Paint Your Tail Light

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So you're saying to yourself....self, what kind of crazy rider would want to paint a tail light black?   Well, I did and tell ya the truth, it looks pretty darned good!

It all started one night at the local 'bike and hot rod' show.  A rider pulls up on a Road King and there's something different about the fender.   It was the tail light which was darkened on the sides quite a bit and just a little toward the rear.   This, it turns out, is an off the shelf accessory for Harleys but of course there's no such animal for Vulcans or any other metric I could find.

Now that would look pretty darned good on the Nomad (Classic/Meanstreak/Rogue) so how to go about doing it.    A few minutes of online shopping turned up the key.  Transparent black paint, the same sort we've used for other mods on these pages tinting windshields etc.

It's hard to tell in the picture above but the lens is now darker on the sides (3 light coats) and just a little bit darker directly toward the back ( 1 coat) but seems just as visible as the stock tail light at night.  

If you decide to try this I'd suggest practicing first on a cheapo red lens so you can determine how much paint to use.

You're probably wondering about now how the paint holds up to the heat of a couple of tail light bulbs.   Very well actually!   Before doing this I painted the inside of another plastic lens then hung the lens for a /files/includes/images/tl_paint_bake.jpg (108118 bytes) half hour in front of a standard light bulb   It's a little hard to see but the lens got extremely hot.  The several coats of transparent black paint sprayed inside did not blister or peel.



What You'll Need

1- Can of Testors, Model Master (or other brand) transparent black paint /files/includes/images/tl_paint_can.jpg (101341 bytes) available at many hobby shops.   If you can't find it locally it's online at hobby outlets like this one.


1-Stock or aftermarket tail light


How To Do It

1. Remove your tail light from your bike and clean the inside thoroughly.  Allow to dry.

2. Cover the outside of the lens with paper or masking tape or both to protect it from over spray.   You do not want to go back afterward with alcohol and try to clean it up, trust me here.  The alcohol makes the plastic milky looking then you have to wash it again.

3. Cover the 'inside' rear of the lens (the portion facing directly backward when mounted on the bike) with tape or a piece of thin cardboard cut to fit.   You'll only be using one or two coats of paint here and it's simpler just to cover it for the first one or two coats you put on the side.  Also tape over the inside of the clear part of the lens used for license plate illumination.

4. Hang the lens using a piece of wire through the hole in the back of the lens

5. Spray one very light coat of paint inside and wait a half hour or so.  Spray another coat, wait a half hour then remove the cover from the rear of the lens.   Spray again and keep doing it until the lens is as dark as your sample.    Remember you can always go back and add another coat later so too little at this point is waaaay better than too much.

6.  Allow to dry thoroughly (24 hours wouldn't be a bad idea)

7. Mount the lens back on your fender and check it out.   The big red bauble is gone, replaced by a lens that looks like it belongs there or at least doesn't stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.