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How-To: Paint your 'RACE' bodywork at home! *in detail*
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Question How-To: Paint your 'RACE' bodywork at home! *in detail* - July 10, 2007, 01:24 AM

by: Dana Howe - DCsportbikes.net // Do not copy with out permission

Here’s a step by step on how to paint your race plastics with out rattle cans, at home, with a minimum of supplies and equipment. We're taking a very simplistic layout of a black bike with CCS Am. yellow plates. Obviously you may opt to add in some graphics or designs to make it unique and you would follow the same steps. I will do my best to cover all the little questions people have but are not usually answered in your normal online how-to. This should be explained at a level that would allow someone who has never even considered painting anything to follow along and still come out with a decent looking paint job.

The advantages in spending the time and money to do it right are simply a more durable paint job, and that look of a real race bike. Although your Home Depot spray paint isle is cheap and easy, the canned paint chips and flakes off over time and tends to dissolve when liquids like gasoline get spilled on it... and of course your bike isn’t shiny - and girls like shiny things. It’s a fact.

Now, we're looking for "race" quality... this is not a “how-to paint your show bike” or something you want to look flawless close up – it is very difficult to avoid imperfections with out a proper paint booth and a few hundred dollars more in equipment. Lets not kid ourselves here, this paint is bound to get fucked up (hopefully not 36 hours after it was painted, but meh... it happens). The goal here is to make it look good even with a bar end punched though it, after its slid around on the pavement, had someone else’s paint smeared all over the side, and make sure its not going to peel or chip away over time. We're working in a garage or in some cases outdoors in your back yard, and we're doing it with the cheapest setup possible in order to be affordable and allow for mistakes.

As with any project, your first step will be to procure all the supplies and tools you will need before you begin. Most of your cost will be a 1 time expense that you can use over and over again so I’ll split these up and outline the details that are important below:

  • Air Compressor
  • Spray gun
  • Gun side air pressure regulator (might come with, might not)
  • Moisture Trap / Dryer
  • Respirator (NIOSH approved)
  • Box Fan(s)
  • Tarp(s) or drop cloth(s)

Disposable Equipment
  • Mixing cups
  • Mixing sticks
  • Masking Tape (medium/large)
  • Fine-line masking tape
  • Powder Free latex gloves
  • Respirator cartridges and pre-filters
  • 600 Grit wet/dry sand paper
  • Red Scotchbrite Scuff pads (not required, but useful)
  • Tack rag
  • Paint strainers

  • Cleaner / Wax & Grease remover
  • Reducer
  • Epoxy Primer
  • Adhesion promoter/sealer
  • Base Coat color(s)
  • Clear Coat & Activator

Equipment Details

Air Compressor – As with any garage you need an air compressor. Hopefully the one you already have is more than sufficient, however if you’re buying a new one you need to be able to sustain 40psi or so at 8-10CFM (cubic feet per minute) but ideally the more SCFM the better. The spec sheets for air compressors will have this printed on them or you can look yours up online. The larger the tank the better since it will keep pressure and volume more stable as you’re using it. You may also come across “single” or “dual stage” compressors. A professional paint booth will always have a “dual stage”. What that means is there are 2 pistons filling the same tank which means less heat (translates to less condensation in the tank/hose – we’ll cover that with the dryer/moisture trap), less stress on the motors, and no pressure drop. Pressure drop happens when you’re expelling air faster than the compressor can fill it, the pressure will fall off which if it changes the pressure to the gun regulator, your paint will not atomize correctly and will likely ruin your painting. The larger tank helps with this as well. Never use an in-line oiling system for your tools if you plan to paint with it. If you do, you should have a clean hose only for painting and remove the oil supply from the system.

Spray gun – Gravity feed HVLP (high volume, low pressure) spray guns are the standard both for safety reason and for efficiency. Being able to atomize paint at a low pressure (10psi at the cap) these guns produce less overspray and are able to lay down paint with less waste. In most parts of the country, it is in fact illegal to use anything but an HVLP due to VOC health regulations. Solvent based paints are known carcinogens and after you’ve taken a whiff of this stuff you’ll see what I mean. As for what kind, at this point it really doesn’t matter, you can use the $40-50 variety from harbor/freight, home depot, or your local autoparts store… or take the next step up and pick up a kit online or off ebay (the DeVilbiss Finishline 2 gun kits are pretty decent). The more expensive the gun, the better quality the parts are and probably easier to use and less chance of the gun causing error. You want to make sure it’s suitable for spraying solvent based paints (using urethane instead of rubber for its seals). 2 Guns are better than 1 – leaving 1 gun only for clear coat paint makes clean up easier and painting faster but is not required. I use mainly 1 gun with a 1.3mm nozzle for the whole process. Primers require a larger 1.5-1.8mm, Bases can be 1.0-1.4, and clears tend to like a 1.3-1.4mm.

Gun side air pressure regulator (might come with, might not) – Most spray gun kits will come with one, however you just need a small 5-100psi pressure regulator that you can screw into the bottom of the gun grip. You will also want a larger regulator at the compressor as well. Again, most compressors come with one.

Moisture Trap / Dryer – The air that comes out of the compressor needs to be dry. No moisture, no oil, no debris. Some compressors (like my single-stage Oil-free Craftsman upright) are bad about collecting condensation from the air due to high heat while generating pressure. So much that I find myself purging the air tank of about 2 .oz of water between coats. You can pick up a simple drying system for about $100 but in most cases some moisture traps along the way from the tank to the gun are suitable for what we’re doing. You should always have at least, a disposable moisture trap screwed into the gun grip. If water comes out with the paint you will get a bubble in the paint called a fish-eye. You’d be lucky to dab it with some masking tape, let the paint tack up, and spray another coat before it dries otherwise your choice is to sand and re-shoot or leave it and keep telling yourself “its for a race bike”.

Respirator (NIOSH approved) – 3M 7000 series with disposable cartridges. You can order it online or get them at any hardware store. Make sure it has the organic cartridges for solvents. The cartridges only last about 20 days before they breakdown and need to be replaced so don’t remove them from their sealed packages until you’re ready to paint. The 7100’s come in 3 different mask sizes, sm, md, lg for different peoples faces. Make sure it fits or its pointless. Also, they have a cap that allows you to add fresh dust/particle pre-filters over the cartridges which get changed out allowing you to paint longer with the same cartridges. The mask system with 1 set of cartridges and 2 pre-filters was like $30 at home deport but you can order them online for less. Replacement cartridges are about $10-15 I think.

Box Fan(s) – Keep in mind solvent based paints, when atomized are combustible, however I have yet to see the statistics as to their volatility. This is why any professional paint booth system (and the fire department enforces it for companies) have sealed fan systems called explosive proof fans. They cost about $500. I use a $20 k-mart box fan aimed outside the garage door and make sure I let the air clear a bit between coats. You have to wait 5 minutes anyways between coats to keep it from running. Try to keep it clear of the ‘cloud’ but still moving enough air to circulate quickly outside to avoid hazards - although I did try spraying reducer straight into the fan and it didn’t ignite, consider yourself warned. Don’t aim them at the piece your painting, make them ‘pull’ air from where you’re spraying.

Tarp(s) or drop cloth(s) – the more you cover the less you clean. I usually just cover the stuff I don’t want to get sticky paint overspray on… it’s a pain to clean up. If you’re painting in the garage, hanging drop cloths or tarps around the whole garage will help reduce dust too. It would be smart to sweep, blow, wet down the floor too.

Disposable Equipment Details


Mixing cups – There is a company called EZ Mix that makes great solvent proof cups with measurements marked on them already for cheap. I bought 100 for ~$30 from coastairbrush.com but I think you can find them on eBay too. The measurements are a little tricky to figure out if you just look at the cup… there are the mix ratios at the top, like 1:1 or 3:1:1 etc. but then there are marking in each column for 1,2,3,4… you only use the same number – it’s a total volume marking not a step/part counter. So you fill to #1, then next column fill more till that #1, etc. Took me like 30 minutes to figure that out, I felt retarded. There are also exact measurements as well if you’re good at math.

Mixing sticks – popsicle sticks work just fine, but most paint supply places will give you a handful of the big ones. Just make sure they’re free of splinters and dirt. Most places sell them in bulk… like 1000 for $40. an old all metal spoon works fine too.

Masking Tape (medium/large) – Masking tape can be in any size, just make sure its good quality or you can risk leaving behind residue or worse, peeling off paint when you remove it. The best out there is 3M’s 233 automotive masking tape – easiest way to find it is look for the lime green tape. Its solvent resistant, low tack, and even a little flexible so you can turn large corners with it. Unfortunately it will set you back $10 a roll so what I do is use the good stuff for the important parts where its going to be pressed on the part/fineline and then use the beige normal stuff for taping everything else. The other option is to pick up a roll of masking paper. It comes in a roll and can save you a ton of time for about $30 a roll for 10” wide – widths up to 2 feet I think.

Fine-line masking tape – There are 2 types of fine line masking tape, the pressed paper kind, and the 3M vinyl kind. If you want to do detailed graphics, vinyl is your best bet. Its blue, really flexible, and it can be repositioned with out losing its adhesion. Meaning you can change your lines over and over again till you get it right. ” is $5 and some change online or $7 at the store.

Powder Free latex gloves – The blue high quality ones are better than the doctors office ones. It’s not so easy to remove paint that doesn’t react to normal lacquer thinners from your hands, plus solvent based paints can itch and burn if you have sensitive skin. The reason for no powder? I pulled a glove off once, and a splash of powder laced sweat landed on some base coat and melted in. I don’t know how, but it required me to load up another round of paint and re-shoot that area.

Respirator cartridges and pre-filters – Don’t forget to leave them sealed up and in a cool place until you’re ready to use them. They only last a couple weeks before the organic filtration is used up. If you’re going to paint a few times on the same cartridges, just change the pre-filters. I don’t know if resealing the cartridges after using them does anything to make them last longer. I don’t risk it, I just buy new ones when I have to paint.

600 Grit wet/dry sand paper – You can get a “job pack” of this stuff from home depot for a few bucks. I cut them up into ’s and then fold those in half. They last a while, but don’t be cheap… grab a new slice once you start seeing the paper come though. You don’t want to have 600 grit when you start and then by the end of the job you’re sanding at like 1000 grit level cause all your granules have come off.

Red ScotchBrite Scuff pads (not required, but useful) – Scotchbrite p/n: 7557 – about $1.50 each online but you cut them in 4ths. They’re scrubbing pads for kitchens, but they’re awesome for automotive painting. You use them to lightly scuff up surfaces you are going to be doing airbrushing on or if you’ve let the paint cure before you can paint again. They create about a 800grit dry “tooth” with out removing much material, just enough to dull the finish… but be careful not to press down or they’ll gouge the paint.

Tack Rag / Cloth – It’s a sticky gauze sheet but with out the fuzz. You might be able to find these at the hardware store in the stains and finishes isle, but its easier to just get them online. The ones made by Gerson are about $1 each and last a long time if you don’t get them covered in dirt.

Paint strainers – Again something that you can probably get for free from your paint supplier, but they’re used to strain out any crusty bits that may have gotten in the paint while you’re mixing it. Flakes from the can are common, or parts of paint that have turned into gobs. If these make it into the gun cup, it will hopefully clog the gun instead of splatter out onto your work. You can keep reusing them for the same color on the same job. Double them up if you have enough.

Supplies Details


Cleaner / Wax & Grease remover – (also labeled as Pre-Cleaner) This is your cleaner for the part you’re painting after you’ve handled it and before you start painting. Dirt and Oils from your hands can contaminate the paint and cause weird problems like lifting or runs. All in all its just a good way to make sure there’s nothing on the surface of the paint. You should technically stay within the same paint system – which you’ll see a lot – to make sure there’s no adverse affects of the cleaner and the paint combining. Some cleaners are fairly harsh and can wipe away some paint which would suck if you just laid on some ghost flames or something. They are good for wiping down between coats to remove any loose overspray though. Some of them do leave behind a film that has to bind with the next layer of paint. It’s about $13 a gallon.

Reducer – This is the part of the paint that makes it spray-able as well as what makes it air dry. Its basically a paint thinner that mixes with the base coat colors that evaporates and leaves behind the paint. Its important again to use the right reducer for the paint – you don’t use PPG Reducer in House of Kolor base coat etc. Reducer usually comes in 3 flavors – slow, medium, fast. What that means is how long it takes for them to dry. Your medium reducers are designed to work in moderate temperatures – (check the spec sheet, but…) something like 60-80F. Where as your slow reducer would be for hotter temps, and fast for cooler temps. If the paint dries to quickly it will just be overspray and not stick to the surface, if it doesn’t dry fast enough it will just run – there are trick for this but we’ll get to those at the end. You can also use reducer to clean your gun parts. 1 gallon is about $30

Epoxy Primer – Luckily our parts came already gel coated and primed from Attack however you may need to sand and spray a layer of primer to start off with. This is also important with any “raw” parts like the ABS plastic parts since solvents will cause the plastic to dissolve and get furry (no seriously). Primers might be 2-part so you may need to mix them with an activator/catalyst, or reducer so read the spec sheet and ask the paint supply place what you will need. Fun thing with primers is you can “tint” them with a bit of base color so that you don’t need to lay down as many coats to get coverage.

Adhesion promoter/sealer – The high-end paint systems from PPG and HOK have specific adhesion promoters, however since we’re going low cost and simple I used Bulldog which is $12 online or $19 at the store for a quart and does just fine. It’s also a mild flex agent that allows the paint surface to be pliable so it doesn’t crack and split when hit. Much like what you use on car bumpers. It can be mixed into the base coat as well in combination with the reducer. It’s designed for creating a layer on the surface that we can be certain our paint will stick to.

Base Coat color(s) – This is your color. Usually mixed in a 1:1 (or half and half) paint to reducer (again check the spec sheet). They pour into the gun like water and might even appear a bit translucent, but never fear it will cover just fine. They aren’t hard protective enamels even though you might think you can just leave them as-is and not clear coat. They’re more of a flat or satin finish of just raw color – if you want a matte look, you do that with flat clear coat. Any sanding you do on the base coat will need to be wet or you will load up the sand paper immediately. Base dries quickly usually allowing you to tape on it within minutes. You can continue painting on top of them up to about 24 hours before it will need to be wet sanded with 600 grit to create that “tooth” we talked about. Again, all of this is on the spec sheet. Prices vary based on what colors you want – reds are the most expensive (which is why insurance is higher for red cars, not that they’re cop magnets but I digress), blues and greens are the cheapest. Black Omni AU MBC was $28.95 a quart, Yellow and red were $15.89 for a half pint! White was $10 a pint. at Total Auto Parts in Herndon.

Clear Coat & Activator – The shiny bits that separate the pros from the joes… this is what makes your paint job look real, and it also is what creates that hard protective finish on it so you don’t have to worry about chemicals or scratches or chunks of rubber at 140mph. Clears are a 2 part system of the actual clear coat and the activator/catalyst. They do not get reduced and pour into the gun like warm maple syrup. Most of the time you’ll find them mixed at 2:1 (thirds) clear to activator. They take a LOT longer to flash and cure (dry and harden) than the rest of this. You also crank up the gun pressure and open up the material on the gun to lay it down in what you’d call ‘wet’ coats but we’ll cover that in the process. The Omni MC161 clear was $19.95 a quart and the MH167 activator/hardener was $15.95 for each.

Getting things set up
Finally, we’re ready to get started. First things first we need to setup an area to keep things organized and clean (imagine spilling $50 all over the floor because you were cluttered). Clean what you can and get your drop cloth down.

Building a paint stand from whatever is available is pretty simple and can alleviate a lot of frustration during the painting process. I opted this time to screw a 4x4 into a base and then drill some holes in it that I shoved some scrap electrical conduit into. I heated the metal conduit with a butane torch and bent it to where I wanted it. It was important that I could see all sides of it clearly and be able to reach them with the paint gun.

Its also important to have the piece anchored well. You’ll be blasting it with air so just resting it on top of something may not work so well. Especially when its 2am, you have to work in the morning, and the damn belly pan falls off the stand onto the floor… still wet.

Moving on…
Luckily the body parts from Attack Race Bodies come already coated in primer. All parts come with at least a gel coat that’s applied into the mold during fabrication that can look like primer but is in fact just the release agent that creates a hard coating on the part. If you’re unsure, ask the manufacturer. Regardless, we need to be certain that our paint system will stick to the primer they used (safest is to sand theirs down and re-primer it but we’re cheap remember?).
So we take it to the hose, wet it down and start lightly sanding.

You have to be careful around any edges or ridges in the design as you can sand through the primer fairly easily with out noticing. A good way to know you have an area sanded is if the water beads up on top you haven’t gotten there yet. Keep the paper and part wet and clean.

Once its all sanded – no shiny parts - wash it well to get any left over sanding dust off and let it dry completely. While its drying you can start mounting it on the stand.

I taped the bag is came with on the end and bunched it up so I could shove it up inside to stabilize it, then taped the right side onto the underside of the seat.

Next we get to bust out the wax & grease remover and the tack cloth. At this point I wipe down the piece from me handling it and to pull up any left over sanding dust. I prefer to use old t-shirts that have fallen apart. They have barely any lint on them from being run through the washing machine for years. Paper towels are bad, and any disposable shop cloth towel is terrible.

However, no towel is truly lint free so that’s why we have our trusty tack rag. Take it out of the package and open it up. Let it air out for a bit while we prepare the adhesion promoter and get the gun ready.

Klean-Strip Bulldog Adhesion Promoter is what im using. Many people swear by it in that it will do as it claims and ”Absolutely makes paint stick to any surface-metal, glass, rubber, and even all problem plastics.” Its clear and can be tinted or added to your base coat but the safest bet is to lay down a coat of this before getting started. Its cheaper than your paint system so if you screw up no harm, just let it dry and sand it down and start again.

As for the gun, what we’re looking for is between 20-30psi at the grip (reading from the gun regulator). You should have the hose from the compressor being supplied with only what it takes to reach that grip pressure. Mind you this is while the gun trigger is pulled. So, get your moisture trap screwed into the bottom of the gun, plug in your air hose, and fire up the compressor. Once you’re full, open up the trigger and adjust your pressures. On mine I run it about 25psi at the grip which required about 60psi at the compressor regulator in order to maintain that. I also tested (like a duty cycle) to see how long I could have that trigger open for before the pressure started dropping at the gun (which is not good to run into).

Next up we’ll test the spray pattern. Go ahead and get your mask, safety glasses, and gloves on, put on a hat too (solvent based paints cause hair loss over time… why risk it?). We’ll load the gun up with about pint of bulldog (or you can just put some reducer in for this) and go test it on a piece of cardboard or whatever.

Adjust your fan pattern and material screws to get the spray correct. Make sure the cup lid's vent hole is open. Adding more air pressure helps with thicker materials as well. Heres a link to give you an idea of what you’re looking for spray patterns. You pull the trigger back slightly for air… then a little more to open the needle. Leave the air on and just spray a blast of paint for 1 second to check the pattern. Practice leaving the air on and just ‘milking’ the trigger to get the feel for what your paint will be doing.

Once you’ve got it where you think you want it, practice making some smooth even passes and then load up the adhesion promoter and go get the tack rag. Bunch it up loosely and just drag it over the surface. Its sticky so we don’t want to rub that into the primer here, just enough to pick up any lint or dust. I toss it back into a clean mixing cup.

Unfortunately I couldn’t photograph and paint at the same time so I’ll have to describe this to you just in case you haven’t watched these rebuild shows on discovery channel. Simply open the air off the edge of the part, line it up about 6-8” from the surface, open up the needle and start moving. When you reach the other end, release just the paint and start back in the other direction with a 50-75% overlap. Open up the paint and go back across. The speed is something that takes practice. Move too fast and you won’t lay down enough paint – it will be too light and grainy. Move too slow and you get runs. So it’s better to go back over something you didn’t get down smoothly before it dries. A decent formula would be something about 12” per second. One thing to keep in mind is this is a fan pattern, not a dot pattern like a rattle can. Although you can lightly ‘brush’ on the paint, it won’t come out even and you’ll get lots of overspray.

As you can see we’ve made added some gloss back to the surface with 1 light coat of bulldog. Let this tack up for about 3-5 minutes depending on outside temperature and go in for your second coat. I did these up lightly because the less paint we have to put on here the stronger it will be. Thick paint tends to crack and chip, so we want to keep this down to a minimum.

At this point we’re cleaning the gun out. I’ve dumped the remaining adhesion promoter back into its mixing cup and set it aside. I spray the gun clean with a bit of reducer and mix up the black base coat.

Omni AU base coat is PPG’s bitch line of paint systems. Not that its bad paint, its just not as good which means it’s cheap! This is the stuff you’ll see macco using (but their paint jobs suck cause their painters suck) or body shops being paid by insurance companies or ones that run about $1000 cheaper to drum up more business. The pigment particles aren’t as fine and theres not as many of them. Regardless it works well and for our application no one cares. Its still nice paint, don’t let the man tell you otherwise.

The spec sheet that I got with the paint says it mixes 1:1 with reducer – im using MR186 Medium reducer although I probably should have used the 187 slow reducer. It was something like 97 when I was painting (watch out for sweat drips!).

The first tack coat… this is a very light coat just to get the surface sticky and tinted a little. The normal between coats drying time says 5-10 minutes at 70F so I waited about a minute (long enough to snap this shot) and laid down the first “real” coat.

About 5-6 minutes later, coat number 2. Making sure to catch all the areas I’ve missed so far and to make sure to rotate the piece so I could see the other angles in the sun light. Im also making sure the fans are clearing the air before I spray again. All the while the compressor is catching up.

Coat number 2 done, just have to inspect and make sure the bugs stay out while this dries. At this point I clean out the gun but I break it down to clean it since we’re changing colors and waiting for a while. The needle comes out and gets wiped down, the cup comes off and gets scrubbed, and the body gets reducer flushed through it until it comes out clean. Spec sheet again… says 45 minutes minimum but waited a few hours.

We head inside to watch some Enter the Dragon and do some outlining. I’ve skipped the step where I would use the red scuff pad to knock down the shine on here because the paints still fresh and hasn’t cured yet. Normally you would lightly run the scuff pad over the surface to dull the finish down. Then come back and wipe it down with the wax & grease remover to clean off the dust.
This would also be the time to start laying in your graphics. Plan them out so you know what to mask off and what layers to paint at what time. I would paint the number plates last in case they will be overlapping any of the graphics.

One more key thing to cover here that seems to come up a lot. What if you wanted to add some wild graphics or paint in some company logos? You could paint it... however it would cost more and take a lot more time, and the worst thing is that if you ruin a body piece you now have to repaint all that in there to match the rest of the bike. Solution? Vinyl! Seriously, its what the factory uses, its cheap and easy to reproduce in seconds. But, for out purposes the vinyl graphics need to go on TOP of the clear coat, never under it. You run the risk of bubbling in the paint or paint peeling off around the vinyl… not fun stuff. Save it till last and then you can even change it with out having to repaint.

With the fineline tape held low and close to the surface I laid down the center 2 lines. The crest on this tail actually has a kink in it and wasn’t straight so I had to adjust the lines to make it less obvious. Just a simple manufacturing defect.

Once they’re in place I pressed the down to make sure the edges were secure. Although you can do some pretty tight radius turns with this tape, you need to make sure you’re not elongating it. What I mean is if you stretch it tight and then press it down, it will shrink back up on you. Not fun when you’re in the middle of painting and the lines moving on you.

Start your anchor and pull about 6-8” of tape from the roll in the other hand. The lower your roll hand is to the surface the easier this will be. As you pull your lines out, follow along with your anchor hand to press down the tape. Don’t forget you can lift and redo the line as long as you aren’t stretching the tape.

Once you have one side down you now have a reference for the other side. Just flip it around and copy your lines.

Next we get to mask off what we’re not painting yellow. I start with the center stripe with a piece of green 233 tape and press it into the fineline tape. I try not to press in hard on the ridge since it’s a common place for paint to lift from but its very important not to have any folds. They act like little tunnels that the paint will shoot up into and under the tape it will make a line of overspray. Sometimes you can wipe them, but often you have to sand them off (unless you have an airbrush). Back on track – I used a #11 pencil razor blade to trim the green center line with about 50% overlap on the fineline. Finish the border of the fineline with your green masking tape making sure to not have any areas the paint can get under.

I finished off the rest of the masking that will only get overspray on it with regular masking tape that won’t be on the paint much. I am also using an old magazine to cover the ends and underside quickly. I use glossy paper because it doesn’t seem to absorb the paint and won’t bleed through. Again you need to make sure even the overspray cant get under the mask you wont be spraying on. Any where there was a seam, I am sealing it with tape.

Back to the garage we go. A good wipe down with wax & grease remover to get my finger prints off and we remount the tail to the stand.

Mixing the yellow base coat paint the same as your black base, 1:1 paint to reducer. This time we’re using about as much though. pint of yellow will paint you at least 2 bikes worth of number plates both front and rear. I filled the mixing cup to the 1 markers on a 16oz cup… it still had some leftover.

Quick run over with the tack rag and we load up the gun with paint. Spray a few test shots at your cardboard to make sure the guns settings are still in spec and lightly get your tack coat on. Wait the 5-10 minutes and stay spraying normally. Should only take about 2 even coats to get the paint coverage you need, however the yellow doesn’t cover well at all on the black and you end up with some greenish tint where the surface changes contour. For this reason specifically I used a mini/detail gun to do this tail plate to try and reduce the build up. The key here is get some proper light, don’t paint in the dark like I do lol. None the less, 3 coats got it yellow.

Once it was starting to dry… I’d say about 15 minutes; I began carefully pulling the tape off. Once we get to the blue fineline tape you need to pull it back on itself away from the paint edge. This will keep the chances of lifting to a minimum.

Now, If I had more time and light we would have moved right along into wiping this down with wax & grease remover and clean the gun for clear. It would be ready in 30 minutes. Reason we have to wait, is to make sure all the solvents evaporate before we start laying on clear. Otherwise you can get what they call solvent pop or wrinkles because the clear will trap that in under the top coat.

Next morning, more heat and humidity – yay. Gun was taken apart and cleaned last night, compressor was drained and bled off and floors were swept and blown off again. Wiped down the paint from last night with wax & grease remover and fired up the fan.

The clear requires more pressure to atomize because its physically thicker. Instead of a water consistency like the base, this is more of a hot oil thickness when it goes into the gun. It solidifies slowly and is very gummy if you can imagine. Cool thing is its crystal clear – you pop open that can for the first time and have to do a double take cause it looks empty.

Setup your gun and get your breathing apparatus on, this stuff is potent.

Our spec sheet for the MC161 clear tells us it gets mixed 2:1 clear to hardener/catalyst. For this you need to do exact mixtures. If its cold outside or you’re in a rush you can heat the clear a bit to get it to dry faster but in general this is where you need to take your time and get it right.

I mixed up 4oz of clear, and 2oz of hardener. Stirred well and filled the gun. Again, a test spray to make sure I am getting a smooth even coat out of the gun. There is no “brushing” with this stuff, you need to be smooth and precise or it won’t smooth out on the surface.

Quick tack rag to the surface and we hit the tail with it tack coat of clear. Starting with some ghost passes just with air – im getting the muscle memory and figuring out how I want to approach this… what direction am I going to go, where to start and what will need edging. I want to start with the small parts and the underside so that any overspray will get nailed down from the long passes up top. I lined up at about 8” away and laid down a quick but even coat of clear. This actually reactivates the base underneath a little bit and adheres to it. Lay it on thick right away and you can get bleed or runs from any place the paint builds up. I let this tack up for about 10-15 minutes to let it set in well. You’re now at the point of no return, this is where you need to remember to slow down and focus. We’re almost done.

Once that has tacked up its back in with what you call the “wet” coats. These are tighter in – 5-6” from the surface, and are full on with the trigger. You’ll be laying down what you might think is gobs of paint. Its very important to move steady and follow the contours. Sport bikes are not very friendly to painters due to all their curves, folds, and ridges but take your time and you’ll be fine. Do not pause over ridges, it will run. I actually reverse the direction and try to meet at the top again. Like the seat back – started at the tip and went over the seat back, then came back up the seat evenly, then one across the ridge. It is hard to catch a smooth long pass like you can on a car with this. You need to break it up into areas and just keep moving.

Another 15 minutes and on to wet coat number 2. I rotated this around just to make sure I didn’t miss anything and to check for runs that I might be able to dab with some masking tape and save by re-shooting over it. Blast on the last top coat and let it sit. You’ll be seeing up close, the clear starting to dry and in doing so starts to look like orange peel. Just leave it alone and let it sit… if you allowed for the popper between coat time and you kept it fairly even it will “relax” and smooth out with some heat and some time. After the garage was clear of the cloud, I closed it up and let it bake. After about 2 hours its dry enough to set outside in the sunlight to heat up. I don’t touch it for at least 10 hours, best if you let it sit undisturbed for 24 hours.

Now, you can cut & buff the clear (wet sand with 1500/2000 grit and buff it with a polish) and make it even shinier, or you can use it as is and still look awesome. You can pinstripe this if you want to try your hand with some 1shot sign paint and a sword striper, or just use vinyl.

Hopefully this covers everything you would want to know about painting at home. If theres anything I missed or needs to be reworded or corrected let me know and I’ll add that in there for the next generation of track junkies.

I had promised JRon that he could come over and watch/learn while I was doing this but im afraid I forgot until the last minute and im moving soon, so I did this instead – so here ya go bud, hope it covers what you need to get that bike looking as quick as you are!


// Kirstin "ShavedMonkey" has compiled this write-up into Adobe PDF format for people to save for later. Thanks Kirs!

Adobe *.pdf file: right click, save as 2MB

'04 CBR1000RR and lots of Volvos (and now a new Tundra for hauling them around when they all break)

Last edited by boostdemon; July 10, 2007 at 11:29 AM..
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July 10, 2007, 01:46 AM

Heres the final shot. As you can see the clear coat sinks in and smooths out. Since we're not going to get picky about it, we'll leave it. Normally at this stage you would wet sand it once more, lay on another thick clear coat, then wet sand with 1500-2000 and buff it with some compound to get it really shiny.
you could also just wet sand this with 1500-2000grit and buff it shiny too which would level out some of the imperfections and slight orange peel. As Nate the Nudist mentions on pg.2, one extra step to help keep the top coat smooth is to let the base coats cure, then wet sand them with 600 grit (followed by some good washing and wax & grease remover).

Heres the part after sitting untouched for 48 hours, in the sunlight.

I hope you guys enjoy this. Someone make me proud and try your hand at painting something! I would be glad to sell off some of the supplies i have that i dont need to move with - cheap!

'04 CBR1000RR and lots of Volvos (and now a new Tundra for hauling them around when they all break)

Last edited by boostdemon; July 10, 2007 at 06:55 PM..
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July 10, 2007, 06:17 AM

HOLY SHIT! Yeah, I'm just gonna go out and do that nice of a job on my own.....riiiiiight.

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July 10, 2007, 06:27 AM

I'm an advertisement... cool!

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July 10, 2007, 06:39 AM

Finally, a good post on here.
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July 10, 2007, 08:37 AM

I wish I had more garage space. Good write up!
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July 10, 2007, 08:53 AM

Very nice.
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July 10, 2007, 08:58 AM

Great write up... so how much will you charge to do mine?

Seriously, excellent work.

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July 10, 2007, 09:03 AM

This has got to be the best thread I have read in a while... We're gonna have to redo Chris's over the winter... NICE work Dana!!!

Wow. Just..................wow.
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July 10, 2007, 09:03 AM

sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeet......now i know exactly what i gotta do soon

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July 10, 2007, 09:09 AM

dont let the length of this fool you, it really is a simple task. It just takes time. I wanted to make sure to cover everything i would be telling someone standing next to me because those types of little questions can get you stuck. Most tutorials dont give you answers to those questions all at once

'04 CBR1000RR and lots of Volvos (and now a new Tundra for hauling them around when they all break)
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It goes to 11.
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July 10, 2007, 09:14 AM

Looks great Dana.

Total cost of consumables (for starting)?
Did you sand the yellow plates so they weren't ridged against the black before the clear?

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July 10, 2007, 09:18 AM

Originally Posted by gixrben
Did you sand the yellow plates so they weren't ridged against the black before the clear?
That's what pinstriping is for

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July 10, 2007, 09:23 AM

Looks great thanks for the write up
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July 10, 2007, 09:25 AM

DAMN...very very nice job...well written...awesome pics.

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