Tribute to Those Who Gave the Ultimate Sacrifice
September 11, 2001, a day we all will remember especially those who have lost someone dear. There were many heroes that particular day and many more in the days to come following September 11th. There were those who gave their time and helped in a great rescue effort to find those that may have survived and there were those who gave their support, strength and caring to those who lost someone on that tragic day.
I was thankful that a couple of my relatives and a few friends were lucky enough to escape the fate that so many others were not able to. My thoughts and prayers still go out to them and theirs.
When my friend, Jim Haywood, approached me with an idea of customizing and painting a Harley Davidson to be displayed as a tribute to all of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice from the NYPD, FDNY and the PAPD, I said yes without hesitation.
Jim had just bought a 2001 Electra-Glide and we both felt that it would be the perfect candidate for the job. We at Custom Paint by VJL in Mt. Vernon, NY started the project immediately.
Making of Fallen Hero Bike
Jim had contacted Stamford Harley Davidson about becoming involved in this particular project. He picked up new Harley Davidson sheet metal from them and I went to work.
I started by adding a small two-inch stretch to the new fuel tank. I worked it around the factory seat, as Jim puts a great deal of mileage on the bike showing it at different events, and he finds great comfort in this seat. I then moved on to preparing the rest of the sheet metal, fiberglass fairing, luggage bags, tour pack and oil bag covers as well.
Jim and I sat down and collaborated on what type of paint scheme would be appropriate. We wanted the paint to be as colorful as possible without being overly flashy, but at the same time make a statement in a
I started out with House Of Kolor Shimrin basecoat lapis blue, over which I sprayed a slightly modified Kandy Kobalt Blue, followed by Ice Pearl Violet for a little more color play. We felt this was a good color for the bike as it represents the Class “A” dress uniform of all three service branches.
When it came time to come up with a graphic effect, I chose to go with an effect that I enjoy doing, granite. What better way to represent the World Trade Center than granite?
I do granite effects on a great deal of my custom painted bikes, because it’s a nice looking texture to work with, and when it’s done well, it looks great. I did the granite effect as though the blue was tearing or peeling away from the granite, exposing a tombstone effect on the lower portion of the front fender which reads “ WTC 09/11/01 “.
I also did the same effect on the tour pack and luggage bags. We put all 419 names of those lost from the NYPD, FDNY and PAPD on the pack and bags. Jim can tell you exactly how many letters there are because I had him pick the letters out of each name so I could air brush them in.
The fuel tank was next. I did the same tear out effect with granite,I then air brushed a Police hat, Fire helmet and a Paramedic’s Cadusa over the granite.
The final art work was on the top of the tour pack and on the front fairing. I air brushed the 911 Ride Foundation Pentagon patch on the tour pack and the Fallen Heroes patch on the fairing. All of the parts were then cleared, sanded and polished.
The paint job on the bike took me about six months to complete mainly because Jim was always taking the bike in various states of completion to different events related to the 911 Ride Foundation. Once the bike was completed, Jim asked me what the bill was; I told him that there was no charge. I donated the complete job, materials, labor and all. I felt it was my way of paying tribute to all of those lost. It more or less became a labor
I’ve been custom painting cars and bikes for 30 years. I designed and painted the Jagermeister trike last year for its Daytona debut, and have painted bikes for quite a few high profile clients as well as local custom bike builders. I do with paint what others only dream about. My only limitation is my imagination; so far it’s been limitless. The man upstairs has been good to me, so it was only fitting that I try to give something back.
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