A Flaming Harley Davidson

Having seen my hot S-Type Jaguar and a respray I did of a friend’s motorbike fuel tank, a local biker got in touch with a very special request.

When I finished the Jaguar project I told myself next time I painted fire, I wanted to go for the classic hot rod flame job, rather than free-hand organic kind.  I hadn’t realised the opportunity would arise so quickly.

When the tank, mud guard and rear fender arrived, it had the original black paint on it, but had been crudely embellished with white vinyl, that hadn’t really weathered very well.  Worse, when I removed the vinyl, it had clearly been cut to shape after it had been laid on the bodywork – the person who did it had sliced straight into the paintwork, drawing the flame outline with a blade.

Once the vinyl was removed the paintwork had to be flatted back and ground out where areas of rust appeared.  The owner wanted to change from black and white to red and yellow (gold), so it was quite a job.  After priming the parts, it went red and that’s when the real research started.  I found very few people left in the UK who custom paint these days, vinyl wraps have killed the skill, so I turned to the home of the hot rod – the USA.  I had previously taken advice from master free-style fire painter, Steve Wisniewski of Royal Reign Artistry but I found a wealth of new friends offering advice online on the classic flame, including  the talented Dave Webster of Identity Crisis Design.  I read lots of advice by Craig Fraser who has been in the business for years, and ran a number of testers before finally feeling ready to start.

This is not a “how to” blog, as I am still very much in the infancy of my custom work for that.  But here are a few photos of the process.

Once painted, pearlescent gold was flicked over the yellow and rich drop shadows added, Jim helped me lacquer (as it was by now about 10.00pm)!  We revisited early the next morning to flat and polish and I handed over the parts to a very happy owner a few days later.

The owner has just sent a photo of the bike reassembled!  It would certainly look good on a ride out with my S-Type!  Look out for both out and about in Gloucestershire, England!


I learned so much on this journey – and I can’t wait to work on my next project!  I’m thinking “Mexican Day of the Dead” – but I now know to be carefully what I wish for 🙂

Feel free to contact me for information and ideas!


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