- Materials and Resources
- Preparing a New Pinstripe Brush
- Using the Brush
- Applying the Pinstripe Stencil Tape
- Mixing the Paint
- Problems With Front Fender Pinstripes
- Pinstriping the Gas Tank
- Pinstriping the Fairing
Now that the paint is done and the clear coat sanded and polished, I’m ready to try my hand at painting the pinstripes on the fenders and tank. I’m debating if I want to paint them on the fairing as well. The Windjammer fairing was repainted to match the bike and had pinstripes in an oval pattern. I’m not sure I want to repeat that pattern, but maybe some along the raised edge between the upper and lower sections would be nice.
Materials and Resources
I’ve never painted pinstripes before, so this project is an opportunity to learn about it and do it. I had a general idea of how this is done, and I found some helpful YouTube video’s on the basics of pinstripe brushes, paletteing paint and using a brush freehand.
Here is the materials list.
|Source||Company||Product / Order Code|
|TCP Global||Finesse Pinstriping Inc:
The STRIPER® Pinstripe Stencil Tape
|FNE F-3 or FNE F-4
(I think F-3 is closer to original pinstripe widths)
|TCP Global||Custom Shop||Lettering White, EZ Flow Pinstriping Paint:
|TCP Global||Custom Shop||Stripping & Lettering Urethane Harder:
|TCP Global||Mack||Sword Stripping Brush:
Series 10, “00”
(Works OK for the 1/8 and 1/4 inch stripes)
|TCP Global||3M||3m Fine Line Tape:
MMM 6404 1/8 inch
MMM 6405 1/4 inch
|Other Materials||* Palette for loading pinstripe brush
* Lacquer Thinner
* Reducer (Custom Shop or equivalent)
* Orderless Mineral Spirits
I bought a “00″ Mack pinstripe brush from my local auto paint supplier.I got the Custom Shope pinstripe paint from TCP Global, “Lettering White” and some hardener (KSE 701-HP) to mix with it. Custom Shop brand can be used under clear coat if the paint has the hardner added. I decided not to clear coat over the pinstripes, but the hardner should reduce wear and tear of the stripes. I needed to thin the paint and used extra Glausrit reducer for the Monza Blue paint. Custom Shop sells reducer, but I decided to use what I had on hand.
I decided to use “training wheels”. I found stencil tape at TPC Global with the correct line thickness and distance between them. I chose the “FNE F-3” tape. I measured the pinstipes on the tank before I stripped the paint. Since the pinstripes are hand painted, they vary a bit as shown below and the FNE F-3 seems to be a good choice.
Here are some of the resources I found on pinstriping. I was fascinated by Glen Weisgerber’s demonstration of how the seemingly intricate freehand designs are created from a few simple strokes. I’m just doing straight lines and with training wheels, so what I have to do is nothing as cool as what he does.
Preparing a New Pinstripe Brush
The brush needs some preparation before I use it. First is to clean it. The bristles have a light oil coating on them and that needs to be removed. I use Oderless Mineral Spirits and soak the bush for a few minutes and then dry it off.
I read that the tip of the brush should be trimed with a sharp single edge razor at an angle. Then, when the brush is wet with mineral spirits, remove any hairs that stick out.
Using the Brush
I found information about how to care for the brush and how to use it in the videos I link to above. I want to practice some of this before I start painting stripes on the parts.
Paletting Paint on the Brush
The long hairs of the brush are designed to hold the paint and then let it flow to the tip when drawing a line. I practice loading the brush on a palette, in this case, a glossy page from an advertisement. As soon as the hairs get wet with paint, they mold into a nice taper.
NOTE: Many of the demonstration videos show paletting the paint using magazine paper for the palette. I found that Custom Shop pinstripe paint can absorb some of the color from the page. So I’m use a glass plate I keep for straightening the front forks for my palette.
Pulling a Free Hand Stripe
For fun, I tryfree hand painting with the brush on the inside of the rear fender to see how it feels. It’s like painting with a wet noodle as the long hairs are not stiff but very flexible. I read that you can change the width to the line by pressing down harder on the brush handle and I try free hand painting two different width lines.
I clean the paint off but I don’t use the mineral spirits. The Custom Shop paint is not like the old stand-by, “One Shot”, and the paint does not disolve in mineral spirits as One Shot does. I use lacquer thinner and it comes off very easily.
Using the Pinstripe Stencil
The pinstripe stencil comes with instructions and there is a PDF with more information on-line. It is on a roll with a clear backing attached to the bronze colored masking stripes.
After sticking the tape to the surface, the clear backing is removed leaving the bronze strips in place. You paint in between the bronze strips for the two pinstripes. I cut a small piece off the roll to practice with the pinstripe brush. I find that a light touch in the narrow gap keeps the paint easily inside the gap. A bit more pressure and the hairs flatten out and fit nicely within the wider gap.
I pull the bronze strips of tape off the part as soon as I finish painting. The paint starts to setup in a couple minutes after applying it and when you peel the bronze strips before the paint has completely dried, the paint is still a bit elastic so the edge stays sharp. I wasn’t worried about starting and stopping the stripe within the masked lines as you can see above. I just wanted to get a feel for pulling a short stripe and how much pressure to put on the handle.
I need more practice, and then I’ll put my “training wheels” stencil tape on the rear fender, take a deep breath and go for it.
Cleaning and Storing the Brush
I use lacquer thinner to clean out the paint from the brush. Then I rinse it in Mineral Spirits and put a couple drops of 3-in-One oil on the hairs and use my fingers to soak the hairs in the oil. I store the brush with the hairs flattened out tit in a plastic bag and lay the brush flat on a shelf. Since the bristles are real hair, some folks recommond using Neets foot oil in hairs before storing the brush, some use motor oil, some use 3-in-One oil. I had 3-in-One handy and figured it wouldn’t have a bunch of additives in it.
When I use the brush again, I first clean it in mineral spirits to remove the oil and then clean it in lacquer thinner to remove the mineral spirits before paletting the paint on the brush.
Applying the Pinstripe Stencil Tape
The wider pinstripe is toward the outside of the part so I have to start applying the tape in the proper direction. The tape can be tacked down and then lifted and retacked down without a problem so I can reposition it until it looks right.
I start with the rear fender. The stencil can go around a curve but it doesn’t work well with tight curves. The technique I use is to hold the roll in one hand and put a fair amount of tension on the stencil tape while I use my left thumb to anchor the tape to the part. Then I tug the tape toward the direction of the curve and wiggle it back and forth to get it to stretch while I push my thumb in the direction of the curve to stick the tape down and to increase the amount of stretching. I repeat this again to get a tighter curve as needed.
When I finish applying the stencil, I use a sharp single edge razor blade to cut the tape off leaving some extra at the end to work with. I gentle push the edge of the blade under a bronze strip to separate it from the clear backing and repeat to get all three loose from the backing.
I hold all three strips so as they do not stick together and pull on clear plastic backing until I reach where the bronze tape is going to end on the part. Now I pull straight back on the backing, not straight up, to peel it away from the bronze strips.
As shown above, I’ve gotten some wrinkles and puckers in the bronze tape from stretching it into a curve. I can peel each of the stripe up and then gentle shape each one to a tighter curve than I can with the clear backing on the stencil and smooth out the puckers. This works pretty well to get the bronze tape to go around tighter radius curves. Then I use the my thumb nail and trace each strip pushing hard to make sure it sticks well and there is no gap at the edge of the strip.
Mixing the Paint
I use a small “shot glass” measuring cup,as shown below, to mix the paint and hardener.
I pour 10 ml (cc) of the paint into the glass and it pours like very thick pancake syrup. I use an eyedropper to add the hardener. It calls for 1 part hardner to 16 parts of paint. I measured how many drops it takes to fill a 1/8th teaspoon which is 0.6 ml and that’s very close to 1/16 of 10 ml (0.625 ml). I stir the hardner into the paint with a popsicle stick. The paint is thinner now. I use the pinstripe brush to put some paint on the glass palette filling the hairs with paint. (That’s a newspaper under the glass and I am NOT paletting the paint on news print. The paint would absorb the ink from the news print.)
I test pulling a stripe on the glass and the paint is still too thick. I add some reducer I have left over from painting the base coat (it’s completely clear). I use an eyedropper to add 10 drops to the paint in the cup, and 2 drops to the palette. I mix the paint in the cup with the reducer and palette it onto the brush. I add more as I need to to keep the paint flowing easily off the brush.
I lay the fender on some soft micro-fiber towels so I am painting mostly on a horizontal surface. This postion seems to be easier for me to control the brush. Then I lay the brush on the small pinstripe gap and start pulling my line from the rear of the fender toward the front. I can paint the small line without adding more paint to the brush. I palette more on it and pull the thick line. At the ends of the lines, I try to use just the tip of the brush to make them a bit fuller.
When I’m done, I immediately pull up the the three bronze strips keeping the tape vertical to the part. I put the pinstripe brush into some lacquer thinner while I let the paint dry. This takes about 15 mins and it’s hard to the touch. I flip the rear fender over on the micro-fiber clothes and paint the pinstripes on the other side.
Here’s the rear fender with the new pinstripes.
Problems With Front Fender Pinstripes
The pinstripes on the front fender go around the front and rear of the fender and up and over the raised center strip. They end at the edge of the recess for the fork tubes.
I could not bend the stencil in a tight enough radius at the front and rear of the fender. So, I taped up to where the tight radius started and pulled more tape off the roll to reach past the edge of the raised center of the fender. I carefully separated each of the bronze stripes and then individually layed them down stretching them to fit the tight radius. The bronze stripes want to curl after they are removed from the backing and the backing wants to get in the way. I use a small piece of masking tape to tape the backing out the way as I lay each bronze tape. At the center strip, I use the rounded handle edge of the razor blade to get the bronze strips to stick to the vertical edge of the raised center section. This was not easy to do and the tape didn’t want to stick tight to the vertical edge.
I still got some puckers in the bronze tape. I pushed the edge down with the handle side of the razor blade so the edge facing the paint was flush with the surface. I end up with two pieces of bronze tape meeting at the raised center section. I carefully over lap them and bend the end up.
Then, I paint the stripes, first the thin one on the inside and then the thick one on the outside. When I pulled the tape, I had a mess on the front and rear of the fender. The paint had pooled under the tape where it went up the side of the raised center section and under some of the puckers in the tape. I tried to remove it these with a towel and a little lacquer thinner and I made even more of a mess.
Well, that’s not what I wanted. 🙁
I was very pretty dejected and upset with myself. Before I made things worse, I went inside and made a cup of coffee and sat down to think. I decided to remove the paint where the mistakes are with lacquer thinner. I used some masking tape to get a sharp edge and then removed the section of the pinstripes with the mess up to the masking tape. That left a faint trace of white paint at the edge of the masking tape. Hmm … how do I get rid of that? I decide to use some mineral spirits. It is not a strong solvent for the Custom Shop paint. With a little bit on a clean part of the blue shop towel, the small smudges and thin line came off without lifting the remaining paint on the pinstripes.
I cut a piece of the stencil tape and layed it over the section I had removed. I had to remove the bronze strips and align them on either side of the existing pinstripes and then try to stick it to the vertical edge of the raised section. It took me two tries to finally get this result.
NOTE: If I do this again, I will use the 3M Fine Line tape to to extend from the end of the pinstripe stencil tape and mask around the front and rear of the fender instead of trying to do it with pinstripe stencil tape. The Fine Line tape is much more flexible and can create tigher radius curves without puckering.
There is still some bleed through, but I have a plan to fix that too.
Using 3M Fine Line Tape To Clean Up Mistakes
I bought some 3M blue fine line tape in 1/8 and 1/4 inch widths from my local auto paint supplier (the link goes to TCP Global where you can order the tape if you don’t have a local source). I put the tape over the pinstripe exposing the rough edges that bled through.
I put a small amount of lacquer thinner on a folded over edge of a blue shop towel and then I rub hard on the bleed through to remove it. This is the result.
NOTE: So, using Fine Line tape, I could have repaired the mess and NOT had to try and patch with small strips of the pinstripe stencil tape. This is the better way to fix bleed through and smudges of the pinstripe paint.
Pinstriping the Gas Tank
I taped up the tank and was much easier than the front fender as the curves are more gentle. Here is the tank with the new pinstripes.
You can see at the lower left corner I had some trouble where the two ends of the tape come together and where I got the gap between the bronze strips a bit too wide on the outer pinstripe.
I fixed that the same way I did on the front fender. Here is the result. I left a few of the defects to reflect the fact this is a hand applied pinstripe and they are never perfect.
In fact, you can see the variabilityin the original pinstripes where there is uneven paint coverage and edges in the stripes in the pictures below.
Here is the final gas tank. I learned a lot doing the painting myself and picked up some ways to fix my amature mistakes.
Pinstriping the Fairing
I decided to add pinstripes to the fairing. Here is how I applied the pinstripe stencil.
And the final result.
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Excellent article, Brook. I’ve been restoring bikes (mostly Italian but a couple of BMW’s, including an R75/5 LWB) for over 30 years but, other than a simple striping job on a couple of Ducati’s, I’d always been put off by the BMW hand-striped job and deferred to professionals. I think I’d follow your lead and try it myself next time.
Thanks for coming by and looking at the write-up. It looks like you are a neighbor: I live in Arvada.
I think a good pinstripe job is doable by an amature using the stencil tape. When I figured out the easy way to fix an “Oopps” with the Fine Line tape, it really reduced the risk.
I’m cautiously optimistic that the “First Ride Around the Block” for this project may happen on July 4th.
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Excellent article, Brook. I’m restoring my 1973 1/2 R75/5 to original stock (original owner bought April 18th 1974). Took off the Luftmeister and Krauser bags and had the tank and fenders painted the Monza Blue (original). Now have to do the hand striping and In the meantime enjoying the 2014 R1200RT wethead bought 40 years later
Thanks for the kind words. And, thanks for helping get another one of these cool machines back on the road where they belong. 🙂
Thank you Brook. I though you should do the pinstripes prior to the clear coating bbut apparently you applied the clear coat then the pinstripes. interesting. Would it make sense to reverse this order?
You can imbed the pinstripes under the clear coat. That requires application immediately after the color coat is applied. For most 3 part paint systems, there is a maximum time between color and clear coats, so this has to be done quickly. At least that’s my understanding.