Swirl Painted my Sportster
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Swirl Painted my Sportster

This is a discussion on Swirl Painted my Sportster within the General forums, part of the Caferacer.net Forums category; when I was on vacation I decided that I hated that my junkyard dog vintage woods-trials sportster was looking like a mismatch of parts, what ...

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Thread: Swirl Painted my Sportster

  1. #1
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Swirl Painted my Sportster

    when I was on vacation I decided that I hated that my junkyard dog vintage woods-trials sportster was looking like a mismatch of parts, what with it's metallic two tone pink rear fender and black dented up tank. So I hydro-dipped it. This is basically a painting method of floating oil based paint on top of water and then pushing the part through the surface to get the paint to stick in a swirl pattern. There are dozens of you-tube videos documenting this if you want to see how the process works, some use spray cans, some use paint out of a bottle. I used paint out of a bottle to float on the surface and then clear coated with Rustoleum Crystal Clear.

    I mad a lot of mistakes doing this. I didn't get the borax to dissolve in the pail causing the gold to sink to the bottom more often than I liked. I didn't do a great job prepping the underlying bodywork so up close one part of the bondo shows through slightly. I wasn't careful about the base coats either so at one point the sandable primer sucked all the gloss out of the gloss enamel base coat. And I didn't get all the old paint off the fender and it reacted with some of the primer requiring some extra sanding. All in all I am impressed with the results despite the setbacks and flaws. I did this in a garbage can with hobby paint and rattle cans.

    It has 3 coats of rattle can clear on it and it needs 3 more, a 600 then 1000 wet sand, and a cut and buff. Then it will be perfect. Honestly for the first time it was kind of ambitious and I didn't realize it. I had to do the fender 4 times till I got the pattern I wanted but the tank I got on the first try.

    If I had to do it again I would manage the water better, and I would use the humbrol paint only, the testers was much harder to work with. In fact I think I might try real automotive paint next time.

    In case anybody is wondering the colors are humbrol metallic black and testors metallic gold over Toyota granite black. Up close it looks like the cosmos as there are subtle contrasts between the two blacks with the gold floating over. There are a few small areas where the paint got blotchy and thick but otherwise it's almost a molecule thin over the surface. Compared to any kind of spraying I have done this is the least wasteful method of getting color on a surface without using a brush.

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  2. #2
    Senior Member CaTacL1sm's Avatar
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    looks great

    That license plate/tail light location though...
    kerosene likes this.
    Quote Originally Posted by alwhite00 View Post
    Fuck all of you guys. Get into your little circle jerk and have fun. Thought this may be a pretty cool message board but damn, you guys are assholes.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaTacL1sm View Post
    looks great

    That license plate/tail light location though...
    yeah yeah...I know....although in NY it isn't illegal. Actually the new nightsters mount the plate in a similar location. At least it is readable and not one of those vertical deals that just asks for trouble. Besides when it comes to cornering I have more to worry about from those tires than a plate scraping the ground.

    it's just mocked up right now, but one thing I have yet to install are the signals and running lights which will clear up some of the lighting issues from having the low mounted taillights.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
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  5. #4
    jcw
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    Senior Member jcw's Avatar
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    Gawd, i wish i had the motivation (and skill) to just paint my bike one color.

    This is a cool skill/technique.

  6. #5
    Administrator WERA689's Avatar
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    Man....Red Wing shocks....it's been a LOOOOOOONG time since I've seen any of those! Looks good, Geeto!

  7. #6
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WERA689 View Post
    Man....Red Wing shocks....it's been a LOOOOOOONG time since I've seen any of those! Looks good, Geeto!
    Thanks.

    The heartbreaker is that they were NOS Redwings that I had been holding on to for like 6 years before I decided to just mount them up. In the early 2000s NOS hammerheads littered ebay - now you can't hardly find any used ones. I originally bought them for my H1 but found them too long. I also had to re-spring them for the weight of the sportster and found a guy with NOS redwing springs.
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
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  8. #7
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcw View Post
    Gawd, i wish i had the motivation (and skill) to just paint my bike one color.

    This is a cool skill/technique.
    go watch some videos on youtube about people doing this. There are a ton of like guys using spray cans to do this effect on deer skulls and stuff and honestly you watch some of them and realize if they can do it in a walmart tub in their trailer park, you can do it in your driveway with a trashcan and a motorcycle part. Seriosuly like half those videos show some dude's half exposed butt crack while he bends over a plastic tub huffing paint fumes as he puts the paint into the water. Watching those vids you'll feel like a rocket surgeon.

    The really cool ones are the guitar ones where guys are floating paint on water in these huge vats while prog rock jams in the background.

    A related technique is Hydro-Grpahics. Same concept with a huge tank of water, but instead of floating paint, you float a printed dissolving film:
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    I really want to try this too but I am having a hard time finding a printed pattern I really like. Apparently I have something against the cliche's of skulls or moaning ghosts and motorcycles...lol....

    although I did think this wood grain evo sportster tank set was kind of interesting:
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    The cleanup is even easier than with the paint stuff. Seriously, between this, vinyl wraps, and the overall quality of paint products and non-spray techniques increasing, there is very little excuse not to paint an ugly motorcycle anymore.
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  9. #8
    Senior Member drgonzo's Avatar
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    Does that thing run? Every time you post a pic of it I get all juiced up for a damned ironhead. Cool paint project.

  10. #9
    Fk5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geeto67 View Post
    The cleanup is even easier than with the paint stuff. Seriously, between this, vinyl wraps, and the overall quality of paint products and non-spray techniques increasing, there is very little excuse not to paint an ugly motorcycle anymore.
    Stop yelling at me!

  11. #10
    Senior Member Geeto67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drgonzo View Post
    Does that thing run? Every time you post a pic of it I get all juiced up for a damned ironhead. Cool paint project.
    yup. I pulled it out of storage in June and prepped it to run. New battery and fresh oil and fuel and it fired right up. I rode it around the block 2-3 times (tags were expired though it is insured) before I took the bodywork off it to paint and then didn't ride it. In the pics it is mocked up because the bodywork still needs more clear coat.

    the cam cover on dad's supercharged fat boy cracked. He's bummed the bike is out for the season so I am going to renew the tags on the sporty and he can finish riding out his season on it. He's currently ferrying a friend's plane from Montana to NY so I have a few days before he is back. Once he gets back he's going to spray more clear on it, then buff it, and then he's going to ride the thing. He and I both ride till the temp gets below 30 so it will get some good fall use.

    He put some money into it a long time ago when I was broke and the bike was broken so I could ride it around. He gave me the magneto for an xmas present in 2011. I feel like I kind owe him some use out of the thing and besides my current garage is only setup for 3 bikes and 3 bikes is what I have in it now.

    Dad wasn't on-board with the paint at all when I explained it to him, but once we were halfway into the process he started to have a lot of fun and then got really into it. Now he's a fan. I think he didn't think we could get a good swirl pattern out of it or that it would look out of time, but once it was mocked up it looks great and has that 70's psychedelic vibe.

    One thing that is an on-going argument between me and him is an emblem. He wants to put a vintage HD decal on it like this:
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    I told him I don't want to put any HD emblems on the bike at all. He countered by buying a top handlebar clamp with a stylized HD logo on it from his friend Jimmy and I got stuck with it. Now that Jimmy's chopper shop is closed I don't mind it so much but I still don't want to put a bar and shield on it.

    I thought I was going to be sneaky and ordered 2 small vinyl decals that said "this machine kills facists" in tribute to Arlo Guthrie. I was all set to put them on but in the wake of Charlotte we both kind of agreed it was probably not a good idea. The last thing I want is some dipshit white supremacist picking a fight with my 72 year old dad because he doesn't get the reference to 50's-60's folk music.

    One thing we both kind of joked about was seeing if I could find some old AMF bowling logos. Since the bike kind of now looks like a bowling ball and it is an AMF era sporty, it would be really funny to go full humor and do something like this:


    unfortunately finding vintage AMF decals that are not motorcycle related are harder than I thought. Apparently nobody restores old bowling equipment. the closest I have found is this and I don't know if it will sit well under the clear:
    AMF Bowling Sticker Decal R338 | eBay

    I did find these AMF decals for the XLCR but they are motorcycle based, even though they keep with the black and gold scheme:
    https://www.hi-speedmotorcycles.com/...amf-decal-pair
    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
    - Samuel Beckett
    A tool is just an opportunity with a handle
    - Kevin Kelly

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