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Discussion Starter #1
At the risk of embarassing myself if this doesn't last, I painted my Clarke tank today. I have a 1989 TW that is blue, so I bought a blue Clarke tank for it. However, a few months ago I bought an 03 TW so I decided to put the Clarke tank on the newer one since that will be the one I ride the most. I know they say you can't paint the Clarke tank and I have heard several reasons why. However, thermoplastics was my trade for 35+ years and decorating them was part of the experience. For the Clarke tank, I did a thourough job of flame treating it using a very hard flame from a MAPP torch. After that I shot it white using some Acrylic enamel that I had left over from painting an old pick up. The decoration was shot with Urethane. Now the waiting begins.



http://tw200topbox.blogspot.com/2011/10/i-painted-my-clarke-tank-today.html



Click on the link if you want to see a picture of it.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm pretty sure that the first ride will tell whether she will or won't. It seems like it has pretty good adhesion so far.
 

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I'm anxious to see the stripes installed on the bike. Definitely an iconoclastic design (no skulls, naked babes, or flames). I'm with you. Tom
 

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Super job. I hope it works out. At the very least, you tried it. Experience vs. theory!
 

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Clarke tanks are mildly porous. Heating the tank will remove some of the plastisols that cause paint to fall off, but eventually gasoline will soak through the plastic and affect the paint. Might take a while, but newer paint formulas might stick better. But what do I know, I still yearn for acrylic lacquers.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Clarke tanks are mildly porous. Heating the tank will remove some of the plastisols that cause paint to fall off, but eventually gasoline will soak through the plastic and affect the paint. Might take a while, but newer paint formulas might stick better. But what do I know, I still yearn for acrylic lacquers.


While all items of mass have some porosity to them, HDPE is not generally considered to be porous in nature and is certainly capable of blocking the flow of gasoline molecules. Plastisol is a powdered PVC (poly vinyl chloride), that can be used in a variety of compounds usually in conjunction with a plasticizer such as DOP (dioctyl phthalate), and as such does not exist in HDPE compounds. My purpose in flaming the surface of the tank was to change the molecular structure (oxidize) of the surface so that it would be more receptive to adhesion. Now, about the acrylic lacquers. I think I saw some at O'reilys Auto Parts while I was looking for acrylic enamel reducer. It was stocked in only a few basic colors and I didn't see any color matching equipment.
 

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While all items of mass have some porosity to them, HDPE is not generally considered to be porous in nature and is certainly capable of blocking the flow of gasoline molecules. Plastisol is a powdered PVC (poly vinyl chloride), that can be used in a variety of compounds usually in conjunction with a plasticizer such as DOP (dioctyl phthalate), and as such does not exist in HDPE compounds. My purpose in flaming the surface of the tank was to change the molecular structure (oxidize) of the surface so that it would be more receptive to adhesion. Now, about the acrylic lacquers. I think I saw some at O'reilys Auto Parts while I was looking for acrylic enamel reducer. It was stocked in only a few basic colors and I didn't see any color matching equipment.
My plastisol inks aren't powdered, but I definately could have screwed the vocabulary pooch. Keep us posted on how the paint holds up--I'd love to paint mine so vinyl would stick to it.



I don't need color matching equipment, I learned the old school methods of creating just about anything from 8 basic colors and work with Pantone matches on a regular basis.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
My plastisol inks aren't powdered, but I definately could have screwed the vocabulary pooch. Keep us posted on how the paint holds up--I'd love to paint mine so vinyl would stick to it.



I don't need color matching equipment, I learned the old school methods of creating just about anything from 8 basic colors and work with Pantone matches on a regular basis.


If your plastisol inks require a heat cure, they are probably PVC based but are probably in a high viscosity form from the addition of plastisizers and color pigments. They are commonly used in the screen printing process, but are rapidly being replaced by water based inks because of emissions issues. I did the same thing as you for color matching using PMS color charts. I printed frisbees (non Whamo) for years and that is where I learned how to make things stick to PE. I did have a few unhappy customers during my learning curve where the inks were flaking off. We survived that and sold millions after that with no issues.



I took the bike out for a little ride this morning and so far it looks like it might work out. The temps here in AZ are finally stablizing below a 100, so I'll start riding the backroads again. That will be the real test.
 

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Yup, I do screen printing. Water-based inks have a long way to go to equal plastisol quality in direct print applications.



Have fun ride-testing your paint. Anxiously waiting for a how-to thread.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Yup, I do screen printing. Water-based inks have a long way to go to equal plastisol quality in direct print applications.



Have fun ride-testing your paint. Anxiously waiting for a how-to thread.


I agree, the only place I have seen the water based inks look good is on a white background.



The how to on prepping the tank is pretty easy. Just use a MAPP tourch and pass it over the entire surface of the tank at the hardest part of the flame. This is normally when the torch tip is about 3/4" from the surface. Keep the torch moving at about 1' per second. I did my tank in a couple of different directions to insure complete coverage, but I did let the tank cool in between flamings so not to soften it to the point that it could distort. Oh yeah, the standard cya, be sure to drain the fuel from the tank and rinse it with soapy water.


After that just shoot it with a wet coat of acrylic enamel or urethane automotive paint. I would avoid rattle cans as I haven't found one that resist gas spills as of yet.
 

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You clearly know about polymers biglefti. I think the Clarke tank is Polypropylene not HDPE. Certainly when I adjusted the front end of mine by heating it with hot air gun it changed from the natural color (mine is uncolored) to translucent when it reached the softening point = a characteristic of PP. Since HDPE & PP are of the same polymer family it could be that HDPE also does that.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
You clearly know about polymers biglefti. I think the Clarke tank is Polypropylene not HDPE. Certainly when I adjusted the front end of mine by heating it with hot air gun it changed from the natural color (mine is uncolored) to translucent when it reached the softening point = a characteristic of PP. Since HDPE & PP are of the same polymer family it could be that HDPE also does that.


I was a processer and not a chemist, but I can still distinguish the big four general polymers by a flame test. Those being, polyethylene, polypropylene, styrene, and ABS (acrylnitrile butadene styrene). They all have very distinct aromas when you do a flame test. However, I didn't do one as I wasn't inclined to shave a sliver off of the tank and now that it is painted I don't think I will.
PP and HDPE do have some similarities, but also some major differences. As for decorating the surface, my only experience with PP was in hotstamping it which is a totally different process from screenprinting. Now, you have me curious. BTW, both become relatively clear when they are melted.
 

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Fasinating conversation guys. Really, I love learning new things.



I couldn't possibly add to the conversation, I just wanted to say I think your tank looks great!! Good Job.



Bag
 

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Just a quick update. My brother in law was down for the Thanksgiving weekend and we did a couple of rides that totaled about 400 miles. Half of those were pretty difficult, and half was on fairly nice dirt roads. My B-I-L was riding my TW that has the Clarke tank that I painted on it. He even ran out of road on the low side and the bike went over the edge. We had to drag it back up to the road with him pulling on the handlebars and myself pulling on the Cycleracks rear rack while the side of the tank was dragging in the sand rock and dirt. At the end of two days of fairly hard riding, the tank still looks as good as when we left. At this stage of the game, I'm pretty certain that anyone that wants to paint their Clarke tanks can do so with no real issues as long as they at least use an automotive acrylic enamel with hardner, or a urethane base coat, clear coat. I originally tried to use some Krylon spray paint, but they react immediately when gasoline comes in contact with them. For that reason, they won't do a satisfactory job. Now, the key to success here is the flame treating. Use a MAPP torch and treat the plastic tank in it entirety in at least two directions with the hard part of the flame. Don't try to melt the plastic, the purpose here is to just oxidize the surface of the plastic. That changes it's molecular structure on just the surface so that paint will stick to it. Now for the standard disclaimer, you do this at your own risk. Feel free to ask me any questions if anything is not clear.
 

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Yes I switched to Urethane clear coat



There is a nice minwax urethane spray varnish that gave me a good fuel proof clear coat
 

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Have not rode my bike much during the last year, as I have lots of other projects. Am sometimes surprized how folks get so concerned with various issues. I like my modestly priced (new) Duel Sport TW 200. As well, I would rather my bike looks ridden, but cared for.



I am on my third tank, a four gallon Clark. Yes, the plastic tanks do not hold paint well. I sanded, and painted with 'rattle can' yellow. After two years, when I get a bubble, I pop it and use a Q-tip to dab some fresh paint on that spot. To me, the bike looks good, but used. Just my opinion. Take care. Gerry



 
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