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Tail Gunner Makes Time for a Face Lift

It's Winter and Time for Fresh Paint--Part 1

By Tail Gunner with photos by Colleen Gunner

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A new paint job will do wonders.
A new paint job will do wonders.

Tail Gunner checking in! Well it's winter again, so I thought I'd give my old Softail a face lift. She's been a good old gal, a survivor of many a road trip. But the years are starting to show, paint chips, fading and rock dings everywhere, plus the old pin stripping is looking a little ragged. This will be a hard decision for me, she's been black from the beginning and what's cooler than black! Well first let's get her dismantled and I'll think about the color as I go. Up on the lift she goes,

Remove seat and disconnect negative side of the battery.
Remove seat and disconnect negative side of the battery.

Front fender is a no brainer, four bolts and a wire disconnected and it's off.
Front fender is a no brainer, four bolts and a wire disconnected and it's off.

Rear fender is more involved, but nothing the average mechanic can't handle. Get the wheel out of the way, or jack the bike, and a few bolts and it drops right out with a little sweet talk.

Disconnect the wiring harness and disassemble the turn signals and lic. plate bracket after the fender is removed, it's easier that way. You can sit the fender in your lap and remove everything, vs. trying to do it on the bike.

For the front fender I did the same, removed it as a whole, then removed all the hardware for the running light and emblems while it's off the bike.

Reassembly will be the same, after the paint has cured, install all the lighting and brackets prior to installation. For the fuel tank, first remove the dash panel and disconnect all the wiring harness connections and set it aside.

Fuel gauge is next , find the wire on the bottom of the left side of the tank and trace it to the connector. Disconnect the plug and remove the three wires from the connector. Find something small like a paper clip or small punch. I used a dental pick that is straight. Push it in the front side of each pin and depress a little tab that holds the pin to the connector, the pull the wire from the back side.
Now, pull straight up on the gauge while fishing the wires through the small hole, the whole thing should lift right out. There's three bolts holding the tank to the frame, plus the fuel cross over and (in my case) the quick disconnect for the EFI fuel line. It's easy, just push up on the quick disconnect and pull down on the collar, it pops right off. The cross over is a little more involved. You will surely have fuel everywhere, so I suggest doing this outside away from possible ignition sources such as a water heater or have someone help with tank removal.
You will need an extra pair of hands to remove the hose clamps, pinch the line and remove one side so you can slip another longer piece of fuel line on the fitting and drain any fuel in the tank into a plastic gas tank. After all the fuel is drained, remove the tank from the frame and set aside.

I left the fuel float system and fuel feed fitting on the tank, it's easier to mask them off rather than remove them.
If you choose to remove them, you will need gaskets and possibly recalibrate the metering float, that's why I left them intact. Finally, the color came to me in a dream! What's cooler than black? Who's the icon of cool? Well for me, Steve McQueen. And what cooler color than the Highland Dark Green on the 1968 "Builltt" Mustang Fast Back.

I did some research and found the color code, now I need a painter! Through word of mouth, I located a painter and custom car builder Daron Ray in Lancaster Ca..

We met up and came up with a game plan for body work and paint scheme. To be continued!!
--Tail Gunner out for now!




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