Foundation News

Jan 1, 2017

AMF Directors Present at National Academic Conference

By Jon Radermacher,
AMF president


Mark Mederski and Jon Radermacher made a presentation at the "Driving  History: Putting Preservation on the Road" conference on October 22, 2016. This international academic conference, thought to be the first of its kind in North America, "brought together scholars, practitioners, hobbyists, students, among others, who were interested in the history and preservation of motor vehicle heritage." The Historic Vehicle Association (HVA), in conjunction with the College of Charleston, organized this conference in an effort to “exchange ideas and to learn from one other about how the preservation of motor vehicle heritage can be made a more centrist part of the historic preservation field in respect to both tangible material culture and intangible traditions.”


Mederski and Radermacher presented "Challenges and Guidance in Preserving the Unrestored Production Motorcycle and Racing Motorcycle." Here is a summary of what they presented:

Mark Mederski speaks with an attendee at the Driving History conferenceThough interest has heightened in the past ten years, motorcycle museums and the private collecting, preserving and concours-participating community has for decades revered the original unrestored motorcycle. Furthermore, some museums put the motorcycles "in context" by exhibiting old helmets, leather jackets, advertising graphics, photos and other articles of motorcycling that reflect designs of the past; often these show wear and tear as well. But while automobiles have had roofs and doors to protect interiors, hoods and floors to shroud driveline components and exhaust systems and fenders to cover suspension and braking components, motorcycles for the better part of a century have left these components exposed. Of course, such components allow a motorcycle to present more mechanical design interest, and some machines have even been celebrated as "art" due to aesthetically pleasing engine cases and brake backing plates in addition to curvaceous sheet metal. However, the exposed nature of motorcycles also presents some problems for preservationists less likely to come into play with automobiles. Exhaust systems, carburetors, and fuel tanks are not only functional as with most automobiles, but sometimes were originally polished or highly finished in lustrous paint and chrome or nickel. Thus, a very high percentage of wear, tear and discoloration is visible, leading motorcycle museums and collectors to ask if a given motorcycle is "too far gone" to preserve.

Besides this technical aspect of a museum displaying a less than pristine motorcycle or artifact, will the visitor engage with it or shun it wondering why a museum would display such a deteriorated machine. Also discussed will be the unique challenges presented by racing motorcycles and the probability of "component swapping" and updating during a machine's racing history. This situation makes a preserver or a restorer wonder just how to deal with these machines. Additionally, we should also examine past successful preservation techniques and how those techniques – as well as new ones – could be made available for decades to come as the vehicle restoration community is generally not as advanced as museum conservators dealing with highly valuable and historic artifacts. We will recount some of the Antique Motorcycle Foundation’s (AMF) recent panel discussion held at the 2016 Barber Vintage Festival in which four experts compared the attributes of original unrestored motorcycles to those of a perfectly restored machine. Topics within that conversation included the intrinsic value of motorcycles, current market trends and how to proceed with efforts to make proper restoration information available to the public at large.


The foundation would like to thank Casey Maxon at the HVA for giving Mederski and Radermacher the opportunity to present at this groundbreaking conference. Recently, the HVA was successful in establishing the National Historic Vehicle Registry, contained within the Library of Congress. While the HVA's primary focus is on automobiles, there is now potential for the foundation to cooperate with them on efforts regarding motorcycles due to the foundation's depth of expertise on two- and three-wheeled vehicles.

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