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Tech Section: Paint and Transfers

Painting Your Vincent :  by  Max Lambky ( 11/24/2012)

First you'll have to determine whether you want an original look or a cheap way out look, or an over restored look. I won't spend a lot of time on the first two, as the latter is preferred by most now days.
One other thing to consider is whether it is a sound choice to paint a well kept Vincent with a patina of age. Remember a painted Vincent, other then the factories paint job, is no longer an original Vincent.

From the factory all the black parts were dipped, then baked in an oven. No primer was used. The black engine cases and parts were the exception; they were painted with a brush and possibly not at the factory. The red Vincents and the blue ones were spray painted. I was told this by a factory worker, Sonny Angel. The red and gold striping was by hand with a brush, and the decals were varnish lay ups. The instrument covers were spray painted, as well as the generator, end cover, and voltage regulator cover. The early instrument faces were probably silk screened.

Many Vincent's have been painted with a rattle can. I must admit that I've painted a couple myself, back when you could buy a fairly good running twin for a couple hundred bucks. Actually, there have been some cheap way outs that have turned out quite nice, in my opinion. The rattle can of choice is the Krylon name brand.

Now to the over restored, or show quality paint jobs. I'll touch on different methods, the different equipment required, paint booths, things to look out for, and prevention techniques.

The paint application to the part to be covered, can be brushed, spray painted, dipped, air brushed, powder coated, sponged, cloth wiped, cotton wiped, and electrostatic spray painted. Sponge cloth and cotton application is used in the Far East, where a thick coat of paint is desired. The method works well to cover up imperfections. Brushing and dipping pretty much does the same thing. Spray painting, air brushing, powder coating,and electro spray painting are the most desirable methods, with of course, a multi coat lacquer job. These methods will give you the highest luster after clear coating and buffing with 3M white micro finish compound. To acquire that deep wet look, apply several coats of clear, let each coat dry, then sand with 1000 grit wet and dry. Use the additive called The Wet Look in the last coat or two of clear coat. It's important to understand that after preparing the part for painting, using fill and sand primers, (the most common being Red Oxide and lacquer thinned Gray). Two part polyurethane, which is tan or yellow in color, works OK, but sands harder, and is more expensive then the red and gray. Always use the same primer throughout all the pieces that make up the job, as changing primers can sometimes change the finished color. It's a good idea on aluminum castings and all aluminum parts in general to apply a coat of self etching primer before applying fill and sand primer. Make sure to oven cook cast parts to eliminate oil trapped in casting pores before applying any paint.

Except for powder coating, where the prep usually requires sand blasting only, the preparation, if accomplished with care, will leave you with a glass level and smooth surface for painting. However, each of the methods of painting will leave you with an ever so slightly different surface. This is due to an uneven thickness that is created during application of the paint, whether it be powder or liquid. I've found the worst being when painted by a brush, then when the parts are powder coated, next spray painting, then air brush. Dipped is real good. Last, electrostatic spray painting in my opinion, offers the best finish when it comes to smooth. The high and low spots are easily detectable when wet sanding prior to clear coating.   Remove the high spots each and every time before applying the next coat.

I've come to the conclusion that no matter how much paint you've put through a paint gun, problems don't go away. Some of the more common are: fish eyeing, orange peeling, paint lifting, and dirt. Fish eyeing is caused by a substance that will not mix with the paint, or magnetic differences. The most common being oil particles in the paint. This contamination can come from wiping a sanded surface with the palm of your hand, a shop rag, and in particular the red shop rag, even if new and never used. Always use a tack cloth when wiping down a part to be painted, and nothing else. Most often the culprit is a contaminated air supply to the spray gun. This contamination can come from the air being compressed, worn compressor rings, inadequate air compressor discharge filter system, or dirty filters. The filter system must be kept in good nick for the removal of moisture which can contribute a great deal to a contaminated paint being applied. If it is the part that is contaminated, you can sometimes seal the contaminate from the paint by spraying the surface with a coat of  Krylon rattle can silver paint. Always drain the compressor air tank and all air filters of moisture build up and initiate a long bleed down of the air lines as well before putting the compressor to use.

Orange peel is caused by the paint drying before it obtains a proper flow out, or the paint was not thinned enough. Thinners come in three grades whether they are polyurethane, enamel or lacquer. They are slow, medium, and fast. You should match the temperature recommendations on the cans with the ambient temperature at the time of painting. Two part polyurethane paint can be worked, meaning sanded and buffed after a 24 hour dry time, lacquer even sooner. In most cases, orange peel can be removed by sanding, starting with 200 grit wet and dry, then 400, and then 600. It's an easy buff from there. Be careful while buffing not to stay in one spot too long and burn and blister the paint, also be EXTRA careful when buffing sharp edges, the paint will be thin and it's very easy to buff through to primer paint.

Paint lifting is where the paint being applied attacks the underlying paint chemically, softening and destroying its adhering qualities. The only correctional cure for this is to remove all the paint being attacked and start all over. Trying to seal the problem away is a waste of time.

Dirt is the most common problem encountered when spray painting. A professional paint booth is the best way to combat the problem; however, a proper booth is seldom available to the hobbyist who just wants to paint his bike. Outside, non permanent paint booths can be fabricated on the cheap. A bit of rope, a roll of Duct tape, some see thru visquene, a yard with a few trees, and there you have the makings for your very own booth. After you are happy with your handiwork, its a good idea to put a garden sprinkler inside the booth for five minutes or so to wash the air so to speak. If you will be painting inside a building always wet the area with a water hose. Always wear a painters mask. When using a two part paint, only mix the amount needed and after shooting clean the gun thoroughly if you ever plan to use it again.

The common spray guns used in paint spraying are air brush, gravity, siphon, pressure, electrostatic, and powder. The electrostatic paint gun uses the same principle as the powder gun by applying a positive charge to the paint and powder. The three advantages are that it is more economical due to a lower loss of costly material, the rap around plus, and a much more even coat.

Painting a Vincent wheel after chroming will require the sand blasting of the center of the wheel for paint adhesion. Carefully mask the portion of the wheel not to be painted with duct tape prior to blasting. Use 3M fine line tape on the wheels and gas tank to help the striping go smoothly.

There were three batches of  Red Rapides. The first run was circa engine numbers 27XX. Some of these had transitional cases, although there were some Vincent embossed cases that were coming out then (in spite of what Richardson says). Second batch was around 44XX. Final batch was up in the 8000 range. A gambit of about three years .   Somer  10/25/2011

When stripping various original red paint parts, they had surface dry/wet texture variations of sprayed paint not the flowed out uniformity of dipped and the exterior edges had too much paint build not having pulled back and thin as can occur with dipped parts yielding to fluid tension before they can be baked.
I shot mine with less than quart of Glasurit 22 line HS (mix 100/50/5) using a Sata MiniJet gravity at only 29psi to minimize loss and still had some left over. 10 years later, fetched the remainder down from the loft, being of such high solids and in a hurry to leave for the NA VOC rally in Minn in 09, just preheated both my newly built up Breeding sidestands in the oven and shot them in bare steel in the driveway, they still look great now.    Peter 10/24/2011

Original Finish:  The industrial machine like finish of machines from that era is attributable to the degree of opacity imparted by that paint having high solids content. The tins aside, cycle parts were often shot over bare steel. For a variety of reasons, EPA, gun flow, costs, people’s desire for extreme gloss, color coats now are so watery that one must use tinted base coats to achieve any degree of desired finish color and as that color coat is where the expense is, it’s so thin and fragile that even non-metallic white is shot over with clear. A few years ago Mazda Miata owners who found that merely wiping down their engine compartments with a degreasing agent laden rag caused the color coat to come off were subsequently incensed to find that Mazda had engineered the paint film thickness down to the minimal limit to save something like $35 a vehicle.

So, to mimmick your original non-metallic finish you’ll need to shoot high solids. And as hardener is a clear diluting that opacity, a little less of that shot at a stage or too higher shopt temp rating if your brand offers it using a little more reducer to get it to flow out before flash off. And, as is popular with the patina chasing crowd, experiment with deglossers, in Glassurit, no more than 5% depending on the color.   Peter  10/24/2011

I don't think I could bring myself to paint a set of Shadow cases with a rattle can.  Here's my preferred method:
Step 1.  Clean the cases
Wash them thoroughly in the bathtub with liquid Tide.  Heat them in the oven at around 200o.  Repeat this process three times.
Step 2.  Wash them thoroughly with carbontechnichloride.  Allow to evaporate.  Repeat this process a couple of times.  Do not wash in water after this process.  The porous castings retain water, which causes fish eyeing.
Step 3.  Mask off all areas you don't want painted with masking tape; 3M is the best.  Even the masking tape is important.
Step 4.  Here's a tip I picked up in 35 years of painting Vincents professionally. After masking, brush on a good grade of exterior aluminum paint.  It flows well and seals the porous aluminum, which eliminates totally, any possibility of fish eyeing that can occur with an impure surface.
Step 5.  Go over the surface with 180 grit sandpaper.  Blow clean with a 100 lb. air hose.
Step 6.  To the manufacturer's specifications, mix up some two part self etching primer.  It's almost the color of aircraft parts that are anodized green.  Apply two light coats; allow to dry thoroughly between coats.
Step 7.  Look the cases over.  If there's anyplace you feel you want smoother, sand and clean again.  Spot shoot.
Step 8.  If the parts lay around for any length of time, and I'm talking only a couple of hours prior to painting they will gather dust.  There's always dirt in the air.  I almost forgot.  When you blow these parts off with the air hose, it's a good idea to get them as far away from your paint area as possible.  Keeps the dust down.
Step 9.  Wipe them down thoroughly with a tack cloth before painting.  Wet down the floor area where the parts are to be painted.
Step 10.  Drain the water from the air compressor hold tank.  Drain the water from the water filter separator in the air line.  Hook up the air hose and blow air through the air hose for 10 minutes or so.  I generally use a nylon tie strap to hold the handle down, instead of standing there holding it for 10 minutes.
Step 11.  Mix up as per direction a good quality polyurethane, such as DuPont.  A good way to tell if you're getting good paint is the price.  If you ain't paying $150 for three quarts of paint, $50 for a quart of hardener, $20 for a gallon of polyurethane thinner, and $25 for a pint of "Wet Look".  You ain't got "The Right Stuff".
Step 12.  Shoot three light coats.  Allow 20 minutes between each coat.  The two part polyurethane paint will dry to the touch in about two hours.  I like polyurethane because you can buff in 24 hours.  It's totally cured.
Step 13.  Apply one coat of polyurethane clear to seal.  Use a good quality gun.  Thirty five pounds pressure is about right.  Strain all paint.  Make sure you clean the gun when you use a two part paint or you won't be happy the next day.  Max  Lambky  11/25/09

Black Engine Painting:   If you're looking for an economical way to achieve a really great finish on Black Shadow "engineware" and up for a bit of patient DIY then I highly recommend the method that Big Sid wrote up several years ago on jtan and which is still documented in full at in the paint/transfers section.  It involves the use of  Plasticote high temp engine enamel from the lowly and much disdained rattle can. I used Sid's method on my Shadow after having all the engineware chemically cleaned by a specialist company for around $150.00. to ensure a good oil free surface. The only other deviations I made were to go to 250 F for the "stoving" part in stages and then to get a final finish I used 1000 and 1,500 grit wet  papers, GS27 and a good car polish in that order with copious amounts of elbow grease and patience. The whole exercise cost less than $250.00 at the time.  Tim Holcroft  11/24/09
Black Engine Painting:   I'll echo Tim's endorsement of Sid's economical DIY engine blackening procedure posted on My deviations from Sid's procedure were as follows-
After paint stripping what was left of the factory black and multiple layers of touchup, cases and covers were heated in the oven at 200 F, then wiped clean with lacquer thinner to remove oil/dirt surfacing from the hot aluminum, this process was repeated numerous times until there was no sign of dirt or oil on a clean rag. This procedure was learned the hard way as being necessary for successful powdercoating, and so seemed natural to also use it with the rattle painting. Parts were then masked, reheated, placed on a lazy susan stand out in the yard, and rotated while being sprayed by rattle can.
Rattle cans had been standing by, soaking in hot tap water in the kitchen sink.  Problems with rattle cans are the spray must be held quite close to the work surface, while the can pressure is about sixty pounds [compared to six pounds pressure for powdercoating], meaning a large percentage of paint wants to bounce off the work surface, and the heat helps with this. A lot of paint was applied before it flashed [more than a can per case half], and continued to be applied after flash till the first sags began to appear, with the heat of both aluminum and paint the sags were self healing if noticed quickly enough.
Parts went back in the oven at 200 F per Sid's recommendation, followed some days later with wet sanding,.   George  11/25/09
pyluminising:  A way of preparing the base material (Shadow crankcases) for painting. Probably 5 tanks would cover the process.  Pylumin Process; aluminium immersed in sodium carbonate (7%), sodium
chromate (2.3%), basic chromium carbonate (0.5%) plus sodium hydroxide  (0.5%) solution at 70oC. Resistance coating used as a paint base.  Trevor  11/24/09

The pyluminising process, which is described by JB in her book was an "anti-corrosion and primer" finish apparently preceded the stove enamel process.  Bev Bowen  11/24/09

pyluminising:  I seem to remember that Pyrene were the owners of this process and did it at their works on the Great West Road.  Roy Cross 11/24/09 
I'm fairly sure that the alloy preparation for the covers and the subsequent black finishing was done out of house.  At that time there were many specialist small firms working in the Stevenage area and
pyluminising was a  process that would have required specialised equipment and premises that would not have been economical for Vincent to take onboard for the relatively small quantities required. Derek Peters  11/24/09
Factory Paint: Sonny Angel, who worked at the Vincent factory, told me about the painting process some forty years ago, but I just called him again to refresh my memory.  Sonny said there were two Vincent plants in Stevenage.  The 400 year old plant where assembly took place, and a newer plant about the same size some quarter of a mile away.  This was the plant that built aircraft parts, and had most of the machine tools for the manufacture of engine parts.  The newer building also contained the dyno room and the paint area, which were next to each other.  All black parts, chassis parts, gas tanks, oil tanks, rear frame member, fork legs, and various other battery trays and so on were stove enamel.  None of these parts were primered.  The paint trough was two feet wide, six feet long, and two feet deep with about one foot of Pritchard's Stoving Enamel.  The process was like this: the part was submerged in the stoving enamel, if parts extended above the paint, the operator, with rubber gloved hands, sloshed the paint on the bare surface.  He then hung the parts to a chain that hung over the tank, and allowed them to drip for a period of time.  As soon as he was happy with that he'd start the chain conveyor belt, which went through the oven located about twenty feet from the paint trough.  Parts were left in the oven about three hours.     Max Lambky  11/24/09
Carburators:    I did discover an interesting statement by Ted Davis that may shed some light on the color situation: “The Grey Flash appeared in two colours, silver and green/grey. Road versions of the Flash numbered three and these were silver, as were two of the racers.” MPH 471 at p. 26, April 1988. This statement, if true, might solve the issue. However, with no disrespect to Ted Davis, I have noted in the past that he appeared to be authenticating some items incorrectly that were ultimately offered for sale. I assume that these were unintentional mistakes. It does not answer the question that come to mind such as: how do you distinguish between the two colors with only one part number? The factory allocated different part numbers to Grey Flash chassis parts, presumably, because these parts were painted grey (note: the fork blades, RFM and UFM are also physically different due to the lightening work.) Also, I have only found the non-green grey on original unrestored bikes. I have yet to see the green grey color on an unrestored original bike.  David Dunbfey  7/21/09
Red Paint: They were done in several batches so the point could be made that not all 107 variants on the red theme were identically colored.  A computer match on mine revealed Porsche Guards Red LM3A,  post 1988,  also referred to as Indian red when cross referenced to Glasurit.  Glasurity/BSAF 22 line color code 027 which is exactly the same as pre-1989 Porsche Guards Red.   As you well know, tints and even bases are not uniform across years much less decades and Dupont is a good example.  We are very fortunate here to have the master Dupont color book going back to the early 30's for public viewing at local paint store - talk about a delicious number of options for a recreational painter such as myself, Indian was once owned by the Dupont family for which any color combo was offered for $1 extra - but, they make an "interpretation" to derive a modern mix, therefore room for vagueries still exist with old code in hand.  Peter  7/7/09
Solvents and Transfers: Yes, their use is risky in a commercial environment where every moment counts (is billed) as they must be finessed on.   Many vinyls with gum adhesive have thicker cross section than water transfers and for those who don't like high surface build to obscure edges, they still have their place for the restorer.

The key to preventing edge wrinkle on water slides is to dispense with the adhesive they arrive with and use your own. Also, prior to this operation, I trim back the clear border to the first pigmentation.   Let them soak till all adhesive removed.  Using the tank top crest as an example, I hit the tank area to be covered with 2000, lightly coat the paint with Elmer's glue, applied the decal than squeequee to firmly affixed, leaving aboslutlely no gaps around decal perimeter, wiped the effluence off with a damp cloth and then let dry.

Light powder/dry coat application prior to a wet is an operation best left to pro's and in good light, use of this technique can be revealed through clear coat clouding caused by air entrapment and paint's inability to "settle".  Though dry/dust coats may appear flashed off competely, they in fact are re-engaged when hit with more catalyzed wet top coats so still exposing one to lift off risks - I don't use them.  As mentioned elsewhere here, better to use a faster hardener one to two steps above recommended ambient on a light wet than attempt to apply a dust coat, drop your reduce.   Don't know about other paints but with Glasurit, it's the reducer (think lacquer thinner/mineral spirits)  that potenially causes you the gravest problems and I try to shoot directly over the area with decals using color and hardener only.

I was supremely fortunate with the Red Rap to have a 70-75 degree day in January with about 30% humidity when it was time to clear the tank.  Using Glassurit 21line at only 28PSI on a Sata gravity touch up using Polar hardener and half the reducer ratio, I shot this tank on a small homemade rotisserie with about 4 successive wet at 5-10 intervals and rotated it to fully flow out the paint. It resulted in no lift on the tops nor sides with superb film density that looks the same to this day 10 years later....though there's been some very slight filler shift - DRAT - thin filler gun shot fillers were in their infancy then, oh well .  Peter  6/23/09

How to Avoid Wrinkling the Transfer:  It's the solvents in the paint that cause the problem. After the decals are on and well set, tell your painter to go about it thus. "Dust" a very light coat of clear top coat over the decal. Let this tack off, almost past the "tack" stage. Lay on another coat slightly heavier than the first. let this tack off too. Then another coat, again slightly heavier than the previous one and let this tack off. At this stage he can either let the paint dry and then very carefully flat the clear off with 1200 wet or dry with a drop of detergent in the water and then clear coat again with light coats. Or he can continue building up with light coats.
The object of all this is keep the decal from being  subjected to large amounts of the solvents in the paint.  Phelps  6/22/09

UK MC Paint Supplier:  RS Motorbike Paint.  Database of over 30,000 bike and scooter paints ranging from 1913 to the present day.  Records cover British and foreign bikes and include ancillary colours such as engine and frame paints as well as panel and tank colours.   Phone: (44+)  01707 273219  or E-mail:      Neil Diggens  12/16/08
Gold Leaf Pin Striping on the tank:  These were all hand painted using lining brushes and they vary from a quarter to five sixteenths. Anything within those sizes looks good.  Roy Cross  9/4/08
Carburator Finish: Rear carbs, die castings in zinc alloy, were silver painted. Front carbs, sand castings in brass, were cadmium plated. Later die cast carbs weren't even painted.   Sunbeam 6/9/08
One option is to paint your
carbs with Eastwood's "Carb Renew," item # 10187Z (silver).
Bev Bowen  6/9/08
Funny story. Many of you know the paint man I use.
(Marion Cooper) We years ago would make templates off of original Vincent tanks for decal placement, stripe placement and type of decal. The works reverted back to an earlier decal on the top of tanks in 52 or 53.  Probably because they ran out of later ones and decided to use up the stock. When Bones did his 54 tank, he called and said that "that's the wrong decal".  He was pretty miffed. Said a book said it should be such and such.  I have a very low mileage original 54 Shadow.  So does a friend of mine. We sent him pictures of the decals that were on there along with the engine numbers (close to his).    His comment. "The factory got it wrong".   Go figure.................    Somer  12/11/07
I have used
water slides over base or black acrylic enamel and clear coated over top with urethane clear many times and never had a problem. Some tanks 20 years ago.  Robert  8/26/07
I have done my tank twice with
waterslides--once with DuPont Imron and once with PPG Deltron Radiance.  Both were clearcoated and were successes.  It was about 1994 that I last cleared over waterslides, so the paint formulas may have since changed due to environemental concerns.   Russ  8/26/07

A couple of years ago when I had a tank painted the painter (fairly local to me here in PA) asked for the transfers.  He claimed that he could scan and print them while maintaining chromatic accuracy.  The reason for doing so was to print onto a material compatible with his paint.  One of the lessons I learned from that experience was that some transfer materials and some paints do not work and play well together.   Others are unique to the painter.  Those lessons were unpleasant.
Doug Wood  8/26/07

Gold Leaf:

Bones is also the master of the logo, which seems a part of the finish. Numerous tanks all have a Jewel-like quality. Even 20 year old ones he has done are superb.

Regarding a primer on Gold Leaf application there are two essential approaches;
1. Applying the leaf on the primer prior to the color coat (black,red, blue, BRG...)
2. Applying the leaf on top of the color (black...) along with the decals.

As a long-time furniture maker and finisher, I prefer the First approach, as I tend to error frequently, and usually this approach allows for corrections at each step. Most auto and metal finishers prefer the latter, as there is less layering and the finish can be as thick or as light as desired.

First Approach;
Prepare tank for paint. Do all fill and repairs, preparing the metal for the primer coat. I generally apply enough primer to sand out all of the small deviations. I use a 'rouge' primer which tends to give the leaf a warmer tone.

I then lay out my lines using tissue templates with a drafting wheel (perforates the tissue for chalk outlines) off of a master I made.
There is an excellent article in MPH 543 (June '93) about the line layout.

After marking out the lines, I lay a brush-stroke of leaf size (a slow drying varnish) and begin laying thin strips of leaf along the line. I allow the brush stroke of size to over run the layout and overlap each leaf slightly as I work down the line. This gives some room for error (my mantra) and allows more control over the leaf.
Now you have to understand that the leaf is like ash. Very thin, delicate and light. It tends to want to float and fly away. Use a thin, wide leaf brush with a bit of hair-oil to capture the leaf on the end and lightly lay it out on the size line.

Once you have laid your lines, allow the the size to dry thoroughly. After it is completely dry, with your leaf brush, brush away the leaf that is not adhered to the size. This will also allow you to see any areas that did not adhere, and you can just add a touch a bit of size and repair with small bits of leaf, burnishing with your brush.
After you are satisfied with your lines, shoot them with two or three light coats of clear finish.

Now you may use 1/4" or 3/16" pinstripe mask. This is a light adhesive mask that is available at auto finish suppliers. Carefully layout your lines again, this time take care to get them perfect, masking the leaf from the color coat.

Now you are ready to apply your Black coat. Spray an even full coat and allow to dry 75%. Depending on your choice of finishes, you may just have to begin removing the mask as the finish sets, but is still soft enough to not give a ragged edge. This takes practice but if you are consistent with your application, it should go well.

Now when the black coat is fully cured, you may apply your decals. Water Slides tend to have air trapped under, so burnish them in position until all clear areas of the decal cannot be seen on the black coat.

Finally, top coat with a compatible clear coat with as many coats as you can stand. Leaving enough finish to wet sand to a perfect polish.
The very last step is to Wet sand, beginning with 400 or 600 grit, depending on your spraying abilities, and work your way down through 800, 1000, 1200, 1500. Now you can us buffing compound and get the mile deep finish to impress your friends.

Here is my supplier for leaf and tools:

For the Second approach, someone else will have to chime in, as I have never attempted it, and "steady hand" is not my middle name.  Or, you could just send it to Bones, and your friends will be impressed, none the less.     John Romano  7/30/07

The absolute Guru of gold leafing on Vincents is Bones Cooper in Knoxville. He's been doing it for 27 years. He has templates for every style of tank. Every time I got an original tank in,we made a template off of it. Compositions of paint changes as does the clear compostion. He stays abreast of how it all interacts and changes techniques accordingly. He has also been kown to do it on the tanks of other paint shops......since they couldn't get it.  Somer  7/30/07

1 Shot makes a sign/pin-striping paint that looks just like gold-leaf and is a lot easier to apply.  John Mead   7/30/07

Paint Stripper: The most common tank sealant in the UK, Petseal, is dissolved by Methyline Chloride.  This is the actice ingredient in all serious paint strippers.  It's horrible stuff and will get through most things intended or not.  I've just stripped the inside of the tank on my Norbsa sucessfully, but despite my best efforts have ruined a good paint job. After removing the sealant the stripper then leaks out the cracks that you want to seal, all over the paint.   Paul G.  6/7/07

I have done a few tanks with the club transfers.  Not sure if your intention is to seal just the transfers or put a clear coat on the entire tank but with todays fuels the only thing I have found that is completely 100% fuel proof is catalyzed polyurethane (professional automotive paint).  Varnishes and lacquers may hold up well enough to wipe a spill off at the fueling station but any longer term soaking may soften them.  If you do select something non-catalyzed a very long cure time and heat helps. Non catalyzed polyurethane (hardware store Verathane, etc.) is fairly fuel proof after a long cure time.  In cases where I have used it I always do a test piece first.  One caution when applying any clear ove! r trans fers, by spray at least, is to apply it in many light mist coats with adequate drying time in between to keep the solvents from attacking the transfer.  I have never tried brushing polyurethane over just a transfer but that would be my choice in that situation. Doing a test transfer first would be prudent.  Paul Zell  2/16/07
This weekend I finaly got enough nerve to do the
pinstriping on my Series B twin. It turned out pretty good . I made the stripes 3/16 in wide and used the D shape not unlike the photos I have seen on Gunga din or that picture of Vincent Irving and Brown standing by the Earls Court show Lightning, I liked working with the gold leaf , and if I had to do it over again I would be more carefull when I spead the glue to make sure that it was absolutly flat meaning no brush strokes or texture, even doing it with a template the gold came out a little iregular these places I touched up when I wet sanded the clear, It looks good to me , but i dont think it would please the hyper critical person. I solved the problem with the water transfers by just lightly dusting them with the clear a few times , then i was able to just spray the clear on in the normal manor. I used Color Rite brand clear and it looks simular to what I have seen on new H D motorcycles. I was able to wet sand it only after a few hours . I would suggest to any one who likes to paint there own bikes to try this brand paint [if it holds up to gas spills] and try your hand at gold leafing, it looks a hell of a lot better than the paint or tape on stuff that I have seen, and its not that hard to do, and under a few coats of clear it looks great.    T Monte  12/18/06

When I painted my tank, I applied the gold leaf on a base of primer first. This allowed me to apply a slightly larger line of leaf, and when it was set, I applied a light top coat of clear. My color coat, the black, was then applied with a sharp masking line over the leaf in the exact location. After the black set, the mask was removed to show a crisp edge to the line, and the transfers are then applied with top coat to follow. Basically, different roads to the same location. I do agree that the leaf makes the finish. If only the transfers were consist ant in their gold tone. I have seen very rich gold, and an almost dull bronze color. Oh my gosh, I can't even see the transfers when I am riding anyway, so who really cares? John Romano  12/18/06
Retinning your Petrol Tank:  I recommend going to Oregon Re-Tinners in North Portland. They generally charge around $90 per tank.  It's a thick tin coating.  I virtually guarantee 100% success as it fills voids and seams.  It comes out thick and near chrome like.

Process is:  sand with wet/dry 80 grit the outside till smooth, get the nooks and crannys.  The point is not to sand it back off but smooth it for paint and primer.   Use a zinc or tin compatible etch primer such as Diamont DE-15 or Valspars products then follow with a sand and fill primer such as Diamont DP-20 or Valspar DP-50.   Make sure you properly rubber cushion the tank mounting on the bike and you have a tank for a lifetime.  It's what I use on restorations and all my personal bikes.  If you never want to worry about rust or leaks it's a bargain and worth it.   I used to do a lot of paint jobs for people and no one ever
complained about that coating.

By  copper plating I'm assuming you are talking about an electroplating application. Vic out at Vanderstar plating claims that (when discussing plating) that you would have to be very careful plating a gas tank as (according to him) the current flow isn't even.  You have to be careful as the place of greater current flow or conduction is where you would achieve the highest transfer of metal (in this case copper).  Therefore an experienced plater will tune or place his anodes to get even coverage. Yet, on a odd shaped or tear dropped shaped gas tank inevitably some areas would be thicker than others.  Vic also stated anode placement is critical as well in the respect that you could easily short out and blow a hole in a tank in high current transfer processes. I suppose for safety sake you could use low current, but your plating times could be relatively lengthy.  From OVM list 2/19/05

Red Vincents: The story I heard was that Pinchin Johnson, who supplied the factory with black enamel, also supplied the red enamel for the GPO, the UK's
state-run postal service. The colour was known as 'Post Office Red' and all their vans and their telegram delivery motorcycles etc. were painted that way. Apparently, the PJ rep had a batch he needed to move on and offered it to the Vincent factory at a good price. The colour has a bit of an orange tint which is red with some yellow, Vincents couldn't use the P.O. Red name so they came up with Chinese Red.  Frank Griffin, The Hague, Holland  2/5/05
What paint?" is like the question "What woman?"  Everybody has a different idea.  In my experience the best paint is only so good.  No matter how much you suffer to get it on there, when you glide down the highway a rock flies up from somewhere, hits it and chips it a little.

As a practical thing,  I've used Plasti-Kote for about 40 years now.  I clean the surface with a scotchbrite pad and varsol until the loose material, dirt and oil is all gone, dry with compressed air, mask as needed and hang it up where I can see it and get at it with my spray bomb.  Holding a suitable light in one hand and the bomb in the other, I give it a couple of light coats, trying to avoid runs.  If any occur, Plasti-Kote is very good about absorbing them so that they almost disappear.

After a day, I give it a couple more coats, using my light to see that I am covering everything, because the black is difficult to see.  I repeat on subsequent days until I have eight coats or so on there.  It seems to like plenty, and I have never seen any fault develop from 'too much' paint.

The paint will shrink as it dries, and drying may be hastened by putting the part out on the clothesline where the sun and wind can get at it. Masking tape needs removal within a few days or it gets stuck hard on there.

This is what I do, and it seems to stay on there as the decades unfold. The appearance of it is about the same as the original Works paint (which looked terrible on my '52 Black Shadow when I bought it in '60, btw) but more durable. Bill Hoddinott  11/24/04

You simply will not do any better than Powder Coating. The only minor drawback to the powder coating is that you will have to mask every surface you don't want painted. Plus, you should surely plug all the holes that are threaded. Ask your powder coater which masking tape he wants and don't take for granted you know what you are doing. The powder coating has to be the most durable method on the market today. It can be removed as well. it can be blasted off, or you'll find that MEK will work.
I polished the fins on my cylinder heads, and cylinders. During the powder coating process each fin in turn was wiped (with a finger) and revealed the polished surface. They look great. However, if you happen to leave any traces of the polishing compound in-between the fins for example, you'll ruin the job.  You can even powder coat the polished aluminum primary covers, mudguards, etc. But you should have the coater put your bare aluminum in the oven heat it, pull it back out, and then do the coating. If you don't you will experience out-gassing which will leave tiny bubbles on the surface.  Or, for polished aluminum there is a new product out called ZOOPS SEAL which is to my knowledge the best clear process invented to date.  Carl Hungness 11/24/04

If you want to (paint or) coat anything made of iron or steel you Must coat it the same (dry) day it leaves the blasting cabinet - and have it cleaned only with a blasting setup that works with dried air. Otherwise the rust will start again under the coat. Hartmut  6/4/04
I have had very good luck with
Powder Coating after buying somewhat of an education with the stuff.  I did not want to continually polish my mudguards so had them clear powder coated. After restoring them and polishing, I thought they looked far too shiny. The powder coating diminished the gloss so they look new-old-stock. One problem with coating aluminum is "out-gassing".  I coated my mag cowl cover and it bubbled. I stripped it, coated it again and no bubbles. The coating works extremely well for fender braces, for legs, cylinder heads, cylinders, rear frame member, springboxes.  I polished the edges of my cylinders and heads, and then wiped off the powder coat while it was still wet. The result is great, polished fins and durable black.  I also clear powder coated my primary cover and timing chest with good results.  Carl Hungness  6/4/04

I think Powder coat is fine for things that you will never want to re-coat, such as garden furniture etc. But for our useage, I cannot see anywhere to gain an advantage. On engines the coating is too thick, and that also gives problems where you have two parts bolted together, so that in time the coating compresses allowing the part to become loose. I will agree that most modern paints do not have the overall protection of some of their predecessors. All steel parts I have tin plated, which means if you do eventually need a weld repair, you do not have any toxic problems, and if the paint chips, no rust. Of course the normal way to go on ferrous materials is have a phosphate treatment. Trevor  6/4/04
Painting Cases: A simple and very satisfactory procedure I used many times:  Clean the old crankcase and covers painted surfaces with Varsol and a scotchbrite pad, blow any residue off with compressed air.  Put the case and covers together with a few bolts and old screws as it normally is, mask off what is necessary, hang it up securely in the air so you can access all
parts of it.

Use Plasti-Kote gloss black engine enamel from the autoparts store. This is a very tough and good polyurethane in a spray bomb.  Use six or eight coats, applied one or two per day.  Use a good light in one hand so you can see where you are spraying.  Put on wet coats but short of the 'running' point.  The paint will dry and shrink down, and has a good trait of absorbing or minimizing any runs you do get.  Remove your masking tape within a day or so after you get finished or it will get
stuck hard on there.  Pull the tape in a direction not to pull your paint off the surfaces.

Clean and mask your heads and barrels the same way, and set them as sets to paint.  Use only two light coats at one time for them, you don't want heavy paint on heads and barrels because it interferes with heat dissipation.

The first time you fire up the completed engine, you will smell a little of the paint, this is normal because it is 'baking'.  You will find that this Plasti-Kote will stay on and look good for many years, if you have done a decent job of cleaning the parts of oil and dirt before application.

The same paint is also very successful for frame parts.  I found commercial painters maddening for cycle parts, because they don't seem to care about doing a meticulous job.  So long ago I developed the above procedure for doing it myself.  It's easier, and better, and I can get the quality of work I want.  "The easy way is the natural way..."(Marcus Aurelius).  Bill Hoddinott  4/22/04

A few years ago I bought an Eastwood powder coater.   The thing is just great . The powder that it uses is polyester for colors and polyurathane for clear. If you want high gloss use the one called mirror black . They also have a body filler that you can powder coat and it can stand 500degF vs 400degF for the powdercoat. When you use the filler it should be degased by heating it to 400deg for about 20mins, if you don't you will get bubbles. For doing a frame, heat the frame up to 400deg and
shoot it while its hot, then get a couple of quartz heaters and finish melting it a section at a time, Of course a big oven would be best, but they cost money. Little parts can be done in a little toaster oven or an old kitchen oven. So far I've powdercoated many small parts, two moto X bike frames one motoguzzi frame and both my ex wives .    The moto-X bike frames were used for racing and the most wear occured where the riders feet were in contact with the frame.  The paint wore off just like enamel paint would.  Experiment-- if you screw it up you can sand it down a little and shoot it again. Small parts can be striped of powdercoat by letting them soak in a bucket of acetone overnight. The coating will gell and can then be removed by whatever means you want.  And YES you can do a professional job. Why? Because you can take your time and be more meticulous than the jobbers. To get back to the heaters, they are the convection type not the ones that have a fan. Also they have to be positioned very close to the part to work well . I have two heaters made by a company called Marvin. I found them on the internet and they cost about 35USD.   T Monte  2/4/02
The Mercury Crest
transfers turned out to be water slide. Went onto the steering head very nicely, using the backing paper and then paper toweling to remove moisture and smooth out bubbles.  Next, the tank Vincent scroll backing did not separate with warm water. I added isopropol alcohol and the backing came off, leaving a facing layer with the transfer itself on the back of this layer. However, the transfer remained affixed to the facing layer and would not stick to the tank. The transfer material seems to be very thin, almost like a layer of paint, that evidently must adhere to the paint surface well enough to allow the
tissue facing material to be peeled off. I'm wondering if this is a type of transfer requires some type of varnish
or other adhesive on the tank.    Jack Severson  03/24/01
Red  Rapide Paint:  Dupont Centari  Enamel #   29198   AH   Sid Biberman  03/30/01         (Overseas Du Pont Centari code may be NAV2346)

With modern technology we can now scan decals (even if they are a bit faded and tattered and mounted on round parts like
a head stock) and then a graphic artist can clean them up and then print them out on a color laser printer on decal material and amazingly enough, you have a repro of the original decal, ready to be applied.

1.  You can shoot digital photos of the original decal positioning on all the parts.
2.  You can reproduce Every decal on a motorcycle.
3.  After shooting the paint, apply the decals, by  grabbing images of motorcycle parts in the digital camera and then overlaying the Original digital images to perfectly position the decals.
4.  After the decals are in place,  shot clear over them.
Cost?  $150 over the basic paint job.

Speedo Bracket Paint:  Klenk's Appliance Enamel (,  is an
epoxy-based aerosol.  It dries to a very hard finish, and looks pretty good when smoothed down with ultrafine sandpaper and polished with compound. I've tried PJ1 Fast Black Epoxy in the past, and this seems about equivalent but at about half the price.  Not sure what its availability is outside the US.  Multiple very thin coats at 30-minute intervals are the way to go; otherwise locally thick areas build up and cause problems.  It's also hard to get any coverage on sharp edges, so rounding them slightly with a file gives a better end result.   Dave Hartner  01/09/01
Red Rapide:  Only black components:  speedo housing;  seat cover;  tail-light shell; license bracket. Over on the left side the Miller regulator cover and the generator end-cap were red.  Sid Biberman 12/29/00
Repainting cases and covers with Plastikote Hot Engine Enamel: After a super good cleaning and a final spritz off with
electrical contact cleaner {PJ1} to remove any finger prints and a blow-dry, the real artful work begins.  Provide floodlights all around as the color black eats up illumination.  This so neccessary to good even coverage and  between lower fins and other obscure spots.  I  prefer to do the cases with all covers held in place by old dingy but clean screws, all inspection caps in place,  all other holes plugged with rolled-up masking tape,  all machined surfaces covered with tape,  and any openings sealed off.  I have a set of old scarred caps I use just for this purpose. Be sure your hands are grease/oil free doing this job.

The room and cases should be warm, about 78 - 80 degrees F.   I prefer to start with the cases upside down, resting on the tips of the big cylinder head studs, working my way around and down towards the studs . This way the bottom messed up spots when flopped over onto the bottom are easily touched up, and are not seen anyway.  Warm the cans in water to body temperature before use to get more consistant flow and pattern .
Some nozzles do better than others so swap the good one to the next can.  Blow clean with the PJ1 through the nozzle in both directions.  Light fog coat first, allowed to setup a few minutes to create tight base tooth. Now, walking around  the motor, this sitting on a bar stool - about level with your belly and well flood-lit - spray with fairly rapid but smooth passes left to right and back again, distance 12 to 14 inches away.  Light overlapping  passes across the case bottom {now upwards facing you}     keeping up that smooth motion as you walk slowly yet steadily around the motor on its stool. Keep a keen eye out for any
signs of a run developing - thus the need to use only light repeated passes while moving constantly - all to limit the thickness of the paint deposited in any one place.

When you reach past the halfway down location - stop. Rest a moment.  Now a test of your strength !  Grasping the long studs now beneath, now focusing your effort, you raise upwards the wet and glistening case and while held aloft you rotate it so that studs now point upwards -and sit it back down on its bottom without marring its shiny coat.  Take up the spraying process once again where you left off a moment earlier, the paint still wet from the last pass.  Blending in an overlapping pass, continue to walk around as before. Work  upwards until you are covering the cylinder mouths and  have painted all covers and every  crevace with care.

The final judgement  to stop is a magical moment when that glisten is apparent over the full surface  like a wet piece of  hard candy. You cannot go back over it to just correct a small thin spot because the overspray will futz up other areas, even  the other side and kill that flawless glisten so desired.  Make the decision and leave the room, allowing no one to enter that room for 48  hours.

Leave the floods on to warm the surface, thus assisting it gassing off.  The final bake off will need an oven temperature of 170 to 200 degrees F.  for about 4 hours continous.  I leave the oven door cracked open about 1 inch  to allow the paint vehicle gasses to leave the surface freely.  Allow it to cool until cold sitting undesturbed in the cold oven, its door propped open about 3 to 4 inches to allow a more gradual cooling process .     Sid Biberman  11/27/00

Powder Coating:  I know it is difficult for us to powder coat our bare aluminum cases for example, as the heat utilized in the process combines with the elements to produce a thing called other words, the powder can bubble.  I had mixed results. I polished my cases (covers) to within an inch of thier lives, then powder coated both. Mostly, the cases looked just great, the film of the (clear) powder coat toned down the gloss so (to my eye) the bike did not look over -restored.  However, some outgassing was evident and there were some small bubbles in places.

In the case of the mudguards, I experienced some "crazing" whereby the powder appeared as though it cracked under a bolt head, and turned white.The headlight and forks turned out great, no bubbles at all.

I am now in the process of doing the procedure over again. To strip you can utilize the expensive aircraft stripper with very good results. Plus, MEK (methyl ethyl keotone) also works, but it is best if the part is completely submerged. The aircraft quality stripper works (n my estimatio) best, and you won't have to worry about blasting.  If you will brush the stripper on, in one direction, in a warm room, then cover it with Saran wrap (a clear film) it will be most effective as chemicals will not evaporate immediately.

You do have to worry about is masking the part before coating. Make sure you mask all flat gasket surfaces, plus plug any holes as the process is electrostatic and will attract the powder to oil galleys, threads, holes, etc. Removing it with a file is possible, but tedious.  Overall I would not be afraid to powder coat a set of cases (Black for example) or even clear with proper preparation.

On flat areas (such as the chainguard) you will experience some orangepeel (waviness). The problem can be addressed by actually sanding the powder coat and spraying with a clear lacquer. I did mine with good results.

I just polished the fins of my cylinders, spent HOURS cleaning off the residue, and then had the cylinders coated black. White the paint is wet, the powder coater wipes each fin with his finger and leaves it shiny...I'll do the same with my cylinder heads.You can see the same procedure on  custom Harleys in the bike magazines today. To my eye, the fins now sparkle and look great.   For those in the Midwest looking for a conscientious coater, I recommend Indy Powder Coating at 317 244-2231    Carl Hungness   11/19/00

I've used Imron.  It is a two part polyurethane plastic that is as thin as lacquer.  It dries very fast and coats can be applied in 20 minute intervals until the desired thickness is achieved.  I found it very easy to apply. However,  breathing the vapors is lethal!!!  I devised some very sophisticated breathing aparatus and do all my painting in a plastic film tent so no vapors escape.  I cover all exposed skin, wear goggles, and breath only outside air through my special aparatus.  Some stores, I'm told, will not sell this paint to anyone but recognized paint shops due to it dangerous nature,
however, I had no problem buying mine.  I believe the final finish to be non-brittle--it's polyurethane plastic, but I
make no claim that is correct.  Jay Schaffer  11/18/00
Beware of
powder coating on the engine. It is difficult to get  powdercoaters to apply it evenly and thinly. Original paint was very thin,  as it should be. Barely enough to color. Any more retards heat transfer. I  suspect parts were dipped originally.  Contamination  in old castings is difficult to remove and troublesome in powdercoating  because it keeps coming out as parts are heated. I've tried both powder and  wet painting. I prefer wet painting with catalyzed urethane for the most  authentic look and performance.  Steve Hamel  11/18/00
The orginal
transfers were applied by soaking in alcohol or by applying varnish or "Tack"(?)on the back. One of the early Domiracer catalogs gave a good description of the process.
 Problems 1) It is Very tedious. Once the transfer is in place, its there.
                 2) The transfer is probably worthless. They age and will crack up.
               3) I don't know how clearcoating would affect them. I'd go crazy if I made it through 1&2 to only have it craze when it was cleared.

          Rx. My paint man uses the regular water transfer decals. Some clears will attack them. Every time he gets a technique figured out, the EPA changes the formulas of the clear. Put a decal on the bottom and experiment. Also if you are adept with a paint brush go around paint black over the small border around the transfer. Otherwise there will be a small white border around it. The vinyl "peel and stick" are about one mill thick. They will stand proud once applied and cleared. I guess you could clear it alot. I think the water transfer ones are best. Make sure they are new too. Some of thee old ones seem to deteriorate with age.  Tank covers are cheaper!   The above ramblings are not nesesarily those of a sane mind.  Somer Hooker  4/24/00

These sound like the "Varnish Type" which I used this type on my Shadow in the early '80s.  I found them to be much more difficult to apply than the waterslide types.   The waterslide has two components:  The backing paper and the transfer while the varnish type has three:  The transfer, a tissue covering and finally, the backing paper.  Jeff Clew goes into it in more detail in The Restoration of Vintage and Thoroughbred Motorcycles:

The "nutshell" version of the application procedure involves applying "varnish" (as the adhesive) to the back of the transfer and letting it "touch dry" before removing the thicker backing paper (leaving the tissue in place)and applying to the applying tank.  The tissue paper is left on the transfer after installation and is left there until the transfer dries.  The tissue is then moistened and removed and the remaining tissue adhesive sponged off.

It sounds very easy, but itis not in practice.  The newer waterslides are infinitely easier to apply properly and therefore are more likely to produce a better finisehd product, in my opinion.  Perhaps your friend remembers the
waterslides available in the '70s which were not true reproductions of the original?

Alcohol?  I have used "Spirit fit"  Achilles Wheel transfers.  The mixture is 75% methanol and 25% water.  They tended to wrinkle during drying.  Use waterslides.  Russ Williams  4/24/00

In  Richardsons book: 'A few transfers of the cardboard variety have been supplied in the past.  This type, which is matt gold on one side, is affixed with methylated spirit; this should not be allowed to dry before fitting as in the case of gold size.'

This appears to be the transfer type I have.  Anyone tried these, and what is methylated spirit?   Paul Zell  4/24/00

I insist if possible to get  transfers of the old fashionend lacquer (spirit) type. That is because:
They are similar to the original ones as
--they are very much thinner----
-- fascilitates clear laquer coating
-- they stick better  to the  base
-- they seldom(!!?) "boil" when clear coated...

I apply either type in the following manner(short version):

1. Split paper with transfer from cardboard(needed for production and packaging only)
2. Make sure where exactly the transfer is going. Put on  some masking tape pieces as supporting markings to help in the final placement  (=trial runs).
3. Paint the rear of the transfer only (gold size = splendid !!! as this is REAL gold and will have the exact colour and stay that way; and be a perfect match for the  gold size lining to be applied later.... )  Paint with Clear Humbrol hobby paint...  this is clear one step Poly Urethane , will take any clear coat without lifting or "boiling" later....
4. The advantage of this varnish is that it is reasonably slow drying and comes in a handy size box...   :o)
5. When the Humbrol is tacky, place paper  with transfer aided by masking tape in the right spot.  Sorry: Get it right this first time! (therefore the "dummy-runs" and masking tape !!)
6 .Use back of finger nail and "polish out" the transfer and  get it well stuck.
7. Let it dry,  if you have painted another spot with the Humbrol you'll get an idea as to when "tacky" and when all dry.. Backin paper still there.....
8. Make up an egg glass, cup, or a saucer with half  and half water and red spirit(metylated spirit= for use in petrol during winter for removing carburettor icing) or methanol and dab the paper in this solution with a cotton cloth on the backing paper until it is transparent...
9. When the spirit (alcohol) soluble paper-transfer  glue is "liquid", slide the paper backing off and carefully clean  the finished transfer with the rest of the alcohol solution.
10. Finished!

The reason for the paper backing lies in the screenprinting process of making  transfers(decals)..  without the paper and the alchohol solulbe glue, the transfer will have to be much thicker (a separate base) and many more coats of clear will have to be  applied to give a coating  thick enough to be sandend down again for the last all-even-shine...

Sorry for the length of this, but  not many know of the old ways.....Please contact me if this needs clearifying or further arguments..  :o)

PS  I use the same materials for REAL gold  linings...............(no brown "gold" paint)    Per Erik and  F/10/AB/1/17   4/24/00

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