Sunday, March 30, 2014

Harley Museum Trip - Not on Display - Part 1

Shelves of motors in "the motor room"

Knuckle Cut Away

Pan Cut Away

45 Cut Away

A shelf full of old Sportster Motors found in the factory

Racing Parts

Pictures hanging in Bill's shop. He told me that the Joe Petrali Knucklehead was the first thing he worked on when he started at the Museum. What a way to start a job....Bill took this picture.

Bill's Shop...

Harleys stacked to the rafters

An eclectic array of bikes. 
Organized by height to get the most up on the shelves

Cool stuff...


1919 untouched except for the tires...

This 1924 was conserved by Bill with the original tires

Arnold's H-D from the Terminator...soon to be on display

The other side of the 1919

Up high...the 1914

The nicest 1950 on the planet...shitty picture...

Stuff that never made production


It was a FANTASTIC one day visit to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee. Mel (Race of Gentlemen) Stultz and I headed out by air early Thursday morning for a private tour which was set up by Harley's Director of Youth Market Outreach Mike Lowney...which I thought was a little ironic when you look at Mel and I...
We were greeted at the Museum by Mike and Bill Rodencal (Vehicle Collections Specialist). Bill and I have touched base here and there in the past and it was great to officially meet and spend some time talking bikes and stuff...Bill restores, conserves and generally works on all the machines and vehicle displays in the Museum and has been for about 10 years. What a job!
Mike and Bill brought us to meet Jim Fricke, Curatorial Director of the Museum. Jim's high energy and enthusiasm are amazing. As Mel and Mike talked about whatever it is they talk about, Jim was enthralling me with in depth details of every exhibit we viewed.
After touring the public museum, the guys brought us back up to the area where Bill works his magic. We got to experience some of the great history that is kept behind closed doors and takes special access cards to access...
At one point we were brought into a controlled archive location that looked like a government cold case file room...Jim, wearing special gloves, showed us clippings and literature that is carefully stored in white boxes on long rows of shelving...we also viewed some unbelievable race footage.

While having lunch at the Museum Bar/Restaurant with Mel, Mike, Bill, Jim, and Casey Ketterhagen (who pretty much set this whole thing up)... Bill Davidson stopped by our table to say hello and shake hands. It was a surreal experience....but we were just getting started...
After lunch Casey and Mike brought us up to another private area and knocked on a closed door...who answered? Willie G. Davidson of course! We spent some time talking with Willie G. in his office/art studio, where by the way, he had to turn down the rock and roll he was blasting...what a great regular guy he is. He enjoyed the pictures Mel showed him of The Race of Gentlemen and talked Hot Rods and Harleys. Every time Willie saw a picture of Mel on on his Indian he would put his thumb over the leaf spring and say "that's the problem with these Indians, they just don't look right when you take the fenders off"...
At 81 years old, Willie is really into the younger custom bike scene. There's an amazing display of Josh Kurpius photos in the museum which Willie referenced a few times...they reminded him of the "good old days".  Willie went on to tell us all about his experience at Born Free and shit... he was wearing a "Mama Tried" T shirt! What a great experience...
Later in the afternoon Mel and Mike peeled off to talk "top secret" T.R.O.G. business and Bill Rodencal and I headed back to the Museum Bar to continue discussing Wisconsin beer, cheese and bikes.
I took a ton of touristy pics in the museum and got a few from behind closed doors as well.
Above is part one of "Not on Display" or behind the scenes pictures.

Thanks to all the guys at the H-D Museum and Mel for putting this together!

Many more pics to come...


  1. Wow... what an amazing experience. Must get there one day.

  2. Great read, blogs are so much better than F.B. or instagram...kind of like putting a needle down on an album and listening to the whole side instead of downloading one song.


  3. Thanks Tim, I agree. I don't do Instagram... just pictures and a real content...

  4. The people and places of H-D are amazing! They are so well put together and definitely care about their past despite what a lot of people think. Bill at the museum is such a great guy too and Willie will talk bikes all day and just hang out. It's like Disney World for guys like us!

  5. Jeff, YOU lucky guy.
    What an experience, congratulations!

  6. Great meeting you guys - you're welcome back anytime!


  7. Thanks Casey...gonna try to get back this summer! Thanks again!