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Harley Dealer Lore: Another Old Harley Rescued

Posted by Randy Wilson

Jun 4, 2013 4:47:00 PM


guest post

Harley Dealer

     Jim Kersting a long time Harley dealer in North Judson Indiana has a nice 40,000 square foot facility, a portion being Kersting’s World of Motorcycles Museum. Of which 10,000+ square foot is a separate museum of motorcycles and other related memorabilia. This wonderful museum is open to the public. I have visited the museum and had the pleasure of meeting Jim Kersting personally, on several occasions now. Jim shared with me an interesting story about the oldest Harley-Davidson motorcycle in his collection. 

     It seems his mailman heard of an older lady in the Logansport IN area who had a very old Harley Davidson. This Harley had been in a farmhouse attic for decades. Then it was removed from the attic and stored in the basement for about 10 years. At that time there had been a death in the family and it was being discussed to take the cycle to the dump. Being a serious collector of all sorts of motorcycles, especially Harleys, Jim thought he would check this rumor out.

     He approached the owner of the old Harley, and she invited him to the basement to take a peek. What Jim found was a 1910 Harley-Davidson, which had been partially disassembled.  The engine was out of the frame and the wheels removed as well. It showed signs of normal wear and tear, but all the parts seemed to be there. One oddity about it was that the front fender had nearly no paint on it. The rest of the old machine still had the original paint on it.  She advised Jim that her father had perhaps bought it new.

     Jim advised her that he was interested in buying it. She told Jim that she had talked to a man in North Carolina over the phone and he had offered her $500.00. She had not made any commitment to sell it, but told him that she would think about it. Jim decided to make her an offer. He said “Ma’m, I won’t give you five hundred dollars for the bike, but I will give you three thousand six hundred dollars for it.” The lady was quite pleased with this new offer. However out of fairness she asked Jim to talk to the man in North Carolina and give him a chance to offer more or decline from buying it.

     The Lady called the man in North Carolina and handed Jim the phone to talk to him. Jim told him he was making a higher offer of $3,600.00 and asked him if he desired to make a higher offer. Ultimately, Jim and this man made an agreement that Jim would buy the motorcycle for $3,600.00 on his behalf. Then an agreed time was set that he would come from North Carolina to reimburse Jim and take possession of it. Jim paid for it and stored it for the man but after an unreasonable period of time the man in NC did not keep his side of the agreement. Several conversations took place but he continued to break his word pertaining to their agreement. After realizing that the man in North Carolina was messing with him, Jim decided he was keeping the bike and this whole discussion was over.

1910 Harley

                                                           Mr. Kersting and his 1910 Harley-Davidson motorcycle

     Jim took the motorcycle to his dealership, it was re-assembled cleaned up and eventually a very talented craftsman/artist painted the formerly stripped front fender to match the distressed old original paint job.  You have to look very close to see difference, it was amazing! Jim and his son bolted up the motor into the frame, then added fresh gas and oil. They started peddling the old scoot and soon with a little adjusting, it was running. Soon thereafter they felt it was ready to ride and in their excitement, despite it being an Indiana rainy day, they rode around the shop parking lot in the rain, with much delight.

motorcycle seats     This old Harley has an interesting accessory. It is a vintage seat set up for riding two-up. It is bolted to the frame and is actually a rear tandem seat with a place for the passenger’s feet. Mr. Kersting and I agree that this vintage tandem seat may actually be more rare than the cycle itself.

     Sometime later after Jim had gotten the cycle put together and running, the gent from North Carolina called and said he was going to come up to Indiana and get the old Harley. Jim advised this party, “Hey, you better bring an Army with ya.” The man was never heard from again.




Two-up Riding Accessory: Rear Tandem Seat


hog chapter Indy

    It was delightful to do a fun group ride with my Southside H.O.G. Chapter #1242 in May. Our ride captain had called ahead and Mr. Kersting met us at the museum with a fresh pot of coffee and hospitality that was par-excellent. Such gracious hospitality as is always rendered at my home shop of Indianapolis Southside Harley Davidson.

     Our group was given a personal tour and many questions were answered. I asked Mr. Kersting which cycle was his favorite and with a smirk he answered, “oh I guess the last one I just bought.” Then he got serious and said he was very fond of his original 1957 Sportster. 1957 being the first year this model was made.

     Harley Dealer, Bob Schulteti of Indianapolis Southside Harley Davidson also has a smaller, but nice collection of vintage Harleys. His collection covers nearly every decade of production. On special occasions these machines are moved from the mezzanine display area and brought down on the floor for folks to get a closer look and enjoy.

jim and Nella     My personal favorite image is of Mr. Jim Kersting and his deceased wife Nella, riding the old 1910 rescued Harley-Davidson in 1996.











      This piece is dedicated to the memory Mrs. Nella Kersting. She was the love of Jim’s life.  Nella and Jim were in a motorcycle accident in 2003. During this incident Nella passed away and Jim was critically injured. Jim survived and loves being the curator of his museum.

      - Randall K. (Randy) Wilson


Topics: Guest Posts

Eighteen Years Ago - My First Machine

Posted by Randy Wilson

May 15, 2013 4:18:00 PM

guest post

We have invited a guest blogger to share some of his stories with us. In this first post Randy will be telling you a little about himself.


     It was eighteen years ago that I began my business-relationship with Indianapolis Southside Harley Davidson Sales and Service (ISSHD), and my life has never been happier.

     This beginning was in 1994 at the old shop on South Meridian Street. Like many folks I had owned a motorcycle when I was a young buck. Job demands, family responsibilities, and an industrial accident led me to sell that motorcycle in 1979. Fast forward 15 years to 1994, I wanted to get back into riding.

     Working as a skilled tradesman in manufacturing, I was very interesting in what was going on at the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. Even though I did not own a cycle I enjoyed reading publications about the motorcycle manufacturing industry - particularly about new product development and rider reviews of new motorcycles. However, even better than that was talking to the folks that owned them and rode them. One person in particular was my co-worker friend Allan Smith aka “Smitty”, a long time Harley-Davidson owner and enthusiast. Smitty became my mentor as I eased back into cycle ownership and riding.

Alan Smith                                                                                                  Allan Smith

     By 1994 the Evolution V-2 engine was a tried and true component of the beautiful new motorcycles that the Motor Company produced. A book could be written about the many accolades and praises the rugged Evolution V2 engine was receiving. Isolation engine mounting and the ribbed belt drive was also “icing on the cake” in the bigger picture of these major improvements. I was convinced, hands down, that my next machine would be a Harley-Davidson, brand new from the factory.

evo                                                                                           Evolution V-2 Engine

     In order for this agenda to come to fruition I first had to decide which model I wanted.  Golly how can you order a cycle if you don’t know what model you want? Smitty had advised me to “do my homework” and make sure I pick out the model that I would really like. In that it would be an expensive extra and I wanted to be happy I followed every word of Smitty’s advice, (I have never regretted this for a second).

     Now I was on a mission! I went to ISSHD got a new sales catalog and an accessories catalog and buried my nose in this. Once in a while I came up for air to get Smitty’s take on something. In that I was very much gainfully employed at the time I could really bag any model I desired – anything from an 883 Sportster to an Electra Glide Ultra Classic. Indeed I was thankful to be a blessed man with a good paying job and good health. Also my father had instilled wise money management concepts in his rendered personal business classes.

     Initially I was leaning toward the Heritage Softail Classic. Its leather bags and nostalgic details put me to mind of the old Panheads that I remembered as a lad. As a lad I loved the sound and all the accessories that many of these bikes had. Even an occasional foxtail attached to a machine would add that extra touch of creativity by the owner/rider. I shared with Smitty my interest in the Heritage Softail Classic.  Smitty boasted that they were nice bikes, and you could have a lot of fun riding one. Then he asks me what my riding agenda was and I told him my agenda was “all phases of riding, even long trips sometimes.” 

     Smitty reminded me that he had always rode “Dressers” (big FLH type bikes) for over 40 years. Smitty pointed me into the direction of the Touring Frame Group and presented his overview of why he loved and preferred them. At that time there were 5 models in the touring frame group in the catalog. The models with the tour-packs and the fairings did not appeal to me that much.  However, to me the Road King really stood out!

     I had seen just a few of these around a couple shops which people were riding. Then I saw this image in a Harley-Davidson catalog and boy was I smitten.

Road King                                                                        Catalog Image of a 1995 Road King FLHRI

     Yes it was a Road King image with some catalog accessories and boy did it spin my beanie. A very learned scholar had advise me that the Motor Company was trying to capture the look of about a 1965 Electra Glide with that of a Road King. My mind was clear; it would be a Road King for me! I went to ISSHD with undue delay in October of 1994, placed my order for a 1997 FLHRI in Violet Pearl and took delivery in March of 1997 (long waits for new Harley’s back then was commonplace).

New Road King

                                                                          1997 Roadking FLHRI (Violet Pearl)


      - Randall K. (Randy) Wilson


Topics: Guest Posts