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  1. #1
    Baby it's cold outside... ViperZ's Avatar
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    How Do Builders/Painters Make Paint Stick to Chrome??

    I'm planning on painting a chrome fork, and I was wondering what type of prep work is involved to make the paint adhere to the chrome? With out sanding or blasting the surface......


    I ask this because back the 70's I owned a Norco Magnum SE that had a painted frame with chromed drop outs. One time I leaned the bike against something, when it slipped down, it scraped a section of the paint off the fork. It broke my heart until I noticed there was chrome underneath. So I masked off the the upper section of the fork crown, about 5 inches below the crown and took paint remover to the lower section of the fork. This worked so well, I decided to do most of the rear chain stays and seat stays as well. When done, this looked fantastic, and really added a special look to the bike.

    It would seem the builders did not roughen up the chrome before painting. Would the entire frame have been chromed and not roughened up?


    So now I would like to put paint on a fork, and was wondering what the best DIY method is, with out roughing the surface up?
    -Trek 5000* -Project Litespeed* -The Italian Job* -Rocky Wedge* -The Canadian Connection*

  2. #2
    Extra Medium Member redtires's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperZ
    I'm planning on painting a chrome fork, and I was wondering what type of prep work is involved to make the paint adhere to the chrome? With out sanding or blasting the surface......


    I ask this because back the 70's I owned a Norco Magnum SE that had a painted frame with chromed drop outs. One time I leaned the bike against something, when it slipped down, it scraped a section of the paint off the fork. It broke my heart until I noticed there was chrome underneath. So I masked off the the upper section of the fork crown, about 5 inches below the crown and took paint remover to the lower section of the fork. This worked so well, I decided to do most of the rear chain stays and seat stays as well. When done, this looked fantastic, and really added a special look to the bike.

    It would seem the builders did not roughen up the chrome before painting. Would the entire frame have been chromed and not roughened up?


    So now I would like to put paint on a fork, and was wondering what the best DIY method is, with out roughing the surface up?
    Wow, that is actually a pretty tough DIY. When a manufacturer paints a bike they use (well if they're worth their salt) a very high quality automotive quality paint, as well as specialty painting equipment...and a paint booth. Then, the paint is heat cured to rapidly harden the paint. I fear that if you try to paint with even a high quality paint from a can, it will do one of two things, or both....first is that it will simply run and the second is that it will "fish-eye". If your gonna try anyways...make sure to clean the surface VERY thoroughly with an organic solvent and then put down a couple of layers of a high quality industrial paint surface primer before you attempt to paint. And heck, if it doesn't work, seems like you've already got a method to bring it back to chrome! lol.... Good luck!

  3. #3
    Baby it's cold outside... ViperZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redtires
    Wow, that is actually a pretty tough DIY. When a manufacturer paints a bike they use (well if they're worth their salt) a very high quality automotive quality paint, as well as specialty painting equipment...and a paint booth. Then, the paint is heat cured to rapidly harden the paint. I fear that if you try to paint with even a high quality paint from a can, it will do one of two things, or both....first is that it will simply run and the second is that it will "fish-eye". If your gonna try anyways...make sure to clean the surface VERY thoroughly with an organic solvent and then put down a couple of layers of a high quality industrial paint surface primer before you attempt to paint. And heck, if it doesn't work, seems like you've already got a method to bring it back to chrome! lol.... Good luck!
    Thanks for bringing to light the pitfalls that may occur with painting chrome... It may be worth going and talking to an Autobody painter and seeing what insight they can provide as well.

    You are right though, if it doesn't work out, it would be simple to clean up
    -Trek 5000* -Project Litespeed* -The Italian Job* -Rocky Wedge* -The Canadian Connection*

  4. #4
    Dr.Deltron
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    Quote Originally Posted by ViperZ
    I'm planning on painting a chrome fork, and I was wondering...what the best DIY method is, with out roughing the surface up?
    As stated above, CLEAN the chrome well with 3M Wax & Grease Remover. Available at automotive paint supply stores. Handle the frame with latex gloves, fingerprints on chrome create fisheyes.
    If you are painting solid/metallic colors, you can primer first. This will "help" with adhesion.
    If you are painting with Candy Colors, just start painting. Several LIGHT coats produce better results. With Candies you may need as many as 8-10 coats for deep even color.

    NOW, as you discovered previously, leaning this kind of paint on ANYTHING will cause scratches!!!!!!!!

    PAINT DOESN'T STICK TO CHROME!

    As an alternative, you could go the powdercoat route.
    Not a DIY project, but an option with "better" adhesion. You could probably lean the bike against things without scratches, but a whack from a tumble would probably still take out chunks.

    Back to painting, I would mask the areas to be left chrome, scuff the rest with a Red ScotchBrite pad. Then primer with auto quality primer (PPG LFDP primer). From there, you can A.) Rattle Can some color & clear. B.) Use auto quality color/clear (aka basecoat/clearcoat systems) or C.) Use acrylic paint and have a blast! (artists acrylic in tubes at art supply stores) Once you finished your artwork, you can
    A.) Rattle Can some clear over it. (let it "cure" for 8-10 WEEKS before assembling (or your front deraileur will become ONE with the seattube!)
    or B.) Spray automotive quality clear over the artwork. This is a catalysed clear and is ready to go in 24-48 hours. A week if you're patient.

    For more info you might want to search the forum for my previous posts on painting & powdercoating.
    Cheers, Dr.D

  5. #5
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    It does... I had a miyata dura-ace model (i have never seen one of those ones here in the us, the pro line form miyata in the mide 80s) and a ishiwata those ones were totally chromed under the paiting and the darn painting was SUPER HARD TO CHIP... Chrome, like 3 layers of paiting and like 3 layers of transparent paint (cant remember the name of it ok?)... If u wanted to take the paint off the frame with paint remover was a waste of time, the only solution if u wanted another color or team colors in your bike was grab a big knife and start doing it by hand... I took me like 4 days to take the darn paint off one time.

    So after that experience i can say that paint really stick to chrome, but do not ask how they did it becasue untill I started to get a few chips in the frame (after 3 years maybe) and I saw the darn frame was chromed I had always thought paint was not able to stick over chrome.

    THanks....

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr.Deltron
    As stated above, CLEAN the chrome well with 3M Wax & Grease Remover. Available at automotive paint supply stores. Handle the frame with latex gloves, fingerprints on chrome create fisheyes.
    If you are painting solid/metallic colors, you can primer first. This will "help" with adhesion.
    If you are painting with Candy Colors, just start painting. Several LIGHT coats produce better results. With Candies you may need as many as 8-10 coats for deep even color.

    NOW, as you discovered previously, leaning this kind of paint on ANYTHING will cause scratches!!!!!!!!

    PAINT DOESN'T STICK TO CHROME!

    As an alternative, you could go the powdercoat route.
    Not a DIY project, but an option with "better" adhesion. You could probably lean the bike against things without scratches, but a whack from a tumble would probably still take out chunks.

    Back to painting, I would mask the areas to be left chrome, scuff the rest with a Red ScotchBrite pad. Then primer with auto quality primer (PPG LFDP primer). From there, you can A.) Rattle Can some color & clear. B.) Use auto quality color/clear (aka basecoat/clearcoat systems) or C.) Use acrylic paint and have a blast! (artists acrylic in tubes at art supply stores) Once you finished your artwork, you can
    A.) Rattle Can some clear over it. (let it "cure" for 8-10 WEEKS before assembling (or your front deraileur will become ONE with the seattube!)
    or B.) Spray automotive quality clear over the artwork. This is a catalysed clear and is ready to go in 24-48 hours. A week if you're patient.

    For more info you might want to search the forum for my previous posts on painting & powdercoating.
    Cheers, Dr.D

  6. #6
    ex frame builder
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    You need what is know as an "etch" primer. I can't remember a brand name but a good automotive paint supplyer will know what you mean.

    As the name implies it contains a mild acid that will etch into the metal.
    History, photos and tech articles on my website. Also check "Dave's Bike Blog."

  7. #7
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    I think Alsacorp has a paint that sticks to chrome.
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  8. #8
    Senior Member 55/Rad's Avatar
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    Viper - I've done a lot of research in this area recently with my Pinarello project. Essentially, after talking to 4 reputable frame painters - 2 of which are nationally known - I've come to the conclusion that what Dr.Deltron wrote is, for the most part true. The general consensus is that powdercoating would work better and likely be more permanent.

    But all this work never answered the question of how or why the manufacturers painted over the chrome in first place. And how some, as in Ultraman's case, actually got it to stick quite well.

    55/Rad

  9. #9
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    Rad, I never assume even the experts know what they're talking about or know about every single product ever made. Some people in companies are simply stuck in a paintbooth all day and don't have time to reserach the 'new and groovy', others are just at their suppliers sale reps mercy when it comes to learning about new things -

    http://www.alsacorp.com/products/cle...h_prodinfo.htm

    I haven't used this product but the Alsacorp stuff generally is pretty good so I have no reason to doubt it. If you didn't want to tint the chrome, I'm guessing you could use this stuff, then prime over the top and paint as normal.

    Failing that, beadblasting the chrome and going from there as the good Doc recommended is probably the way to go.
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  10. #10
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Heh, heh... I use the Alsa paint to "chrome" cars! As already mentioned, you want to rough up and sand the chrome really well. And clean it completely clear of grease & residue. Fish-eyes are caused by oil, grease & silicone on the surface. Don't worry about running, that's purely a matter of wet layer thickness and application expertise.

    You actually don't want heat when applying it; use the appropriate reducer for the ambient air-temperatures. The idea is you want to the paint to stay wet long enough to flow and generate an smooth surface. Then you apply the heat. Body-shops use heat to quicken the drying time to move more cars through to make more money. If you've got the time, let the paint flow to give the smoothest finish possible. Then only gently heat it. If you heat too much, the top surface will cure and dry first and seal in the solvents underneath, resulting in a soft finish that dents easily and may even peel off in sheets later. It actually takes 2-3 weeks for the solvents to fully evaporate and the paint to fully harden, so avoid waxing for that time.

    BTW - the primer you want to use is a zinc-chromate primer. Works well with aluminium too.
    Last edited by DannoXYZ; 10-05-06 at 02:36 PM.

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