How to Paint Your Moped

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Writers Note: Keep in mind that this is my own personal method and is in no way promising a certain result. If you are looking for a cheap alternative to having your ped professionally painted.. this is for you! -DannyMoped

That said...

It’s all in the preparation:

You can spend 100’s of $$$ on expensive paint and it will look like crap if you don’t know what you’re doing. On the same note, you can buy a couple $3 rattle-cans and get a top-shelf paint job (Normally my approach).

The trick is to have an idea of what you want BEFORE you tear into your bike. Go through some sketches, renderings, pictures of other bikes and try to get a sense of the direction you want your paint to take. Make some lists of color choices and get a pack of colored pencils. Start drawing out what you want to shoot for (you don't need to be an artist, you just need to see where you're going before you end up in a place you don't want to be).

Design.jpg

Remember, this is what you want to shoot for, this will give you a goal and the start of a blueprint for the process in which you remove parts, clean parts, prep parts, paint them, and reinstall them in the end.

In the case of this photo the bike is a basic orange with a lot of little odds and ends painted a different color. The main parts that are the body color are the headlight bucket, frame, front fender, and swing-arm. So, obviously, a complete disassembly is needed.


Before you turn a wrench:

Make sure you have a good manual!! There's nothing worse than ripping into a paint project and forgetting how to put things back together once you're done. Make sure you follow the instructions in the manual as every one is a tad different. I recommend a good Haynes manual or one of the multiple work-shop books found at the MopedRiders.org repair page.

Once you've got your action plan it's time to... prep some more.

Prepping the Part:

1a. Remove the part you intend to paint from the ped.

1b. If it’s a wheel, or handlebars, or something where another part is attached to it, REMOVE the other parts, or tape them up as CLOSELY as possible.

1c. If the part has multiple pieces attached, make sure you remove EVERYTHING from it.

PaintHeadlight.jpg HeadlightApart.jpg

2. Remove ALL STICKERS, do NOT paint over them.

3. SPRAY THE PART WITH CARBURETOR CLEANER! This will remove any stickum from stickers, and will break up the hard grease and gasoline residue on the parts.

4. SPRAY THE PART DOWN WITH ENGINE DE-GREASER! This will remove the carburetor cleaner and any residual grease/dirt.

5. Let the part dry, then sand it with 220G sand paper. If the part is already painted DON’T sand down to the bare metal if you can avoid it.

SandHeadlight.jpg

6. After you sand the ENTIRE part, wash it with soap and water. (Dish soap works well.) Wash your HANDS while you’re doing this or wear gloves for the next few steps.

SandedHeadlight.jpg

7. Towel dry the part with CLEAN HANDS, you do not want ANY grease on the part from now on.

8. Once the part is dry, ensure there are NO SHINY PARTS LEFT. If the piece remains shiny, this could prevent primer/paint from sticking to that area. Sanding creates ridges in the original surface for the new paint to stick to, this is why you don't want to sand down to bear metal as the existing paint creates a better bonding surface.

NOTE: If you intend to paint CHROME surfaces (say they've become rusty or they just don't fit into your design) you can prep them the same way as a painted piece; however, after you sand the part you may want to do a few coats of primer over it, one at a time, sanding lightly with 220 in between coats. Continue to the following instructions to do this properly.

So you REALLY want to paint?

Ok, ok... put the can down, you're not ready yet! Here are a few tips to help you get the best results for your desired look.


PAINT TIP 1:

When using CANS of paint, make sure your PRIMER, COLOR, and CLEAR are ALL THE SAME BRAND/TYPE of paint. You CANNOT paint Laquers over Acrylics, Acrylics over Enamels, or any combo there-of.

Shake the can for 2 mins after the ball starts rattling.

When you’re ready to paint make BROAD LIGHT STROKES over the piece. Don’t aim at the piece and push the button, begin spraying ahead of the piece and don’t let go until you pass it. Keep 8-10 inches away. (This is the norm for ALL styles of paint.)

PAINT TIP 2:

Lighter colors, like Yellow, Orange, White, and Reds need a light base coat. Use a white or grey primer for these. Darker colors can use either light or dark depending on the finish you’re after. If you want your colors thicker, use a black base/primer coat, lighter, use a white/yellow base/primer coat.

Also, lighter colors tend to be thinner, so you will need to spray them a little lighter, almost DUSTING the part during your coats. Don’t worry if it takes you a long time, it’ll be worth it in the end!


Primer Time:

1. Do 2 light coats of primer about 1 minute apart. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

2. If the primer shows any imperfections in the finish, these WILL SHOW in the following coats, so now is the time to fix them. Any runs, or pock marks in the paint should be lightly sanded out using 400g sand paper. After you fix the spot, wipe it clean with a moist towel, then dry it with a dry towel, then lightly touch up that area with more primer.

Color Coats:

1. Do 3 light coats of color about 1 minute apart. Don’t rush, and make light, even passes to prevent bubbling and runs.

2. After about 2 minutes from your first 3 light coats do a good medium coverage coat hitting all the surface area. Try to keep the whole thing wet without getting too much over-spray on the areas you already painted. Do this by continuously moving, and using the start before, end after paint method mentioned earlier.

3. Let the part DRY FULLY before you do ANYTHING to it. Don’t worry if you have any runs or drips, you can fix them later.

NOTE: Most paints require a 7 day curing period if you're not going to do all the coats in one sitting. This is actually the best way to paint, if you're not in a rush... and you shouldn't be. It’s best to just let the part sit and not attempt to install it or add additional coats to it for about 7-10 days until all the hardeners in the paint have had a chance to evaporate out.

This is also the reason why you want to do coats closely together (24 hours or less) because if you try to paint over the part say, more than 24 hours later, the outer layer has already hardened. Spraying wet paint over that layer will TRAP the first coat’s hardener UNDER the layer and IT WILL NEVER DRY. Having all the coats done within 24 hours allows the hardeners to permeate through the layers and harden uniformly.

If you can’t clear coat or base coat within 24 hours you MUST WAIT AT LEAST A WEEK before doing another coat. Otherwise you will have to start all over again.

Fixing Blemishes:

Wet Sanding

After the proper 7 day curing period (or if you've baked your part in an oven) take some 400G sandpaper and soak it in WARM water. (Make sure it’s wet/dry sandpaper). After about 20 minutes soaking, take the piece of paper and rip off a small corner. Grab a squirt-bottle full of warm, soapy water and lightly WET-SAND the drips and runs. Just get them smooth, don’t burn through the paint.

This process will remove any fine-line scratches, orange-peel, ripples, drips, runs, or waves in your paint. It will also help to blend coats or layers if you're doing 2 colors or taped-off graphics.

When wet sanding near edges, it is very easy to sand through the top layers, so be careful.

Touch-ups

If you do mess up and burn through the paint, rinse off the part with warm water, towel dry, and give it a LIGHT cover coat of the color paint. Just remember, if you do this, you’ll have to wait ANOTHER 24 hours before you can clear coat.

Most people can get away with only one coat of color, but for a richer and more durable finish, multiple coats can be applied.

Here's what you should end up with after 1 wet sanding session if you've only done one coat of color over your primer:

SandedFrame.jpg
SandedFrame2.jpg
SandedFrame3.jpg

If you look closely, the paint has been burned through where there was either a weak bond, or contamination of the primer coat. Also, you can see the light gray primer showing through around the edges or the part.

The maroon patch is where the VIN plate was on this particular model. It was taped off, and then the decision was made to remove it for future coats. The wet-sanding created a near flawless transition between the new and old paint coats while still retaining the shape of the plate. Once another coat is applied, you won't even know it was there.

Multiple Coats:

The trick to hiding your mistakes is in the follow-up coats. Now that your part is as smooth as possible, free of grease, dirt and blemishes, each coat you add will create a thicker, and more luscious result in the end.

1. Apply your following coats in the same manner as the initial color coat allowing 10 to 12 minutes between coats. Again, do all of these coats LIGHTLY.

2. Let the part cure for 7 days.

3. DO NOT WET SAND. Follow steps 1 and 2 until you've got the desired number of coats. (Note, 1 can of paint should be good for about 2 coats on a frame.)

4. Three or four coats should be enough to get you by.

5. DO NOT WET SAND THE FINAL COLOR COAT.

When you're done the paint should be smooth and even. If it's a little rough, don't worry. As it cures the paint will have a tendency to smooth itself out.

Here's what your part should look like once the final color coat has been added.

PartsPoolTable.jpgFrontEnd.jpg

Now remember, this coat will need to CURE all the way before you can apply a clear coat. Allow it to sit for a week in a warm, dry area. If you have access to heat lamps, this will aid in the curing process.

Clear Coat:

After your parts are where you want them and you’ve let them dry/cure for 7 days you can clear coat them. Most times you won’t have to do anything to the color coat, don’t worry if it’s hazy, or bumpy in some spots, the clear coat will take care of it.

Applying the Clear

1. Follow the same painting techniques discussed earlier doing 3 light coats, and one medium wet coat at 1-2minute intervals.

2. Allow the part to sit for 7 days again.

3. Repeat steps 1-2 until you get the desired amount of coats of clear. (4 max).

Buffing

Now, if you have bumps, orange peel, or light drips use a buffing pad and some 2000-3000g rubbing compound on the areas. Follow the directions on the package as they differ from brand to brand.

Once you’ve got the part smooth, it will be hazy in the areas you used the compound. Get a good carnuba wax and a foam buffer wheel (for a drill, about 4 inches across, 1-2 inches thick) and buff the entire piece. Go slowly, don’t burn through the paint, and keep the drill/buffer at a LOW RPM. This is the final step, so do it right.

Caring for Your Paint and Things to Consider

Avoiding contact with Gas/Carburetor cleaner is a HIGH priority on a home-grown paint job.

I typically use DupliColor ENGINE ENAMEL ‘500 degree’ for frames because it is gas and oil resistant. This comes in primer, base color, and clear varieties.

If you’re doing small parts or forks, wheels, etc… use Rustolium primer/base/clear just follow the same rules.

If you’re going to use a professional paint setup, you’ll need to get yourself a good painters guide or shop manual on how to use these paints. Different types require different dry times/hardeners/curing processes.


Painting the Engine/Exhaust (Hot Stuff)

For engines/exhausts/intakes/heads/cases, I use DupliColor Engine Enamel 1200 degree. This only comes in a few colors, but black is pretty much all I use… DON’T primer engine/exhaust parts unless you're using HIGH-HEAT primer.

Clean the parts using the above prep process for regular paint (carb cleaner, engine degreaser, soap and water, sanding) and simply spray it on. Make sure you MASK OFF any areas where bearings seat or seals/gaskets need to go, paint will sometimes interfere with their operation/leak stopping ability. NEVER ALLOW PAINT TO GET ONTO THE PISTON, RINGS, OR INTO ANY SECTION OF THE COMBUSTION CHAMBER OR CRANK CASE.

Allow the part to sit for about 24 hours before you install it and try to run it.

Sometimes I actually bake my parts in an old toaster oven if they’re small enough, bigger parts can be baked in an old convection/kitchen oven. (Don't go inside and use your mom's new GE deal... It'll make everything she cooks taste like paint for a month.)

This process will cure the part and you can install it the instance it cools down.


Originally written and edited by Danny Moped

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