Kickstart Classic 2017 Set For This Weekend

We were thrilled with last year’s turnout. This year, we decided to hold the event a little earlier: we don’t need anyone suffering heat stroke! Join us for a weekend of pure, old-school fun

Start stretching your hamstrings, topping up your oil, and packing the extra tape for those loose parts—it’s time for the Kickstart Classic once again! This coming weekend, May 18-20, marks the 6th annual meet-up and ride at the Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. Each year, we try to pick a unique, interesting destination for the Kickstart to conclude, and this year we settled on the AMCA meet in Denton, North Carolina.

We just saw Buzz off today, the boss man packed and ready to head south to get to WTT museum sometime between what we can only surmise as today and the ride on Friday. (Keep your eyes peeled for the American Iron truck with an auld Harley in the back!)

Rolling out from the Wheels Through Time museum, you’ll score a chance to get a sweet riding shot and possible be seen in the magazine!

Thursday evening will be the meet and greet at on the museum’s grounds, where you can either sign in and pick up your stuff if you preregistered, or you can register for the ride on site. Food will be served, and the museum will be open for all of your gazing and drooling leisure (admission is included with your registration).

Friday morning, we ride. As most of you know, the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains provide some of the most beautiful roads for cruising this side of the Mississippi. We’re going to take our time, snaking through the region as we make our way to Salisbury, North Carolina, for an overnight stay.  There will be an entire day’s worth of riding.


Gorgeous roads await. Make this the trip for your riding season.

Saturday, we roll into Denton in the late morning, and there will be a parade, vendors, a show, and more awaiting our arrival.

The Kickstart Classic is open to all makes and models of motorcycles, though the newer bikes will have to ride behind the old lugs, just in case a thing or three goes bouncing backward. This is a purists dream, deep in the valley of the mountains where time feels as though it stands still, and for a weekend it truly does, as Dale Walksler’s invaluable collection of old iron serves as the appropriate setting for the rumble of motorcycles from the teens, ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s reverberating through the mountains from the small town of Maggie Valley, and suddenly we’re in a different decade—heck, we’re transported to a different century.


TV Two Cam – 1929 Harley JDH on History Channel’s American Restoration

1920 JDH Two Cam

Buzz’s 1929 Harley JDH Two Cam was featured on an episode of History Channel’s American Restoration.

Text by Dale Walksler
Photos by Jim Dohms

I have always liked a challenge, and this is a great one — a worn out 87-year-old bike and only 45 days to rebuild it in front of a TV audience. To be seen on History Channel’s American Restoration, this is a behind the scenes look at what was involved in redoing this rare old Harley.

This wasn’t the first time my old friend and fellow motorcycle enthusiast Buzz Kanter has thrown a challenge at me. It’s hard to remember all the projects Buzz and I have worked on over the decades, but the reward is always a great motorcycle project, fun with old friends, and some ink in American Iron Magazine (AIM).

My guess is that most Harley riders have no idea what a Harley JDH is or represents. They look like single-cam Harley JDs, but less than 2,000 higher-performance JDHs were ever made. They were fast and reliable machines, and many were ridden hard, abused, and worn out. Eventually they became all but extinct. The few surviving examples have been scooped up by collectors, with the best selling for well over $100,000.

1929 Harley JDH before restoration

Buzz’s 1929 JDH before it got the American Restoration treatment.

Buzz bought his first JDH, a rough and rusty rolling basket case in a basement, in 1992 and immediately fell in love with these rare old motorcycles. In 2012, he rode one from New York to San Francisco on the Motorcycle Cannonball. So you know he has plenty of experience with JDH Harleys. But those are stories for another time.

What we began with on the TV show was actually a pretty good start for a project. It looked funky, but it was all there and in fair running condition. Because we had a tight production schedule to get this bike finished, it became an exercise in precise calculating of which parts got what finishes. It had to look good when finished, but we did not have the luxury of waiting for plating and painting.

If you saw the show (almost a million households viewed the first airing), you know some of this already. Bob, Buzz, and I quickly and efficiently tore it down in the Wheels Through Time workshop. We had it apart in less than an hour. Then, for the first time I can remember, I chased Buzz out of the workshop and told him to come back in a month to see the finished project. Then the real work began.

Bob White and I discovered that the frame and the forks were bent, which was pretty common — remember that these machines were raced, and that means crashed. Fortunately, we had a genuine 1920s Harley frame table at the museum workshop for just this reason. Once straightened, we sent the frame and fork out for paint. John Dills painted the components in a luscious two-tone maroon that Buzz had picked out. We tossed most of the crappy and mismatched nuts and bolt hardware and replaced a lot of it with leftover nickel nuts and bolts from a recent Crocker and other old bike projects.

1929 Harley JDH Two Cam stop taillight

Dale’s sense of humor is evident in this wrinkle to the restoration.

While waiting for the frame and fork to come back from painting, we stripped the tanks for inspection. They were worse than expected, so we opted for replacement tanks with welded seams from Tom Feezer of Replicant Metals in Pennsylvania.

Since the name of the show is American Restoration, all the parts had to either be repainted or replated. My pals at Plating Specialties in Michigan handled this in short order. I am thankful they cleaned the parts prior to plating, saving me the 20-plus hours that I did not have to spare.

1929 Harley JDH

Back to some of the details on this 1929 Harley. The front wheel had a massive British brake from the 1960s. Harley started offering front brakes in 1928, and they were less than inspiring. So this is a welcome improvement. And the forks are Harley, but from a much earlier year, meaning it does not handle like a 1929 road bike. In fact, matching up this older front end and tighter frame geometry makes it handle more like a 1940s dirt track 750 Harley racer, as Buzz was going to learn on his first ride. Next up was the handlebars, which have seen many variations over the years. I contacted Tom Faber, who makes bars for Harleys manufactured from 1909 to the 1950s. I use Tom’s bars on many of my bikes. They have never failed and have always been perfect.

Something happened to us that you won’t see on the TV show. Running tight on time with the painting and plating, we worked long hours to get the job done. It was all coming together when we almost lost it late one night while installing the most critical visual part: the right gas tank.

Want to find out what happened? Find out in American Iron Magazine Issue 338!

Also available in digital format CLICK HERE American Iron Digital

Be sure to check out the work of award-winning photographer Jim Dohms, a regular contributor to AIM, while you’re at it! 

1929 Harley JDH Two Cam on American Restoration

Dale kept Buzz in suspense and didn’t let him see the restoration job on his 1929 JDH Two Cam until the very last minute.

2016 American Iron Kickstart Classic

CLICK HERE to register for the event.

This 3 day event is on public roads and is open to riders of all makes and years of motorcycles. We have some beautiful roads planned staying off the interstate highways. This year’s event offers several excellent organized rides near Maggie Valley, NC. on Friday and going to Chesnee, SC. Saturday.

• $100 pre-registration (each rider and each passenger). After June 28th, registration increases to $150 per person.

• All registered riders and passengers receive passes to the Wheels Through Time museum, the free welcome dinner
Thursday at Wheels Through Time, one event T-shirt as well as parking and sponsored dinner in Chesnee, SC.

Thursday July 28. 5 PM
Free welcome dinner to all registered riders at Wheels Through Time museum in Maggie Valley, NC

Friday July 29
Group photo at 9am. All day and half day organized rides from Maggie Valley, NC. ending back in Wheels Through Time.

Saturday July 30 9 am
Group ride to Chesnee, SC (back roads) to join up with the AMCA Legends Chapter “Antique Bikes On Main.” bike show, swapmeet, and hosted free dinner that night. Also Wall of Death, stunt riders, fireworks and more. Riders can stay overnight in Chesnee or ride back to Maggie Valley (3 hours on backroads, less than 2 1/2 hours by highway) Saturday afternoon.

Sunday July 31 (optional)
Various motorcycle events in Chesnee, SC

More American-Made Motorcycles Hitting The Market


SHIFTING GEARS by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

Halloween is right around the corner, but looking at the latest issue of American Iron Magazine, I don’t feel we have a trick or treat deal going on. I can’t think of any specific trick in the motorcycle world, but lots of treats.

Let’s start with the growing assortment of terrific American-made motorcycles hitting the market. Harley is still offering plenty of the traditional air-cooled, pushrod, V-twin motorcycles in all shapes and sizes, plus V-Rods, and the new Street 750 and 500. And who knows about the electric motorcycles The Motor Company has been teasing us with this year? Victory continues to expand its line of motorcycles to include three baggers, two all-out touring models, and four cruisers. Indian has added a top-of-the-line touring Roadmaster and an exciting new Scout to the three existing Chief models. And EBR (Erik Buell Racing) is also expanding its offerings to three models, including the new, lower-cost (under $17,000) 1190SX American street tearer.

So, what does all this mean to those of us who prefer to ride American motorcycle brands? Well, let’s start with the obvious: (1) competition is heating up here. And healthy competition benefits consumers with greater choices and improved products. (2) No matter what your style or tastes, there is something for everyone going into 2015. Entry-level Street 500 and 750, muscle cruisers like the Indian Scout, Victory Gunner, and Harley V-Rods, standards like the Harley Softail, Indian Chief, and Victory Hammer 8-Ball; racers include any of the EBR machines, or long-distance tourers like the Harley Ultra, Indian Roadmaster, or Victory Cross Country Tour (I still can’t get used to the Victory Vision’s adical look). Let’s not forget Harley Sportsters and Dynas, the other Indian Chiefs, and more.

So, even before you start pulling out the manufacturer and aftermarket parts catalogs to figure out how to personalize your new motorcycle, the choices are already a bit overwhelming. Even to the longtime rider/builder/customizer. My advice for people in the market for a new ride? Go to the dealer and look at the machines that catch your fancy. Sit on them in the showroom and see how they feel. Read all you can about the particular model and ask if you can take a test ride (some dealers encourage this).

I love a big sign I saw at one dealer that read “Your wife called and said it’s okay to buy it.”

I don’t know if the quality and quantity of new bike choices will ever get better. And if it does, you can always trade in or trade up. So what’s keeping you from pulling the trigger on a shiny new bike?

Florida Sunshine
October in New England can be dicey for us. It might be perfect riding weather or it might be terrible. It’s the same in most of the northern regions and Canada. So a great way to finish the traditional riding season is to aim your headlight south and roll your bike down to Florida. Why? Well, I can think of a couple excellent reasons (other than the terrific riding weather). They are Biketoberfest in sunny Daytona Beach, and the trade and consumer AIMExpo in nearby Orlando. Both run from October 16 to 19, and both are worth checking out.

Congrats To Mr. & Mrs. Walksler  
I’d like everyone to join me in congratulating my friend Matt Walksler (of Wheels Through Time and What’s In The Barn? fame) for convincing the lovely Hailey MacDonald, one of the greatest young ladies in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, to marry him.

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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Wheels Through Time Motorcycle Museum 12th Anniversary in Maggie Valley NC

Wheels Through Time Museum is celebrating its 12th Anniversary in Maggie Valley this Fourth of July weekend.  The anniversary festivities will run from Thursday through Monday, July 3-7, from 9a.m.-5p.m..  The museum houses hundreds of rare and unique machines spanning over 110 years of transportation history, dating back to very roots of motorized travel.

You have read about the museum and some of the many classic and race motorcycles on display there. And you have met Dale and Matt Walksler while working on the various magazine projects with American Iron Magazine publisher Buzz Kanter.

After relocating to Western North Carolina in 2002, Wheels Through Time has attracted over three-quarters of a million visitors to its 38,000 square foot facility in Maggie Valley near the Great Smoky Mountains. And since opening its doors, the museum has continued to grow both its collection and its following. The collection of all-American motorcycles and automobiles now totals over 360 historic machines, and Museum attendance has soared over the past several years. Recently, the museum’s hit television series “What’s in the Barn?” on Velocity TV has begun its second season.  The series follows museum curator Dale Walksler and his son Matt across the county on hunts for motorcycle history

During the anniversary weekend celebration, Wheels Through Time staff will be holding demonstrations and exhibitions of dozens of priceless rare motorcycles and automobiles.  Numerous machines found on episodes of “Whats In The Barn?” on display in the museum will be featured, including one of America’s earliest twin-cylinder motorcycles, a pair of century-old bikes that recently competed in a race for motorcycles 100 years an older, and a running and operating original 1912 Harley owned by the same family since new, just to name a few.  Various military vehicles will also be on display and ready for exhibition, including two rare Harley-Davidson Air Force machines recently discovered in rural Arkansas.

During the anniversary weekend, the museum will be giving away 500 American Flags to visitors throughout the weekend in celebration of our nations birthday.

The museum’s 12th Anniversary Celebration will run from ThursdayMonday, July 3-7, from 9a.m.-5p.m.  Demonstrations and exhibitions of many of America’s rarest two- and four-wheeled machines will be held throughout the weekend.

For more information about the Wheels Through Time Museum, visit their video website, located at, or call (828) 926-6266.

Classic Harley News: What’s In The Barn Season 2 on Velocity Channel

Big news from Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, NC. One of American Iron Magazine’s favorite museum’s hit television series “Whats in the Barn?” is returning for a second season this summer on Velocity TV.

Beginning on Tuesday June 10, 2014, Velocity TV will debut eight brand new weekly episodes of “What’s in the Barn?” at 10:00 p.m., bringing viewers along as host Dale Walksler criss-crosses the country digging up America’s rarest and most historic vintage motorcycles.

The series’ first season premiered in late June of 2013 after much anticipation, and followed Walksler on his hunt for barns and outbuildings hiding long since forgotten motorcycles and automobiles. The show immediately garnered a world-wide audience, airing in over 60 million homes and on six continents.

Often uncovering history in some of the most unusual places, Walksler spent his life collecting rare American motorcycles and displaying them in his Wheels Through Time Museum. His passion for history is evident in every episode of “What’s In The Barn?”, but a walk through his museum gives an even deeper glimpse into one man’s grand vision of creating a paradise focused on not only the machines of our past, but the sights, sounds and stories associated with them.
Wheels Through Time displays over 350 all-American motorcycles and automobiles, and continues to grow due to Walksler’s undying effort to connect past and present. Currently, the museum’s feature exhibit displays dozens of “Barn-finds”, many of which were discovered during Season 1 of “Whats in the Barn?” Walksler has also brought the museum into the 21st century with the creation of various smartphone applications about the museum collection, giving viewers access into the museum’s digital archives.

Season 2 kicks off Tuesday, June 10th on Velocity TV with two brand new episodes starting at 10:00 p.m. For more information, visit or visit

Motorcycle Auction Action & Kickstart Classic



SHIFTING GEARS,  by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

I’ve just returned from the annual motorcycle auctions in Las Vegas, and my head is spinning from all the amazing motorcycles and record-breaking prices.

I was quite impressed with the levels of knowledge of participants. Some were world-class experts, and others didn’t seem to have a clue. I saw people from both groups bidding, sometimes against each other. It made for some interesting action. Prices were all over the board from crazy cheap to insanely expensive.

At the Bonhams auction, a 1947 Knucklehead sold for $26,450 (all prices include commission), which seems pretty reasonable for a Knucklehead. Then at the same auction later that day, a 1940 Knucklehead sold for a staggering $159,000. Granted, it was a pretty nice bike, but a lot of experts who had carefully inspected it wanted to know why it went so very high. I know a little about Knuckleheads, but I’m far from an expert. So when asked why it sold so high, I replied “That’s simple. One person with the resources thought it was worth $158,000 and a second person thought it was worth $159,000.” But I have no idea why it sold for so much.

Speaking of expensive Knuckleheads, a stunning, restored, first-year 1936 EL from the George Pardos collection sold at the Mecum/Mid-America auction a few days later. Even though it might have set the record price for a Harley Knucklehead at auction at almost $180,000, few people seemed surprised. I learned a lesson when my friend Bill Melvin told me of a motorcycle auction many years ago when he was looking at a rare and valuable motorcycle he wanted to buy. One of the world’s leading experts on that particular machine carefully looked it over and proclaimed out loud “Well, that is just not correct!” and walked away. Pretty soon, everyone at the auction was sure the bike was not correct, but my friend was still interested in it. So he asked the expert to come over and point out what was incorrect on the bike. The expert replied “The bike is terrific, but the auction house simply had it listed incorrectly.” My friend said the bidding on that motorcycle was weak, and he bought it cheap.

The next day, I was interested in a rare, old motorcycle that had crossed the block well below reserve. I asked a few people about it and was told it was probably a good replica and not the real deal. So I asked my pal Dale Walksler to look it over. He did and told me it was the real deal and encouraged me to buy it if I was interested. And that’s what I did, at well below the market value for that particular machine. In fact, I bought it for just a little more than what I had sold my old dual-carb Panhead bobber for the month before.

Kickstart Classic

Ride a few years ago, we organized an all-brands, two-day motorcycle ride for the readers of our various magazines (American Iron Magazine, Motorcycle Bagger, and what is now called Motorcycle). It was so much fun, we’ve held the Kickstart Classic every year since. Our next one will be in beautiful backcountry mountains in late July. We’ll gather at Wheels Through Time for a welcome reception and dinner for all registered participants. The next morning, we’ll ride a couple hundred miles to Coker Tires for dinner and an overnight stop. The next day we’ll ride another couple hundred miles to Cyclemos museum for dinner. We’ll stay off the highways for more enjoyment on the old machines, but don’t think this will be a slow ride.

If you wish to join us, please register ASAP, and make sure you and your bike are up for the ride. We’re limited to 100 motorcycles. All makes, models, years, and brands of motorcycles are welcome. If your bike doesn’t have a kickstarter, you’ll ride in the back to pick up any parts that fall off the older bikes up front. Registration is $100 per person, and you can call Rosemary at 203/425-8777, ext. 114 to register or ask questions. For more info on this ride, visit

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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This article originally appeared in the  issue #309 of American Iron Magazine.

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Old Motorcycle Parts & Projects



SHIFTING GEARS, by Buzz Kanter, Publisher

Junk or treasure? I guess it all depends on how you view it.

For each of us, our view is defined by our personal perspectives and experiences. I unsuccessfully try to fight my deeply engrained tendency to accumulate stuff I find interesting. Some call it obsessive hoarding, I prefer to think of it as long-term preservation of motorcycle history. Call it what you like, but over the decades I have collected, bartered, bought, and generally accumulated lots of motorcycles and related memorabilia.

The other day I got inspired to actually clean up and better organize my garage. I was digging through motorcycle stuff in boxes and trays I had put aside for future projects. Most of it was familiar and expected, but there was a growing pile of parts I had forgotten about. While I was excited to rediscover these rusty or shiny treasures, I felt foolish when I realized I’d purchased replacements for some of these forgotten parts.

Some readers have asked about my process when considering a possible classic bike project. I wish I could explain it in a few, brief sentences but I can’t. Part of it’s emotional, how I respond to a bike and how strongly. If I look at a bike and don’t feel greatly excited, I’ll pass. If I find a motorcycle for sale that does get me excited, I want to learn as much as I can about it. I search my motorcycle books, call friends, and ask questions on and various Facebook pages focused on classic motorcycles. Once I get as much info as I can on the particular motor­cycle model and year, I then need to decide what to do with it. This usually falls into one of three options (in decreasing cost to accomplish): 1) restore it to show condition (seldom my choice as I like to ride my bikes), 2) find or make the missing parts and get it running, knowing it isn’t totally correct, or 3) build a custom, hot rod, or racer out of it.

If a bike is mostly complete and correct but doesn’t have the original paint (I never paint over original paint motorcycle parts — ever!), I’d lean towards a full restoration. If the bike is mostly there and looks cool, even without being 100 percent correct, I usually build it as a fun rider. No matter which direction I go, there are a few safety rules I try never to break. One is that I always want to ride on decent rubber. If the tires are cracking, bald, or anything but safe, I mount up better tires. Another is that the brakes have to work reasonably well (we’re talking vintage bikes and brakes here). I don’t care how fast you can go on a motorcycle, you’d better be able to slow down and stop when needed. A third rule is that I spend my money first on function and then on fashion. I will always spend on rebuilding an engine/clutch/transmission/brakes/wheels, etc. that work properly long before I’ll pay to paint or plate parts.

In this issue, we sort out Paul Ousey’s mostly original Panhead at Wheels Through Time in North Carolina. What wasn’t correct and original on it was pretty cool and era-correct, so we left most of it that way and just got the old Harley sorted out. Then we fine-tuned it and got it back on the road where it deserves to be.

In a couple of issues, we’ll share a complete mechanical teardown of my 1936 VLH. We strip it down to the frame at Retrocycle in New Jersey. Then, we inspect, measure, and mechanically rebuild it from one end to the other. Our goal is to leave it looking pretty much as it did before the teardown, but to have it run dependably across the US on the Motorcycle Cannonball as part of Adventure Power’s Team American Iron.

A third example is the 1928 Harley J I bought a couple of years ago that’s a real mix-and-match machine. It was constructed by a previous owner with mostly 1920s Harley J parts, plus a ’30s Harley VL transmission, teens Harley Bosch magneto, and a cut and welded sidecar fender with a non-Harley taillight. I’ll clean, box, and carefully store them away for other future projects. Wait a moment … isn’t this how I got into the situation I described at the start of this column?

Ride safe, ride smart, have fun.


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This article originally appeared in issue #308 of American Iron Magazine.

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Team American Iron Motorcycle Cannonball & 1936 Harley VLH

It seems Buzz Kanter’s lot in life is to ride the newest possible model and year of Harley in each Motorcycle Cannonball event. At least he is three for three on that count.

The first one was in 2010 and the Editor-in-Chief of American Iron Magazine rode a 1915 Harley with a cut-off year of 1915. In the second Motorcycle Cannonball he rode a 1929 Harley JDH with a cut-off of 1929. and in 2014 he plans to ride a 1936 Harley VLH flathead with a 1936 year cut off.

Buzz Kanter, of American Iron Magazine, and his 1936 VLH classic Harley flathead motorcycle that he plans to ride cross country on the 2014 Motorcycle Cannonball.

Buzz purchased this classic 80 cubic inch flathead VLH Harley less than two years ago with no plan or intention of riding it cross-country on the Motorcycle Cannonball. Since then it has been in the hands of his pals Larry Woods and Dale Walksler getting it sorted and running well and looking more correct. We followed some of this progress in the pages of American Iron Magazine earlier this year.

This is a one-year only 1935 Harley VLH during the process of getting the paint “just right.” We added a bit more pin striping at Wheels Through Time shortly after this photo was taken.

Now the real work comes. We will follow along as Buzz and the Wheels Through Time crew tears it totally down and rebuilds it to factory specs or better to carry Buzz across the US on the Motorcycle Cannonball. But, he does not want to change the basic look of the bike. It will stay dirty and crusty looking, but run and perform like new.

In addition to pulling it down and rebuilding the wheels, brakes, chassis, engine, clutch and electrics, Buzz plans to add saddlebags and perhaps a different seat too. We will follow the progress in the pages of American Iron Magazine.

Wish Buzz and the crew luck. We suspect there will be an amazing amount of work ahead of us all on this one.

Buzz is planning on partnering up again with Paul Ousey and Dale Walksler of Wheels Through Time for this cross country ride. Details to follow as they are made.

May 2013 Motorcycle Kickstart Classic Wrap-Up

The May 2013 Kickstart Classic was a great success and lots of fun. We want to thank our sponsors – Spectro Oils, GEICO Insurance, Wheels Through Time, and Wrench Ride Repeat, as well as all the Harley dealers who welcomed and fed us along the way. The ride from Charleston, SC to St. Augustine, FL was spectacular, with AIM Editor-In-Chief Buzz Kanter and several other riders leading the pack on their pre-1930 Motorcycle Cannonball bikes. Over 50 riders aboard kickstart motorcycles of all ages and brands took part on the ride.

Look for full coverage of the May event in American Iron’s summer issue going on sale 7/23. For the digital edition, on sale 7/5 click AIM DIGITAL.

The next Kickstart Classic will be in the Northeast at the end of this September. Details and registration info will be available at within the next couple of weeks. We look forward to seeing you there. – Ride Safe.