Thursday, July 2, 2015

Owls Head Transport Museum

Recently,  I drove up to Maine to visit my dear friend Phyllis on Mt. Desert Island.  I brought my '68 TC200 Suzuki and we worked on her '78 V-50 Moto Guzzi.  We got it running better by adjusting the valves, cleaning the carbs and petcocks and fixed a problem with one of the front brakes.  We did a bit of riding around the Island through Acadia National Park, trading off the two bikes frequently.
When I returned home, I stopped at the Owls Head Transport Museum just south of Rockland, Me.  The Museum has planes, cars, motorcycles and the odd ship and railroad model.  Just inside the entrance was a Pierce four cylinder, a bike I've always admired for it's large diameter frame members.
The first hall off the entrance is titled 'Power' and the first thing I was attracted to was a cut away aircooled, supercharged, 28 cylinder (four banks of 7) radial Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major R-4360 aircraft engine.  Surely this has to rank as one of the all time great cut aways.
I tore myself away from the Wasp to find the Holy Grail:  a replica of the 1868 Sylvester Roper steam cycle (the original is in the Smithsonian Institute).
Notice the compressed air hose going to a regulator at the bottom of the boiler.  Evidently this has a working motor, though it wasn't running when I was there.  I've seen the original at the Smithsonian, though I'm told it's no longer on display, and I've seen replicas in the Motorcyclepedia Museum and the Barber Museum.  Both of these were done by William Eggers of Goshen, Ct. and they are non-runners.  I asked the woman at the desk who had made this replica and she didn't know, but said they had had it 'forever'.
It's interesting that they call it 1868, but then say Sylvester 'in 1865 created what is consider the first motorcycle.'  I have also seen it dated as 1867.  For those who aren't aware, I am related to Sylvester, his 2nd cousin, four times removed and, I subscribe to the 'Wandering Gene theory'.
Moving on to the other halls was a bit anti-climatic, but there were some other nice bikes among the cars and planes.
A 1901 Steffey motor bicycle
An unrestored Excelsior V-twin
A four cylinder Excelsior Henderson
A somewhat eclectic line up of bikes in the 'Quest for Speed' exhibit
Some neat micro cars including an Isetta and a couple of Crosleys
I'm not sure that I'd recommend going far out of your way to see the motorcycles but, if you're in the area, the Owls Head Transport Museum is worth a stop, especially if you're into cars and planes.  

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