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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,
My buddy Jake bought his dream bike. Unfortunately, the tank is rusted out, and a replacement looks like it will be crazy expensive. So I'm attempting to repair the original tank.

I've already started removing the rust, but the metal is pretty thin in spots. Looks like I'm going to have to do some brazing to fill in all the holes. If I can get it patched and structurally sound, I'll need to repaint it later. I'll see if I can post some pictures later.

Any advice on matching the red with the rest of the bike?
I've been searching around but haven't found much.
 

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This is a question that gets asked a lot and there is no good answer that I am aware of. As far as I know Kawi never publicized their paint formulas.

There are specialty paint shops who have done an amazing job of matching colours but they won't share the formulas since it is their bread and butter. So you could send it to them for a showroom quality paint job complete with and decals or pinstripes but the cost is high.

If anyone has paint formulas for any Kawi bikes.... please post here.
 

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PaintWorkz (sp?) is a place you can try, but I don't know if he supplies the paint codes that he has come up with. I think "Firecracker Red" has been mentioned as a color for the GPz but I don't know anything about how good of a match it is. Internet search = Kawasaki Firecracker Red.

ps: paintworkz does motorcycle painting & also sells paint. mostly early Z1 type vintage colors.
 

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There is a parts shop in my town that scans the color with a wand hooked up to a purpose built compute. They will actually make spray cans of the paint for you, quart cans, however much you need. Sometimes, since a car has faded, their paint matches incredibly. A good automotive paint shop will have this kind of equipment. You may have a paint that has multistage colors, but the shop will tell you that too. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone! I will look into these things. For now, I've got all the holes taped up and the tank is soaking in vinegar. We'll see how much is left in a few days.
 

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West Marine Epoxy is supposed to be a good tank liner for pinholes. It's what JeffSaunders (Z1Enterprises) has recommended for tanks in bad shape in the past.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I've been continuing to soak the tank in vinegar. As expected, more holes are appearing, and it's getting difficult to keep the tank full. I'm setting it in different positions to get full coverage. I even tried electrolysis for a bit. Just about ate through my electrode though, LOL.
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Before I started, I took a couple of pictures with a borescope. They didn't turn out great because of all the dust floating in the tank, but you can kind of see how bad it is.
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I've also got the fuel valve cleaned up and ready for a rebuild kit, but the strainer is missing.
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So the bottom of the tank, and the back side have soaked for several days each, and now its on one side. I plan to do the other side, front, and top the same way, and then drain it and see what it looks like.
 

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Wow, that is bad. Have you checked with local radiator repair shops? I think most of them will boil your tank to remove dried gasoline and scale and then they will coat the inside to prevent rust.
 

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I'd cut the botom of that tank out, leave a nice lip, and TIG a new bottom in, or rebuild it on the bench, then weld it back in. You'll have the shape needed from the piece you cut out. My Tig welder will weld down to .012" of a inch, but sometimes doing a larger area is better. On the bench you won't have to worry about how the weld looks, just how it seals. If you could see what part inside is bad, then cut out that section and Mig weld in a patch. You'll be further ahead in the end, and will have a hole to do some clean up. I'd have it boiled first. It's scary how rare this tank is. It's too bad you didn't have a cycle yard around to find something that would fit. The new remade ones are like $1200+ dollars, from Japan, and have to be painted. You'd have to really love a bike for that price. For that price, I'd make a tank from scratch! :)
 

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Holy crap I did not know a tank was that expensive. My latest purchase was this exact bike, same year. As far as I know the tank is in good condition. I will have a closer look this winter but right now I am having way too much fun riding it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The mild acidity of the vinegar eats away at the rust faster than clean metal. At least that's the theory. I've seen people use Muriatic acid, but I feel like it's too aggressive. Not to mention expensive and dangerous.

I have a flux core welder, but I'm not sure I could weld the tank with it without blowing out the metal. I don't have a TIG welder. My hope is to make it look as original as my skills will allow. But I've only done one other tank like this, and it was smaller, simpler in shape, and not as far gone as this one, so we'll see.

We don't have any radiator repair shops here. We're expected to throw out old radiators and replace them with new ones. That would be a neat thing to be able to do though. But yeah, even used tanks are very expensive. My labor is free, so I hope to keep the cost as low as possible by doing as much as I can myself. Jake's already bought a new cap, fuel level sender, sealant kit, and a fuel valve which doesn't fit. I want to rebuild the old one, but the strainer on top is missing. Haven't been able to find a new one without buying a whole new fuel valve.
 

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As far as colour matching is concerned, I was attending a vintage bike event and got a tip.

If you go to colorrite dot com and enter "firecracker red" in the search bar, it will take you to a page of choices for that colour and they state it is a Kawasaki colour. We know from various sources that Kawasaki called it Firecracker Red. Is it the exact right colour? Who knows, but the lads at this event had good things to say about this place.

 

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If you are careful, cut out the bottom perimeter of the tank,, you an add a strips of metal to locate the bottom when repaired. I have fixed MG Gas tanks like this. The old tanks actually came with a drain! The new ones don't and a lot of people like being able to drain old gas out of the tank. The tanks are pretty thick, and most MIG welders will easily weld that gauge without burning through. To be honest, rather than dealing with pinholes, which in actuality are much larger than the pin hole, I'd drop the bottom and pan, and weld repair panels, then weld it back in. The tank well be much better and you can do any other repairs you might not be able to see otherwise. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Well, I can definitely cut the tank apart. It would certainly make repair easier. I'm not confident in my ability to weld it back together. But I'm definitely temped to try. I just wish I were working on my own tank and not a friend of mine's. Maybe I'll start with the big hole in the front of the tank. If I can fix that without burning through, then I should be able to weld the tank back together after opening it up.

Also, thanks everyone for the color suggestions. I found the firecracker 606 on Colorrite and I'll go with that when the time comes.

My Ural gas tank has a cross tube in the back for equalizing the fuel level. I tapped that with another tube so I can use it as a drain port. It is annoying to get the last bit of gas out through the fuel hole when the situation calls for it, LOL.
 

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Start with scrap metal of the same guage. It will take you minutes to learn this. Just don't feed too slowly, have good amperage, not so hot it burns through, but enough to penetrate it. A scrap pice of metal will show you this when you see the opposite side changes it color and the weld is one with the piece.Also make sure the surface is clean and lightly sanded so you get a good arc. If you cut out the bottom, when putting it back on, weld some tabs to locate the bottom, the start with spot welds every 5 inches or so apart. Eventually they will all connect, and you can make a leak free repair. It really isn't hard. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I finished soaking the tank in vinegar today. Cleaned it up the best I could, and started stripping the paint. I got the bottom of the tank done.
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It's not as bad as I thought it would be yet. There's still plenty of damage though.
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It's slow going. Either my paint stripper is weak, or this paint is really tough. I hope to get some of the top half stripped tomorrow.
 
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