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Outside the Box

Posted August 15, 2012 in Community Featured, Winterset

Imagination came in a box. Or it did for one local hobbyist/painter extraordinaire.

Jerry Stewart completes the gold-leaf detail on his freehand design for the refurbished 1969 Harley Shovelhead gas tank.

“When I was a kid, I’d spend hours painting those plastic model cars you would buy in a box,” says Jerry Stewart. “And then one day, when I couldn’t afford a new bike, I painted my dumpy old one and realized that if I wanted something nice, I had to make it nice.”

Later, in high school auto body tech class, Stewart’s painting skills progressed from simple paint-can artist to working with new and sophisticated tools, media and color — lots of color. Over the years, he has gone on to master the art of color bleeds and diffusions and, in essence, has created his own unique and versatile color palette.

Stewart’s garage/barn would best be described as a multi-tier of “genius in the works” designs, including everything from projects waiting for simple paint touchups, to pending total overhauls and redesigns. Along with developing a passion for detailed, exterior paint design, the model cars he worked on as a child also challenged him over the years to work under the hood of a wide variety of automobiles. However, it’s obvious the bulk of this mechanic’s passion (some would call it obsession) is with the Harley. On the hoist is a ’76 Harley Sportster on deck for a wiring job; in the corner rests a wrecked Harley Fat Boy patiently waiting its turn; and a complete redo is underway for the Harley Super Glide that is hanging overhead from a rafter.

And that typical, sorry, old boneyard of every good mechanic? It’s pretty much nonexistent in this garage. That once rusted-out, old Harley tank is being redesigned and reborn as Stewart’s custom mailbox. The gleaming chrome exhaust stack off a Mack truck is already driven in the ground and waiting for its Harley crown. (Stewart is foreman/semi mechanic in Des Moines for diesel Mack trucks.)

Not everything in this garage is Harley. Parked in the drive is a pimped out, modified ’78 Toro Groundsmaster mower, complete with customized paint job of pearl flames, air-ride seat for maximum shock-absorbing comfort and a modified eight-gallon pony keg on back as gas tank with a Harley gas cap, of course. All the neighbors are jealous.

Contact Darren Tromblay at 953-4822 ext. 304 or to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of What’s In Your Garage?

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