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How do I achieve OEM-like paint look on my vintage motorcycles?


Hello, I am in the process of rebuilding 7 vintage motorcycles (1929, 1931 Henderson; 1930, 1935, 1938, 1940, 1941 Indian). At least one will be a show bike. Most, if not all will be painted primarily in semi-gloss black. I have a Precision Fidelity high-end audio pre-amp from the mid-80s that has a beautiful satin-smooth semi-gloss black finish. I would like to achieve that finish on the motorcycles. This finish can also be seen on other things like the faceplates for guitar amplifiers.

How did they achieve this finish? There is no primer (I can tell because of a scratch in the finish). I'm sure it was a single coat process, so no hand-rubbing of 20 coats of paint.


Gary Vankirk
hobbyist - Modesto, California, USA

I paint cars for a living, when I am painting something black I use a black primer, I put flex agent in both primer and top coats to allow for the flexing that happens when assembling. Good luck and have fun.

Donald Franson
- Tulsa, Oklahoma

Donald, thanks for the reply. It doesn't really answer my question though. I would like to know how a manufacturer finishes their product.

Gary Vankirk
- Modesto, California

Gary, as you probably already have guessed, the finish that you have on the amps will be nowhere near resilient enough for the motorcycles, even if they are never ridden or used. Short of the obvious recommendation of having someone do the painting for you, Sherwin-Williams makes primerless, single stage topcoats for steel that air dry or can be baked in an oven. All you have to do is provide a sample that they can match. The drawback is that they are industrial use paints and I don't know if they will sell you a gallon, they might have a minimum quantity buy.

Sheldon Taylor
Sheldon Taylor
supply chain electronics
Wake Forest, North Carolina


The main cabinet, or chassis, of your preamp is powder-coated a flat black. I am sure you can find a custom shop in your area that does powder-coating. It is a very durable process, and there are MANY colors to choose from.
Also, it is a lot less expensive than spray painting, because you don't have to hand polish each coat.

The faceplate of the preamp is anodized black. now anodizing is an expensive process, and you usually find it on small pieces only. It is usually used on metals that tarnish, and not corrode.


Pat Ferrari
- St. Louis, Missouri, USA

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