No one understands America's proud military tradition more than her veterans. Men and women who've suffered some of the greatest hardships humanity is capable of inflicting upon itself, all to guard our way of life. These people are as varied as those in the melting pot they protect; so too are the ways Americans thank them for the valuable service they render for the rest of us.
Tribute bikes and coffee table books aren't new ways of commemorating the military. Far from it. Combining the two is pretty different, though, and exactly what Dana Harbaugh and Sandy Steiner did when creating their Pearl Harbor tribute motorcycle.
Veterans themselves, this was an opportunity to pay homage to their fellow servicemen and women. Dana was working on his coffee table book, Pearls of Honor: Their Duty to Remember, when he met Sandy. Sandy was at his booth at Las Vegas Bikefest when his engraving caught the author's eye. Dana loved how Sandy's shop, Chrome Fusion, mixed painting and chrome finishes-not on the same bike, but on the same part. Hence the name of his business.
You read it right. Chrome Fusion engraves parts, chromes the artwork, and has the unworked surface painted. Dana started talking to Sandy about the book and that lead to a tribute bike.
Talk lad to action. The two met again, this time at the shop, and started going over artwork. Tons and tons of artwork. If you've ever seen The History Channel, you may have gotten the idea that folks documented the tar out of World War II, and you'd be right. It took months just to get through it all! Still, they managed to narrow the field down to a mere 150 plus images, all of which found a home on the 2009 Harley-Davidson Cross Bones chosen for the project. The overall goal was to build a rolling history lesson commemorating the Pearl Harbor attack of 1941. For example, all the Pearl Harbor battleships made it onto the Harley, but the Arizona was captured in three stages-open water, bombed, and the current memorial. The dash panel also has the TCB emblem from Elvis Presley who did the concert to raise money for the memorial.
All of images were also done by hand. Detailed engraving on a motorcycle's irregular surfaces is hard work, even for a machine. Sandy elaborated: "There's some great engraving out there but we use unique practices. There are all kinds of angles to it. It's not a straight line. Some have to angle out or flair out or in; thick and thin again in one movement. If you were to take a single brush and do a tree where you had to vary the strokes in the same line, that's what it's like only we have to worry about flair and depth. We do it all day every day."
John C. Finn signs off on the Pearl Harbor Cross Bones. But what did he think when he first put eyes on it? He noticed the hula girls. And a mistake: "They've got too many clothes on," Finn said. Chrome Fusion happily corrected the error.
John C. Finn signs off on the Pearl Harbor Cross Bones. But what did he think when he firs
Sandy Steiner started engraving motorcycles 15-16 years ago, when he wanted detailed work for his own bike. "I'd seen rough ones from the `60s that weren't very refined. It wasn't being done to the detailed extent we were doing it. I wanted the same detail you'd put in a watch but in lines 3 feet long," he recalled. Sandy had gobs of experience in leather craft and translated that to metal to get the level of detail he wanted. However, it was his son, Jason, who invented the process of adding chrome and paint into the mix. It's a patented process; the Steiners guard it like a state secret or a barbecue sauce recipe. They've been at it many years, first in Nashville, Tennessee, now in Las Vegas.
With the artwork chosen it was time to put money to mouth and get the job done. Chrome Fusion makes a basic layout on paper, and then transforms it for the correct perspective. Just because a picture looks good on a nice, predictable piece of paper doesn't mean it'll look as cool on a curved tank. In this case, they traced on the paper outline, and then hand drew the details for the rest. Much like an artist making any drawing.