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Old 08-14-12, 05:24 PM   #1
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What to do with this frame - 1979 Raleigh Grand Prix

Saved from the dump, I grabbed this Grand Prix due to it having a decent fork of the correct size that I needed for one of my bikes, and a nice SunTour group I used to upgrade my wife's Raleigh Sprite. I'm hoping the collective experience here can give me some answers to some questions I have about this frame.

I'm not sure exactly what to do with this frame, the inside of the tubing actually seems in good shape but the outside looks fairly hopeless to recover with very much of the paint left. Not to mention the original Raleigh decals are IMHO just hideous on this model, and the seatstays are kind of weird looking at the top, coming to a loop instead of capped ends like I'm used to... Not sure if that's an indication of quality, or just a different design style?

It's 20-30 High Tensile Steel and the serial number puts it to 1979. Some of the mystery bits of SunTour I had spare match the exact grouping pictured in the catalog, so I guess this is where I got them from. I stripped the bike for the fork a year ago, and hadn't paid close attention to the rest of the parts, which was silly, but I was really excited about finding another 58cm (center of BB to top of TT) frame with a decent fork.
It says Nottingham England on the headbadge, but there is a sticker on the seat tube near the BB that says "Made In Canada" so I guess it was probably made in one of the Canadian plants.

A bunch of close up photos follow to give an idea of the frame's condition.

What can I do with this frame?
Is getting a large plastic container and switching from vinegar to stronger OA going to make this thing look any better with less scraping at the paint?
Should I just strip it and rattle can it and use it for a beater?
Is this frame of a quality worth paying to get powder coated?
Should I just walk/run away now?

The paint looks to be pretty much ruined on this bike... Some of the nastier bits I've not touched yet, the top of the bottom bracket and the chainstay:



I've been trying some rust-removal experiments on this frame. I don't have a plastic bin that can fit it for an acid bath so I tried some paper towels soaked in white vinegar, wrapped in plastic that was taped on and let it sit for a while.
Just wiping it off after that yields sub-part results, btw:



A little more attention with just a brass brush yielded slightly better results at the cost of some paint. On the right of the photo there was an after-market sticker that I removed, the frame was slightly nicer under it's protection, naturally. On the left you can see that the Grand Prix logo was a big sticker set on a clear background, so I can assume the paint is in slightly better shape underneath all of the decals/stickers on the bike.



Using a brass brush and some steel wool (it's a pretty rough frame I don't know what to do with, I know I should have used brass wool... I wiped it clean frequently to remove as much steel dust as possible)



Thanks for any help, suggestions or info you can provide.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg BottomBracket.jpg (95.9 KB, 41 views)
File Type: jpg ChainStay.jpg (76.1 KB, 39 views)
File Type: jpg TopTubeBack.jpg (75.7 KB, 36 views)
File Type: jpg TopTubeMiddle.jpg (43.0 KB, 28 views)
File Type: jpg TopTubeFront.jpg (48.2 KB, 27 views)
File Type: jpg HeadTube.jpg (46.3 KB, 24 views)
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Old 08-14-12, 05:41 PM   #2
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Take it apart completely, yes even the headbadge. Then have it sandblasted, and painted.
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Old 08-14-12, 07:04 PM   #3
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Take it apart completely, yes even the headbadge. Then have it sandblasted, and painted.
Is it that nice of a frame? I was thinking of building it up as a 700c if it's worth the effort.
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Old 08-14-12, 07:22 PM   #4
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The Grand Prixs (sp?) I've been on have been OK riding bikes - perfect for around town beaters, grocery getters, commuting, etc. But no way would I invest too much in renovating one. If I had that bike I'd find someone who would sandblast it (probably <$20) and then I'd rattle-can it. Even budget PC places charge close to $100 to do a frame/fork, which is too much imho for this bike.
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Old 08-14-12, 07:28 PM   #5
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The Raleigh Grand Prix does have a nice ride, but I personally wouldn't go to the trouble of media-blasting and painting a frame that wasn't at least built with chrome-moly tubing or aluminum. I would "strip it and rattle can it and use it for a beater".
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Old 08-15-12, 03:13 AM   #6
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Wasn't the Raleigh Gran Prix double butted tubing? I know that it was 20 to 30 tensile steel tubing. The Raleigh Gran Prix was a pretty good bike it it's day - not the very best, but not the bottom either. Build during the competitive heyday of the 1970's ten-speed bicycle boom.

The Raleigh Gran Prix new in the late 1970's was selling for between $240 to $260 while the ever-popular Schwinn Continental and Varisity sold for well under $200.

My opinion has been that the Gran Prix frame was better than the other components on the bike.

I agree with the other posts:

* Clean off all the rust and old paint (Paint remover, steel wool, muric acid to remove rust, sandpaper, elbow-grease).
* Prime it with a good metal primer
* Paint it with a good automotive paint from a rattle can - or better if you have access to it cheap.
* outfit it with components from a yard-sale bike, assuming that the yard-sale bike has less value than the Raleigh Gran Prix.

Ride On,

Last edited by mike; 08-15-12 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 08-15-12, 04:59 AM   #7
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Clean vintage Raleigh GPs can bring up to $175, but more typically $120 +/-. Ones that need work can be found for $35-$75, so don't over invest.
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Old 08-16-12, 01:53 AM   #8
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Thanks for helping me keep this in perspective.

I have removed the badge, chain and most of the BB now - one side is being obstinate, but PB Blaster, a hammer, and time have never failed me before. Bearings and the BB axle seem to be in good shape, as does all angles of inside the frame that I can see. The inside is actually the least rusted I've seen in a while in fact. How the outside got so bad is a mystery to me.
If I can keep the BB I save $30-$40 on a replacement Shimano cartridge, so that keeps this down in cost.

The paint is just a wreck with so many rusted scratches there really won't be much of it left after I get the surface cleaned. I've removed all the stickers and decals (no loss on this particular model of Grand Prix) - if I cared about the finish, I'd have used a hair dryer and plastic scraper. In this case I used WD-40, a screw driver, sand paper and a plastic scraper to remove them. The gel paint remover I have works well on bicycle paint, but cannot penetrate a decal for reasons beyond me.

My plan, now, is to strip it, do several sanded coats of primer and then practice my paint masking while I rattle can it. I might do a few quick sample tests with some metallic paint while I'm at it.
The end result will be a beater to lock outside, not store in my apartment, so better I fail (and learn) painting this bike than do it on a frame I might seriously regret futzing with. Hopefully I can artfully combine this with a decent looking build.

I was originally thinking blue, but am now leaning towards a green. I used to have an older and smaller Grand Prix in green and before it disintegrated it was indeed a nice ride.
I'll post pics of the cleaned up frame later when there is some natural light, to document what will either be a fail or nice process. Others may learn from my mistakes.
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Old 08-16-12, 02:15 AM   #9
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Thanks for helping me keep this in perspective.

Others may learn from my mistakes.
In the USA, We have abolished the word "mistake.". It is now just a "learning experience."
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Old 08-16-12, 10:06 AM   #10
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I've been trying some rust-removal experiments on this frame. I don't have a plastic bin that can fit it for an acid bath so I tried some paper towels soaked in white vinegar, wrapped in plastic that was taped on and let it sit for a while.
Just wiping it off after that yields sub-part results, btw:


Vinegar (acetic acid) by itself is a relatively weak acid, if you add salt (NaCL) you will have a much more potent acid as the the salt results in sodium acetate and hydrogen cloride (HCl, a strong acid). This will remove rust much more effectively than vinegar alone, note that HCl is a much stronger acid than oxalic acid and parts need not be immersed in it for very long.
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Old 08-16-12, 10:13 AM   #11
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Just a couple of quick photos showing the frame a little more cleaned up and now sticker free:

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File Type: jpg BBottomBracket.jpg (67.1 KB, 41 views)
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Old 08-16-12, 05:05 PM   #12
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Just a couple of quick photos showing the frame a little more cleaned up and now sticker free:

Wow, man, you are getting there!
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Old 08-17-12, 01:49 PM   #13
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Using Heirloom gel paint stripper and some coarse steel wool I have been doing the arduous task of removing the existing paint. I find it works pretty good if you put the gel on the wool and use it to apply with a downward motion. The steel wool is also handy at scooping up gel blobs that slide off and re-applying it.
This is a very messy job but saves hours of sanding. Once the gel has been sitting for a minute or two the steel wool becomes like a paint-eraser.

I'm only about 45% done however because I accidentally got a hole in one of my rubber gloves - this paint stripper is strong and you do NOT want to get it on your skin.
I tried continuing with kitchen style rubber gloves and that was a very bad idea. DO NOT USE KITCHEN GLOVES.
The stripper will leach right through the glove, eat the inside layer and burn your skin. Trust me on this.

In the mean time I've been going around the lugs and cleaning up some of the original workmanship with a small file.



I've decided to use a more time consuming method of painting than a rattle can, but it will be good practice for other projects in the future.
Following ideas on the web (Google for "$50 paint job") I've decided to hand paint it with Tremclad. I live in an apartment, and the logistics of turning my balcony into a spray booth was giving me visions of a Dexter-style-kill-room. I could also see the necessary supplies end up becoming cost prohibitive to make this work.
I can hand-paint and sand it indoors on my workbench which will be less messy and less likely to end up with wind-swept debris and rain wrecking it.
A good tutorial on this can be found here: http://www.mytenspeeds.com/My_TenSpe...troduction.htm
(I think that is actually a forum member's site)
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Old 08-17-12, 01:55 PM   #14
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Vinegar (acetic acid) by itself is a relatively weak acid, if you add salt (NaCL) you will have a much more potent acid as the the salt results in sodium acetate and hydrogen cloride (HCl, a strong acid). This will remove rust much more effectively than vinegar alone, note that HCl is a much stronger acid than oxalic acid and parts need not be immersed in it for very long.
That's a good tip - I'll try this once the paint is all off the frame and I can get to all the rust. As you can see in the later photos, there was even more rust hiding UNDER the paint in a lot of places.
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Old 08-17-12, 02:06 PM   #15
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seriously...

rattle can is an ugly term.
its also alot of fun to paint a bike yourself.
stripping and sanding that frame is a waste of your time.
get it blasted!

I can do fantastic paint jobs with spray cans, and use good quality cans-like duplicolor
a good coat of white primer,
let it dry for 3 days!
scuff pad and sand with 220 or finer
your color (or colors-2 tone can be really nice)
and clearcoat.

it will turn out so fine you will not believe yourself it came out of a can!

its true!!
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Old 08-17-12, 02:19 PM   #16
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I found one like that, and it is going to be my winter beater bike.
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Old 08-17-12, 03:19 PM   #17
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I'm only about 45% done however because I accidentally got a hole in one of my rubber gloves - this paint stripper is strong and you do NOT want to get it on your skin.
I tried continuing with kitchen style rubber gloves and that was a very bad idea. DO NOT USE KITCHEN GLOVES.
The stripper will leach right through the glove, eat the inside layer and burn your skin. Trust me on this.
I've encountered the same problem with some paint strippers, but I now use 3M Safest Stripper and can use it indoors WITHOUT gloves!
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Old 08-17-12, 07:26 PM   #18
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I've encountered the same problem with some paint strippers, but I now use 3M Safest Stripper and can use it indoors WITHOUT gloves!
I will have to look out for this stuff whenever I run out of the stripper I have now.

I did manage to get to the store and get some sturdy PVC coated gloves that seem up to the task.
I also grabbed some sandpaper in finer grades than I have on hand, Tremclad primer and of course the paint!

Frame is now stripped everywhere except the rear forks. I started on them but ran out of day light so they'll have wait.
My vision of the paint job will be green on the tubing, a sort of off-white on the head tube and black on the lugs/BB shell, I think it will look nice if I can do a decent job.

I don't mind putting time into this project because I have free moments throughout the day/night to work on it a bit at a time.
I work from home doing IT work and end up working very odd hours interspersed throughout the day and night. Many nights I'm up all night just waiting on computers to do their jobs so having something time consuming to keep me occupied is actually a bonus. Plus, I can get painting practice for other projects... I have home-made tools like a mini drill press, electronics testing power supply, etc. that would benefit from me being a better painter.
I like wrenching on bikes because it's nice to get dirty and be a mechanic away from the keyboard sometimes, but all of my bikes have recently been rebuilt and serviced - this is a welcome diversion.
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Old 08-17-12, 07:35 PM   #19
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se
stripping and sanding that frame is a waste of your time.
get it blasted!

I can do fantastic paint jobs with spray cans, and use good quality cans-like duplicolor
a good coat of white primer,
let it dry for 3 days!
scuff pad and sand with 220 or finer
your color (or colors-2 tone can be really nice)
and clearcoat.

it will turn out so fine you will not believe yourself it came out of a can!

its true!!
As to the suggestion of sand blasting, I did consider it, however I don't have a car so I'd have to borrow one or get someone to take me and the frame to the sandblaster.
Then get it blasted (I'm sure that's not a while-u-wait kind of job) go back and get the frame...
Meanwhile I have a big balcony, some sunny weather, a little free time and a big can of paint stripper that was sitting around not being used... It works out pretty well.
I'm in no rush, I have other bikes I can ride, and this stripper makes very short work of the original paint.

In terms of the spray cans (if you don't like their other nickname - they do rattle though so it seems fitting) there's a few logistical issues I have to contend with that makes it impracticable.
First is to keep the frame clear of dust while the paint sets. I don't smoke inside, and I don't live alone so it's not an option - last thing I need is to ignite the frame or get ashes in the paint.
Beyond that, no matter how clean I could try to keep my balcony, the wind blows all sorts of debris, and there's never really a break from it.
I was conceiving a plastic tent-like structure but that wouldn't address the wind picking up the spray. I had a few other ideas but when it came down to it - brush painting it indoors is going to work out better.

I've seen some nice spray paint jobs, there's even a local one that I saw today that looked pretty decent... It just works out as being inconvenient in my current location, and as I described in my previous post - time is a resource I can spare for this. Money is too, to an extent, but I'm a cheap fellow and like to keep my hands busy.
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Old 08-17-12, 09:40 PM   #20
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One quick question is do you have the fork for the bike? If you don't finding one that is a good match for this frame could be prooblematic, so if you don't have the fork I would do some looking and make sure you have one before you do a lot any work on this bike.
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Old 08-17-12, 11:27 PM   #21
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One quick question is do you have the fork for the bike? If you don't finding one that is a good match for this frame could be prooblematic, so if you don't have the fork I would do some looking and make sure you have one before you do a lot any work on this bike.
Ah, there's the catch. I have the fork for this bike ... On another bike.

However, I'm having some success in removing the last bit of aluminum from the fork for the other bike - so I'll be able to strip and paint that (although the "fix" is taking care of most of the paint anyway) ... Once that is done, I should be able to get this bike going. The stem removal is a slow process so I have more than enough time to work on the frame.
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Old 08-22-12, 09:17 AM   #22
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Frame has been stripped and a quick coat of primer slapped on to stop it from flash rusting. I find the brush on primer does not self level well and is pretty lumpy. It's water based so I'm going to try thinning it a slight bit with water next coat and see if that helps.

On the note of the fork - the problematic stuck stem from the Sekine fork finally came out this morning!
I have been hacking at this thing off and on for about 3 years now and tried (I thought) every chemical removal option.
Recently I took a different approach and started researching what chemical might just dissolve the aluminum and not harm the steel - it turns out Drano (lye) will do this trick.
I've had the fork soaking in a bucket of Drano for several days now, I kept upping the strength of the mix because it's only been softening the stem and not obliterating it like I hoped it would.
A couple of times a day I would take it out and file down the stem some more to expose fresh aluminum for the lye to work on.
I had a section partially lifted from before so I was using a sturdy screw driver and a hammer to try to pry it away from the inside of the steerer tube.
This morning as I was doing that the whole stem finally came loose so I flipped the fork over and used a metal rod against the stem wedge and drove what was left of the tube out:



Now I'm soaking the other half of the fork that wasn't in the solution just to get the rest of the paint off nice and easy.
The Drano totally removes the original bicycle paint, so if anyone does this method, keep that in mind.
Now I can paint the fork and put it back on the Sekine, and the Grand Prix can get it's own fork back. I'm pretty psyched about this stem coming out.
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Old 08-27-12, 11:39 AM   #23
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No pics at the moment, but thinning the primer (two parts primer, one part water) is turning out much smoother. I've tried a couple of different brushes and find its working best with a small foam brush. Runs where an issue when using a normal brush.
This is turning out to be a learning process indeed!

I'm still working out which parts I have spare to put on it. I'm thinking of using a set of 650A wheels I have so I can get better fender clearance for using it in the Winter. The tires on them are old, but look to be intact and my research has been turning up available tires for replacements online - wheelchair racers use the same sized rims (26x1-3/8) which is pretty cool.
I just need to get the Shimano 333 freewheel off of it so I can replace a missing spoke and extract the dork-disk and put a newer freewheel on it. I'm leaning towards running it as a 5 or 6 speed with RD only. It's going to be a grocery bike ridden short distances with no real big hills to speak of.
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