Getting the perfect finish on a custom motorcycle tank can be an illusive art at the best of times. We recently we caught up with the man many turn to when the job needs to be just right. Meet Sam Muldoon, founder of Colourfuel, who takes us on a ride through his love of spray painting and motorcycles, and how he preps and paints to achieve a no compromises finish on custom motorcycle paintwork.
How did you get started in the industry?
I got started in the industry when I was 14, I was introduced to airbrushing which I practiced out the back of my dad's motorcycle shop until I started an automotive refinishing trade in Sydney. Soon after I combined my love for motorcycles and painting.
Do you have any particular industry influences?
Honestly, I have so many people that have influenced me over the years from my mum and dad to my mate Dan that I worked with. I always looked forward to showing him my design work in the morning after a long night of spraying. Then there’s my mates Kris Lemke and Al Samuels who gave me the confidence to start my own business in such a niche market. And Vince, Brian and Kyle who I work with now that make my day that much more interesting.
What is your favourite material to paint on (e.g. bikes, cars etc.?)
I love painting fuel tanks and small stuff that's easy to handle and I get to see the end result sooner. Cars can take too long!
Can you talk us through the process of painting a motorcycle tank from start to finish?
Typically to paint a tank I’ll send them to a local sand blaster to have any old paint and rust completely removed to promote longevity. I’ll then work on any metal and filler repairs and seal these with epoxy primer. Unlike other primers, it completely seals the metal from corrosion and promotes adhesion. I then use a high build primer which is then sanded to help level out any uneven surfaces. Once it is prepped with a finer sand paper I clean it and set it up in the booth for spray.
After this I will apply several coats of base colour before letting it dry. I then use a 2 pack clear coat, applying 2–6 coats depending on the job. Finally I’ll let it bake at 60 degrees to allow the paint to cure properly which ensures maximum gloss hold out.
Has your process evolved since you got started?
Yes, mistakes and hard work are the main driving force behind improvement. As my skillset diversifies I am constantly faced with new challenges as I search for ways to deliver better products.
Do you like simply working with customers designs, or do you prefer being part of the creative process?
I love getting involved with the design process. I believe it is the most dynamically challenging and interesting part of any job. And the most rewarding – especially when you get it right.
What would be your dream project?
My dream would probably be to have Adrian at Sol rebuild my GSX1100 from the ground up.
All photography by Adrian Korner