I sent it out to a local company, Manson Radiator, who’ll strip the tanks and do a pressure check test for leaks, sealing any they find. They chemically dip them to strip the paint down to bare metal. During the pressure check, they find and fix any cracks, then spray a coating inside the tanks to prevent rusting and keep gunk out of the gas lines and carburetor.
When I get the tanks back they look rusted from the chemical treatment and handling. I’m taking a CP Sander with the least orbit and using 3M’s 80 grit sandpaper (2460DA paper, 5 inch), I sand all the surface rust down to metal and tack it down. I’m not going to metal prep this; it isn’t justified for smaller parts. Once it’s DA’d down I tape over the gas fill holes with 3M green tape. I sand around them so it drops the tape inside my line because I’ve got to use that tape all the way through the process to stop anything from getting inside the tank. I tape the opening inlets with the 3M tape and that stays on through the whole process. When I clear it, I’ll change the tape just so I know where my tape line is. I want to avoid a real high build around that edge.
I’m using PPG (DLV8087) sealer, DLV8291 hardener and the reducer is D8774 to seal the bare metal. The mixing ratio on that is 3:1:1—-three parts sealer, one part hardener, and one part reducer. This acts like an etching primer or an epoxy primer, and it’s the new and updated product. I put it on light so it’s transparent between coats and wait 15 minutes to make sure the temperature is right.
If you’re painting in a booth or shooting outside, small parts really don’t matter. I’ll put on two coats, just barely covering so it’s transparent. I want enough for my primer to grab on to and lock in. I’m using NCP280 primer, NCX285 hardener, with a mixing ratio of 2:1. I put on 2 or 3 coats, depending on body damage. You want some material to work with but you don’t want it too thick. I fixed a couple of small dents before sealing and priming.
I’m using the 3M Dynamic Mixing System gun and Bondo®. I prime it with the NCP280 primer, putting a black guide coat on before it dries so it doesn’t gum up your sand paper. This way you can see any imperfections. I let it dry for 24 hours even though directions say sand it in 4-6 hours if you bake it. I don’t rush because I want it to tighten up and avoid shrinkage. Once it’s dry I take 400 Imperial wet or dry sandpaper (#02038). I block all the guide coat off taking out dents and imperfections. I sand the outside first with the block, then manually sand to scuff the surface. When sanding primer you don’t want to break an edge, which would cause problems when painting. Pay attention to the edges and avoid piercing the primer when you’re sanding off the black guide coat.
For my base, I’m using BC25 black basecoat Q01, a House of Kolor product. Mixing ratio is 2:1. I’ll use an RU311 reducer. On these Harley tanks and projects like this I’ll use what I have and what I know works. I’m an experimental painter in that I’m always trying new things and interlaying manufacturers products and other products. I’m going to continue to do what I’m doing I’m going to stick with what I know works. I like working with different companies’ product. I’ve shot all kinds of product because trial and error really teaches you the tricks that become valuable tools. I don’t stick to the P pages. I tend to just like to try it all and see how it works, because if I like it the customer probably will as well. The main objective is to satisfy the customer, and the customer is always right.
I put 3 coats of black base on, not real heavy but always 3 coats so there’s no ambiguity if I ever have to repair it in future. I know how I mixed it and how much color I put on. After the black base I lay out the flames. The customer had some basic flames; but I asked him if I could put my style flames on it. I’ve got a new product out called Rich Evan’s Rippin Art (www.airbrushaction.com) with stencils and flame designs that can be downloaded or purchased on disc. I used a plotter to create them as a timesaver so the user can size up the graphics and design to any desired size.
Matt Vanwingerden worked on these flame designs. He’s a young and talented designer and you’ll see more of his work through Huntington Beach bodyworks and Rich Evans designs. Matt laid these flames out with 3 line, fine line orange tape. We cut some of the flames to fit a round object and make them symmetrical. Once the customer approves: “hey I dig it!” (everybody has their style). I’m trying to reproduce what was there but with a cooler effect now that it’s symmetrical.
Before we put our first color on, we pre-clean the surface, wiping it down and dry it to get rid of all grease and finger prints oils. Then tack it down to remove any dust or hairs. I don’t like pin striping. Pin striping is like putting dirt under a carpet to me. Clean lines that are laid out carefully are going to be the best looking flames.
I’m using Orion silver BC02, a House of Kolor product, with 2:1 mixing ratio and RU311 reducer. Put 3 coats of silver on. We did a spray out to reproduce the paint scheme and colors that he had. When we put the oriental blue over the black, it turned purple. We wanted a ghostlike effect so the flames had certain colors but from 10 feet away it should look black.
Starting with a silver base (3 coats) using the orion silver, I do the ends of the flames with wild cherry (UK3, same ratio, 2:1). Use the KK’s and the SU 100 to mix your KK’s in. Everybody has a different ratio it depends on how fast you want to cover. I use 75% overlap. We’re going to use just enough to get the effect the tank came in with and then apply the oriental blue at 2:1 mixing ratio.
After blending the blue, we have a red and blue tank. We get our blends and we’re ready to de-mask these tanks, but the tanks are very bright. I will clear them with 3 coats of Transtar clear (6531, hardener is 6894HT) to bury our lines on top of the black base coat. I usually don’t use any reducer when I spray clear to avoid solvent pops. I try to get the finish out of the gun versus color sanding and buffing especially on small parts. Painters know you can always burn an edge on a small part when you’re working with it. I practice laying my clear out using my RP 1.4 Sata clear gun at 36 psi, which really puts out the material. The next morning I compare the before photos and it’s obvious it’s too bright. The customer agrees. He really wants that ghost effect.
I sand them down with 800 grit Imperial wet or dry sandpaper (02035). I’ve got some black candy to add to the SG100 (about 20% black candy in a pint of SG100 mixed 2:1 with the RU311 Reducer).
With the customer standing there I sprayed it and asked if he liked it? I always do a spray out before I put any color on any project as an insurance program. The customer says “yeah, that looks cool.”
I do a candy blend, concentrating on the front where it’s a little darker, and reduce the candy down 50% with SG100. That lightens it up like tinting a car window. You can have the limo tint, or the medium, or light. To reduce it I’m thinning the black candy with transparent clear. After 2 coats, it’s dark enough. I clear the tanks with the SG100 and just enough black candy to tint it and allow for the ends of the flames to stand out a bit more than at the front of the tanks. I’ve got my candy where I need it and put on 3 more coats of clear.
I sand only with 800 the first time and notice some shrinkage around where the flames. Waiting 24 hours between clearing allows you to build clear over clear in a 24 hour window. If there’s a lot of airbrushing or art we’ll spray it at, say, 5 PM and in the morning we’ll do some touch ups with airbrushing without sanding and then clear right back over it. I’ve never had a problem. You have a 24 window to clear again.
We sanded just the flames, not the inside or underneath the flames, then re-cleared back over it. I put 3 more coats on and the next day had a little bit of shrinkage. I used 800 on the outside and got rid of the shrinkage. You can buff it at that point but that’s a lot of work so I just put 2 more coats on and finished it straight out of the gun. I didn’t have to do any color sanding or buffing and the result was absolutely perfect. No flaws, no dirt, no shrinkage, with a mirror finish. I don’t have any buffing to do and we have plenty of material protection on—-6 coats of clear as protection.
Rich Tip: When you’re doing tanks, when you fill with gas you’ve got that paint line. Some guys leave it and they’re just real careful about putting their gas in, but gas moves around and works its way up, gets under the paint and causes bubbles. You’re right back to square one again. A tip is to mask off the tank, mask off a little 1/8 inch area around, expose the lip of the paint, and use JB Weld. Mix it 50/50 together with a little stick and brush it on, let it flow out a little bit, pull your tape off. In 24 hours it seals itself. Nothing is going to penetrate that JB Weld, so you’ve locked the edge down and your paint job is going to last.
You’re not going to have to do this paint job again. I’m looking for the next cool project deal. I always try to switch it up and be varied in jobs I do. Some days we’ll be welding. Some days we’ll be doing fiberglass. Other days we’ll be painting. Some days we’re even blowing bubbles for bubble top cars. My standard day to day work ethic is: learn something new every day and try to better yourself at what you do. If you’re trying to impress the world, you’ll never get it done. I only try to impress myself and keep my mind open and listen to anybody that has something to tell me. If I don’t like it, then I throw it out or launch it and put it in my toolbox. I’d like to thank all my sponsors:
Sata spray guns—I always use the 1.4 HVLP.
Thanks to Tony at Sata for all the sponsorship they’ve provided. I have to have the right tools to put out the right product and Sata in my opinion is the best gun out there.
I would like to thank 3M and all their products. They have definitely helped me through this.
I thank Microflex for safety. Every step and every project I do, I have Microflex on my hands. Keep your hands clean and safe and stop reducers or other chemicals from entering your skin. Microflex is the number one glove and I recommend them to everybody. With this project alone I probably went through 150 pairs of gloves. On and off and on and off. At 100 pairs to a box, that’s a box and a half on this project. The cost is very minimal compared to the toxic risks. I thank Chicago Pneumatic™ for all the great tools that they supply me with, such as the sander on this project and all the other tools I have at my facility.
It was a small project but a lot of steps. Talk to you guys next month.