CHOP CULT HOME
NEWS   FORUM   EVENTS   CLASSIFIEDS   BLOGDUMP   COMMUNITY   MEMBERS

Inside: Four Aces Cycle

 

We've interviewed the man and we've marveled at his machines. Now it's time to get inside where Wes White lives. This is Four Aces Cycle in Pacoima, CA. Wes's workspace has doubled as his home, his cash cow or his sanctuary for years. Now he's opening it and himself up for a closer inspection. Class is in session.

 

four-aces-wes.jpg

 

So what happens at your shop—do you build complete bikes for strangers, tune and service for friends, work strictly on your own stuff or is it really just a tree fort for grown men?

For years my business has been mostly customer motor and transmission rebuilds for the build-it-yourself crowd, with some new and used parts selling and bike builds thrown in. I also do a little tune and service and a lot of top ends. Another favorite is the "bring it back alive" project where a guy brings in a bike that used to run and I get it back on the street. Those are a pain in the butt. I have said repeatedly that whatever bike I’m working on will be the last thing I build for a customer, but someone always talks me into it. The best way to get over this hump is for me to say to myself, “Oh yeah, build what you want.” That is how my chrome-framed green bike came along

Do you consider it a hobby, art, work, lifestyle or what?

Merle Haggard once sang, "I'm 41 years old and I ain't got nowhere to go when it's over." That is where I am at today, and I happen to be 41 years old too! Vintage motorcycle restoration and repair is my third career and the one I can live with the best and want to do forever. My other careers sucked, so call it my life, not so much a style. I like to think some of the stuff I do is art or at least artistic.

How many hours do you spend at the shop in a typical week?

Lately I have been here by 9 or 10 a.m. and I leave at midnight. Doing everything in a business is tough, and I get customers knocking and calling at all hours. During regular business hours I pack boxes, do the bills, et cetera. I consider 6 p.m. the second shift when I can relax, turn the music up and get some uninterrupted wrenching time. I spent the last few years only doing 8 or so a day, but that just doesn’t work for me. I guess I’m like a shark. If I stop, I might die.

What do you see happening in this space in five years?

Five years form now I am going have a couple more DVDs under my belt, one technical and one documentary type at least. I would love to make half my shop an office for those endeavors. I would like to continue to do motors and such, but I am going to stay away from the customer-driven builds completely. I will build bikes, but I am going to build what I want and then sell it.



wes1.jpg

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy: Wes White tempers his 24/7 work compulsion with a healthy appetite for tequila and the occasional outlaw chopper ride with friends. EDR 2008

 

How is your workspace defined?

Grinding and welding take place in the back of the shop next to all my shelves of used parts. Motor rebuilds and bench work are up near the front at my personal workbench. I have a couple of lifts behind me and that is where assembly work takes place and where full bikes go for service or motor work.

Any quirky rituals or work habits that you practice in your shop?

I am pretty messy when it comes to disassembly—fairly organized when it comes to assembly. So a lot of nights after taking apart a motor, I will go home and leave a big mess. I am one of those guys who makes a BIG mess then cleans it up all at once. I try not to work when I am on the phone or when a customer is here, because it is distracting and that is when mistakes get made. Also, I never let the customer see the drawer full of hammers that I know I’m going to use on his bike.

Who else would we find in your shop on a typical Friday or Saturday night? How about crunch time on Tuesday?

I have had a variety of guys through the shop over the years to help me out. Chris Hamilton and Danny "the Snake" Milligan were great help but they moved on for a variety of reasons. My longest lasting part-time guy is Jeff Leighton, builder of awesome bikes. I am proud to say that I influenced him some. You might find him or Frank Kaisler around here sometimes helping out. If it were crunch time, they would both help me out if I asked



four-aces-bikes.jpg

What is it they say about one man's trash being another man's treasure? Pirates of the Caribbean have nothing on Mr. White when it comes to priceless booty

 

What do the neighbors think?

Most of them think I am that weird biker guy in #16. I fixed a kid's go-kart one day, he was the son of one of the machine shop owners in the complex, and I got some Christmas cookies out of the deal, so I have at least one ally

What kinds of work do you like best?

I have to say, I like motors. They are compact and have a good beginning, middle and end to them. They can be frustrating when they fight you, but for the most part they are my favorite type of work

What's your favorite thing about your shop?

It is my space, the place I practically live, the place I feel at home in. It shows a lot of my personality that you won't find anywhere else



four-aces-shop.jpg

 

Is there anything you hate about your shop?

It is hot in the summer and cold in the winter!

Any tips for the novice shop operator or bike builder.

Be organized and look at as many different resources as possible. Never take anyone’s opinion at face value. Trust but verify: that’s what my old boss at the Feds used to tell me



four-aces-story-3.jpg

Wes and his fellow LSR addict Chuck will make their fifth assault on Bonneville with vintage iron in 2010. Wes has some tricks up his sleeve for that adventure that are guaranteed to stir excitement. Stay tuned

 

What would you tell a seasoned builder if he asked for your advice on setting up a new shop?

Lock the door. Don't answer the phone so much.

Anything else you want to add?

Maybe a little Hunter S. Thompson:


"Some people will tell you that slow is good—and maybe it is some days—but fast is better. I've always believed this in spite of the trouble it's caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube."


 

wes2.jpg

 

You can learn more about Four Aces Cycle on their website.

 



Comment with Facebook


 
 

Comment with Chopcult (33)

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 02:24 pm
 

i've just been schooled.

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 02:42 pm
 

A little HST is always good...

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 03:03 pm
 

Alright, it is confirmed. Wes is indeed exactly the same as any motorcycle shop owner. Except nicer. With cooler subject matter. And honest. Wait a minute, this guy's what they should all be!

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 03:12 pm
 

I would rather be shot out of a cannon than squeezed out of a tube

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 03:47 pm
 

A handy dandy look at a top notch guy!

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 03:52 pm
 

Wes White, the Ed McMahon of Chop Cult

'you are correct, sir'

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 03:55 pm
 

Good read.

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 04:23 pm
 

I am starting to believe that ChopCult has a man crush on Wes. But then again, he is so cool he deserves it. Please keep it up Wes.

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 05:08 pm
 

WES is the man! good read indeed.

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 05:53 pm
 

Wes is the last of a Dying Breed...He's came through for me more then once, and a few times where he could have banged me over the head because he had what I needed, when no one else did. Always willing to share knowledge despite his heavy work load. If more shop owners were like Mr. White, there'd be no homeless children, seal clubbing would fail to exist and Unicorns would frolic freely.
Good Write up on a Good Dude

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 06:04 pm
 

hahaha! Amen, Marco!

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 06:09 pm
 

I get it, he wouldn't let you take a picture of that plucked-out-of-Lucy's-sky-prism-tank in his shop with the mythical beasts on it, he's saving it for the big reveal on the next bike.

If it wasn't for Wes, I'd be riding around on a new Bonneville, stopping for gas less often, wrenching much less, and not have oil all over the back of my shirt.

Thank You Voodoo God for Four Aces!

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 06:58 pm
 

this dude's got so much talent and knowledge.
it's so rad to have him involved in the cult and let all of us noobs in on what he knows.

good read!

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 08:26 pm
 

I'm up for a good slow squeezing! great write up. wes and his shop sound amazing.

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 09:57 pm
 

Good article, really enjoyed reading it.

Surprised it gets cold in California though.

Commented on 1-15-2010 At 10:13 pm
 

Wes is one sexy beast!

Commented on 1-16-2010 At 01:57 am
 

I've been a fan of Wes' for some time. Good article.

Commented on 1-16-2010 At 01:58 am
 

I'm glad he's willing to share so much on this board. I stalk his website on a daily basis trying to soak up some Brit knowledge!

Commented on 1-16-2010 At 06:26 am
 

Good Guy has taught and helped me alot

Commented on 1-16-2010 At 07:14 am
 

So what you are saying is that my daily visits filled with wit, therapy and motivation don't rate enough to get mentioned in your fancy smancy article. I beleive you forgot some very important things about your shop. It doubles as the Wing Nuts club house and the NLAMC business office as well as a cone of silence to discuss changling and hj's.

Commented on 1-16-2010 At 02:58 pm
 

Very cool article guys.

Commented on 1-16-2010 At 04:39 pm
 

Wes is a straight up guy.Especially being a new b top Trumps, anytime i e mail him he gets back to me , in a timely manner, always gives his point of view , good advice, not trying to sell me something. When the time comes he will get my business

Commented on 1-16-2010 At 05:16 pm
 

Great read, I always enjoy seeing Wes's work.
I also liked the Q&A format of this interview.

Commented on 1-16-2010 At 07:06 pm
 

Jedd, suck my balls. Everyone else, thanks for the props and kind words. It is good to know there are people out there who appreciate my work and advice. I am off to frolic with some unicorns, now but will be back to work on Monday saving baby seals!! A seal walks into a bar and the bartender asks "what will you have buddy?" The seal says, "anything but a Canadian Club."

Commented on 1-17-2010 At 03:02 am
 

Haha Wes I guess you always got stand up comedian for backup if this career as a bike mechanic doesn't pan out

Commented on 1-17-2010 At 04:34 am
 

Nice to see the behind the scenes story about a great Triumph enthusiast. Is what the hobby is all about.

Commented on 1-17-2010 At 01:15 pm
 

Good reading, good article!

Commented on 1-17-2010 At 05:46 pm
 

In case it wasn't obvious, I wanna add that Wes is fanatically friendly, polite and generous with his time.

He is indeed serving the Chopper Gods, saving the world from mediocrity

excellent article on a Good Man

Commented on 1-17-2010 At 08:49 pm
 

Great read, great shop and great inspiration! Thanks!

Commented on 1-18-2010 At 03:30 am
 

I can hardly wait for the next tech. DVD and the documentary! Great post, I knew it would be when I saw it, anticipating SoCal Summer of 2010. Suzy;)

Commented on 1-18-2010 At 07:54 pm
 

fast fast fast...good quote from someone who obviously belives it. good stuff.


as usual great read

Commented on 1-19-2010 At 10:24 pm
 

This is a great read. this dam website just keeps getting better!!!!

Commented on 3-9-2011 At 12:43 pm
 

Don't have one of Wes' bikes YET but I have a t-shirt! Guess that will have to do for now. Wes, you kick ass, man!

Please Login to Comment
Share This



NEWS   FORUM   EVENTS   CLASSIFIEDS   BLOGDUMP   COMMUNITY   MEMBERS
CHOP CULT HOME

 

Advertise    |    Contact    |    ©2009ChopCult    |    Report Abuse    |    Conduct


Chopcult on Facebook