Mike Poggenpohl has loved working on motorcycles for many years.

His business partner, Paul Papke, drove only cars until four years ago.

But the friends have merged their skills and interests into a custom motorcycle shop that now also services vintage cars they referred to as hot rods.

"Up until four years ago, I never had rode a motorcycle, but this is something I fell in love with, with my first bike," Papke said.

They recently moved their business, Convict Customz, from Rock Island into a former firehouse at 1354 W. 4th St., Davenport. The old Hose Station No. 7 was constructed in 1905.

"There is a lot of history in the building," Papke said.

How they ended up in the old firehouse is a matter of progression: "We started out in a garage, then moved into a small shop in Rock Island," he said  "We outgrew it within a year. And we wanted to tackle hot rods as well."

Of course, they often are asked where they came up with the name Convict Customz. "Everybody had a run-in with the law," Poggenpohl said. 

Poggenpohl said he has been in business for eight years.

"I have always been a mechanic. I always had love for motorcycles. Since I have been able to ride, I changed things to make it stand out in a crowd," he said of the idea of customizing his own motorcycles. "Motorcycles are cheaper than cars."

He said while they do repairs, much of their business is centered on customizing to customers' preferences. He said those can range from "frame modification to a one-of-a-kind paint job. We also make our own fenders, our own seats."

Over the years, they have handled many interesting requests, including the time someone brought in boxes of parts from a 1960s motorcycle and asked them to "make it look like what it did before," Poggenpohl said.

He said the showroom has not been set up because they have been located in the new site only two months. Poggenpohl lives on the second floor of the firehouse, where the original hose tower and original wood remain. The fire station had been used for other businesses over the years, including in recent years as another custom car business.

Poggenpohl handles the body work while his partner specializes in the electrical side of the vehicles. They hire others to do the custom painting and both Papke and Poggenpohl do the metal work.

"I like digging through old wiring, repairing and replacing any old problem areas," Papke said. "I love this. I never knew what I wanted to be. Finally, I found it."