Museums are great places to reflect on some of the amazing things that humanity has accomplished—and without exception, they’re even better when they’re curated by enthusiasts. Many a museum starts as a passion project for a reason—which is exactly the case with Dale’s Wheels Through Time in Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
In addition to being one of the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to American motorcycle history, Matt Walksler is clearly a born enthusiast, through and through. That’s why videos like this one work so well.
In this clip, Walksler unboxes his latest crate of Harley-Davidson goodness that he bought for the museum. For those unfamiliar with the museum from either visiting or from seeing the channel’s other videos, it showcases a massive collection of vintage American motorcycles, cars, and other vehicles throughout history.
The museum isn’t only filled with vehicles, though—it's also filled with other bits of American motoring history, from vintage signs to other accessories and promotional items. Although the crate emblazoned with the bar and shield that you see at the beginning of this video could theoretically contain some rare accessory motorcycle parts, that’s not the case.
Instead, Walksler reveals, what’s inside is an extremely rare Harley-Davidson neon clock, as seen in the pristine 1947 MoCo accessories catalog that he also produces to show us what he expects to find when he pries the lid off. That’s another part of the story—although Matt bought this clock from a buddy he’s known for some time, he says that he didn’t actually see it in person before making the purchase. It looked great in photos, but as anyone who’s ever shopped online can tell you, so can a lot of things.
As he tells the story, he doesn’t know if this thing even works—either the actual clock mechanism itself, or the neon light that's supposed to ring the outside bezel of the clock and illuminate its face as it hangs on your wall. The anticipation is intense as Matt quickly but carefully levers the lid off the crate.
The clock inside is facing up, so you can immediately see the glass front and the clock display. It looks astonishingly good for being almost 75 years old in August, 2022. A lot of household items in those days were made to last longer than some of their more modern equivalents, and this one has clearly been carefully stored away in a climate-controlled environment for decades, so there’s a definite chance it will work.
The weight of expectation looms large as Walksler takes it out of the box, examines the cord to make sure he’s not going to experience any unpleasant electrical surprises, and then proceeds to plug it in. There’s an audible hum, possibly from the neon light—which is working! The second hand begins sweeping, and it appears that the clock mechanism does still work in 2022!
Whether it will keep the correct time is another question, and one that isn’t answered in this short video—but maybe Matt will talk about it in the future. In any case, it will certainly make a great new item to have on display at the Museum That Runs—especially since this clock does, indeed, fulfill the museum’s mission.