small towns separated by rolling hills and green fields.  At our first gas stop we checked the map and realized that we could save some time if we got on the interstate.  We figured traffic would be light, so we could just cruise at 55 mph without interfering with the flow of cars.

As we expected, there weren’t many cars on the road and the miles passed by easily.  That is until Steve’s bike started to backfire and cut off.  We rolled over onto the shoulder and began troubleshooting his Knucklehead.  Turns out that his points had broken and he did not have a spare set on hand.  It took about an hour and a little ingenuity, but we were able to repair the points and get back on the road.  If your curious, here’s how we did it:  Click Here

Roadside repairs

Roadside repairs

With Steve’s bike back in running condition, we rode the last 75 miles to Maggie Valley.  The headquarters for the road run just happened to be at the Wheels Through Time museum, which was the perfect choice for a group of about 150 vintage bike enthusiasts.  Dale and Matt Walksler were great hosts as always and even allowed us to pitch our tents on the museum grounds.  After getting our run packet which consisted of daily route maps, a pin, a license plate medallion, a t-shirt and a name tag, we unpacked the bikes and started setting up camp.

Camping at Wheels Through Time

Camping at Wheels Through Time

Once the tents were in place, it was time to hit the parking lot and start checking out the other bikes.

Parking lot at Wheels Through Time

Parking lot at Wheels Through Time

Dinner was served under the white tent around 7:00 and soon after most folks started heading back to their hotels.  Dale kept the museum open until 9:00 which gave us something to do besides sitting in the tents.  Then it began to rain…

Day 2

The second day was a complete wash out.  Twenty-four hours of steady rain.  No one seemed to mind as we were able to spend a solid 8 hours going through the museum.  I’ve been to Wheels Through Time on several occasions,  but this was the first chance I really had to take it all in.  There are so many bikes, parts, memorabilia and other things that it can cause a bit of sensory overload.  When you really can take your time, you start noticing unusual things, like a Knucklehead with homemade rear suspension or a Flathead with tankshifters on both tanks.  Odd bits sitting on shelves or hanging from the rafters catch your eye and require closer inspection.  I honestly cannot think of a better place to spend a rainy day.

A variety of flatheads on display

A variety of flatheads on display

Hillclimbing exhibit

Hillclimbing exhibit

A fire was built in the outdoor shelter and the evening was spent talking about bikes and telling lies.  A couple of guys from Australia were also camping at the museum and I enjoyed hearing about their adventures in the US.  Turns out they were on a 6 month long motorcycle trip across the country.  Talk about a vacation!  Around midnight, I finally slogged back to the tent to try and get some sleep.

Day 3

We had pitched our tents next to a small stream that ran around the edge of the museum’s grounds.  Initially it had seemed like a good idea to set up next to the stream, it made for a very peaceful location with the water gentle running through the rocks.  This all changed after an entire day of rain, soon the stream had turned into a minature raging river.  Between the sounds of the rain on the tents, the wind whipping the tarp and the water crashing on the rocks, I was up half the night keeping an eye on the water level.  By morning, the water had not risen past it’s banks, but it was really ripping past our campsite.

Rapids at the campsite

Rapids at the campsite

Finally around noon the rain started clearing out and we prepared for our first group ride.  Plans were altered slightly and we chose to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway up to Mt Pisgah.  The roads were still a little wet, with water running across them in some places and plenty of wet leaves, but it was great to finally get on the bike.  We made one stop at the highest point on the Parkway, before continuing on to Mt Pisgah.

Parking lot at Mt Pisgah

Parking lot at Mt Pisgah

Returning back to Wheels Through Time, another dinner was being prepared and everyone was glad to have a warm meal after a cool ride in the mountains.  The route for the following day was close to 250 miles of mountain roads, so most folks headed back to the hotels early to get some rest.

Day 4

The last day of the run actually started out with something I hadn’t seen all week, warm air and sunny skies.  People arrived early at the museum to get a start on the long ride and to make sure that they were in front of the chase truck.

Preparing for the ride on day 4

Preparing for the ride on day 4

The route for the day was supposed to take us over the Cherohala Skyway, then loop around to the Dragon and back to Maggie Valley.  Of course there were a couple wrong turns added, which kept us from completing the planned ride, but we still logged over 200 miles and had a good time.

Dinner for the last night was BBQ sandwiches, followed by an awards banquet.  Plaques were given out for the oldest and youngest riders, longest distance traveled, etc.  Once the banquet was over, people headed out to start packing up bikes and trailers for the return trip home.  The next morning I did the same, finally getting on the road by 9:00 AM.  Steve and I had an uneventful ride back to central NC and I was home by mid afternoon.

This was my first AMCA road run and I hope to attend more in the future.  If you like riding old bikes or even just looking at them, then an AMCA road run would be worth considering.  You have to be an AMCA member to attend, but that’s it.  They are already scheduling runs for next year, so check out their website for more information.

I posted some additional pictures of individual bikes here:  Click Here

Filed under Events, Panhead Jim's Blog by PanheadJim

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June 3, 2012

Motorcycle Kickstart Classic 2012

Have Panhead Will Travel

Words to live by

As soon as the 2012 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic was announced, I started prepping my 1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide for the trip.  The to-do list included replacing the wiring harness, generator, fuel valve and rear brake shoes, along with the usual trip preparations like changing the oil, transimission lube, etc.  I planned to have everything completed by April, but before I knew it, April had turned into May and the trip was a week away.  With no time to spare, I worked passed midnight for a solid week to get the bike finished just in time for the ride.

Day 1

On the first day of the trip, I awoke to the sound of heavy rain.  Fearing the worst, I checked the weather and was relieved to see that the storm was moving quickly across North Carolina.  By 9:00 the rain had cleared and I had my panhead sitting in the driveway, packed and ready.  Soon after, my buddy Tim arrived to pilot my 1972 BMW R75/5 and by 10:00 we were heading down the highway, destination Maggie Valley and Wheels Through Time.

The ride to Maggie Valley was thankfully uneventful, especially considering the ordeal I went through during last year’s rally.  The bikes ran great the entire trip and we cruised down I-40 at a comfortable 65-70 mph.  I did suffer a loose screw on my windshield bag, but otherwise there were no issues during the 250 mile ride.  It felt great to pull into Wheels Through Time and be able to relax instead of having to immediately start troubleshooting problems with the bike.

By 4:00, the parking lot at Wheels Through Time was already filled with Classic American Iron.

Knucklehead, Panhead and a BMW

Nice knucklehead parked next to my panhead and BMW /5

Panheads and a Shovelhead

A couple of panheads and a shovelhead

Knucklehead and Triumph

A knucklehead parked in front of a Triumph Bonneville

Panhead and a Flathead

A pair of red bikes, one panhead and one flathead

There were quite a few familiar faces from last years rally, was as a few new ones.  Members representing multiple motorcycle clubs were in attendance, including the exclusive International Pansters Club.

Pansters Motorcycle Club

Pansters club member bike

Dale and Matt Walksler had the museum open to all the participants and everyone got to enjoy strolling through the classic bike exhibits.  Dinner was provided by the Holiday Diner and included Italian sausages, burgers, hot dogs and fresh fruit.

The museum remained open after dinner, but by dark, most of the riders had retreated to their hotels.  We stayed at the Holiday Motel and I took advantage of their well lit parking lot to make a couple final adjustments to my clutch.  I’m using a mousetrap set up and have never felt that I was getting the proper disengagement from my clutch.  For the first time I was able to compare the set up on several other Panheads and realized that my bike had the wrong clutch lever installed.  Turns out the shape of my incorrect clutch lever was limiting the amount of pull on the clutch cable.

Day 2

After a hearty breakfast at the Holiday Diner of eggs, grits, toast and ham, it was back to Wheels Through Time to prepare for the ride.  About 60 classic bikes were staging in the parking lot when we arrived.  Among the riders were Bert Baker from Baker Drivetrain, famed drag racer Pete Hill, and Buzz Kanter from American Iron Magazine.  After a 9:30 riders meeting, everyone cranked up their bikes and we rolled out at 10:00.

Dale Walksler, Buzz Kanter and Bert Baker's bikes

Lined up for a photo, bikes belonging to Dale Walksler, Buzz Kanter and Bert Baker

Matt Walksler chose a route which took us over the Blue Ridge Parkway.  The Parkway has a maximum speed limit of 45 mph, which made for a nice comfortable ride for a group of vintage bikes.  Averaging about 30 miles between stops, the riders leisurely made their way over the mountains.

Matt Walksler's Flathead

Matt Walksler's flathead

Our first rest stop was at the highest point on the Parkway.  At 6053 feet above sea level, it was no surprise that more than a couple of bikes were starting to run too rich.

Highest Point on the Parkway

First rest stop of the day

We continued north on the Parkway for over 170 miles, finally turning east to head for North Wilkesboro.  Once off the Parkway, we were met with a police escort which led us to Crossroads Harley-Davidson.

Crossroads Harley-Davidson was ready for us when we arrived, providing dinner and music.  After everyone had their fill, Burt Baker was handed the mic and began announcing special riders awards, including the “dirty underpants award” which was given to two riders who did some unexpected offroad riding, but managed to bring their bikes back under control and back onto the road.

Party At Crossroads HD

Parking lot party at Crossroads HD

The awards were followed up by a round of transmission trivia, but soon everyone was cranking up and heading for their respective hotels.

Day 3

The route for the final day of the rally was an easy 90 miles down to the Southern AMCA meet in Denton, NC.  Even with a couple stops for pictures and fuel, we made it down to Denton in a couple of hours.  Arriving at the Denton Farm Park, we proceded around the outside of the park grounds, ending at our special parking area in the center of the park.  Once the bikes were parked, everyone headed off for food and to look for parts at the swap meet.

Reserved parking at Denton

Reserved parking at the Denton Farm Park

I had a fairly short list of needed parts and managed to find most of what I was looking for and for prices I was happy with.  I picked up a correct rear bumper, a saddlebag bracket and an original 1964 NC license plate.  Unfortunately the original clutch lever was no where to be found, but I’m sure one will turn up sooner or later.

By late afternoon it was time to load up my purchases and head for home.  Once again the Motorcycle Kickstart Classic was a great event with a bunch of great riders and bikes in attendance.  Can’t wait until the next ride is announced.

 

 

Filed under Events, Panhead Jim's Blog, Random Ideas by PanheadJim

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November 1, 2011

Last Motorcycle Run at the Maxton Mile

A heavily modified Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster making a run at the Maxton Mile

A heavily modified Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster making a run at the Maxton Mile

When most people think of land speed racing, the salt flats of Utah come to mind.  Miles of smooth white terrain rolling out in seemingly all directions.  But for those who don’t want to travel to the other side of the country, there has been a track operating right here in North Carolina outside of a small town called Maxton.  The “Maxton Mile” as it is affectionally called by those who race there, is a converted runway that was originally built in 1942 for training WWII glider pilots.  The track is roughly 2 miles long, 1 mile from the starting line to the traps and slightly less than a mile for shutdown.  The return road parallels the track, with the pits about 1/4 mile from the starting line.  This track has been operated by the East Coast Timing Association and they have put years of hard work into making an old cracked and pitted concrete runway into a useable race track for vehicles reaching speeds well over 250 mph.

This past weekend (October 29th and 30th) marked not only the end of the season at the Maxton Mile, but also the end of an era.  For the upcoming 2012 season, the East Coast Timing Association will be moving it’s operations from Maxton to a new facility in Wilmington, OH.  Being that this would possibly be the last time I would be able to see land speed racing so close to home, I decided to make plans to attend the event on Saturday, spurred on by rumors of a free BBQ dinner after the races…

Arriving just after lunch, my first stop was the pits and the Twin Jugs Racing trailer.  I’ve ridden with the guys and gal from Twin Jugs for about 15 years and look forward to coming to events like this to catch up with them.  To make things even better, the Twin Jugs trailer was set up right next to the return road, where everyone lines up to race.  With only two days of racing left this year, teams were scrambling to get as many runs in as possible.  Starting just past the pits, the line of cars, bikes and support vehicles was literally a mile long, stretching out past the tower at the other end of the track.  Luckily everyone had to pass the Twin Jugs trailer on their way to the starting line and I was able to hang out at the trailer, watching the parade of vehicles move slowly past.  Whenever something caught my eye, I just had to walk 10 yards to check it out.

Vehicles lining up to race

Vehicles lining up to race

Of course I was on the lookout for Classic American Iron, but for the first hour or so I only spotted a variety of vintage European and Japanese bikes.  Some of them were actually really nice bikes and I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures of my favorites.  The first group was a pair of BMW singles.  Both were great looking bikes, but I liked the green one in particular.  Something about the color made the bike stand out much more than the classic black you usually see on old Beemers.  These bikes were looking for speeds in the upper 70’s, which is not bad for a vintage 250 single.

BMW singles

BMW single motorcycles

The next interensting bike to roll past was a Vincent.  Now I admit that I am not a huge Vincent fan, but I know a lot of people are, so I took a few shots of it.  While I was taking pictures and talking to the rider of the bike, I learned that he was the author of “Big Sid’s Vincati”.  The book chronicles the building of the famed Vincati, which is a Vincent motor mounted in a Ducati frame.

Big Sid's Vincent

Big Sid's Vincent racebike

While I was hanging out at the trailer, I had noticed an Indian Scout riding around the pits.  I took a lap around the pits, hoping to find it, but somehow I kept missing it.  So I walked back to the trailer, only to find it in line, right out front.  The bike was a 1937 Indian Scout set up as a bobber.  Mounted to the Linkert carb was a custom velocity stack, but otherwise there was no indication that this was a serious race bike. Piloted by Sea Eagle Racing, they were hoping to break the 100 mph barrier over the weekend.  Currently the bike holds a record in it’s class of 94.7 mph.  That is almost twice the top speed of a stock 1937 Scout and much faster than I would want to go on a bike without front brakes!   

1937 Indian Scout

1937 Indian Scout motorcycle racer

 

Custom velocity stack

Custom velocity stack on Indian V-twin

Bikes and cars continued to run until the sun started to sink behind the horizon.  As promised, a free BBQ dinner with all the fixin’s was provided for everyone in attendance.  The only downside of the day was in a 14 mph headwind, which had kept most racers from reaching their speed goals.  Luckily they were calling for less wind on Sunday and there were high hopes of better runs the following day. 

Twin Jugs Racing was selected to make the last bike run at  the Maxton Mile on Sunday Oct 30th, 2011.  They were running a heavily modified 1976 1000cc Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster.  Registered as number 1300, this bike has reached a top speed of 141.189 mph.  Quite an accomplishment for a stock bore and stroke streetbike motor.

Getting ready for the last pass at the Maxton Mile

Getting ready for the last pass at the Maxton Mile

While I was wandering around the pits on Saturday, I also came across another piece of Classic American Iron.  It was a 1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead, which I am sure a few of you will recognize…

1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead

1936 Harley-Davidson Knucklehead

 

 

Filed under Competition Motorcycles, Events, Panhead Jim's Blog by PanheadJim

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