While I had one of my forks disassembled to replace the bushings, I decided to try painting the lowers a different color.
I don't need (or really want) a factory fresh paint job. I just wanted to change up the color to a nice neutral black.
Using a heat gun (on low) I gently warmed the decals and removed them. I put them on a sheet of paper in case I wanted to scan them in and try to reproduce them later. Turns out I just bought some decals off of eBay for $10 instead.
I used #1 steel wool (medium coarseness) to rub the lowers until there was no gloss left. You'll see visible scratching of the paint that's hard to capture on the camera.
Since it's tough to get the steel wool into the crevices of the fork, I used a small brass welding brush. You'll find them in the welding supply isle at the hardware store. The steel brushes will eat through the paint fairly quick. Brass is softer and will just scuff it up nicely. Here's a photo of one from the internet:
I then washed the fork using TSP, rinsed it with clean water, and let it dry for a day. Once you wash the surface, do not touch it again with bare hands. Skin oils jack up paint.
The paint I decided to use was Rustoleum Appliance Epoxy. I've read good things about the durability of this stuff and they had it at the local hardware store. I emailed Rustoleum and asked about proper application and they specifically said no primer with this paint. Scuff existing paint or apply directly to bare metal. Made me happy to hear that as it saved some steps.
Another option would have been the Duplicolor Engine Enamel (with ceramic). The Duplicolor had more color choices if that's what you're after.
I cut out a piece of hanger, bent the ends into hooks, inserted them into the bottom of the lowers.
Taped off the top of the lowers.
Used my $55 dollar workstand to support the piece.
I'm not a huge fan of the slick glossy look on mountain bike parts. After putting on a few coats, I held the can further back and 'dusted' the lowers to give it a slightly textured look. This method has worked real well for me in the past when painting things like stems and handlebars.
You can still see some of the underlying gouges. Doesn't bother me as I'm quite sure I'll add some new gouges in the near future.
When it was dry to the touch, I hung it up in the attic to cure for a week before applying the decals and installing the bushings.
After being in the attic for a week the paint cured up nicely (no more odors from solvent evaporation). Meanwhile, the eBay decals arrived. Since they're designed for a 32mm stanchion SID they wrap around the fork a bit more than intended. But, I think they look nice. It certainly freshened up the look of the fork.
Washed, dried, and applied the decals... Update after five months:
I knew the paint wouldn't be invincible. There's a small chip on the right side about 1/2" below the seal. Other than that the paint job has been holding up just fine. This isn't my daily rider; but, I'd estimate I have this one out once a week. That would be approximately 20 rides or so.
Overall I am very happy with how the lowers turned out and I wouldn't hesitate to paint more using the same method.