Did you know that you can add graphics right on the top of your stock paintjob? I’m here to tell you this is not only possible, but it is one of the cheapest ways to get a custom paintjob. There are a bunch of things that will dictate the price, like how complex the design is and how many pieces of sheetmetal it covers, but it will be less expensive than a complete repaint. If you just want some flames on the hood, then the job should be pretty cheap, and if you decide to cover everything on the truck except the roof and tailgate, then the price will be much higher.
We recently went over to Eightball Rods and Choppers, where the shop had a Dodge Ram sitting in the booth with a fresh basecoat. I asked what was going on with the truck and the shop owner, Stefan Amann, said Steve Vandemon was about to lay down some ghost flames. I asked if the flames could be shot over a stock paintjob and he said absolutely. The Ram in the story had all the normal paint defects like rock chips on the hood and a little parking lot rash on the doors (door dings), which is why it got a fresh basecoat. Otherwise, the information here will be the same as if you were painting over a stock clearcoat. The only thing different will be surface preparation.
To get the stock clear ready for flames, you will need to wet-sand the bulk of the truck with 600-grit paper. Instead of using the 600 on the edges, use a gray Scotch-Brite Ultra Fine Hand Pad because there will be less chance of sanding through the basecoat. Just remember, all you are trying to do is prep the clear so the paint will adhere to it, so don’t be too aggressive or you’ll sand down to the primer. If you sanded right, you shouldn’t see any shiny spots or any areas where you sanded into the basecoat.
Once the surface is prepped, the taping can begin. It’s really hard to tell you the proper way to lay the tape, so I shot video of Steve laying out one side of the truck. After you read this story you can log on to sporttruck.com and watch how a pro does it. I’ll also go over how to get the left and right side of the truck to match using a pounce pattern.
Not all of us can paint, but most can dream up a design and tape it off. If you can find a paint shop willing to just spray the flames and the clear, you could save a little coin that way. If not, there are guys like Steve who will happily charge you to do it. I think that’s enough fluff, so let’s get to the good stuff.