Mark fi­nally fin­ishes paint­ing his Guzzi’s tank. Who knows, maybe he’ll even start rid­ing the thing again soon…

Classic Bike (UK) - - News -

To say it’s taken a lot longer than I ex­pected to rub down and re­spray the petrol tank on my Guzzi is an un­der­state­ment. But for a first at­tempt at paint­ing us­ing a com­pres­sor and a proper spray­gun, I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out – and by try­ing some­thing new I’ve learned a lot.

First step was rub­bing down with 400-grit wet and dry. It was at this stage that I fi­nally de­cided on the colourscheme – I knew I wanted it to be black and white, with echoes of the orig­i­nal Guzzi Cal­i­for­nia, but it was only as I rubbed away the black paint to re­veal the white primer be­neath that I ar­rived at the rough style shown in the photo above.

Next step was to get some ad­vice on ma­te­ri­als. I couldn’t find a ref­er­ence to the ex­act shades Guzzi used in the ’70s and I’m not an orig­i­nal­ity freak any­way, so I re­lied on the ex­pe­ri­ence of Roger at my lo­cal auto paint sup­pli­ers, Cen­tral Car Paints in Le­ices­ter (0116 262 9727). He showed me some colour swatches and we ar­rived at two colour choices, both suit­ably Ital­ian. For the black, I went for Fiat/lan­cia 601 Nero; for the white, Fiat/lan­cia 296A (L) Bianco Divino/zenit. He rec­om­mended I use a filler/primer, fol­lowed by an acrylic base coat us­ing the two colours above, then sealed with a clear coat of lac­quer. With the shop­ping done, all I needed to do was ap­ply the paint to the tank…

Quite a few weeks later, the job is fi­nally done. The learn­ing curve had a good few dips along the way, as I got used to the tech­niques and ma­te­ri­als and gen­er­ally sussed out the lo­gis­tics of get­ting the job done, and it turned into a real test of mo­ti­va­tion. Hav­ing good equip­ment to use cer­tainly helped (see ‘Well Tooled Up’ on the right). Prac­tic­ing on an old metal fil­ing cab­i­net also proved use­ful for im­prov­ing my tech­nique and get­ting the right set­tings on the com­pres­sor and the spray­gun, as did watch­ing some of the many videos on the sub­ject on Youtube.

Hav­ing ap­plied the filler/primer and al­lowed it to dry, I rubbed it down with 800-grade wet and dry pa­per, lu­bri­cated with soap and wa­ter. The next stage was to paint the whole tank and side pan­els white – three coats, the first be­ing a light ‘tack coat’ for the next two coats to stick to. At this point it’s cru­cial not to ap­ply too much paint or you’ll get runs. For each stage, I started by

ex­per­i­ment­ing on the side pan­els be­fore mov­ing on to the tank. When the white paint was dry, it was time to get mask­ing…

For this, I en­listed the help of my long-suf­fer­ing wife, Sue, whose artis­tic tal­ents greatly out­weigh mine. Go­ing with the lines of the tank, she masked off the ar­eas we wanted to keep in white, leav­ing the ar­eas to be sprayed black ex­posed. Two dif­fer­ent thick­nesses of line tape were used to achieve the de­sired ef­fect around the white band along the side of the tank. Then it was back into my im­promptu spray booth – the old pigsty halfway down my gar­den – to ap­ply three coats of black.


By this time I felt my spray­ing ac­tion was get­ting fairly de­cent. The idea is to make your sweep­ing strokes across the work­piece by us­ing your arm rather than just your wrist, keep­ing the spray­gun’s noz­zle a fixed dis­tance away from it to en­sure a good fin­ish/ cov­er­age.

With the black coat dry, it was time for the ex­cit­ing bit – the re­veal. Sue metic­u­lously peeled off the mask­ing pa­per and tape as we both hoped that the lines re­vealed would be nice and crisp. The mas­sive sat­is­fac­tion when they proved to be just that was enough to make all the la­bo­ri­ous hours of prepa­ra­tion worth­while. We both felt prop­erly proud of what we’d achieved. Now all that re­mains is to lay on the fi­nal coats of lac­quer, re­fit the tank and the Guzzi will be ready for its MOT test. It’s been off the road so long now, I can’t wait to ride it again!

Tank painted white and masked up for its coat of black

Just add lac­quer...

Sue does her arty thing with the line mask­ing tape

Tank and side pan­els in filler/primer Rough paintscheme emerges part-way through rub­bibg down

Al­ways wear proper pro­tec­tive gear. And have fun do­ing it

Sue re­veals the crisp new paint­work

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