Painting an Old FL

By Rabbi Moshe DiLaura

As the owner of an older Harley FL I have, over the years, made a number of changes and modifications to the bike. I'd like to say they have all resulted in "improvements" however, in all honesty, some have been more successful than others. Some were just plain dumb and should have never been attempted, at least not by me with my skill level.

Thus, when I decided my ride needed a new coat I didn't want to gamble on my skills, so I shopped around at a number of professional paint shops. Only after hearing the prices did I realize that, on my budget, it wasn't going to happen unless I could do it myself, and I didn't think I had skill to pull it off.

I had all but tossed the idea out of my mind when, while searching the web for some information on telescopes, I came across Chuck has a variety of useful information on a number of different subjects. He had some great telescope eyepiece (Ocular) information. When I was done there, out of curiosity, I took a look at his section on Motorcycles & Riding. There, among others, I found Dave Murray's article "Harley Paintin' for the Under-funded and Under-skilled. Dave's article described how he had painted his own bike (for basically for the same reason I needed to paint mine) using no special equipment, claiming no special skill and providing a step-by-step process of how he did it. Admittedly, I was skeptical, particularly looking at the finished picture of his bike, but . . . I kept reading.

I read the article several times, and began to think that I'd give his system a try. My friends and some of my brothers in the Zodiacs MC thought I was nuts to even attempt it. And I wanted to paint it black, no less. Everyone told me that black was, by far, the most difficult color with which to work when painting. Quite frankly, it only made me want to do it more.

I won't repeat all his steps here, because it's enough to say that I followed them to the letter and you can read his article for the details. And, as Dave did, I cannot emphasize too much the importance of proper preparation of your parts. To quote Dave, "it is impossible to achieve a good paint job without it."

The only thing I did differently was that I used the Harley Davidson re-finish paint "Vivid Black" and Clear lacquer spray cans from my local dealer. Dave had mentioned the Motor Company spray cans, but had not tried them. He used what he described as a "cheap HVLP gun" to spray his recommended PPG "Duracryl" lacquer (color and clear). He also did a couple of pieces using "pre-vals," those are the glass jar setups with a propellant can on top to spray your own paint. I didn't have any kind of spray equipment so I opted for the spray cans. I bought one of those cheap spray handles with a trigger for the spray can, which really made the application process a lot easier to control, and more uniform.

Dave and I talked after I was finished painting my bike. By his comments it appears that using the spray cans may have resulted in a bit more sanding time with the #1500 paper due to the higher pressure in the cans as opposed to his HVLP gun. Then again, my estimation of my sanding time may have been flawed, as I really didn't keep strict records. I just wanted to keep going and get the job done.

It is sufficient to say that I am very happy with how my bike turned out. I know that anyone like me, with basic skills and more time than money can do it. I feel very fortunate to have found Chuck's site and Dave's article. If I can answer any questions or be of any help, please feel free to email me.

Below is a picture of my FL after being repainted. Shalom!

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Copyright 2003, 20134 by Rabbi Moshe DiLaura. All rights reserved.