Tank Repainting...

Now, being a bloke who prefers riding my motorcycles instead of polishing them (err well, that's my excuse for the rather ordinary cosmetic condition of both my machines), the condition of the paint finish has never really occupied my mind that much.

Until the day that I got my mitts on a spare tank for the Katana, that is. The previous tank had loads of bog in it from a spill some time before I got the bike, and it had also developed a hairline crack along the lower seam near the rear mounts. Not wanting to become a high-speed fireball on my next trip down the freeway, it was time to replace the thing. So I ended up getting this tank from a wrecked Kat750 at Two Wheel Wreckers:

Prior to this tank repainting exercise, the most I'd ever done by way of auto painting was respraying the occasional bracket or master cylinder lid (oh, and the time I did a trailer with a brush). Time to steepen the learning curve once again!

As I have read ad nauseum, PREPARATION is always the key to a good paint job. So I sanded back the old silver paint (it wasn't the original paint, anyhow, so no purists should get up-in-arms here), filled a few minor dings, did more sanding, then a couple of coats of primer, and let it dry for a week or more. Then more light sanding, followed by more filling of any other surface imperfections that appeared, then more sanding with fine wet-and-dry paper. A final coat of primer, then it was on with a coat of colour-matched yellow acrylic, more light fine sanding, and then another couple of coats of yellow. After a few days for the paint to go nice and hard, I carefully laid on the orange vinyl decals. Then I let it all sit for another few days, just to be sure.

Sounds a bit tedious, right? Well, that's painting for you. But I have to say, as the tank was nearing completion, there was a real sense of satisfaction that my first ever tank painting job was actually going to be a reasonable job after all!

So now all that there was left to do, was a couple of coats of clear acrylic over the paint and the decals. I laid down the first coat of clear. Perfect. I let it sit for about 30 minutes in the warm sunshine. Sitting on the stool I'd used for most of the painting and work.

But as I was walking off to get the can of clear coat for the very last coat, I heard a sickening 'CLUNK'. I spun on my heels and looked behind me... to see the tank on its roof, rocking back and forth on the patio paving.

The anguish, the pain, the SHEER FRUSTRATION is simply beyond words. Weeks and months of prep., sourcing paint, carefully and thoughtfully carrying out the work, determined that my first paint job would be a good one, was now a bruised and dented mess. More precisely, the edge of the offset filler cap that is a distinctive feature of the Katana tank, had now been basically bashed flat with the surface of the tank — leaving an ugly bulge of metal below it, standing proud of the rest of the tank surface.


After I had gotten some sort of grip on my emotions, I reached for the ball-pene hammer, and knocked the metal bulge in. And then started the sad process of bogging the dents, and building-up the profile of the of the filler cap surround to where it should have been...

It took about a week and I finally had it back in shape. More yellow was carefully applied to the top of the tank (taking care to keep it all clear of the decals) and the repair is pretty-well invisible. A final fine wet-and-dry sanding, a final coat of clear, and it's done. Not the tank with perfect metal I'd hoped for, but (sigh) it will have to do.

And the wretched stool? These days I only use it for sitting on.

So then boys and girls, the moral of the story is simply this: Preparation is NOTHING if you don't secure your work properly! You have been warned.

* * * * *

The 'Franken-tank'...

And then it was time (April 2008) to start work on the old tank — it's always nice to have a viable spare on the shelf. So I grabbed a hammer and large screwdriver, and chiselled out TONS of bog from the top of the tank. Then I grabbed a cold chisel and cut out around the Kawasaki GPz filler cap, because it had been installed about 1" off-centre. I centered it up, did some rough panel-beating to get the metal back towards where it should have been in the first place, and riveted/ spot-welded things back into place. The result so far:

Looks horrible at the moment, eh. But some more bog, tank-lining polymer, and paint should get things into an acceptable state...


* * * * *

Photo Gallery
Other Katanas
Technical Stuff
Touring Tales
The Prang
My Bikes
For Sale