Carrington mechanic sculpts mini motorcycles, classic cars
CARRINGTON, N.D. -- Doug Stokes doesn't see mounds of scrap metal lying on the floor of his business here.
He ignores the spare nails and rows of rebar peppering parts of his mechanic's shop.
To Stokes, the heaps of metals aren't piles of junk, they're potential works of art.
For three decades, Stokes has hand-crafted miniature motorcycles and classic cars from nails and scrap metal.
"It's a hobby I play around with," says Stokes, a 57-year-old former farmer who runs Central City Service in downtown Carrington.
Stokes designed his first sculpture, a Harley Sportster, on a rainy day 30 years ago.
Since then, he's created handfuls of other motorcycles, all based on models from the same manufacturer.
"All the motorcycles I do are Harleys," Stokes says. "I like the way they look."
Stokes loves motorcycles but rarely rides them. He bought his first Harley for $150 more than 30 years ago.
In addition to motorcycles, Stokes also designs classic cars. He recently sculpted a replica of a Ford Model A coupe from the early 1930s.
"I originally wanted to do a Model A sedan," he says. "But after looking at pictures of the coupe, I decided there was more going on with it.
"I like to create pieces with lots of doodads," Stokes says.
Last winter, he created two Model As, five chopper-style motorcycles and a pint-sized pickup in his spare time.
He uses an assortment of metals for his vehicles -- nuts, bolts, chopper blades from an old combine or metal rims torn from used paint cans.
He estimates it takes about 80 hours to weld the motorcycles and 180 for the cars.
Stokes relies solely on an arc welder and his imagination in his work, occasionally using photographs as an aid.
"People often ask me 'How can you sit down and do all this?'" he says. "I tell them it doesn't seem that hard to me. I can see in my head how I want things to turn out."
All his sculptures are detailed. Each motorcycle has a kickstand. Every car comes with workable doors, luggage racks and gear shifts.
Besides being heavy -- the cars weigh 20 pounds -- the sculptures are durable, too.
Stokes came home one day to find one of his two daughters and his son, Kirk, riding one of the motorcycles.
"One was sitting on it while the other one pushed," Stokes says, pointing at a Harley with an attached sidecar.
Kirk makes no apologies. "I like motorcycles," the shy 10-year-old says. "Dad likes to work on them in the winter."
Stokes hasn't decided to sell any of his metal masterpieces so far, but he says he may part with a few in the future.
"I'm doing this because it's fun and I enjoy it," he says. "If I started selling them, it might get to be work."
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Cole Short at (701) 241-5557