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  1. #1
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    Bad idea? Spray painting bike frame without stripping paint or using primer

    I have an old white hi-ten Schwinn bike. The original paint is pocked with small chips throughout the bike. A few of the larger chips have rust, but very minimal rust. The previous owner seemed to address a few larger spots with white paint, but that paint has yellowed and does not really match the original. Overall, it's not horrible, but it's not attractive either.

    I was thinking about sanding the frame down by hand, just enough to level out the chips and rust. I might also use a dremel to help with this. I don't really care to invest the time or money to strip it to bare metal. I was planning to spray the entire frame with Krylon Rust Tough Enamel aerosol. It claims to not require primer and is high gloss. I'm hoping to avoid a clearcoat as well.

    Needless to say, I'm trying to be cheap and lazy about this. I'm not expecting to give the bike a professional finish, but give it a decent look that will not completely fall apart in a month of use. Am I cutting too many corners?

    Also, how many cans of spray paint would this require?
    http://www.krylon.com/products/rust_...tative_enamel/

  2. #2
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    Bad idea. If you think that original paint is chipped, you will be shocked how fast the rattle can paint will chip. Do a search on rattle can paint jobs. Most are not very successful. The ones that seem to have success with it, do a tremendous amount of prep work, then they let the bike cure for a very long time. Once you read what it takes to do a decent job, just compare that to paying a local powder coater around $75 (that's the rate here), and the powdercoater will do all the prep work. And the paint will be very durable.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response. Well, the bike is about 23 years old and costs less than half the price of a powder coat, so it doesn't make sense to put that much money into the job. I guess I can either just avoid the rattle can job altogether, touch up all the chips with nail polish or strip the entire thing and give it a proper rattle can job. Powder coat is out of the question though.

    I don't care to sand it down to bare metal because I don't have a grinder or sander, making it a time-consuming process. Anyone have suggestions for a guy whose only power tools consist of a drill and a dremel?

  4. #4
    Senior Member es1bkacsur's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostm42 View Post
    Thanks for the response. Well, the bike is about 23 years old and costs less than half the price of a powder coat, so it doesn't make sense to put that much money into the job. I guess I can either just avoid the rattle can job altogether, touch up all the chips with nail polish or strip the entire thing and give it a proper rattle can job. Powder coat is out of the question though.

    I don't care to sand it down to bare metal because I don't have a grinder or sander, making it a time-consuming process. Anyone have suggestions for a guy whose only power tools consist of a drill and a dremel?
    A $3 wire wheel for the drill will make fairly quick work of strippng the old paint. I don't understand the chemistry behind it but if the new paint is incompatable with the old paint it will wrinkle so stripping to bare metal could save some time & wasted paint. After stripping clean with a fast evaporating solvant like brake cleaner. Primer is a very good idea. Duplicolor automotive paint does better then Rustolium durability wise & comes in better colors. A lot of thin coats both on the primer & color coat will last better than a few thick coats. You can make it look good. No it will not be as durable as powder coat but you can do this for $10 to $20.

  5. #5
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    FWIW the most durable rattle can paint job I have personally done was over the existing paint. I painted a frame and fork, but for whatever reason only stripped the frame to bare metal.

    I roughed up the paint on the fork, exposing primer in most places. Sprayed a little primer over that and then color and clear. The frame chipped like crazy, had to be constantly touched up. The fork is still perfect, not a single chip after years of use.
    Last edited by wesmamyke; 06-25-10 at 11:03 PM.

  6. #6
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    I try to paint my old steel exerciser Fuji a different color every year. The rattle can paint is not very durable and takes FOREVER (weeks) to dry thoroughly as a previous poster mentioned, but I do a passable job. I strip the bike to bare metal every time though and I've found that the easiest way to do it is to use paint stripper paste (available at Home Depot) and many small brushes and rags. Much much quicker that sanding.
    BTW, Home depot sells a spray can paint that they call "appliance" paint. It's supposed to dry harder-- like the paint on your washing machine. I had fairly good results using it last year although colors are limited (black and white I think).

  7. #7
    Road, XC and Cross
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    use aircraft stripper. that eats the paint right off. http://www.streetfire.net/video/stri...er_1981414.htm thats all you do. i know someone that did it with that and it turned out just fine. you dont need clear coat either. you can go to your local auto paint store and tell them the color and the will mix it up. ask for a 1 stage acrylic. It will work just fine. they should be able to put it in a rattle can. i believe thats where you buy that crazy stripper

  8. #8
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    Every paint job I have ever seen that was over the old paint looked atrocious and chipped and peeled badly after a short time. One advantage to this is that the bike will probably not be stolen... I like to call this 'uglifying' the bike.

    I have had good luck completely stripping the frame and repainting with Rustoleum or similar cheap hardwear-store brand spraypaint. I had one townie bike I did like this that lasted months without any significant chipping (but then was stolen :/).

  9. #9
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    Hmm... lots of mixed responses. The general consensus seems to be the better method would be to strip to bare metal, then coat with primer and paint. And I could use a wire brush for a drill to do that. Though it sounds like some had luck stripping to just the primer (not bare metal) and repainting from there with primer and paint. And others have had luck with no primer and just a "1-stage" spray.

    I don't want to spend lots of actual work time on this, but I don't mind letting it sit for months to let it harden. I also don't mind color, since I was planning on white anyway (original color). I think I may try sanding down the fork first. If that's a PITA, I'll only go down to the primer or until most of it is smoothed out. Then try a spray that doesn't require a primer, just to stay cheap. If it's not holding well after a few weeks, I'll know to go down to bare metal and do it when I have more time. If it holds up well enough for my purposes, I'll do the rest of the bike this way.

    Thanks. Any other tips would be good too. Like how many cans of paint I'd need to buy. I considered brushing it on with a paint+mineral spirit solution because I hate the waste involved with spray paint on skinny tubes, but that doesn't seem to be recommended.

  10. #10
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Flecto Varathane coloured enamel thinned slightly with some mineral spirits levels out and looks glass smooth. It would be an option for a brushing job that you want to look decent.

    Also unlike a lot of spray cans it is likely going to be far more compatible with the existing paint and bond decently. But the key is to first prep the frame by using a wax and grease remover (from autobody paint suppliers) and then wet sand the existing finish to dull it and give some "tooth" for the enamel going on. Once this is done ONLY handle it with gloves as even your skin oils will affect the bond. You'll need to somehow feather in or fill out the existing chips and scratches. That part is up to you but I suggest leaving the Dremel alone. Use a slightly coarser grit wetordry sandpaper to feather in the chips and spot touch those areas with a little spray primer. Feather in with 600 to prep for the enamel.

    The enamel stays tacky for a few hours so the trick is to work in an extremely dust free setting. How you achieve that is up to you. After the initial drying takes place overnight you can "bake" the paint to dry more fully and harden putting it in a small room with a heater. Or just wait for a week to 10 days before putting the bike back together.

    I've found that the Varathane is tougher than Krylon and Tremclad or Rustoleum. Tremclad and Rustoleum are terrible paints BTW. VERY soft even after months. But it's not as tough as a proper factory finish or powder coat. But for a $30 10 speed at least you can keep the repainting costs down to about $20 and have lots left over for 5 or 6 more frames and forks.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  11. #11
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    can someone elaborate on paints taking "weeks" to cure? I'm looking to do a strip and repaint this week though I'm considering paying to get a pro to do it. I have access to a sauna so I could definately give something a hot box effect if needed

  12. #12
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    okay so I got antsy and decided "F&*K it" I cleaned up my bike and didn't even get the crank taken off and just hit it with a can of krylon black satin. I have it in my mind that I'm going to make this bike a regular rider and if i do decide it's a keeper I can get it sandblasted and powdercoated for about $200 here in nyc. In the interim, I had sanded parts of a couple of tubes to make sure it was just surface rust I was dealing with and in the process i made it really annoying looking. an hour later, the black krylon looks decent, a few runs in it but the way I see it, it's like an impressionist painting, from a distance it's not going to be terribly noticeable. This is nyc and keeping it looking like a piece of crap is all part of the security factor. I did get a little spray on the cranks but I got some off with acetone. my plan was to remove the cranks and give it an oxalic acid bath to fully clean them up. I think now the plan is to put the bike back together with the new carbon fork, ride it for a couple of weeks to see how she feels and if all goes well and I'm definately going to keep it, I will spring the money for the powedercoat.

    If anyone can answer my question above though it would be appreciated. I can bring the frame to my job tonight and throw it inside the sauna for awhile if that will help the process

  13. #13
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    The paint hardens over time as the solvents dry away. The initial drying to the point where you can handle it without leaving a mark is only about 1/2 way through the drying process. But while that part happens fairly quickly the rest of it takes a lot longer as the paint traps the solvents in the film so it takes longer for them to leech to the surface and evaporate. During this time the film will remain soft. "Baking" it in a warm place will certainly speed this up and you can achieve a "one week" hardness in just a few hours by having it a dry sauna set to around 100F. Leave it in for a 24 hour period with an occasional airing out of the room and it'll be as close to fully hard as it'll get. Even a few hours will help a lot.

    Unless you also paint the carbon fork I think it'll be a dead giveaway to any thief that knows their stuff.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  14. #14
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    awesome, I gotta say that a few hours in this paint job looks solid for what it's intent was. It wasn't supposed tomake it look great, just make it look uniform. I also wanted to see what a satin black finish would look like on a bike as I always see bikes in gloss colors. I like the look. If I had a bike that I just wanted to get rid of the noticeable rust and make it looks somewhat uniform I'd give it a rough sand and hit it with cans. It's a decent low cost short term fix

  15. #15
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    is there some kind of definitive thread or resource on this forum about how to paint your bike?

    i've been digging around but have been unsuccessful so far

  16. #16
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    Do you have a link to the Flecto Varathane colored enamel stuff? Google keeps pulling up references to it, but no links to places that sell it. A search for "Varathane" alone yields Rustoleum products for wood finishes.

  17. #17
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    The better hardware stores with good paint sections should have it. Up this way the Rona chain of big hardware stores have it but that likely doesn't help you at all.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  18. #18
    Senior Member MrCjolsen's Avatar
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    My first grade students painted this bike. Those kids are now in the 5th grade. The bike belongs to my neighbor. The paint is a bit faded, and a few little chips but for the most part looks good. All you have to make sure you sand it so that the spray paint has something to stick to.


  19. #19
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    couple of pics of my work

    beforeIMAG0128..jpg
    did one coat yesterday, lightly sanded down today and just sprayed 2nd coat IMAG0131..jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images

  20. #20
    Collector of Useless Info
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    Dang, CPFITNESS, I hope you left a window open!

  21. #21
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    lol nah, I just enjoyed the contact high! I did it quick and sprayed it light. then i left the house for awhile and shut the AC off so it would get decently warm. Was gonna take it to my gym and put it in the sauna, but that was too much trouble. Just trying to get a basic solid color on the frame and cover up the spots that I sanded off not at all trying to make this a major permanent paint job by any stretch but I will say it looks pretty good

  22. #22
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    MrCjolsen, that's actually pretty slick. I like the playful rag tag look of that. And it would be a slick way to go for something unique.

    But given the age of the artists it looks odd not being stuck to a fridge door with magnets.....
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cycle_maven View Post
    Dang, CPFITNESS, I hope you left a window open!
    holy crap, just checked my Air Conditioner's filter, filled with paint! it's amazing, it's on th other side of the room and you don't think you are spraying that much. To see how much got picked up by that filter I can only imagine how much paint is in my lungs!!

  24. #24
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    Here's a quick update to my own post. I went to Home Depot and they only had Rustoleum sprays, which I decided to go with anyway because it was the cheapest stuff I could get. I got a can of white primer, a can of white gloss and a can of clear coat. Also purchased a trigger spray for ease and a wire brush for my drill.

    I brushed the spotty areas down to bare metal, but didn't bother to do that for the entire frame. The rest of the frame, I just brushed down to remove the gloss and create a rough surface. Gave it a wash and dry, then sprayed it with 2 or 3 coats of primer. After it dried, I sprayed it with the gloss paint. I then cut out "SCHWINN" for the down tube and "WORLD" for the top tube to restore its identity. That's where I'm up to now.

    I don't have a "before" photo because I got lazy, but here's what it looks like now.
    schwinnworld..jpg

    I'm rather happy with how it looks now. I'm going to let it continue baking in the heat wave after I hit it with the clear coat.

    By the way, I did this outdoors in my backyard. I just brought it indoors for the decal work and photo. It shouldn't need to be said, but bring it OUTDOORS for spray paint work. Even then, I wore an N95 respirator and work goggles. After removing the respirator, I could still see a fading trail of paint trying to run down the side of my nose and into my nostrils. Glad I wore the mask.

  25. #25
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    Get back to us with a long term update on how durable it is. I'm sure it would aid others for the future.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

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