Thursday, January 24, 2008

Helmet Fun

On a lark I picked up an Iwata airbrush kit on ebay, as well as a helmet painting DVD. Suitably inspired and instructed, I decided to try my hand at another helmet. I had painted a Nitro helmet in a Red Bull motif last year, but using an airbrush really helps, especially with autoair. All of the paint needs to be significantly thinned with the appropriate reducer, but the amount of paint waste is decreased dramatically, and with the airbrush, I was able to do the prep and paint at home in the office, and leave the clearcoating to the shop.

I decided to buy a Bell open face helmet, mainly for around-town and short jaunts. Any long distance stuff or real aggressive riding would see me use the new Vemar. I decided on a more modern, European-looking Mag 8. I was able to get one with a 2006 manufacture date off of an ebay wholesaler for $20.50. Shipping to Canada ended up being more expensive than the helmet.

The process was as follows (using the DVD as a guide)
  • careful masking of the rubber piping around the shell, and removing as much of the interior padding as possible, and the visor

  • keying the helmet with a brillo pad, not sandpaper -- left a nice, scuffed finish

  • masking -- I saw a design I liked from a British bike mag (a custom design at that), and turned it into a Ducati-esque color scheme, using white, red, and green, with silver trim, on the black original shell

  • I really had to think the steps through in order to get the design I wanted. More pre-thought led to much quicker masking. Using proper automotive blue fine-line tape and green masking tape makes all the difference. Do not waste your time with normal beige masking tape -- it will lead to nothing but headache! Pay the extra few bucks for the right stuff.

  • I thinned the colors and base coat right in the airbrush cup, stirring it in. Again, there is no minimum or maximum reducing ratio with autoair. The thinner mixes required more coats, but also resulted in a much smoother finish... important for a helmet.

  • So I painted away... flames are tough to do, and I did a few layouts where I was comfortable with what I had
  • The silver trim was a headache, as past practice showed me that I wanted to avoid any "smiles" between where the green or red ended and the silver hilights began. Real painters free hand and pinstripe this stuff, but I didn't have the proper paint, brush or skill myself, so this area was also airbrushed. Next time, a slight change in the "order of operations" would alleviate this -- mask out the design/flame/whatever oversize, then apply the base coat and trim color, focusing on the outside. Then, mask the TRIM, and spray the main color "inside" the trim color. So, rather than do trimmed flames from the inside out, go outside in. Impossible to describe, but I guess I have the idea.
  • I put 2 coats of clear, with a wet sand in-between. The decals have one healthy coat of clear overtop. A smoother finish than previous experiences -- the airbrush at work.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Snow Fun

What an absolute riot! Good friends, good weather, good fun! Doug, Billy, Wilson, and I met at Blixhaven's a few days ago for a great Sunday... +3, soft ice, and a clear track. The ttr ran great (probably the best it has), and all were out a least for awhile. Unfortunately both of Billy and Doug's Thumps blew tires, and the TTR lost a clutch lever. The XL was held together with some ingenious bolt swapping (brake perch for an exhaust stud?) and lasted the entire day. Put in a zillion laps, and only crashed a few times. The MTB tire solution continues to hold up well. I spent today replacing the clutch lever (an cutting a notch so it will break off the tip if necessary, not the entire piece. Good to go in the future!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas Report

After a few days in Mid-December that were somewhat warm, we're back to a deep-freeze situation in MB again. The good news is that I was able to get out ice riding already, and the MTB tire experiment seems to have worked a treat! The idea was to cut up mountain-bike tires and use them as liners in the TTR tires. They are far more "flexible", and can be shoehorned into the studded tire much easier. They also provide sufficient protection to the tube, as the ice screws do not protrude too far into the tires carcass. In the end, after a valiant struggle by Scott at Transcanada, the tires were mounted and remained airtight for the day. Hoorah! Finally a consistent level of traction for ripping around the ice. Tellingly, only 1 crash this time out, whereas before it was 1 every five laps in the past.
Christmas also provides an opportunity to head to Fort Frances for a family visit, too much food, too much drink, and a chance to pick up parts which were being stockpiled there by my folks (shipping issue with the states). This trip saw me grab the spare TTR wheels (great shape), chin spoiler (new!), velocity stack covers (new), sprocket cover, exhaust heat shield, as well as a new helmet (Vemar, Snell 2005 spec), and a set of riding ankle boots from Spidi. I guess I am a slave to fashion. As well, I spent some time and made some numbers for the Carbon monster number plate I got from the UK. I was actually able to fabricate brackets so I can remove the headlight, unplug the wires, and mount the plate with 2 bolts -- pretty slick. The chin hugger was missing its mounting brackets, but a trial fit shows impressive quality and thick carbon. Light but pretty meaty. I also did a slight mod in order to clean up the undertray a bit -- just drilled some new holes to slide the assembly forward. The rear licence plate (when it is mounted) should be a bit more flush with the subframe and look a bit cleaner.