Tuesday, 02 September 2008 09:12

Evans---Retro Ideas and Modern Paint Technology Produce a Masterpiece

Written by Rich Evans
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Here’s a good one for you. I recently finished a project at Huntington Beach Bodyworks that you might enjoy hearing about. It was a retro bobber-style chopper for Matt Hotch Designs. Matt Hotch is considered one of the most talented, original, and innovative motorcycle designers alive today. He is also one of the biggest stars of the popular “Biker Build Off” television series and will be appearing again in its next season.

    What I liked about this project is that everyone knows a Matt Hotch bike is a complete one-off from the frame up, which is what I always strive for in my own hotrod builds. Hotch is also known for being a notorious perfectionist like I am. So, without question, the metal finishing, body work, custom paint and custom graphics were going to have to be absolutely flawless.

     The metal finishing was nothing outrageous, but before prepping and bodywork, it was necessary to get the metal itself as smooth as possible. The frame, tank, and fenders were ground down with 36-grit to make everything bite down on the metal. Most of these bikes take a hell of a beating, so extra attention must be paid to the prepping process to prevent chipping.
    The tough part about these custom bikes is that the frames have an endless amount of odd angles and hard spots to reach. The rule has always been to use a squeegee when applying your filler. With the frame, however, I used the squeegee as much as could, but ended up using my finger for most of the areas where one bar meets the other. When applying the filler to the tank and fenders, I used one of my usual tricks.
    Rich Tip: Before the filler was completely hardened, I used a flat razor to sculpt and shape the piece. Doing it this way has always saved me countless hours of sanding time.
    When the duraglass hardened, my usual sanding procedures applied – block sand with 36-grit sandpaper, followed by 80-grit, finishing with 150-grit. Using my PCL Polyprimer, three good coats of grey primer were sprayed over the frame, tank, and fenders, followed by the same sanding procedure as with the duraglass. I used a black guide coat before every change in grit of sandpaper. Once the 150-grit was finished, I smoothed everything out with 400-grit wet sandpaper.

    With most bikes, I’m usually only required to paint the frame, tank, and fenders, but with this particular bike there were a lot of extra parts to paint, such as the handlebars, headlight, and strut bars. The prep and bodywork for this bike took longer than usual, but it was finally over.
    Now for the fun part. The booth was thoroughly cleaned out and then all the parts were hung from our racks with wire so I would be able to reach every angle with my spray gun. For this bike I used nothing but House of Kolor basecoats, flakes, and kandies. The entire bike was sprayed with three coats of House of Kolor Solar Gold basecoat. To make sure the bike would really sparkle from under the kandy, I mixed some SG100 intercoat clear with House of Kolor Gold Mini Flake and gave the bike another three coats.

    Next it was time for five coats of the House of Kolor Root Beer Kandy. To get my desired  shade, I mixed the Root Beer Kandy with 2 parts reducer, 1.5 parts catalyst, and 4 caps full of Kandy concentrate.
    Matt had asked for some old-school scallops on this bike and some intricate pinstripe designs – basically an overall retro style paint job to match the style of the chopper. To layout the graphics and pinstripes for the bike, I called in Bob Iverson, who works on all my pinstriping projects. He is one of the most talented and respected artists in the area and has been in this game for a long time. It was apparent that everybody was going to be on the same page for this design. Probably the biggest reason for a dissatisfied customer in this business is miscommunication, so I was glad that everybody was generally comfortable and knew what to expect from each other.

    Once the scallops were laid out and masked off, Bob went into the art room and began pin striping the rest of the bike. He started by laying out the designs with a stabilo pencil until he had a little road map to follow with his brushes. At this point, he began hand painting the darkest of the pinstripe lines first.
    With multicolored pinstripe designs, the usual rule of thumb is to have the darkest colors on the bottom and work your way up from there. This is all done by hand and I wish I could explain in further detail how it’s done, but I think it just comes down to a steady hand, patience, and a lot of practice.
    Rich Tip: One thing to remember is to look for any material left over by the stabilo pencil and make sure it is cleaned off before you begin clearing.
    For the scallops, we went with a white pearl and a marbleized effect, which is achieved by using almost any color that contrasts against the base color. For this bike, we went for a very subtle contrast – marbleized white pearl over white basecoat. To get the marbleized effect, cellophane and a very slow reducer are needed.
    At this point, the graphics have already been based white and has dried. I then mixed the white pearl with a slow reducer and sprayed it very wet over the graphics. While it was still very wet, the cellophane was placed over the pearl and then pulled off.
    Rich Tip: One method is to stretch the cellophane over the wet paint, spray a little air from your gun and then pull it off. Another option is to bunch up the cellophane in one hand, spray with the other, and repeatedly press the bunched up cellophane onto the paint moving it all around. I used the bunched up method for this project.
    As we approach the end of the project, it was time to put on the final details. Matt wanted to add a little airbrushing to the scallops to help give them a little shape. The marble look was also so subtle, that the airbrushing would help bring out the effect more. Our airbrush artist Johnny Sotelo came in to add the shadows to the tank, fender, and frame.
    I thought Bob knew best what Matt would like, so I had him speak with Johnny and give a little direction before he began with the airbrushing. The shadows had to have a rusty look, so Johnny used the Root Beer Kandy that I had left in the booth. The kandy couldn’t be sprayed directly over the pearl, because it appeared pink instead of rusty brown. So, Johnny lightly airbrushed the shadows with the Solar Gold left for him, and then airbrushed the kandy over that to give the color we were looking for. After this, the masking was peeled off and Bob came in again to give the scallops a black pinstripe.
    To put the finishing touches on the project, everything was re-hung in the booth and sprayed with three coats of clear. However, there are some projects, such as this one, that have a lot going on. With the graphics, marble effect, and pin stripping, it was necessary to do a double clear in order to achieve a perfectly smooth finish.
    After a little color sand and buff, this bike was done. It was a lot of work, but I do believe the results were excellent and I’m positive Matt’s customer is going to be very happy with the bike. There were a lot of hands on this project and I’d like to thank House of Kolor for all the paint, Matt for the fun project, and everyone else who had a hand in this restoration.

 

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