Heck, I see it’s March since my last entry so once again my blogging is overdue. To recap, I’m supposed to be getting my Suzuki GS1000 back on the road after seven years in hibernation. On the face of it all I need do is refresh the paint on the tank, as that-there damn rust is starting to peep through.
After cleaning off the old paint (and new rust) I applied a couple of coats of anti-rust primer and filled the obvious dents. Fuel tanks are made of very thin steel and are in a rather exposed position so you’d be very lucky to find a tank of this age without at least a few minor dings. A relatively new product (Only around for years-and-years rather than decades–and-decades) useful in treating subtle bodywork wear and tear is high-build-primer so I put a coat of this over the anti-rust paint, rubbing it down smooth with wet-and-dry paper ready for the next coat and to make it easier to see any high and low points. I skimmed some low areas with conventional filler before applying another coat of primer, rubbing down, checking the surface by eye and hand and applying more filler as required.
You have to repeat this process as many times as required to get a perfect surface (Or at least a surface you’ll be able to live with) even though you don’t seem to be making much progress. If you don’t then there won’t be much you can do once you start applying the colour coats of paint.
I followed the final coat of high-build-primer with a coat of conventional grey – The recommended base colour for the metallic ‘Nissan Midnight Blue’ I was going to re-spray the tank with. As I’m preparing this bike for sale, really, I had in mind to paint it black and then get an appropriate decal kit to make the bike look more ‘original’ but decided to stick with the dark metallic blue as the bike looks so ‘right’ in this colour, an opinion confirmed by Rowena at Real Classic magazine when I happened to send her a picture. Sticking with the same colour also had the advantage of not necessitating re-painting the tail cowling and the side panels. Except that one or two spots of paint on the tail look a bit ‘loose’ so I’ll probably have to re-do that anyway. Drat. Should have uses etch primer on the plastic tail the first time round – still, you live and learn.
As with the undercoats, the application of the colour coats is a repetitive process if you want to get a smooth even finish: Spray on a coat of paint (I err on the side of too thin rather than too thick), rub it down to a flat / matt finish, check if the paint has reached a thickness so that it appears an even colour across the tank, repeat preceding steps if you can see any variation in the colour saturation across the surface. I ended up putting on three coats and, frankly, I’d have put on at least three coats even if the first coat had miraculously appeared perfect – Metallic paint’s a bit translucent (Or you wouldn’t be able to see the metal flakes) so you have to put on a few coats to get an even, saturated, colour.
If I’d used black paint, as originally planned, or any ‘solid’ colour I could have finished flatting off the paint with a fine grade of wet & dry and then polished it up with a rubbing compound, or ‘T-cut’ as I like to use, and have been done. But I’d gone and used a metallic colour so I now needed to apply some coats of lacquer (Posh name for a clear varnish) to provide a surface that could be polished up to a proper shine. As this is a fuel tank we’re talking about and will regularly get petrol dripped on it I took the opportunity to choose a petrol resistant lacquer so that all the hours of preparation, spraying, flattening and polishing wouldn’t be spoiled. I suppose, due to this reason, it’s worth spraying a coat of petrol resistant lacquer on to all fuel tanks, even if you haven’t used metallic paint.
After flatting down with 1200 grade wet & dry I spayed on the lacquer just like another coat of paint. Usually I’d have let this dry for at least a couple of hours before rubbing it down flat and applying another coat (Trying to flat-down tacky paint doesn’t really work) but the can said “after one hour this lacquer cannot be over-coated” so there was no time to let the paint dry and flatten it down before applying another coat. Having to apply a second coat without intermediate preparation would allow any flaws to build up, but it had to go on to be sure the tank was covered thickly enough to allow a final flatting off / polishing-up without too much fear of going through to the colour coat. As expected, the finish left after spraying on the second coat was only half decent to my eye and really did need a good flat and polish, but the can also said “…allow…at least two weeks before using rubbing compound” so the job was stopped for a bit (I didn’t want to put the tank on the bike only to have to take it off again).
I decided to put the tank to one side and instead rig-up a temporary one so I could see if the bike would fire-up after its long slumber. All I could find was a kitchen funnel so I ran a hose between that and the carburettors. I also needed a battery (The Suzuki’s was not only dead but gone. No doubt I’d put it somewhere safe) so borrowed the Optima battery from my R100 as I reckoned it should be big enough to spin the GS1000, what with its pistons being a mere 250cc each. A problem was that it was physically too big to fit the Suzuki’s battery box. Lateral thinking was required. Balancing the battery as close to the Suzuki as I could I managed to connect the earth lead, but I had to get some additional wiring from my ‘bag of old wire’ to bridge the gap between the positive terminal and the positive lead on the bike. When the starter motor’s heaving the engine round it draws A LOT of power through the battery leads (That’s why they have to be so thick) so I doubled-up my additional wiring to allow enough power through them to turn the engine (and not melt).
My lash-up worked and pushing the dusty starter button spun the engine round plenty fast enough. Yey! Unfortunately it showed absolutely no sign of firing and a large pool of petrol gathered under the bike. Boo! The petrol was running from the carburettor’s over-flow pipes. It seemed I had to face the fact that fresh paint wasn’t enough and at the very least I was going to have to rebuild the carbs before I could get the bike running and MOT’d. Humm. My good friend Andy has just bought an ultrasonic cleaner. Hey Andy!