VirginiaWind

NOTE: The descriptions of the places in this guide were accurate at the time the articles were posted. Please be advised that you should call ahead before traveling to any of them.

York Harley Davidson Open House

York Harley Davidson Open HouseJust as Cabbage Patch Doll lovers have Baby Land General Hospital, Teddy Bear lovers have Build-A-Bear Stores, Harley-Davidson enthusiasts can witness the birth of these mighty machines by touring the Harley-Davidson largest plant located on 1425 Eden Rd, in York, PA. My own interest was peaked when I noticed that my bike had been assembled there. So I finally decided the time had come to make my pilgrimage.

If you decide to make this trip, however, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. For safety and security reason, children under 12, open-toe shoes, knives and cameras are not permitted inside the factory. You must show a photo ID, turn off all cell-phones and pagers and pass through a metal detector. After viewing the introductory movie, the self-guided tour of the plant's manufacturing and assembly operations begins as you are handed safety glasses. It was at this point, that I began to wonder if it was worth the trip. Rest assured, I quickly discovered that it was well worth all the effort.

York Harley Davidson Open HouseMy first impression was that it smelled of machining oil, welding fumes, and cleaning rags much the same as any other factory I'd been in before. What greeted my eyes once they adjusted to the light was quite a surprise though. All around me were parts in various states of creation, but instead of having shapes that barely hinted at what odd machine part they would become, what I saw were things that I instantly recognized as being parts for my bike.

A different points on the tour I found tables set up for the tour that normally showed 4 stages of a part's manufacture. For example a steel rod, a bent and welded piece of metal resembling very little, an assembly that was probably a kick stand, and the chromed end product ready to hold up an Electra glide just like my own. What was most impressive though was all the fenders. Good grief! It seemed there were enough fenders to replace every one in service.

Past all the parts manufacturing came the assembly area. Heavy hooks suspended from long overhead chains each contained a motorcycle in progressive stages of assembly. Again, I recognized the beginnings of an Electra glide, and a sign stated that from start to finish it took less than two hours to assemble them. I couldn't help but contrast in my mind the hours charged for the last service I'd had done on mine.

The visit concluded with one of the highlights of the tour - a display of this year's motorcycles. To my surprise, you were actually allowed to live out your fantasies by actually sitting on them if you desired. Of course, the visit wouldn't be complete without browsing through the gift shop in search of the perfect souvenir.

York Harley Davidson Open HouseIn addition to the factory tour, those of you who are fortunate to go during the Annual Open House during the fall of the year are in for a three-day extravaganza that is bound to satisfy even the greatest "Hog Hunger". Parades, parties, seminars, live entertainment, demo rides and vendors come together to make event to remember. Even hurricane Isabel didn't dampen the spirits of attendees this year's 19th Open House on September 18th, 19th, and 20th. Mark your calendars now for next year's big event.

For those of you who don't want to wait, you can tour the factory Monday through Friday at regular intervals between 9:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Tickets are free and are given on a first-come, first-served basis. The tour lasts approximately one hour. It is recommended that you call prior to your visit as tour dates and times may change due to manufacturing requirements or other events. Please note reservations are required for groups of 10 or more people.

For more information on Harley -Davidson factory tours, please call (877)883-1450 or visit www.yorkopenhouse.com

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