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Painting recessed lettering on side covers

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by TwoManyXS1Bs, Oct 10, 2016.

  1. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    I'm in the final stages of polishing my right side engine side cover (clutch cover), and am researching methods of repainting the recessed lettering.

    The polishing thread:


    Member Gcraay made a few queries on this awhile back, in these threads:


    The majority of methods I've found on the net involve just spray painting the area, or globbing paint all over the recesses, followed by simple wiping off the top surface with your finger, or a stiff rag damped with paint thinner. These methods should work fine on side covers that have the later style font, where the letter "A" has a uniformly raised triangle in the center:
    RecessedLetteringLater01.jpg RecessedLetteringLater02.jpg

    In my particular case, I'm working with an early 1971 XS1B sidecover, which used a different lettering font. The letter "A" has a much smaller triangle, which slopes downward at its peak.

    This poses a challenge, in that using those previous methods would require precision dexterity skills to properly reveal that triangle. Plus, any post-polishing done in that area could damage the paint and/or that tiny triangle.

    My plan is to use an "eyedropper" method, as demonstrated in this video:

    I'll need to cook up some form of applicator.
    I have eyedroppers, hypo needles, tiny tubing, ink jet cartridge refill kits.

    I will be using a gloss black enamel paint.
    Never done this before. Any suggestions?
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2016
    gggGary and buzzword like this.
  2. Young blood

    Young blood XS650 Member

    Sounds like a plan. I want to try it. Just be careful and be ready to wipe it out before it dries if you need to start over. You can also get liquid masking material in most art supply stores. You paint it on and peel it off later.
    gggGary likes this.
  3. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Yes, I've looked into the "masking" methods, like tapes, spray-on/peel-off stuff, using Vaseline as a mask, ...etc. The tricky thing about these recessed letters is that the top edges aren't sharp, but rather rounded, and that triangle in the "A" is funky. Makes for some challenging masking. I need to take a closeup pic of those spots, and post it...
  4. MaxPete

    MaxPete Lucille, Betty, Demi & Gretel: I ask, THEY decide. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Interesting method - photos when you're done please!

  5. Young blood

    Young blood XS650 Member

    A really fine tipped pin striping brush can come in handy. The kind with short bristles.
    gggGary likes this.
  6. gggGary

    gggGary When a whole one is just too much. XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    Wipe away excess with a bit of mineral spirits on a rag an hour or so after painting. follow up later on fine details with a q-tip stick, clip or pull off the cotton. also with a bit of spirits or fine rubbing compound. IMHO Yamaha din't do any careful masking at the factory, they poured in paint let it dry, wiped off excess. Rounded edges are usually the result of owner/restorer polishing work.. I find it very easy to end up with rounded lettering edges when I use buffing wheels "excessively". Lettering is an area that might be best done with wet paper on a rubber block, buffs on cloth on a wood block if you are going to a polished finish.
    From the factory chrome was never thick and mirror like. Engine covers have rough spots that the coarse buffing wheel never reached, there are some runs in the clear coat etc. You want to do it different, that's fine do it how you like. I often polish aluminum covers, think they look better than the typical Japanese brushed and clearcoat aluminum finish. I see some "restored" show bikes with chrome on the aluminum.
  7. Brassneck

    Brassneck XS650 Guru

    Airbrush...you can get super detailed. Good luck!
  8. ThatXS650Guy

    ThatXS650Guy More Sparky than Speed Racer XS650.com Supporter Top Contributor

    North GA
    I just used a toothpick dipped in the paint. A small can of gloss black as I recall. The paint self levels.
    gggGary likes this.
  9. robinc

    robinc Member of the 'yellow meter gang' Top Contributor

    A fine artists brush with Gloss Black enamel. Fashion an arm rest to support your painting hand and it's amazing how accurate and detailed you can be. Just like a sign painter does. They always work with an arm support of some fashion.
  10. mrtwowheel

    mrtwowheel Honda Etched On Brain Top Contributor

    Yeah, wouldn't mess with spray paint. Enamel, thin natural brush cut to 1/4" bristles, brushed thin first coat, thick 2nd coat not over brushed, clean edges with mineral spirits.

    Last edited: Oct 11, 2016
  11. I used a small brush with short bristles, and some enamel paint. Worked well
  12. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Good suggestions all. Seems that most of you would go with the short/fine brush. Using a toothpick is good, too. I've used those methods on other non-bike projects, somewhat unsuccessful because I'd have problems controlling the paint "drop" on the applicator, and a channel would overfill in one spot, underfill in another, and I would simply mess up the edge.. I just don't have the pinstriper's steady hand. The whole time I was struggling with those other projects I kept thinking there has to be a better way, like a controlled flooding of the channel.

    Here's a closeup pic of the strange sloped triangle in the letter "A":

    The powder coat guys have a really neat method.

    DIY Tip: How to Powder Coat Stamped Lettering/Logos EASY & w/o a gun!
  13. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Thinking along the lines of masking, I wonder if an "inking roller" could be used.

    Load it up with a thin layer of Vaseline, and roll it over the lettering zone.

    Then, just spray paint the thing. Simply (?) wipe off after paint cure.
    I'm sure that roller application technique would be the make/break of its success...
  14. TwoManyXS1Bs

    TwoManyXS1Bs BBQ Hunter Top Contributor

    Okay, after chasing around town today, I think I have a tool that many folks can make.

    Tractor Supply has a variety of livestock hypo needles. The short ones in 18ga or 20ga are small enuff to get in the letter recesses, and should give good control. Just need to grind off the sharp point.

    Bulb-type eyedroppers from Walmart:

    Then, pop-off a bulb from one of the eyedroppers.

    The unsharpened hypo needle's plastic adapter will fit into the dropper bulb.
    You now have a short, thin, controllable paint dispenser.
    I'll post a pic of this thing later...
  15. mrtwowheel

    mrtwowheel Honda Etched On Brain Top Contributor

    That paint is going to have to be thinned to go through that needle. The thinner the paint, the less controllable it will be. Practice on one of the A's, have some mineral spirits, brush and cloths ready to wash off the paint. Really don't see any possible control in that syringe/dropper method.

  16. Steal your grand daughter's black nail polish, there's even a convenient applicator in the lid.
  17. mrtwowheel

    mrtwowheel Honda Etched On Brain Top Contributor

    Yeah, probably acrylic enamel, good thickness and coverage. One letter at a time, wipe and clean the edges with cloth, Q tips and solvent.
  18. Jame5on

    Jame5on XS650 Enthusiast

    Just a thought. Find something to use as three standoffs that will fit inside the letters then set an inclinometer on the standoffs. Shim under the Engine cover untill the bottom of the letter is level and secure it. Then you can just eyedropper the paint in into the base of the cavity. Don't bump it until it's dry. Never tried. Just makes sense to me
  19. Jame5on

    Jame5on XS650 Enthusiast

    Failed to say once it's level the paint should spread itself to cover with gravity. Might take a little vibration to spread. Just hold the butt end of your cordless drill against the case to vibrate.
  20. mrtwowheel

    mrtwowheel Honda Etched On Brain Top Contributor

    Fill these letter cavities with paint? And there is a contour to these covers. Will we be using lasers next? Sorry, but I need to quit looking at this thread.

    I got one thing positive from this. When I polish my covers and paint in my letters I may use a silver or gray to make my letters look finished, but not so noticeable. Maybe white?


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