Most of his friend’s call him Chicago Wil. Why? Wil doesn’t even know. “I’m originally from St. Louis, man. I moved to Chicago in ’98, so yeah, that’s probably where they got it from.” Wil used to be in the Marines but nowadays works as a civilian. His current employer asked him if he wanted to move to California, and to make a long story short, Wil has been living in Seal Beach for the last 4½ years.
I caught up with Wil at his house just a couple days before he went to the Two Wheels Brazil event. Due to some changes in my planning, I had a day off, and Scotty Stopnik set me up with a meeting with Wil. We drove down to this sleepy little beach town to see him in his workshop behind his house. Wil’s shop was packed with neat stuff. He definitely has some cool bits to look at in there.
After lunch we hung out in Wil’s shop a bit more to get some info on paper, and to get some more photos. Wil tells me he found the bike in Salt Lake City. “It used to be a Barons MC club bike,” he explains. Wil’s mom would always show up at his house with miscellaneous, random stuff she would find at swap meets and thrift stores. Wil got sick of it, and at some point he told his mom to stop it, and asked her if she could find anything he really needed. She asked him what that would be, and he said a Knucklehead. So she started looking and asking anybody who’d wear a Harley-Davidson T-shirt or anything related, about Knuckleheads. One day she was sitting on a plane back to St. Louis next to a guy who was reading some Harley-Davidson magazine, and she asked him if he knew about Knuckles, and if he knew one for sale. As a matter of fact he did, and he gave Wil’s mom a phone number. When Wil gave the guy a call, he got the sad answer that the bike was not for sale. Now you can hardly believe it anymore, but the guy kept Wil’s number, and called him back about a year later. He was running short on cash and had to sell the bike, so Wil drove out to SLC and bought the bike right away.
Wil could’ve easily rolled with the East Bay Dragons back in the day if you see him coming down the road on his flamed Knuckle, holding on to the narrow dragbars. The fiberglass fender and matching seat already came with the bike and they look real good combined with the 10-inch-over springer forks. Wil modified a Hummer tank for his Knuck. He basically lowered it about 2 inches in the front, fading to zero in the rear of the tank. It gives the tank a bit of a heavier look, which looks better compared to the big fender. Bondo, who used to work at West Coast Choppers, painted the bike for Wil. The fender and tank are done in a metallic grey, with gold leafed flames. The frame is done in two tones, black on top and metallic grey on the bottom, mixed with variegated gold leaf. Another neat touch is the FMA velocity stack, topped off with one of Chopper Dave’s S&S donuts.
A funny thing is that his mom actually found another Shovel a little while ago! And a nice one too! Now, she’s also figuring out what Bates seats and Beck grips exactly look like, so she can find those for Wil when she attacks the swap meets and garage sales in the neighborhood. If you ever need that rare part, maybe you need to get in touch with Wil’s mom, and she’ll find it for you. STC