Behind the scenes at Ringbrothers – An interview with Mike and Jim Ring

IMG_0097
Jim (left) and Mike (right) Ring pose with the Ringbrothers custom 2013 Mustang “SWITCHBACK” inside their GFS PERFORMER paint booth.

There are few custom car makers in the world that reach the level of pure artistry that is achieved by Ringbrothers. This is reflected in the huge success Ringbrothers have achieved at the biggest car shows, going head to head with the best in the world of custom muscle cars.

GFS is extremely proud to be a part of the Ringbrothers shop, and we were fortunate enough to have had an opportunity to sit down with Mike and Jim Ring at their shop in Spring Green, Wisconsin to get an inside look at the history of Ringbrothers, and talk about their experiences spraying paint inside their GFS Performer paint booth.

Ringbrothers Interview
Mike Ring (left) and Jim Ring (right)

GFS: Thanks so much for taking the time to speak with us today, guys! It’s a real honor! First off, could you give us the standard ‘intro’ on who you guys are?

Jim Ring (JR): Well, I’m Jim Ring, I’m the youngest of seven. This is my brother Mike, next in line. We’re the Ringbrothers.

GFS: Can you give us a quick rundown of the origins of your shop?

Mike Ring (MR): Jim started this business probably around ’89, but then he built this new location in ’93, and in ’94 he asked me to come back. Once I got 50/50 ownership, then I came back. Been with Jim ever since.

GFS: What’s the story behind how you started getting involved in such incredible custom cars?

Concept artwork of some designs used in Ringbrothers cars.
Concept artwork of some designs used in Ringbrothers cars.

JR: We actually started doing these cars, and doing what we thought was cool to them. Taking them to shows, and get good responses from them, and that just fueled the fire to do more. But we’ve been tinkering with cars our whole life. We love cars.

GFS: Of all the cars you get asked to work on, what is your all-time favorite make and model? IMG_0125

JR: There’s no doubt our favorite cars are the Mustangs. Especially the early cars, the ’65 ’66 Fastbacks. We’ve always had kind of a passion for them cars.

GFS: You guys have unveiled some truly spectacular builds over the years. Is there one in particular that sticks out in your mind, or perhaps has a special meaning for you?

MR: I think probably the one that really put us on the map, so it’s probably got a special spot is the REACTOR. It was the one that really gave us the splash at SEMA, and I remember up when Mothers picked it for the Shine Award they were like ‘Who are you guys? Never heard of you!” so I mean, that was a pretty neat car.

Reactor3sm
REACTOR – ’67 Mustang – Winner of 2006 Mothers Shine Award

GFS: Your first experiences painting cars must be vastly different from painting today.

JR: We used to paint our cars in a homemade booth made of 2×4’s and plastic, and as you look around here you can see we’ve come a long way since that. Having the right equipment for what you do is really important. You know, we’ve got the lights we need now, the fans, there’s no comparison to how we used to do this.

GFS: Waterborne is a big topic of discussion in the world of automotive paint. What have your experiences been relative to spraying waterborne in your GFS paint booth?

Mike Ring (left) and Jim Ring (right)
Mike Ring (left) and Jim Ring (right)

MR: For us, in this booth particularly, is the air movement is huge. How much more air movement we get. And being able to in the hot, humid days like today, you can cook the air and get the humidity out of it, which really speeds up the process. You know a lot of people think that winter for water would be the bad time, but it’s actually summer and the humidity, and being able to turn the bake on and dry out the air is huge.

GFS: Can you expand on how the paint booth environment can impact the final appearance of the paint jobs?

MR: Another big part of having a good paint booth like this, is when you do these custom cars you have a lot of clear. We’re talking seven coats of clear and if you don’t get good air movement you can get solvent popping which really will ruin your whole paint job. Another thing is the matte clear. We found that the finishes with matte, after the second coat of matte, if we bake it, it just gives us a much more even finish. Before, we fought the matte clears, especially in the humidity, and matte is a big part of what we do.

JR: You only get one swing with a matte. It’s not like you can sand and buff it, I mean it is what it is. Being able to spray it out in here has just helped us tremendously.

GFS: When you’re working on one of those custom cars, there are thousands of hours of work that go in to making them perfect, and the paint job is the first thing that everyone sees when they’re finished. How does a good paint booth factor in to that? IMG_0138

JR: You need great lighting, You spend so much time on these custom cars, on every detail, and to do one of them cars in a booth that has no lighting, or no airflow, but lighting especially, you know, I can’t imagine missing something after all the work that went in to one of these custom cars. And then having light spots or something because you couldn’t see. So, it’s very important. If you’re going to be in this business you need the right tools, and that includes your booth.

IMG_0101 MR: We really take pride in our paint, is what I was getting at. That’s what we really take pride in. Is that we paint them, and we want the best we can. That’s why we use the paint we do and the booth we have.

GFS: Since you’ve installed your GFS Performer paint booth, what kind of differences have you noticed when working in the booth?

MR: I think for me, the favorite, you know the lighting we talked about how you can see, but just how quiet it is. I mean you can come in here and get away from what’s going on in the shop, it’s that quiet. You do not hear anything. And, it’s kinda nice to be able to concentrate when you don’t have that buzzing of the fan or anything else going on. You can really concentrate on what you’re doing in the booth.

GFS: We really can’t thank you guys enough for taking the time to talk with us today, and we definitely appreciate the opportunity to be a part of your shop here.

Ringbrothers_in_GFSPerformerPaintbooth

JR: Global Finishing Solutions has been a big part of what we do since we got this new booth, and we couldn’t do it without it. I’ll be honest with you, we tried it with our other booth, but…you have to have it.

MR: Without a doubt this took us to another level. I think people look at our paint work and think it rivals anybody in the business, and without a doubt it’s given us that ability to produce that much better of a product.

JR: Global definitely got us to that level.

A very special thanks to Mike and Jim Ring, and to the entire crew at Ringbrothers!

We can’t wait to see the latest masterpieces that will be unveiled at SEMA 2013 this year in Vegas!

To learn more about GFS, please visit our website.

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