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CROSSROADS --  for the Motorcycle enthusiast
The Best Of Crossroads!- May/June 2002 Issue #27
"NEW ART FORM-"


We've all heard the expression, 'The art was jumping off the tanks!' Skulptigraph makes it do that literally. Walt Woodson, Anthony Giordano, John Elsbusch and Steve at W.W. Custom Cycles & Painting in North Hollywood, California are the creators of what you see here. The work is as surable as it is cool.
(Original feature ran in our July/August 1999 Issue #12.)


BIKER --  an EASYRIDERS magazine   June 2002 page 16
"Plain Jane Became a Desirable Bitch"

About five years ago, Mark and Anita Volsmier had a friend in Texas with a Plain-Jane '55 pan that ran OK but leaked oil like the Exxon Valdez. His buddy brought it by and they replaced some gaskets and cleaned it up. It was pretty dirty, with bad chrome, open primary and a chocolate metallic-brown paint job. He kept it touch with the guy and a few years later the fella gave him a call saying he was tired of constantly fixing the bike, that it was tempermental and unreliable, and he was thinking about selling it. He wondered if Mark was interested. A price was discussed and there was a new owner of the tarnished pan. When Mark temporarily moved from Texas to California, he took the bike to WW Custom Cycles & Paint in North Hollywood for fresh paint. WW is run by Big Mike and Walt Woodson and their shop is renowned for its high-quality paint jobs. The owners of the shop described the bike as a rolling rat when they first saw it, basically brown on rust. They suggested that they freshen up the top end, then, while in there, one thing led to another...After checkin' out some of the gorgeous bikes that WW was turning out, Mark and Anita decided to undertake a complete facelift of the tired pan. Mark had recently attended the Love Ride in Glendale, California. One of his complaints was that so many of the bikes looked alike. After seeing the miles of black and chrome machines he wanted something that stuck out of the crowd. Having attended a lot of custom car shows he mentioned to walt that the cars that stood out to him were the ones painted orange and purple. They changed out the rusty rims, rechromed the hubs and laced the wheels up with new spokes. The bike had the stock-style brake controls, which Mark found difficult to use, so he had them changed to the mover modern style. They powdercoated the heads and barrels with a slick purple finish and when they couldn't lay their hands on chrome Performance Machine calipers, they elected to powdercoat those as well, with the PM logos highlighted in orange. Although they figure they spent twice as much as expected to finish the bike, they have no complaints. The bike fires up every time and runs great. They're looking forward to some great adventures down the road. -- Lickity Split


Los Angeles Magazine --  December 1998
"LA to Z: The Hottest Facts about the World's Coolest City"

"Harley Art    Moto-morphing."


The newest trend in custom Harley-Davidson rigs is "skulptigraphing," according to Walt Woodson of WW Custom Cycles in North Hollywood, where he and partner Anthony Giordano transform bike elements into finely crafted moving sculptures. "There's nobody else that does it, Woodson says. "We're the pioneers of the technique." Charlie Sheen gave one of his pals a bike with a guitar emerging from it; Shaquille O'Neal and Dwight Yoakiam have each had their own machines altered. The shop can even customize Harley art to match the skin art of the owner-- unless, of course, the owner has no tattoos. The rigs may not belong at the Getty, but they relieve the monotony of our traffic landscape. --E.L.


CROSSROADS   - March/April 03 Issue #31
"THE HARD CORE RAT "


First of all Michael Bro and I have been in the wind side by side all over the United States for better than 12 years and we have been through some amazing stuff. As friends go, Michaels' the best, when your ridin', chillin' or fightin' he always has your back, count on that! I know Contos has burned some road with Michael as well; in fact they lived at the Gideon House for a while back in the '90's. When I met Michael in 1990, he was on a primer Iron-Head Sportster, but that was just "money in the bank" for what ever comes along next. He's a horse trader so he's been through about 6 or 8 different bikes, all of them baskets and all them doubled his dough. He likes his Bike 4 Hard Cores Only - Bare Bones - BAD! He does all of this with very little cash outlay. Take this specimen here, start by trading a foot-peg, two worn tires, some sparkplug wires with 3500 bucks you get a box of parts, most of them a 1967 Pan Shovel. Then he swapped the stock fat-bob tanks for the 1951 Hardtail Wishbone frame De-raked. Someone else's Idea. He's still running the original juice drum brake, nothing fancy, just functional. Just check the 1-inch open belt drive, 0 works and ccame in the box. It's easy to ride, change and fix. It's always a work in progress. He got this bike up and running in two days then Michael, Hero, and me, all on Hard-Tails with suicide shifts, rode from Los Angeles to Santa Cruz in the middle of the night. For the next five days it was all about finding parts, and motel rooms to get the bikes (Mine was breaking and littering parts too) into the room for an all night repair to ride all day to another shop. At one, is where he found the oil bag you see in the photo. The only trouble free bike was Hero's stock 1953 Pan Chopper. When he got back to L.A. he re-built it, top down motor and all with the help of Smilin' Mike at WW Cycles. Michael Bro makes the Handlebars, their Frankie Z's (Frankenstein Z Bars). All the Miscellaneous crap "Is hand-me downs from the shop, a lot of this shit I just found," as Michael tells it. Tell me that aint' the hard way to go! But this thing runs hard, he buzzes down the 101 at 85MPH with the pack. Take a closer look at this thing; see what you think. Not bad for $5000 total expenses. Not to mention a little elbow grease and know how will get you.
Story and Photos by Hollywood
(paint: Walt Woodson @ WW Cycles).


HOT ROD BIKES  June 2003  Front Page Story& pg 62-66 by Jeff Deasey
"Harley's Rigid FXR" 


Mickey Rourke has been a motorcycle guy for most of his life. He has a reputation for living on the edge in his personal life, and some of that energy is brought out in the many characters he's portrayed on file. He's starred in lots of action flicks and has a strong presence on the big screen that has made him famous for playing hardcore types for the bulk of his career. One of his most famous roles was his character Marlboro Man in the filem "Harley Davidson" and "The Marlboro Man", in which he co-starred with Don Johnson. Although it didn't garner tons of praise from critics and was probably never part of the Oscar-buzz of 1991, it has become a cult classic of sorts with Harley Davidsonfans all over the world. Although it was probably not the intention of the filmmakers, the rigid-convert FXR that Mickey rode in the film has become nearly as famous as the Captain America bike that Peter Fonda rode in the movie Easy Rider. And, just like Captain America, there have been dozens of attempts at creating copies of Harley Davidson's bike, but none of them have hit the mark -- until now. Mickey got together with Black Death Motorcycles and Carefree Custom Cycles, to build the most authentic re-creations of this two-wheeled piece of cinematic history. Every thing about the bike had to be just right, and the day our photographer dropped in to shoot these photos, he found Mickey's new bike parked along side of the original that was used in the movie. After viewing the two of them for a few minutes, our photographer gave up and had to ask Black Death fabricator, Johnny McMichael, to tell him which bike was which. Had he traveled over to the primary drive side first, he would have seen the Black Death Motorcycles logo on the derby cover, but that side was intentionally parked against the wall to make things harder. Black Death started with an FXR frame of its own design and went from there. The frame was boxed and molded to clean it up, and the steering neck was raked out to an angle that Black Death refuses to disclose. You'll have to take your own measurements to figure out that little trade secret, but the solid struts that replaced the shocks, the natural metal finish, and graphics, are just as they appeared on screen. A lot has happened in the 12 years since the first bike was seen by the public, which explains the use of Mid-USA's potent 114-inch Powerhouse engine used in the new machine. Streetable V-twins of this size simply did not exist back in 1991, but Mickey wanted his new ride to give him an even bigger rush than he got from the old one. Designed by Vern Ott, the Powerhouse engine can rev to limits that would make a standard V-twin explode into thousands of pieces, and is capable of cranking out a verified 135 hp at the rear wheel. If you haven't seen one of these engines in person, you're really missing out. The indestructible Falicon crankshaft assembly can easily hit 9,000 rpm without failure, but still has a very nice torque curve at lower speeds -- just what Mickey ordered. Rick Riddle at Black Death put together a five-speed trans for the bike, using a Delkron case that he stuffed with an Andrews gearset and Primo open belt primary drive, to tie it into the motor. From all outward appearances, the engine looks like the original, but there is a lot more power to be found inside when the throttle is twisted. A set of stock H-D fuel tanks were heavily modified, and custom mounts were added to make them fit the frame exactly as they should. Black Death also did a great job of re-creating the rear section of the bike, which include the rear fender, seat, and custom side covers with chrome inserts. The bodywork was turned over to jason and Phil Smith of Cougar Ridge Rod Shop for the graphics and clear coating operations. When people see Mickey riding the bike, they are surprised to find that it's not the original, but rather a painstakingly researched copy approved by Harley Davidson himself. Interested in picking one up for youreself? Log onto www.blackdeathmotorcycles.com or call (623) 209-0060 for more information.


CROSSROADS  July/August 1999
-COVER: Skulptigraph - A New 3-D Paint Job That'll Make Your Motorcycle Stand Out in a Crowd!

"Skulptigraph: The New Thing Out West"

Story by Christa Rudowski   On the West Coast, where extravagance and display can sometimes become a way of life, one cycle shop is cashing in on the desire for style and starting a whole new trend while they're at it. The shop is W.W. Custom Cycles & Painting of North Hollywood, California. Its proprietor, Walt Woodson, can hardly keep ahead of the demand for the ingenious new style of art display called Skulptigraph. With Skulptigraph, images are raised up to look three-dimensional and then painted and airbrushed. The result is some really cool looking artwork. Why do I mention Walt Woodson and his shop? Because he is the creator of Skulptigraph, but he won't say zip about how he does it, so don't ask. Just call and put in your order now because it's Hot! Walking around and looking at all his awesome work with Skulptigraph, I couldn't help asking Walt if he'd had any previous art experience. Perhaps a half-forgotten class in high school, say in sculpting? "No!" says Walt, "I was expelled from high school, nobody really thought I'd amount to anything, except maybe a criminal. But I was always pretty creative. I took images from my messed up childhood for my ideas." Being poor, Walt usually came up with creative ways on his own to customize cars using whatever was around. Once, about fifteen or twenty years ago, he and a friend found themselves messing around with a blow torch and some bondo (they were probably a little high, he admits) in his Dad's autobody shop back in New Jersey. The secret mixture has been altered since then, the bondo being a little hard to work with, but this was the original experiment from which Skulptigraph was born all those years ago. "I can't complain, I have a great life and travel a lot," Walt says happily. From not having a lot back then, mucking around with stuff, Walt realizes he'd "never have recognized the highs without the lows. Out of bad things come good things." Both Walt and his partner, Anthony Giordano, also seem to bring good things from other good things. Lots of high profile clients come to the shop due to the pair's entertainment connections. Giordano is hardly ever around due to his other gig as stage manager for musicians such as Michael and Janet Jackson. Walt originally went to Los Angeles to be an actor and has done some TV work. Recent clients they have landed include Dan Ackroyd and Dwight Yoakam. Though it's nice to have such a successful business, Walt admits that acting is still a passion he'll always pursue. Woodson and Giordano aren't the only important people in this operation, however. John Elsbusch has taken over as the head sculptor for Skulptigraph, whose work, according to Walt, is even more amazing. With airbrushing by Steve (no last name submitted, per modesty) the art comes alive with color and vitality. A dragon appears to crawl out of a fender and gas tank on one bike. A skeletal head and hands holding a royal flush seems to tear through the tank of another. Each bike has its own unique design, in accordance with the whims of its owner. Designs can be copied from tatoos, sketches, whatever you dream up, they can do. It wouldn't be fair not to mention the hard work and expertise of Mike (also a modest fellow) the mechanic. The man is a genius when it comes to motorcycles of all kinds and has built many up from scratch. All he needs are pictures or ideas of what you want and it's "fantasy into reality," he says. In a world of high tech innovations, Skulptigraph will surely capture the imagination of the masses. The artwork is also incredibly durable and even messy accidents don't seem to break these designs! There's no doubt you'll see Skulptigraph more and more on your travels. --CM


EASY RIDERS --  'World's Largest-Selling Motorcycle Magazine for Men'
"With Great Strength Comes Great Responsibility"- Toby McGuire as Peter Parker, Spider-Man The Movie 2002.
GEORGE HARRIS' SPIDER-MAN MACHINE

Word's out. Spider-Man's a biker. He was seen rolling up to the L.A. premiere of his own flick riding a wicked looking custom with webbed wheels no less. Wherever its designer and owner George Harris shows up, crowds gather, caught up in the silken lines of the bike and its super-hero theme. George and his wife Jenni describe the reaction during its first week in the public eye. "In the short time the bike has been out on the streets (only a week), we can't even begin to explain the type and amount of attention this bike has received. We took it to Las Vegas and the whole Harley-Davidson restaurant cleared out to check it out, not to mention hundreds of tourists snapping photos." George, who runs a motorcycle and hot rod design company called Mean Machines Custom Designs in North Hollywood, California, tells us about his very first ride on ol' Spidey, when, wouldn't you know, the red lights started flashing behind him. Pulled over by one of L.A.'s finest, he expected to have a ticket book stuck in his face for not having mirrors and turn signals. Instead it was a camera. "Can I take a picture of your bike for my kids?" the police officer asked. Yes, the bike has fans from all across the spectrum, young and old, biker and nonbiker. Call it universal appeal. It's a custom that really sticks in your imagination. The Spider-Man bike project actually began more than five years ago, hatched in a room in George's house dedicated to the webbed hero including a large number of Spider-Man Comics and memorabilia. George also credits his cousin "Donut" with getting the idea off the ground in the first place. George has been into sportsbikes for many years, but Donut was into Harleys and got him hooked. The pan was for George to build a Harley custom to sell in order to finance his dream bike. But Fate intervened. On his very first ride on the custom Heritage Softail he had built, he was rear-ended by a drunk driver who totaled the bike. "First day out, shredded it, "George says. The silver lining came in the form of insurance money that bankrolled the Spider-Man project. But then there were four years of false starts when the project languished in a couple bike shops without much progress. Then George hooked up with the right people, Walt Woodman at WW Custom Cycles & Painting in North Hollywood. "I told him I had designed a bike, had the blueprints, the parts, and needed him to slam it together for me. He said, "Cool." WW would also lay on the basic paint while George's friend Pamelina handled the artwork and his partner Rene Mora did the special effects 3-D artwork that pops off the bike's tank plus the Spider-Man motifs laser-etched into various parts of the bike. Additional engraving on the primary and rocker boxes is credited to Andrea's Fibercraft of North Hollywood. After the movie was released and the bike was finished, Chuck Zito (starring in HBO's OZ) suggested adding a tribute to the people of the Twin Towers, and George did just that. Another of George's partners, Danny Kay handled the bike's welding chores for the Mean Machines softail-type frame. As for the powerplant, George says, "These are Spider-Man motors." The bike has two of them, a 96-inch and 113-inch, along with two transmissions, a 5- and 6-speed. George laughs and says, "We built these Spider-Man trannies with back-angle cut gears. Both of them are badass trannies." And those web-inspired wheels were made for George by Performance Machine, his Spider-Man wheels officially appearing in their catalog as "Screams." George and Jenni brought the bike out for the L.A. premiere of Spider-Man where hundreds and hundreds of fans drooled over the bike. And yes, George did it up big time, donning a full Spider-Man costume as he rolled up on the red carpet. In fact, it seemed everyone thought the bike was connected to the movie. Says George, "It was even featured on the TV news entertainment report. Teh best part of the night was when celebrities Kobe Bryant, Shaq, Lucy Liu, Will Smith, John Singleton, Darryl Hannah and Fred Durst all came off the red carpet to compliment the motorcycle and take pictures of it. It was great!" Oddly enought the case of semi-mistaken identity may become a reality as George has been negotiating with the film studio concerning the bike's appearance in Spider-Man II. Last time we looked the Spider-Man movie had topped the charts, grossing over $400 million. They can afford to pony up for George's bike. He's already got a couple more mega-bikes in the works, including one inspired by The Incredible Hulk, another blockbuster film about to be released. George adds, "I've got to thank my wife for making the bike possible. She's my accountant and my business partner and 50% of Mean Machines." This friendly neighborhood Spider-bike will be appearing at various comic book conventions and in the summer is scheduled for appearances in Japan along with his Hulk bike. You can reach George Harris' Mean Machines Custom Designs at 818-571-7544. -- Paul Garson





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