How to Paint your Own Motorcycle
Motorcycle and chopper painting tutorial
- Paint and Prep Supplies
- Plastic Filler
- Flowable Putty
- Epoxy primer
- Epoxy Sealer
- Base color Paint
- Clear Coat
- 80,120,400,600,1500,2000 grit wet/dry sandpaper
IMPROVISED PAINT BOOTH
If you're like me, you don't have the luxury of a down-draft spray booth in your shop. Here's what I did. I cleaned out a storage room that's attached to the back of my shop. I lined the walls with white poly, and placed a variable speed fan in the window. I then went around with a roll of duct tape and sealed the perimeter of the fan to the surrounding poly on the walls. Now onto the lights. After the first time you try painting something, you'll quickly learn just how critical good lighting is. In fact when it comes to lighting, the brighter your paint area the better. A buddy gave me two four-tube florescent light fixtures, which I hung on opposite sides of my new spray booth. It's good to have reflective walls. Lining the walls with white poly not only saves your walls, but it's also quite reflective.
Before I continue, I want to stress safety. It's a very bad I idea to paint in a room that's attached to your house. In fact, it may not be legal in some jurisdictions. Also, paint fumes are not only super toxic, they're highly flammable. Make sure your fixtures are wired properly, and that your fixtures are fully encased with lens covers attached. Last but not least, make sure you have a good quality respirator with the correct filters for the kind of paint you're using.
For tools you'll need at least two spray guns, a air regulator with a water trap, a compressor, and of course some air hose. As aforementioned, you'll need 2 paint guns... one for painting primer, and another for painting base and clear coats.
PREP FOR PAINT
Be certain your fuel and oil tanks are pressure tested and leak free before you start. Ideally, it's good to sandblast your metal parts, especially if they have old paint on them. If you choose not to sandblast, make sure to sand them really thoroughly and wipe them down with a non oil-based cleaner prior to starting the job.
The next step is to apply filler to the low spots and any trouble areas. It's a matter of personal preference, but I like to spray a coat of epoxy primer prior to spraying on the base coat. This gives a nice base for the filler to adhere to. Prepare your filler in small amounts (it sets up fast) and apply it smoothly and evenly onto your part.
After the filler has dried, sand it smooth with 80 grit and look it over for any low spots or chips, then fill and sand again. After the necessary rounds of filler and sanding are finished, it's time to prime.
Spray on a couple of coats of epoxy primer. After the primer has dried, get a spray can of black paint and very lightly spray it over your part. This is the guide coat. The light black coat will show any ripples, low spots or defects in your handy work. To repair the problem areas that the guide coat exposed, you'll want to use flowable putty instead of filler. Apply the putty in thin even coats, then smooth it down with 80 grit sandpaper (wrapped around a rubber sanding block). Once you get the high spots leveled down, smooth it down even more with 120 grit, then finishing it with 400 grit.
You're now ready for the last round of primer. Once the primer is dry, sand it thoroughly with 400 grit to give it a toothy surface for the base coat to stick to. I like to spray on a coat of epoxy sealer just prior to spraying the base colour coat. In addition to providing a ideal surface for applying the base color, it also prevents any solvents from coming through and causing bubbles in your clear coat. Make sure to follow the paint manufacturers spec sheets with regards to mixing times, mixing ratios and painting temperature. Failure to following the instructions will cause you much grief...believe me.
BASE COAT/CLEAR COAT
Now comes the color coat. Lay down the colour coats as per your paint manufacturer's spec sheet. Next comes the clear. After the first round of clear has dried, wet sand it down with 600 grit. You'll notice rows of ridges appear in the clear as you sand. Keep sanding until the clear is even and the ridges are gone. If you're painting graphics on, now is the time to put them on. After applying your graphics, cover them with another round of clear.
It may take one or more rounds of clear to completely bury the graphics. Be sure to wet sand flat with 600 grit between rounds of clear. After the last round of clear has been sprayed, sand it down flat with 600 grit like before. When it's nice and smooth, finish it off with 1500 grit. If you want to get it even more silky smooth, go for a final round of 2000 grit.
Now for the gratifying part. The final step is to polish it to a mirror finish. You'll need a variable speed polisher, a buffing pad, and some polishing compound. There are many different kinds of buffing compound available. Your local automotive supply store will be able to recommend a good one.