“That guy’s a pro. How can I do that kind of work for 500 bucks?”

Many readers have asked for more particulars on the work that is going into the old Yamaha. This month we are keeping Project Turd point man Ken Madden busy at the drafting table, so Master Painter Bruce Bush will explain how to do this kind of work at home in your spare time and win the admiration of your friends and neighbors.


by Bruce Bush

When it came time to paint the Turd we faced a dilemma. Most body shops have low, medium and high grade paint jobs. At Wizard Custom we always aim high, but does a turd warrant an excellent paint job? YOU BETCHA! In this month’s installment I will open up my bag’o’tricks and reveal to you some of the deep dark secrets of custom paint.

Before you even pick up a paint gun,make a clean, safe work area. By clean I mean a garage with a door–no carports with dust and leaves blowing around. By safe I mean well ventilated with an exhaust fan.

I cannot stress safety enough! Put on a dust mask anytime you sand. When mixing chemicals, wear rubber gloves and safety glasses. When spray painting or priming, always use a charcoal or fresh air respirator. Today’s chemicals are more caustic than ever, so if you start to glow in the dark, stop painting for a couple of weeks. For those of you who refuse to protect yourselves there is still a free tumor in every can.pt3_b

We took the Yamaha’s nasty tank to Schoenrock Memorials in St. Paul for sand blasting. The chrome fenders we sent to J. and R. Plating for de-chroming. Our troubles were quickly stripped away.We worked the dents out of the tank and fenders as best we could with some long punches, picks, files, hammers and many stones of different shapes and sizes. Heat or a torch can often times help, but unless you are an experienced welder and/or metal worker, you can wind up with a real mess. Using heat is also very dangerous on an old gas tank, and that old trick of tossing a lit fire cracker into the tank to “pop out” dents doesn’t work. If you try that, your garage could fit loosely in a five gallon bucket.We ground the dents and imperfections with a 24 or 36 grit grinder. Then came da mud! Most fillers or bondos work well up to 1/4 inch–that’s one quarter of an inch after sanding. If you have to go deeper than that, I recommend a fiberglass reinforced filler such as “Duraglass” for a first coat. We needed Duraglass for the Turd because we filled in the lower seam on the gas tank. We also put some peaks on the ends of the fenders.
After the Duraglass had set up we sanded it using 36 grit sandpaper then built up the area with regular filler. I like to use a premium grade filler. Auto body plastic filler comes in quarts so you can try a few different ones to see what suits you.When mixing filler, always mix completely until the hardener and bondo are a uniform color. Never mix on a piece of cardboard. The cardboard can draw the oils out of the mud allowing the filler to pinhole. I use an old piece of indoor paneling or a plastic bondo board that you can find at any auto paint store.pt3_cWe sanded first with 36 grit sand paper and then finished with 80 grit. When the piece felt pretty good and just had some scratches and small pinholes we applied a thin coat of catalyzed glazing putty. We sanded the putty with 80 grit and finished with 180 grit.

Use a sanding block when sanding your fillers. Hardware stores and auto body supply houses stock a variety of blocks. The great thing about bondo work is if you sand too far you can just put on another coat. Keep feeling and sanding until it is perfect.


With the metal straight and the bondo smooth we were ready for primer. At Wizard we use a variety of prime and paint systems. I recommend you find a system and stick with it. John Kosmoski’s House of Kolor, Dupont and PPG all have great paint and primer systems. I use all of them, but I never recommend intermixing systems or manufacturers. For the Turd we chose PPG’s base coat/ clear coat system and their catalyzed NCP 271 primer surfacer.

Three coats of primer were sprayed on with 15 minute waiting periods between coats. We left to dry overnight then sprayed on a “guide coat” of flat black. This is just a light dusting of color sprayed out of a rattle can. I use the 99¢ cheap stuff.

We sanded the primer with 180 grit paper (on a block when possible) until the black guide coat was completely gone.

We applied three more coats of primer and another guide coat! This time we wet sanded with 400 grit paper. We let the 400 wet/dry paper sit in warm water with a few drops of Ivory Liquid and sanded until the guide coat was gone flushing often with lots of water. At this point the pieces felt very smooth.


For paint we used a base/clear system where the color is applied first then clear coats put on for gloss. First we cleaned the tank and fenders with PPG DX 330 wax and grease remover. This system calls for a sealer. We use PPG’s DP line of sealers. I like to put on two coats. Then we applied three coats of PPG Deltron DBU base coat. After a half hour we put on three coats of clear. Always let paint or clear “flash off” or dry between coats. The clear we use is Deltron DAV 82 with DAV 2 hardener.

After the paint job sat 24 hours it was wet sanded with 600 grit paper until smooth with no shiny spots. The pieces were dried and checked often. We did not want to sand through the color coat.

This is the time to do stripes, airbrushing or other artwork. Use the same system for your artwork. After the stripes, flames or whatever have dried for half an hour, apply three to six more coats of clear. Wait till the clear is tacky before putting on more. If you put the clear on too heavy you could ruin your artwork or have drips and runs.pt3_a

We let the clear dry 24 hours then wet sanded with 1000 to 2000 grit to buff. This was very important to the final finish. It removed the remaining dirt, orange peel and other surface imperfections. After sanding we used a foam buff pad on a D.A. sander to bring out the shine. The compounds used with the buff pad are systematic just like the paint. I use 3M or Meguires buffing systems.

We hand finished the Turd with a glaze. Stay with the system you used on the buff pad. For 3M it is Imperial Hand Glaze and for Meguires it is No. 7.

Clean your spray equipment with lacquer thinner right after you use it. Pour unused catalyzed paint and primer in a metal container as well as the left over thinners. Ask your local paint supplier for the proper methods of disposal in your area.

There are volumes written on paint and body work. One of my personal favorites is John Kosmoski’s Kustom Painting Secrets. Reading about paint as well as doing it will make you a better painter. Visit your local library.

Always approach your paint job with the attitude that you are going to make it straighter and smoother. Talk to people that work in the business. Soon you will develop your own “best” methods. Remember that the two most important ingredients in any paint job are SWEAT and ELBOW GREASE!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.