I have a question about frame rust damage. At what point is the rust damage salvageable versus the frame is just a dead skeleton of which someone hangs bike components on? Specifically, I walked away from a 85 Fuji Club which I really wanted for a good price because there was rust spots bubbling up in the middle of the top tube and along the sides of the BB tube in particular. I don't know enough about rust repair to now when a little rust is really a lost cause?
Until you have experience treating and salvaging frames, its really safer to just assume the frame is toast. And there is so much rust you cannot see until you tear the bike down. And then it is too late to pass on a "deal".
My solution is simple: I value such bikes at the value of the components: wheels, cranks, derailleurs, seat post, handlebar, stem, pedals, levers,seat, brakes. At the right price, a junk frame with nice components can be a good/great buy. I just bought a Trek 1400 yesterday, frame is toast. But I bought it for the RX100 drivetrain including brifters, plus the wheels.
I picked up a Kona Cinder Cone (originally $900 MTB) at the Goodwill Clearance Center last year for $5. The frame was definitely toast (long gash/crack) plus lots of rust. But underneath that was a nice set of Deore LX wheels, derailleurs, shifters, crankset, seat post, fork and handlebars. To get to the clearance center, it means this bike sat in a G/W store for weeks with no interest. People need to look past the obvious and notice the gold.
On steel frame bikes, again, until I totally tear them down, I do not know if a rusty frame is salvagable or not. I have salvaged several, and tossed several more. I make my buying decision on such a distressed bike assuming the frame will not be salvaged.
I consider the possible salvage of the frame to be a bonus. I treat all rust with oxalic, there are plenty of threads on that topic including one by me so I will not rehash it here.
Here's a before and after treatment of a Trek 950, bottom bracket area.
Last edited by wrk101; 06-27-09 at 12:24 PM.
Reason: added pics
it's hard to make a call based on photos, this is one place where having the "patient" in hand is best...but I will say that many times appearances can be deceiving: I've seen several cases where the rust looked horrible and the frame a lost cause, but after acid bath and wire brushing I had to admit I was wrong, and glad of it, too.
Rust has the property of growing and expanding to take up far more space than the steel (or iron) that it consumes, so when you finally get it removed you find there's still a lot of material left, enough to safely use the frame or part. However, once it's gotten to the point of perforating (holes) all the way through, then it's ruined...but it takes a lot for rust to eat through a thick BB shell, for example.
I don't know what a Fuji club is. I would buy a top of the line or otherwise collectible bike that is worth repainting if it is in the condition shown in post 5. My daily rider is in much worse shape than that. Sure, I really, really should repaint, but it's not a deal breaker for a good bike in my book.
That rust doesn't look too bad. I would pull the seat post and take a look down inside the seat tube. The bb area internally is often the first place to get rust.
Just understand I have had some bikes that looked perfect on the outside that had some serious internal rust issues, and other bikes that looked pretty bad rust wise on the outside that were spotless on the inside. Just another reason I try to buy at the component value so I don't lose money on the acquisition.
Last edited by wrk101; 06-27-09 at 06:02 PM.