A museum in North Carolina has received what is one of the coolest motorcycle builds I’ve seen in a while. The KennyBilt is a 9-wheeled camper that looks like a mini big rig and has the heart and blessing of Harley-Davidson.
The Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina is a real special place for motorcyclists. It opened two decades ago and its 38,000 square foot facility houses a huge collection of 375 rare motorcycles through history. The museum prides itself on showing off American engineering and you’ll even find some cars and a locomotive there, too. Now, the museum has acquired one of the most offbeat motorcycle builds you’ll ever see.
The museum’s current curator is Matt Walksler, son of late founder Dale Walksler (who passed in 2021). He explains that the creation, which is called the KennyBilt 9-Wheel Harley Rig, was finished in 1989 by Kenny Kilpatrick of Huntsville, Alabama. It was a dream realized and somehow he managed to get Harley-Davidson’s approval on the project.
The Motor Company provided the engine and authorized the use of the company’s logos.
The front end of the KennyBilt appears to use some parts from a Harley-Davidson FLT of the era and a 1340cc Evolution V-twin is saddled right in the middle.
The “cab” of the rig contains all sorts of buttons and switches to operate the vehicle’s lights.
There’s also an implement to operate its air horns and air brakes. Yep, you read that right. This baby has air brakes! Is this the first motorcycle that would technically require an air brake endorsement?
Anyway, where the sleeper would be on a tractor-trailer is a bench for two people.
The cab portion is a trike with a tow hitch on the back. That’s pulling a dolly, itself with a gooseneck hitch connecting to the trailer. The trailer’s light and air brake connections look similar to how a real semi trailer would be, which is a nice touch.
Exhaust comes out of a set of stacks and if you listen hard enough it sort of sounds like a semi engine braking.
And as I said before, that trailer isn’t empty. Inside is a couch and a nice, big bed. The walls are lined with photographs and the awards the rig has gotten. It even has a wraparound skylight. It’s not much of a camper, but it’s still pretty cool.
After the 30-foot-long rig was finished it did a tour of the United States appearing in lots of shows. It even crossed the Atlantic to appear in shows around Europe. It’s unclear how many shows the KennyBilt drove to under its own power. The museum also doesn’t note the rig’s mileage. The 9-wheeler has evolved over the years, too and at one point it had a second front wheel, making it a 10-wheeler.
Walksler’s father was friends with Kilpatrick and tried to get Kilpatrick to add the truck to the museum’s collection. But understandably, he held onto his pride and joy dream rig. Sadly, Kilpatrick also passed away in 2021 and his widow decided to send the rig to where it would be appreciated.
By the time Wheels Through Time got to the rig it was abandoned in a gravel pit, having sat for 10 years. Despite that, it is in remarkably good condition. The paint still shines and it runs and drives. The tires were flat and rotted, making the extraction of the 4,000-pound vehicle a little difficult.
Wheels Through Time makes sure everything in the museum works and this rig apparently just needs a little work. The function of the air brakes need to be figured out and the transmission may need some work, but that’s probably nothing for a museum that keeps vehicles over a century-old running.
If you want to see the KennyBilt, it will be on display at the Wheels Through Time Museum when it reopens April 7.