We started with the rear fender and the tank, but Tom came to me with a specific concept. This bike’s going to the 18th annual Yokohama hot rod custom show and put on by Mooneyes, a specialty equipment manufacturer in Santa Fe Springs, CA. I started with the bare metal tank and fender. Using an etching primer (DP 402 versus the DP 90) which is black and the 880 reducer (which isn’t really compliant anymore in LA or Orange County for production shops). As a custom builder/painter, not a collision shop, I have a little bit that I can use up.
I grind it down with 36 grit sand paper, sculpture with 3M bondoTM and use a cheese grater to sculpt it to get more of a smooth gas fill so we’re not going to have any recesses or anything where the gas lid goes. I’ll mask that off with some tape and bondo over it and sculpture the tank leaving that hole with the masking tape. That allows me to get a nice flush finish to the primer stage. I’ll keep the bondo and the masking tape in that area. Instead of having a hole as an obstacle, it will give me more of a surface to work with. I’ll take it flush to the metal ring. I’ll start with the 36 bit sand paper and I’ll sculpture it. For the first time I used a “soft sanders” sanding block with the 5 in. kit which is part number 0701.
They have 6 or so different blocks with different radii. That helps you get the job done quicker. I was really impressed with the way these blocks worked on this product because with a round peanut tank and few edges, everything is a radius, so finding the right block to sculpture that matters. A straight flat block is going to have “teeter-tottering” problems, creating flat areas. Use the block in a circular motion. I use these blocks all the way through from 36 grit to 1500 sandpaper. If you can block the product all the way through you are going to get a better product in the end. You can find out more at www.soft-sanders.com.
After 36 grit I get rid of the scratches with 80 grit. I’ll seal it again before I add my PCL primer. That’s just in case any bare metal is sticking through the primer. I put on about a quart of PCL primer, equal to 4 coats. I put a high build of primer on because it’s like spraying bondo out of a gun. I use a 1.9 tip on my SATA spray gun when I apply this primer, with no filters. You want to strain it before you spray it to get out all the lumps and dirt. The primer is too thick to have a strainer or filter inside the gun.
After primer, I do a light guide coat, then an 80 grit and back to using those soft sanders. When I don’t have any of those high or lows, I’m comfortable with the radius at this point. I’ve already sculptured the tank, now I’m getting it down to a 400 wet sand. After 80 grit, I go to 150 grit and in between those grits you always want to use a guide coat, to show scratch marks. When your guide coat is gone you are ready to go to the next size sand paper. After the 150, guide coat it again, then the 400 wet, then the base coat.
On this project I’m going to use a black base by House of Kolor. I make up a stand to get underneath and around the tank without having to set it on a table. I always have tanks suspended for access to the whole tank. It gives you a better finish. I put on 3 coats of black, then let it dry for about 12 hours. Then give it some fine line tape so we can put panels on this tank. I’ll map out one side and make sure the customer is good with it, then I’ll make a template so I can reverse it to the other side. With a panel you want to get the whole side of a tank so it’s symmetrical on both sides. After taping out that panel, I lay down about two coats of the Iron silver to cover the black and give me some deep sparkle. I’m going to apply about 3 coats of Brandywine on both sides. I’m going to put an inner clear over the whole tank and the Brandywine, so the candy won’t run off or move. I’m using an inner clear SG100 protective coat. After the SG100, three coats of Tran Star clear go on. Then let it dry 12 hours.
The next day I sand with 800 grit to get rid of the panel lip so it’s smoother. Bob Iverson is coming in to put a dolphin gray pin stripe around it. I’m going to put the Japanese flag inside this panel using a silver leaf. We want an “industrial” spin on it and surround it with a gray pinstripe. After Bob gets his part done, it goes back in the booth and hit with three more coats of clear. Before pin striping we sanded the tank with 800 grit. I’ll sand the clear coat with 800 grit between all coats.
These tanks take a lot of different steps. After 3 more coats of clear, and the pin striping and the seal relief is on, we’re going to sand it with 800 grit, then the SG100. The goal here is getting a real deep look. We’re trying to do something different.
I take the SG100 and some black dye, drop it in the SG100. It’s a dye made by DeBeers, part number 1-097. When I mix it up it’s almost like tinting the tank. I put two caps of this into the SG100 (depending on how dark you want it, you car add more) into a quart of SG100. Mix it up thoroughly with a stir stick; make sure it’s dark enough. It’s better to put more dye into it, than less, because you’ll use fewer coats. The object is to put about 3-4 coats on. After your first coat is on you may need to darken it, so add another cap until you’re happy. With four coats of candy on, one coat of SG100, over the dyed SG100. That will protect it from running.
After letting the dye sit for 15 minutes, do three more coats of clear. By now it’s nice and smooth, use 800 grit, then 1000, 1200, and 1500 grit, then a 3-step buffing process. After buffing you should be ready to deliver the tank. At one point the customer was here as I was applying the tint, so he could visually direct what he likes, which is better than trying to guess.
I lost a little bit of my focus and grabbed the wrong gun. When I apply the tint I always use my clear gun for which I use for nothing but clear, but I accidentally picked up my base gun to apply the tint, so I was adding a black candy. I sprayed this out and unintentionally added some silver flake into the design. Now I had a problem. The tank wasn’t right and in the light you could see this little flake and I thought I am going to have to redo this whole project. Then I realized I put a clear coat and a protective coat over every step, so all I have to do is sand through the clear to take the candy tint off until I can see the actual design. I started with 400 wet and broke through the clear, evenly sanding it off, taking my time. I was able to break through the clear without breaking through the silver leaf or any of the pin striping, protected by clear. I was thanking myself for taking the steps to protect that art while applying other colors over it. Never use a base gun to spray candy or clear coats! You’ll run into this problem. I’ve been spraying for decades but I’ll be the first to admit I sometimes trip up.
Painting is a fine line. I got thrown off a bit having the customer here and I wasn’t paying 100% attention to what I was doing. This could have cost me 3–4 days of work, and maybe another $500 or $600 out of pocket, redoing all those steps and procedures. Luckily I was able to sand it down, and back mask this design by applying the black base again to cover up the line. When you cut through the clear and into the base you have to put color on that, otherwise you’ll see the difference between the clear coat and the base coat and you get wrinkling problems.
When you put your base coat on, you have to put it on light. Watch it and make sure everything is smooth. Put on about three coats of black, then remove your masking and clear coat again. You are going to see the design, but you have to clear it, go back and re-sand it with 800 grit, get rid of your lines around the edges and then tint it. As in tinting and ‘putting your candy,’ you are ready to start where we left off. I have the customer come down again and go through the motions, get the color to where he wants it, go back with the SG100 after we put 4 coats on. He wanted it a little bit lighter this time, so we got a second chance. He wanted it to be a little more visible when the light hits it, and not so deep deep dark so that to see it you need a high intensity light. We were able to make that change, which is a good thing. So, going back, we hit it with inner clear coat, came back with 3 coats of Transtar clear and then back to the buffing and 800 grit, 1000, 1200, 1500 and then 3000. Hitting it with the 3000 allows me to not be so heavy on wheeling it out with the 3 step process with 3M which works really good. If any of you guys are having problems with your buffing, you really want to look at the product 3M has out there. It could save big time work and trouble.
To do the gas fill edge I take JB weld, after pulling that tape off, and a paint brush. I brush JB weld around that edge. That allows the edge to stay seated and stops gasoline from getting underneath the paint. I’ve seen gas get underneath paint, especially in hot weather. It will lift that paint like a balloon so you end up having bubbles and your whole tank is pretty much destroyed. That edge is really sensitive. That’s a good Rich tip. During all these steps and procedures, the job went wrong, but was able to fix it and save it.
I’d like to thank Microflex glove for safety, even when using the newer style product. I’d like to thank Soft Sanders for getting me there quicker, which saved me time. In the long run I ended up having to go and rework some stuff. Then Chicago Pneumatic Tools which allowed me to have all the right pneumatic tools to get the job done. Also 3M and many other sponsors out there. Visit these sites. You might learn something useful:
www.microflex.com, www.chicagopneumatics.com, and www.soft-sanders.com.