Properly Painting Plastic Fuel Tank - Triumph Forum: Triumph Rat Motorcycle Forums
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 09:28 AM Thread Starter
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Properly Painting Plastic Fuel Tank

Alright, now that my speedy is running happy, it's time to tackle the cosmetics. I bought her with a caspain blue plastic tank, thats definitely been "loved". It has a lot of marks through the blue and into the white primer. Not exactly a looker. My plan is to convert the entire bike to a black and gold scheme anyways, more my cup of tea.

So, I've seen a few threads touching on using touchup paint on plastics, but most of the internet seems to think it's impossible to paint plastic gas tanks. However, these tanks are different. They don't (typically) outgas like their dirt bike counterparts. Unless ethanol rears it's ugly head, I believe that normal 2k paint should handle the application fine. Has anyone taken on the task of (professionally/non-rattle-can) painting their plastic tank? Anything to be weary of? I don't think that stripping the tank is necessary or beneficial, most likely will just sand it to 600-800, color coat, then clear over that, leaving the factory prime intact.
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by slaserj View Post
Unless ethanol rears it's ugly head
If ethanol is a concern you can coat the inside of the tank with something like Caswell before painting it...

You only live once...and I feel like I'm running out of time...
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 03:42 PM
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I painted my 05 Jet Black tank twice. Not so much of a problem when you have what you require at your fingertips, but perhaps problematic in a DIY situation.

You're right to NOT strip the tank and take advantage of the materials already used, unless of course there's issues with the substrate.

Expect to have issues with decal removal. What you're left with is a mess that will require attention. I bogged and reshaped my tank where the decals were and 2-pack primed the top of my tank.

I'm not sure what's around the DIY market in regards to plastic primer, but you'll need something to address any bare plastic before 2-pack priming.

I never had any issues with the tank in following years, but then we also don't have a lot of ethanol blended fuel either.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 03:52 PM
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I never had any issues with the tank in following years, but then we also don't have a lot of ethanol blended fuel either.
Lucky you...had two tanks replaced on my Ducati Streetfighter due to swelling caused by ethanol in the fuel, coated the third tank and had no problems after that...

You only live once...and I feel like I'm running out of time...
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-29-2019, 06:04 PM
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Lucky you...had two tanks replaced on my Ducati Streetfighter due to swelling caused by ethanol in the fuel, coated the third tank and had no problems after that...
Just out of curiousity, what does the Ducati manual say in regards to ethanol fuel. I know with the 1290, KTM state nothing higher than E10 and that's as high as we get.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 04:09 AM
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If ethanol is a concern you can coat the inside of the tank with something like Caswell before painting it...

I've been a professional bike painter for over 20 years and please do yourself a favour: DO NOT EVER COAT THE INSIDE OF A PLASTIC TANK !! I've never seen or heard of swelling on a plastic Triumph fuel tank in all those years. I've painted loads of them and they're OK. If other bike brands have swelling problems it's simply not your problem.
Start by emptying the tank and let the inside dry. Remove the fuel cap and the fuel pump (if you wish, or mask it with tape) and thoroughly degrease the paint. Dirt, grease and polish will be deep in the scratches so take your time for this. Later on while sanding it's best to degrease the tank again from time to time.
The decals will be under a layer of clear coat so first the clear coat must be sanded off gently (dry P400 or wet P800). Gently pull off the decal, if you want you can warm them a bit by using a hair dryer. If there's sticky stuff remaining you can use the degreaser to soften it, then just rub it off with your thumb.
Sand the tank with the above mentioned grades and sand out all imperfections. To maintain the curvy shape of the tank you can use a small squeegee so the sandpaper follows the surface correctly. This way you won't get flat spots in the paint. For difficult to reach spots you can use scotch brite (grey).
The spots where you can see the plastic of the tank must be primed with a plastic primer. Now you can apply the filler, preferably a 2 packs filler. Let dry thoroughly, sand with P500/600 dry or wet P1000 and start applying the colors. Finish with a 2 packs clear coat.
Ethanol should be no problem, just keep the fuel inside the tank and wipe off after you filled up.
If you have any questions just let me know!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 07:50 AM
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I've never seen or heard of swelling on a plastic Triumph fuel tank in all those years.
I think you'll find many on this forum have heard of this over the years. Stories of removing tanks for whatever reason, only to find they won't fit back on the bike due to swelling.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-30-2019, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Ferris View Post
Just out of curiousity, what does the Ducati manual say in regards to ethanol fuel. I know with the 1290, KTM state nothing higher than E10 and that's as high as we get.
Don't recall the manual mentioning ethanol fuel...

You only live once...and I feel like I'm running out of time...
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 12:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rles View Post
I've been a professional bike painter for over 20 years and please do yourself a favour: DO NOT EVER COAT THE INSIDE OF A PLASTIC TANK !! I've never seen or heard of swelling on a plastic Triumph fuel tank in all those years. I've painted loads of them and they're OK. If other bike brands have swelling problems it's simply not your problem.
Start by emptying the tank and let the inside dry. Remove the fuel cap and the fuel pump (if you wish, or mask it with tape) and thoroughly degrease the paint. Dirt, grease and polish will be deep in the scratches so take your time for this. Later on while sanding it's best to degrease the tank again from time to time.
The decals will be under a layer of clear coat so first the clear coat must be sanded off gently (dry P400 or wet P800). Gently pull off the decal, if you want you can warm them a bit by using a hair dryer. If there's sticky stuff remaining you can use the degreaser to soften it, then just rub it off with your thumb.
Sand the tank with the above mentioned grades and sand out all imperfections. To maintain the curvy shape of the tank you can use a small squeegee so the sandpaper follows the surface correctly. This way you won't get flat spots in the paint. For difficult to reach spots you can use scotch brite (grey).
The spots where you can see the plastic of the tank must be primed with a plastic primer. Now you can apply the filler, preferably a 2 packs filler. Let dry thoroughly, sand with P500/600 dry or wet P1000 and start applying the colors. Finish with a 2 packs clear coat.
Ethanol should be no problem, just keep the fuel inside the tank and wipe off after you filled up.
If you have any questions just let me know!
Thank you!!! Once the riding season's up, I'll definitely be tackling this. Not gonna let a few scratches take the bike down for summer though. Thank you again!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 03-31-2019, 01:16 PM
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you're welcome! if you have more questions just let me know
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