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i like whiskey
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am in the process of building up an 70's vintage steel frame and I'd like to refinish the frame. I've read all the various posts re: powder coating, etc, but would like to take a stab at doing this myself.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what type of paint I should use to do this? Should I just go to Home Depot and pick up some Krylon, or is there some other type of paint I should consider, like maybe auto paint.

Any other pointers for things I should/should not do? Maybe some pitfalls to avoid. This frame was not expensive and will not be ridden a ton, so it doesn't have to be perfect. But I don't want it to look like crap either. I figure if I screw it up bad enough, I can always take it and get it stripped and powder coated by a pro.
 

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I vote for powdercoat

I'm a big fan of powdercoat, and assuming you don't need 14 colors, panels and fades, it can be done pretty cheaply. Just remember that you don't have to take it to a place that only does bicycles, that's the quick way to jack up the price. I don't know where you are located, but in norcal there's a place called Dauenhauer Mfg. that will do it well, and pretty cheap. FWIW they do the soulcraft powder and some of the sycip bikes I think, but they also do machinery etc. There are lots of local places that will paint a frame cheap, some of the best being auto/motorcycle painters.

If you want a half decent job, i don't recommend krylon, unless you put a lot of time in with primer and sanding. I rattle-canned a chuck's bikes frame this summer, and eventhough I did some prep work, it's coming off where my lock wraps around the frame.

Good luck.
 

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You talking to me?
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innergel said:
I am in the process of building up an 70's vintage steel frame and I'd like to refinish the frame. I've read all the various posts re: powder coating, etc, but would like to take a stab at doing this myself.

Does anyone have any suggestions for what type of paint I should use to do this? Should I just go to Home Depot and pick up some Krylon, or is there some other type of paint I should consider, like maybe auto paint.

Any other pointers for things I should/should not do? Maybe some pitfalls to avoid. This frame was not expensive and will not be ridden a ton, so it doesn't have to be perfect. But I don't want it to look like crap either. I figure if I screw it up bad enough, I can always take it and get it stripped and powder coated by a pro.
I've heard of home brew versions of anodizing, but not powder coat. I think you would need a rather large oven to start.

If you use anything other than rattle cans like Krylon, you'll need some spray equipment and I suppose some experience (I've never used that kind of stuff before so I don't really know how difficult it is). If you elect to go with the rattle can approach, you should be able to get a VERY nice looking job if you're patient. The problem is durability. The paint applied by rattle cans scrapes off very easily. One of the guys at a LBS here that specializes in fixed and single speeds (read - lots of customers with home brew painting experience) told me that the longer you can let the paint bake in the sun on a hot day or two or three, the more durable it will be. Wives tale - you got me?

Give it a go. You might be surprised how good it can look. Try adding a clear coat or two afterwards.

Bryan
 

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hi, I'm Larry
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Go with a nice Laquer Auto paint

Find a real spraygun, can jobs jook BAD. A small spraygun will be better. Round tubing is tricky to paint properly, so if you have not sprayed before the result will look BAD. If you know how to paint and have an artistic eye you can get some great results with automotive Laquer.

multiple light coats with light wet sanding and thoughrall cleanups between coats then followed up with multiple clear coats with light sanding and thoughrall clean ups between coats will result in a spectacular deep finish. Paint booths are best otherwise you HAVE to find a clean, dry, well ventilalated location to paint. Dust and humidity will ruin the paint job.

before the clearcoating, hand detail lines around the lugs with gold, black or some other complementary colored laquer if you have a steady hand. Also, if you can get some period decals, put them on before the clearcoat.

If the original frame had chromed or partially chromed forks and seat / chain stays mask these off and preserve these.

The chrome and laquer paint jobs with detailed lugs used back in the 70's puts the paint jobs of many of the high end modern bikes to shame. Other than Cologno, very few of the high end bikes put this amount of workmanship into the paint. Of course I am bais towards the looks of the 70's bikes having grown up with them.
 

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I wouldn't say a spray can will give you a professional job

bimini said:
Find a real spraygun, can jobs jook BAD. A small spraygun will be better. Round tubing is tricky to paint properly, so if you have not sprayed before the result will look BAD. If you know how to paint and have an artistic eye you can get some great results with automotive Laquer.
...but, Innergel's original statement "This frame was not expensive and will not be ridden a ton, so it doesn't have to be perfect. But I don't want it to look like crap either. I figure if I screw it up bad enough, I can always take it and get it stripped and powder coated by a pro." suggests that he isn't necessarily looking for a professional job.

I have to respectfully disagree about the appearance of a "can" job. I refinished an old Bontrager Race not too long ago. In the process, I stripped it down to bare metal applied primer, multiple finish coats and clearcoats; all with rattle cans. The appearance was quite good. Like you say round tubes are difficult so you need to be patient and not apply too much paint at one time.

Now if you want the paint to last I wouldn't recommend the rattle cans. Then on the other hand, if you don't mind repainting every year or two it sounds very appropriate given Innergel's description of what he was looking for. All in all I would go with a Powder Coat on a bike like that (only if could find a place to do it for maybe $75 - $100).

Bryan<!-- / message -->
 

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I've Done It Both Ways...

Lots of good advice here!

I've shot bikes with cans and with an automotive paint gun. You can get good results with both, and both take some effort.

Frankly, even if you have access to the right equipment, unless the frame is something really special I'd stick with a rattle can for a DIY job. Automotive paints are NASTY health wise, and you have to have some experience with using them to get decent results. Bikes are also tricky to shoot, with lots of crevices (the tube clusters at the bottom bracket and the seat post clamp are the worst). If you do go the spray gun route, see if you can find a "door-jamb gun" -- it's smaller, and is easier to manouver into tight areas. Respirators are a must, and you have to be considerate of neighbors, etc., who will be downwind of any overspray.

I have had good luck with Rustoleum. The paint on my Fixie is Rustoleum Grass Green -- it has survived two years, and still looks good. The story from the bike shop that the paint gets tougher over time is true: the paint cures, and the curing process is speeded up with heat. New paint is soft: that's why you never wax a new paint job, and wash it only with clear water and soft towels.

For me, the trick is to put on enough paint, but not too much. Thick paint jobs chip easily. Two or more coats of primer, flatted down with 800/1000 grit wet or dry, followed by two color coats. If the color looks good, with no runs, two coats of clear finish it up. If there are runs that I have to take out, let it dry for two weeks, hit the run with 800/1000 wet or dry sand paper, and shoot another thin color coat.
 

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Do you have any pics?

It sounds like you put a lot of time and effort into your bikes -- I'd LOVE to see the results!
 

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hi, I'm Larry
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Sorry, no bicycle pictures

I've painted old motorcycles, old cars, lots of R/C airplanes with spray laquer but have not done a bicycle yet. I've got a fondness for old 70's bikes and if I ever find an old Libertas frame I will get it and restore it. It was my first European road bike back in the early 70's. Great paint, partial chrome on forks and stays great detailing and decals. When I find one I will take the time to do the paint right. My old one got thrown away after about 30,000 miles back in the 80's when I got my first Trek(I did not know I would want it again, it was a basket case though).
 

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I've got a buddy...

bimini said:
I've painted old motorcycles, old cars, lots of R/C airplanes with spray laquer but have not done a bicycle yet. I've got a fondness for old 70's bikes and if I ever find an old Libertas frame I will get it and restore it. It was my first European road bike back in the early 70's. Great paint, partial chrome on forks and stays great detailing and decals. When I find one I will take the time to do the paint right. My old one got thrown away after about 30,000 miles back in the 80's when I got my first Trek(I did not know I would want it again, it was a basket case though).
I've got a riding buddy with an old Centurion Turbo from the late '70 or early '80s. Apart from being a very comfortable bike, it has the most interesting paint job. There are chrome details (chainstays, etc.) on the bike, and the way that they apparently did it was to chrome the entire frame, and then mask off the detail bits. It looks like the entire thing is chromed because anywhere there is a ding, the metal is chromed underneath. The bike is a pretty metallic cola brown, and I'm amazed that the paint has hung on as long as it has.
 

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i like whiskey
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Gregory Taylor said:
It sounds like you put a lot of time and effort into your bikes -- I'd LOVE to see the results!
Excellent advice from everyone. Thanks for the replies. I think I am going to give this a try with the rattle-can approach myself. Here's the steps I have so far.

1. Strip frame & clean - save old decals if possible
2. Mask/close all frame openings, incl. bb, seattube, headtube, water bottle bolt holes, etc.
3. Primer, dry, sand (800/1000 grit wet or dry), clean - repeat as necessary
4. Color, dry, sand (800/1000 grit wet or dry), clean - repeat as necessary
5. Reapply decals and any detail painting
6. Clear coat, dry, sand (800/1000 grit wet or dry), clean - repeat as necessary
7. Build up bike and go ride, finally!

How long should the different coats dry? I'll probably be doing this in my garage, and it's not exactly warm right now (I'm in Texas btw). Is overnight OK, or should I help it along with some heat lamps or something like that?

The pictures I have are very dark. There is no contrast between the frame and background. I'll try and get some new one's posted, but I've attached one.
 

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That depends on the paint....and the temp.

innergel said:
Excellent advice from everyone. Thanks for the replies. I think I am going to give this a try with the rattle-can approach myself. Here's the steps I have so far.

1. Strip frame & clean - save old decals if possible
2. Mask/close all frame openings, incl. bb, seattube, headtube, water bottle bolt holes, etc.
3. Primer, dry, sand (800/1000 grit wet or dry), clean - repeat as necessary
4. Color, dry, sand (800/1000 grit wet or dry), clean - repeat as necessary
5. Reapply decals and any detail painting
6. Clear coat, dry, sand (800/1000 grit wet or dry), clean - repeat as necessary
7. Build up bike and go ride, finally!

How long should the different coats dry? I'll probably be doing this in my garage, and it's not exactly warm right now (I'm in Texas btw). Is overnight OK, or should I help it along with some heat lamps or something like that?

The pictures I have are very dark. There is no contrast between the frame and background. I'll try and get some new one's posted, but I've attached one.
If you are going the rattle can approach, you shouldn't sand between color coats unless you have a screw up. The paint, which is most likely to be enamel, won't be cured enough to sand within a reasonable amount of time. The only reason that you should have to sand an enamel color coat is to get rid of a run, etc. If you have to do that, you are looking at having to wait for the paint to harden enough to sand and feather. I wouldn't touch it for two weeks, even if you use thin coats of paint.

The can will have directions on when you can recoat with color.

As for the primer, that stuff dries in a couple of hours. Make sure that you are getting a sandable primer -- automotive primer works well. Just go easy -- the trick is to sand enough off to leave a smooth painted surface, not to remove all of the primer.

A couple of other tricks --

After you strip the bike and before you start painting, wipe down the bike with a cleaner. I use stuff called "Prep-Sol" -- it's basically a solvent that removes any waxes or other crap from the surface. Mineral spirits work well too. If you have access to an air compressor, use it to blow crud off of the surface, especially in the nooks and crannies where paint dust and sanding grit can hide. I also do this when I am sanding primer coats.

Pick up a couple of "tack rags" at a painting store. These are cheesecloths with a sticky surface. It picks up dust before you shoot your color.
 

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hi, I'm Larry
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Drying time depends on the paint

Follow the directions with the paint. When sanding between coats give plenty of time to dry properly. Temperature and humidity effect drying time also. Some paint will not setup properly below 50F. Shoot the paint when it is not too humid. Be extra careful about humidity with the clearcoats. Clearcoats can haze and fog up with high humidity, ruining all your previous work.

If you are not after the ultimate paint job you could shoot a couple of coats of primer without sanding between coats, just let the paint dry and shoot the 2nd / 3rd coat while the previous coat is just oh so slightly tacky. Dry, Sand and then shoot 2-3 coats of color the same way. Dry thoughrally, sand ever so lightly and shoot 2-3 coats of clearcoat the same way.

PS: save the chrome fork detail unless the chrome is clearly too spotted or rusty.

Personally I would not strip the frame unless the old paint is seriously chipped and pitted. Instead, wipe down with Xylene (careful, that there stuff causes cancer) and sand lightly with 400 grit and smooth out any edges around paint chips as much as possible, wipe down again with xylene and hit it very lightly with 600 grit. The xylene and sanding will give the new paint plenty of tooth for the new paint to hang on to.
 

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i like whiskey
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
More excellent advice - thanks!

The frame is not in that bad of shape. Not too many bad spots, but enough to want to refinish it. If I can get away without stripping it, then that's the way I'm going to go. I like the seattube decal and the chrome fork detail, so I'll try and keep those as intact as possible. I don't know if you can tell, but there is a small crest decal on the top of the fork and a headtube badge that are both intact. I'm going to try and keep both of those too.

I'm assuming that I can pick up some Xylene and these tacky cloths at a paint store? Will they have the various grits of sandpaper too? Home Depot seems to be lacking in a broad selection of grits. I could always go find a woodworking shop. They are bound to have something.

Once again, thanks for all the advice. I'm pretty anal retentive, so I think it will turn out well, if I've done my homework properly.
 

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I have rattle-can sprayed many frames with vary degrees of success and failure.

With patience and a little skill, the finish can look good. Prep work is key as you need to remove old decals and do a light sanding to get a gripping surface. Primer isn't always necessary, but better.

Spray light coats and let it dry. Walk away and let it sit in the sun. Then come back and respray another light coat and so on. As a kid working on BMX junk bikes, my first "no-no" was sparying too heavy of coats in my overzealous attempts to see instant results. Overspraying will lead to uneveness and drips.

All said and down, even when I did it right the paint finish was never durable. Cable rub and bike locks always took off rattle can spray jobs. The only thing patience and skill got me was a nice even smooth paintjob, but durability was never a result.

Nowadays, I just take stuff in for the pros to strip and powdercoat. There is a place in my local area that will strip and powdercoat for $80-$100. It's well worth it to me.

Call around and find a cheap place. Fancy online places like Spectrum Powderworks and Airglow do great jobs but are expensive as they charge in the upper $100 to $200 range.

If you do take it to a non bike place, make sure you explain the importance of masking off the bottom bracket threads and headtube cup areas. Many non bike places just spray everything and you'll find yourself with a pick clearing out overspray on your bottom bracket spreads.
 

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Beetpull DeLite
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All this other stuff's too much trouble. Just spray on some flat black primer and hand-paint on some flames.

If I were you, I think I'd rather just go ahead for a powdercoat. I'm considering doing this with my old Mongoose mt bike, it has quite a few dings and scrapes, and I'm not all that fond of the colour. And since it's steel, I want to get the most durable paint I can.

If you can't save the decals, at least take some good pictures of them first. That way, if you want, you could get replacements cut at a sign shop.
 
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