Slightly south of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, you’ll find Custom Painted Vehicles (CPV), a shop that specializes in custom paint jobs, restoration and OEM work for motorcycles and motorcycle components.
Steve Wright, owner of Custom Painted Vehicles, says that customers come to them with a variety of needs — some are looking for custom designs, while others are looking to have their bike’s paint or decals restored to their former glory following an accident. When it comes to custom designs, Custom Painted Vehicles will work with whatever the customer provides, whether it is detailed prints or just a few ideas. Whatever their motivation, one thing holds true, “no one wants to pull up to a stoplight sporting the same paint job as the person next to them,” laughs Wright.
Custom Painted Vehicles was established in the 1970s by Wright’s parents. They initially worked out of their garage and got their start painting graphics on conversion vans. As the market changed, they transitioned in the early 90s to custom paint jobs for vehicles and hot rods. By 2000, the Wrights observed that people weren’t investing the same amount of time and money into custom paint for the vehicles they drive day-to-day. With that in mind, they changed the scope of their business again, this time to focus on motorcycles, especially Harley Davidson bikes. Since then, they transitioned to painting motorcycles nearly exclusively, except for the New Holland tractor parts that they paint for a manufacturing facility in nearby Racine, Wisconsin.
In July of 2017, Custom Painted Vehicles moved from the two buildings it inhabited to a new, larger building down the road. According to Wright, “the new location has provided the space to expand our prep, paint and decaling operations, and allowed us to consolidate our employees to one location and one shift.”
Along with the move, Wright and the team at CPV wanted to standardize their paint booths to create a more sustainable workflow and ensure ease of maintenance. To this end, they chose to purchase six new paint booths and three paint mix rooms from Global Finishing Solutions® (GFS).
Due to the small size of motorcycle parts and the volume of parts painted in each cycle, CPV had specific airflow and booth size requirements to ensure optimal contamination and overspray control. GFS worked with the shop and distributor, Don Putney of Collision Equipment Experts, to design and engineer six customized industrial paint booths. These pressurized, crossdraft booths vary from 40 to 50 feet long, feature white pre-coated panels, six-tube T8 light fixtures and custom, ergonomic fixtures installed by CPV to ensure the best paint finish as well as the comfort of the painters.
These booths are paired with automotive refinish SpaceSaver® air make-up units, Engage control panels and Ultra® XD Paint Mix Rooms for a highly customized blend of industrial and refinish products. According to Wright, Custom Painted Vehicles and their technicians had to get used to the volume of air that was flowing through the booths. However, once they did, they have been very happy with the results.
According to Wright, arranging six large booths and three paint mix rooms in a 10,800 square-foot area was a bit of a challenge. Collision Equipment Experts helped them design a layout in which each set of two booths share a mix room. This provides the painters with plenty of space to prep their paint and materials in their own workstation, and enables them to enter the booth directly from the mix room, eliminating contamination.
Fall and winter are busy times for the motorcycle restoration industry in the upper Midwest, as bikers take their motorcycles off the road and bring them into the shop to be restored or customized, ready to impress next spring. Custom Painted Vehicle’s new facility and equipment have positioned them to increase production and better keep up with demand as they enter this busy season.
Custom Painted Vehicles – Franksville, WI; Photos by Megan Merritt