Painting "kit" tanks, applying emblems and lettering

Discussion in 'Painting, Welding, Bending and Gas Tanks' started by mystic-chris, May 29, 2011.

  1. mystic-chris

    mystic-chris New Member

    Even though the typical "kit tank" has a pretty nice shape, the fact that most people tend to leave the stock black finish on these tanks -- no matter what color their bike's frame is -- just makes these bikes shout KIT!

    So when I recently built my first MB, I decided that my tank was going to match my cruiser's white frame. I considered having an autobody shop put a serious professional white finish on the tank. But because the surface area of a kit tank is so small and nicely smooth (and because I'm a died-in-the-wool DIY guy), I decided that I'd try the paint job myself with "rattle cans." I did some research online, and found a detailed explanation of this subject on a motorcycle forum. I had to buy a variety of ultra-fine sandpapers, spray primer, Krylon gloss spray paint, rubbing compound and polishing compound. And I had to be very patient in observing the prescribed waiting times between steps. (And, the use of typical car wax will have to wait for a couple of months.) But the end result is all I had hoped for. Here's a link to those "rattle can" spray paint instructions:

    Then, I wanted to add a bit more originality and subtle customization to my MB. I came up with the name "Pistone-Pedali." That's the Italian singular of "piston," and the plural for "pedals." And it's a very literal description of these machines, in the language of a country that's long been nuts about bicycles, as well as motorcycles. I did some more online research, and found an excellent source of vinyl lettering that allows you to easily design and create your lettering projects on their web site. Within an hour of choosing my typeface and design and placing my order, these guys sent a confirming email saying that my tank emblems had been made, and that they'd be shipped via Priority Mail that same day! Two days later, I received them. The site is:

    Attached is a closeup of my tank, and a full view of my bike.

    Attached Files:

  2. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    right on!!!
    finally someone else who sees things the way i see them.
    stock black tanks scream "i'm a kit!"
    here's what i did to my kit gas tank.
    I sprayed the tank with metallic white laquer, followed by one coat of clear laquer with pearl dust in it, and then 4 more coats of straight clear laquer. wetsanded and buffed.
    I did the paint job in 2009, and this past spring I had my friend throw some pinstripes on the tank.

    here's the bike and tank before the pinstripes were put in it, so you can see how the colors tie together.
    I'll have to take some new pics showing the striped tank on the bike.
  3. mystic-chris

    mystic-chris New Member


    Hey Motorpsycho,

    That's a great-looking tank and bike, and your friend's pinstriping skills are outrageous! I also know a guy who does freehand pinstriping, and it's amazing to me how geometrically-perfect he can be with a paintbrush on an irregular surface.

    Right from the start, I thought that WHITE was the right color for my MB. When choosing a color, I think that it's easy to default to the dramatic look of BLACK, and many vehicles look great in black. But there's just something about white; although I'm not sure what. Probably just that it's unexpected on vehicles like ours -- kind of like a hot, trashy girl in a "wedding-gown-white" string bikini, maybe!

    Since I recently built my MB and have been riding it around my coastal-Connecticut town, I've had several people ask me if I'd build one for them. So I'm thinking about getting set up for a sideline business. I've started messing around with some advertising ideas, and I've attached something that I came up with today for the sure-to-be-a-success "Pistone-Pedali" brand of MB!

    Thanks for writing.


    Attached Files:

  4. swaney3

    swaney3 New Member

    Those are great looking tanks... I've decided to put a friction drive on my wifes pink and white schwinn lulu bike.. I'm wondering what the best way to paint the plastic pieces of her drive kit would be.. She's all about the look of her bike.
  5. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    for painting plastic, you will need to get an adhesion promotor. this is available in spray cans by duplicolor, and it's basically a clear primer that will help the paint stick to plastic. you spray on the adhesion promoter, and then the paint over the top of it.
    above all, CLEAN the plastic VERY well before you do anything because if the plastic isn't 100% clean and free of oil, the adhesion promoter won't stick.
    even the oil from your fingers will cause the adhesion promoter and paint not to stick.
  6. Stoney

    Stoney Member

    I enjoy this thread! Great info and clean bikes
  7. swaney3

    swaney3 New Member

    Thanks loads for the tip on painting plastic.. I'll paint it b4 I even assemble it. What's best to clean the plastic with b4 applying the promoter?
  8. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    a good wax / grease remover is a good choice. this is availble at auto parts stores that sell automotive paint. it's sometimes called prep-sol.
    I think if you read the can of the promoter, it will tell you what to clean the plastic with.
    sometimes, good old laquer thinner is a great way to clean things, but it will not get along with some plastics.(it'll melt certain plastics)
    Mineral spirits is also good, and sometimes you can get away with using 90% rubbing alcohol.
    I have always had good luck using 90% rubbing alcohol, and mineral spirits, but again if you use mineral spirits, make sure it wil not harm the plastic. Usually it will be fine, especially if it's an hdpe (high density polyethylene) type of plastic (like what cas cans are made out of).
    I'm not an expert on this subject, but i do know how to paint.
    the way to an excellent paint job is 80% in the prep of the material before you paint.
  9. spad4me

    spad4me Member

    Many is the time the repainted tank paint is attacked by the alcohol oil mix in my fuel.

    After you paint the pretty tank this will keep it looking good.

    TopFlight Lustercoat fuel proof clear.

    They also sell colors that are gasoline proof.
    You can get the paint at any hobby shop.
  10. hammer5312

    hammer5312 Member

    my problem with the tanks is that stupid ridge sticking out all the way around the tank.....

    If I can figure out how to get rid of that....then I won't have to go custom....
  11. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    I totally agree with you on that ridge. (seam) I hate it!!!
    but that ridge is there because the tank is actually 2 halves of pressed steel, brazed together at that ridge(seam)
    You could cut the ridge off but then you'd have to re-weld the 2 halves of the tank back together, grind it down and bondo over it to smooth it out.
    I thought about doing that, but i don't think it's wort the effort. I can build a custom tank in the time it would take me to get rid of the seam and smooth out the stock tank.
  12. RedBaronX

    RedBaronX Member

    mine is actually a Whizzer tank, but the basic shape and style is very similar to the stock tanks. Just painted the red yesterday:


    Last edited: Jun 2, 2011
  13. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    so what does that mean in english?
    I'm in the middle of re-painting the custom tank on my o.c.c. chopper and so far it's looking really good. I just got the second coat of paint on it today (2 more coats to go)
    the color is "diamond dust" high metallic silver laquer. it will get about 4 coats of clear laquer over it, wetsanded and buffed, and then it's being sent off to my friend for some way out custom pinstiping.
    the main colors of the bike are black & silver with a few chrome peices on it.
    originally i painted the tank with metallic black laquer and clear and it looked really good.
    I just decided to go with a different color on the tank to give the bike a different look.
  14. RedBaronX

    RedBaronX Member

    Prussian Iron, sort of a play on the "Milwaukee Iron" that Harley is
  15. Sgt. Howard

    Sgt. Howard Member

    gas tank ridge

    I am useing those plastic door edge guards they sell at Wally World for under three dollars. They come in chrome and it looks rather neat. Use gas resistant glue at the front of the tank where you join them andapply pressure for 24hrs. If that doesn't work,I will pin the puppy.
  16. motorpsycho

    motorpsycho Active Member

    that's pretty funny!!
  17. rustycase

    rustycase New Member

    Even that whizzer tank is a nice change from looking at the peanut tanks!

    Anybody know the kanji for "chineez rust" ???
    or maybe a Neil Young kinda thing... Rust Never Sleeps ?
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2011
  18. RedBaronX

    RedBaronX Member

    are you talking about running edging around the seam, to essentially encase it? I was thinking of using copper tubing sliced open, but I think I might just leave it as it is. If the seam gets all dinged up though, I'll rethink that and do something
  19. machiasmort

    machiasmort Active Member

    That adhesion promoter that was previously mentioned works great on hard to glue plastics also! Just apply it to the areas to be glued!
  20. Sgt. Howard

    Sgt. Howard Member

    Kit Tank stuff

    I've tagged the plastic door edge protector around the tank edging, putting the ends to the front- looks cool enough, even tho it comes a bit short. Will do pics, but right now I'm moving and do not even have my own internet... currently on my brother-in-laws'...
    the Old Sgt.