Should the job in hand be a large one, it will be found as well to get a cheaper enamel for the first coat, but if the work is only a small job, it will not be necessary to have more than one enamel, of which a couple of coats at least will be required. When the first coat has thoroughly dried and hardened, the surface will have to be thoroughly rubbed till it is perfectly smooth with tripoli powder and fine pumice-stone, and afterwards hand-polished with rotten-stone and putty powder. And here it may be remarked that the finer the surface is got up with emery powder and other polishing agents the better will be the enamelling and ultimate finish. The rubbing down being finished, another coat of enamel must be applied and the work baked as before, care being always taken to keep the enamel in a sufficiently fluid condition as to enable it to flow and run off the work freely. It can easily be thinned with a little paraffin. A third coat will frequently be advisable, as it improves the finish.
In enamelling cycles, it is well to hang the front forks crown uppermost when they are undergoing the final baking, and it is advisable to bear in mind that wheels require an enamel that will stove at a lower temperature than is called for for other parts of the machine. Some japanners advocate the fluid being put on with camel-or badger-hair brushes, and for the best descriptions of work, final coats, and such like, I agree with them; but this is a detail which can be left to the operator’s own fancy, the class of work, etc.; but I would remind him that applying enamel with a brush requires much care and a certain amount of “knack”. It is something like successful lacquering in brasswork—it looks very simple, but is not. Each succeeding coat of japan gives a more uniform and glossy surface, and for this reason it may, in some cases, be necessary to repeat the operation no fewer than half a dozen times, the final coat being generally a layer of clear varnish only, to add to the lustre.
Care must be taken for light-coloured japans or enamels not to have the temperature sufficiently high to scorch, or the surface will be discoloured, as they require a lower temperature for fixing than the dark japans, which, provided the article is not likely to be injured by the heat, are usually dried at a somewhat high temperature. The preceding instructions apply only to the best descriptions of work.
When pouring enamel by means of the ladle over pieces of work, do not agitate the liquid too much—at the same time taking care to keep it well mixed—so as to form air bubbles, as this will cause trouble, and in pouring over the work do it with an easy and gentle and not too hurried a motion. In japanning curved pieces, such as mud-guards, etc., in hanging up the work in the oven see that the liquid does not run to extremities and there form ugly blots or blotches of enamel.
When white or other light tones are used for japanning they are mixed with japanners’ varnish, and these require more careful heating in the oven or stove than darker tints or brown or black.