We have all seen cars with flames at the shows, and this is just a little insight into exactly how this is done.

In the case of the car below we are actually doing something that is a lot more complex and I don’t receomend it if you have never painted flames before. we are¬†going to do flake flames.

I have to say that I really love a job like this. Someone else has had all the hard work of making the car look good. It has been restored and re-sprayed by someone else - all I have to do is the flames!

Its really not that difficult I seem to do a lot of flames recently, except that this customer has specified something a little different and several body shops have told her it is impossible! The Car is a sort of metallic Cadbury’s purple, and the lady wants long tentacle flames, in the same colour - but in flake so that when the sun shines they show, but most of the time you cannot see them - very clever and very effective. The difficulty comes in the masking. Flame masking should be removed ASAP to prevent lifting of the flame - most are done in basecoats which are thin and dry (not cure like flakes) and so are a little less susceptible to lifting. This is even more difficult because we are not talking about tiny little metallic like flake, or even mid size flake - we are talking about huge boulders of the largest flake you can get!! They have to pass through the spray gun without clogging.

After a few trials I managed to come up with a way of doing it (no I am not going to tell you how) and the final job went very well. This is because of the prep and the fact that the customer did not hurry us. As always a patient customer will receive a better car.

Above you can see the beautiful but rather basic Mini. Below work starts.

Prep is as always the key to a good job. I had undertaken samples in advance to ensure this new procedure would work, then the whole front end was wet flatted with 400 grit wet ‘n’ dry paper to remove all the gloss. Only when every last bit is gone can we start masking. The first job is to hard mask the edges, and then to mask out the pattern. It look symmetrical but with these things we always do them by eye - art is not symmetrical and neither are flames, so we don’t even try we just make it look good. When it is we are ready to spray the flake - this was very hard and fast work (it was during the hot summer and the temp was over 35) so I had no time to stop and take photos, everything went off very quickly and a delay could have ruined the job. If I had what you would have seen is that the flakes were sprayed with a very special gun I built for the job, then the tapes were removed, then the panels were cleaned of tape residue which can otherwise show through the lacquer before coating the whole front in clear.

This is not the end of the job, although it looks smooth in the photos at the edge of the flames is a small step. It wasn’t much and the customer probably would not have noticed, but I always would so we left the car for 10 days for the paint to cure very hard, then flatted the whole front down again and recoated with 3 coats of clear - its now completely flat, and the gloss we have achieved makes the rest of the car look a little dull in comparison (although its actually very good).

The car looked absolutely fabulous when complete, and the customer was absolutely over the moon - exactly what she wanted. I have had trouble capturing the essence of this car in photos - just can’t capture the sparkle when the light catches the flake - it looks awesome.