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  1. #1
    Senior Member jasonsan's Avatar
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    The topic of painting frames seems to come up quite a bit on here, and I often have comments that I keep to myself. I realize and respect the fact that there are many opinions out there regarding this topic, but there are also lotsa misconceptions.
    I have been working in the Autobody industry for over 10 years, and am an A.S.E. certified Autobody and Paint Tech.I also went to school for a year to learn the craft. Much of my experience has been in the restoration field. Not to imply that I know everything, since this business is always changing ( new technology and methodology) and there's always new stuff to learn. I do, however, wanted to state this so folks know that my opinions aren't based on "stuff I heard" , but rather experience.

    I'm also quite aware that lotsa folks prefer the DIY approach. I totally dig that. Lugs lined w/ nail polish, home made paint jobs from a rattle can, etc. I started out this way as a kid w/ an SE Quadangle in my parent's basement............eyelashes sticky with blue overspray. I am not going to address this process, however, since I am mainly concerned with the situations where people are looking for professional alternatives for frame refinishing.

    First, let's talk about price, since that is always a main concern. Monkey recently got quoted a very fair price form a reputable BIKE SPECIFIC refinishing company for his Gios resto. I saw comments on here like " I would never pay that much for a paint job". My first thought was "Great, keep it to yourself " To some, a paint job is the most important thing on a frame ( besides the rider ) It not only protects it from the elements, but it also can make or break a build from an aesthetic p.o.v. There are many parts on our rides that we spend lotsa money on..sometimes too much...only to discover that we don't like it. That brooks saddle hurts our ass, or those fancy C Record track hubs that might fail at any second. We can always remove 'em and replace these parts, but a piant job is a bit more difficult to change once it's done. I recently had to put a roof on my house, and had problems trying to get a nice job done for a good price. Since it's it's unadvisable to put more than three layers of shingles on, I had to choose carefully to avoid a complete tear off. Paint is similar, since a thick build-up can result in poor adhesion.In the end, I paid a bit more for a roof, but I can rest easy knowing that it was done correctly. I typically spend an average of 15 hours on a frame/ fork single color refinish. This includes stripping of the old paint or powdercoat. Most of the time is spent prepping for paint, with careful attention to things like lug details and durability. Many factory built frames ( or even hand built ones ) have seams, pits, file marks,and flaws in the lugs. Sometimes it's nice to leave a few small file marks in a handbuilt frame simply cuz...well...........it shows that it's been hand built. The point here is that it's time consuming, which means that it costs a bit more. There's more to a paint job than dumping paint in a *** and hosing it on some tubes, although I'm sure one could easily find someone to do that for 'em on the cheap. Some of us use high quality primers and paint that can cost over $150 a gallon, which contribute greatly to the price, but is worth it in the long run.I might also add that it can also be a good thing to know that the person working on your frame likes bikes, and feels that frames deserve a nice paintjob. Not to sound too "new age-ish , but how nice of a job is that monster truck bodyshop guy gonna put on a mere BICYCLE? I love helping to put nice lookin' bikes on the street, and I'm always trying to learn more, and improve my results. I find that it's a rewarding respite from the production oriented, robotic, daily grind approach of the autobody environment.This is simply something to consider when searching for a painter.The cost is what is for a reason, the least of which is someone trying to get rich off painting your bike.

    Durability is an issue. Keirin frames have thin paint that chips easily. De Bernardi's paint sucks. These are all statements I have seen on here. Keep in mind that these frames are meant for track use, usually for one season. They put just enough paint on there to protect 'em while, at the same time, keeping weight down ( my opinion based on common sense).Keeping paint thin, durable, yet flawless can be challenging.It is what it is, but I see a paintjob as an evolving peice of art. It ages and changes, reflecting it's use. I was disheartened when someone scraped my painted rims w/ a careless pedal during a race lockup. Now it reminds me of that alleycat everytime I change a tube. I love the pic that was floating around of a Vanilla track end that has obviously been "rode hard and put up wet".Yeah, it's chipped, but one can still see the quality and beauty there. It's alive and evolving, just like it's rider. The lifeless and dull powdercoated frame MAY do the job, but is not what gets my juices flowing. Gimme a wet looking, smooth, sexy paintjob. I know that some folks don't care, and simply want something functional. That's cool too.

    Some common questions regard painting over chrome and clearcoating bare steel. From what I've seen, chromed frames are entirely chromed FIRST , and then polished where the areas are gonna show. The rest of the frame is left unpolished and covered in paint. It's difficult to get paint to stick to polished chrome, but I have reluctantly done it in the past.To be honest, I have had hard time getting answers from my paint reps regarding this,so it's just not something I recommend. I tend to lean towards the conservative side of things when it comes to durability. I have clearcoated bare steel w/ limited success, but I wouldn't trust it to hold up. If you think of a paintjob as a sandwich, there are necessary layers needed for it to be a success.Automotive basecoat/clearcoat are designed to crosslink for a tough, UV resistant coating. The interlaced fingers of your hands represent this chemical bond well, I think. The primer bonds to the bare metal, and the basecoat bonds to that. Take away any of these ingredients and you are holding a hunk of bread , not a sandwich ( can I get any more nerdy?). I cannot speak to other types of paint, as I stick to what I am familiar with, and rarely use anything else. I have found that the steel will rust and the clear will not stick well.

    Powdercoat Vs. Paint. I don't claim to have much knowledge about powdercoat, but I have seen some crazy statements about how it compares to paint.I recently saw someone on here say that "powdercoat actually bonds to the metal". What does this mean? I dunno. Primer bonds to the metal too, no? Plus, when you use a nice primer, it offers excellent corrosion resistance. What's under that powdercoat? Nothing but steel.When it chips, it's got nothing there to protect it. I have a powdercoated bumper on my truck that is entirely rusted away, but the silhouette of powdercoat remains.Moisture was able to get underneath and spread throughout.There are also claims about it being more environmentally friendly cuz there are less VOC's released during the bake cycle. Based on what? Time? Thickness of material?The absence of solvent?Aren't there many variables here? What about water based auto paint, which is quickly approaching reality here in the states? I bake my paint for 20 minutes. How long does powdercoat bake for? The excess powder can be re-used. So can my basecoat.....besides, I only mix up enough product to use as it's needed, with little waste.This is just a common sense money thing.In addition, does the powdercoater fix any imperfections before coating your frame? Most don't. Perhaps we can get someone on here from that area to shed some light.I have found little info on the interent about this.

    It boils down to what type of consumer you are, I think. Ask questions, not just "how much?" What are you gonna get for your hard earned $$ ? What's your painter's procedure..............his/her philosophy and experience? Also, some bike painting places offer different types of paintjobs, based on budgets and needs. I have, for example, repainted some factory powdercoated frames at a discount cuz all the customer wanted was a quick color change, and I felt that the frame was in nice enough shape to do so without compromising durability and looks.Again, ask questions. Sometimes the answers may seem confusing, or differ depending on situation or painter. Everyone has their own system and preferences. It's up to you to find one that suits your goals and needs.

    I hope this was helpful and not too annoyingly long and whiny. Ciao.
    Last edited by jasonsan; 01-15-06 at 10:22 AM.

  2. #2
    likes avocadoes
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    heh, like that info would fit here...
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    well that was long, but fun to read. Good information, but would have been nicer with paragraph breaks so that I could follow lines easier. I'll try to shed some light on powdercoating after breakfast.

  3. #3
    blah onetwentyeight's Avatar
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    Interesting read, thanks. Someday when I'm rich I wanna get my bike the paintjob it deserves.

  4. #4
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    Good stuff !
    I would only add that powder coating is done with a electrical
    charge. Although not chip proof by any means it is unequivocally
    5x stronger than paint.

  5. #5
    Senior Member jasonsan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r-dub
    well that was long, but fun to read. Good information, but would have been nicer with paragraph breaks so that I could follow lines easier. I'll try to shed some light on powdercoating after breakfast.
    Thanks,that'd be cool. I also tried to make it easier to read.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jasonsan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=Łem in Pa=-
    Good stuff !
    I would only add that powder coating is done with a electrical
    charge. Although not chip proof by any means it is unequivocally
    5x stronger than paint.
    Yes, essentially the same chemical make-up as paint ( I assume that it is a polyester similar to basecoat), just a different application process, and w/o a primer. But where does the 5X stronger statistic come from? This is the kind of unsubstantiated statement that prompted my rant in the first place. If it's true, then great. If people are looking to make educated choices, they need solid info. Not being a knob, just wanna get some clear info out there. Glad for the discourse.

  7. #7
    ♋ ☮♂ ☭ ☯ -=(8)=-'s Avatar
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    ^^^^^ I guess I shoulda elaborated after the post...
    These are my own, unscientific findings based only on
    bicycle and motorcycle parts / frames. To me, the powdercoat
    withstands sooooo much more abuse than the paint there
    is no comparison. My latest example is a Surly frame. This
    bike has been ridden in all weather, dropped and had stuff
    bolted to the frame and it still shines almost perfectly and
    has no chips. There is no painted frame Ive ever had that would
    stand up as well. My Harley frame was powdered and it saw many
    dirt / gravel farm roads for 4 years and up until I got rid of it, it still
    shined up almost as new. Again, very unscientific but there is nothing
    yet that will convince me there is any paint stronger than powder coat.
    Im sure many will disagree with me, though

  8. #8
    redonkulous Rikardi151's Avatar
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    Thank you... I had recently asked about the differences between Powdercoat and paint, and what the disadvantages of Powder were. In my head it was vastly superior, but you helped shed some light. My issue is that I just have a beater steel conversion that I simply dont want to rust away slowly, so any monster truck painter will work for me as long as its cheap and fully covered.

  9. #9
    spinspinspinspin fatbat's Avatar
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    powdercoat is more like glazing ceramics than painting-
    you start with particals of resin/pigment, stick them electrostatically to the frame, and then melt them into a continuous coating with heat.

    paint is inherently weaker, since it has to start out as a liquid at 15-25 degrees C, which has to dry to something which remains solid at 35+ degrees C. Since this isn't a factor with powedercoat, you can get a much more durable material out at the end.

    as you said, the powdercoat on the truck bumper held together even when there wasn't any bumper underneath it. not something which happens with paint.

  10. #10
    knucklehead roscoenyc57's Avatar
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    excellent read. thanks for taking the time.

  11. #11
    Senior Member jasonsan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by -=Łem in Pa=-
    ^^^^^ I guess I shoulda elaborated after the post...
    These are my own, unscientific findings based only on
    bicycle and motorcycle parts / frames. To me, the powdercoat
    withstands sooooo much more abuse than the paint there
    is no comparison. My latest example is a Surly frame. This
    bike has been ridden in all weather, dropped and had stuff
    bolted to the frame and it still shines almost perfectly and
    has no chips. There is no painted frame Ive ever had that would
    stand up as well. My Harley frame was powdered and it saw many
    dirt / gravel farm roads for 4 years and up until I got rid of it, it still
    shined up almost as new. Again, very unscientific but there is nothing
    yet that will convince me there is any paint stronger than powder coat.
    Im sure many will disagree with me, though
    I guess I shoulda elaborated a bit more as well, if that's even possible at this point . My fingers are sore already.
    Powdercoat is a tough and economical choice for many applications. Many of my friends powdercoat their hot rod frames, and then paint the bodies. I also didn't mean to imply that your frame is gonna rust away if you powdercoat it ( Rikardi151), that's not likely to happen. I just want the pros and cons of each to be presented realistically.Maybe we can come up w/ a scale like they do for many products. Durability, aesthetics, versatility, etc on a scale from 1 to 5?
    Example: versatility of paint -5 (can be used over carbon fiber, can be used on flexible parts like race blade fenders, almost unlimited colors and effects, easily touched up and repaired, and is dent repair friendly.) to name a few.

  12. #12
    Senior Member jasonsan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roscoenyc57
    excellent read. thanks for taking the time.
    Thanks for responding.........I think we met at the FGS, no? I also really like your bike w/ the cowboy headbadge and goldleaf accents ( I have been experimenting w/ silverleaf lately). Really nice paintjob.

  13. #13
    knucklehead roscoenyc57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonsan
    Thanks for responding.........I think we met at the FGS, no? I also really like your bike w/ the cowboy headbadge and goldleaf accents ( I have been experimenting w/ silverleaf lately). Really nice paintjob.
    Yep Jason,
    we met at the Symp. That bike you painted for the LA writerguy was sweet. My friend Todd Hanson painted the bike (2546 in my sig) He used silver leaf on it in a few places. He's used silver and gold leaf extensively on some of the guitars that he's painted for me. Todd has a site up with a bunch of his stuff at http://www.hansondidit.com


  14. #14
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    So what would be the underlying cause of bike paint that chips easily? My Bianchi seems to suffer from this.

  15. #15
    Senior Member mattface's Avatar
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    Jasonsan,

    My dad was an excellent autobody repairman, and a decent painter while I was growing up, and while I'm certainly not that great a painter myself, I know something about it. I just wanted to back up what you are saying, but put my own laymans slant on it.

    If you want to do a quick and dirty super cheap paintjob yourself, a can of Krylon primer, and paint will get the job done. Take your time with the prep work, and you can even make it look somewhat nice, but it won't look nice for long. Spraycan paintjobs will protect bare metal, but they are not even remotely durable.

    Powdercoat is a good inexpensive durable choice. It will look better than a crappy paintjob, but will never look as good as a quality paintjob.

    A professional paintjob is only as good as the painter. There a re a lot of different types of materials out there, the most common these days being the two part (basecoat clearcoat) automotive type paints. They all have different durability characteristics,and I don't have a lot of knowledge about that, but I do know the catalyzed paints used in the automotive industry that are heat activated (baked) are quite durable. Still the quality of the paint means nothing compared to the skill of the painter. A robot can do a decent paintjob on a car, but it takes a skilled crafstman to do an excellent paintjob.

    If you're going to the trouble to have a frame professionally painted it is definitely worth it to get a skilled painter to do it, and yes the cost will be commensorate with the skill, and the amount of time spent on the job. A good paintob takes time, and a good painter won't rush it to save you money if it means it won't meet his own high standards. He'll send you down the street to the guy who will hit it with the sandblaster, blow it off, and drench it in paint for $50. You're better off getting it powdercoated than going to that guy.
    Last edited by mattface; 01-15-06 at 07:13 PM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member jasonsan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walkercycles
    Jason,
    Nice write up. One thing I have learned thru the years of building frames, and that is that to respect (sometimes love, in a non sexual way) your painter. I like your work. If you were in TX, more than likely you would be spraying my stuff.
    I like what you do for Jonny. Hope to meet you in March.

    DW
    Thanks alot Don, I appreciate the kind words. I hope Jonny reads that "love" part Ditto regarding the NAHBS. My frame will hopefully be there, at least.It'd be fun to ride it to the show w/ Judah and the gang, and THEN display it.

  17. #17
    Senior Member jasonsan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mattface
    If you're going to the trouble to have a frame professionally painted it is definitely worth it to get a skilled painter to do it, and yes the cost will be commensorate with the skill, and the amount of time spent on the job. A good paintob takes time, and a good painter won't rush it to save you money if it means it won't meet his own high standards. He'll send you down the street to the guy who will hit it with the sandblaster, blow it off, and drench it in paint for $50.
    Well put

  18. #18
    Frankly, Mr. Shankly absntr's Avatar
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    Jason -

    Thanks for the read. Very useful thoughts and good questions for discourse.

    I don't believe I own a powdercoated frame. My Colnago and my Soma are paint and I believe my next bike in the works will also be paint.

    I've read and heard the same issues in regards to paint vs. powdercoat and am led to believe that powdercoat is more durable but aesthetically is a bit more, "dull".

    I'm a huge fan of American Chopper (the show on Discovery) and going through the seasons, I love watching the frame go to paint or powdercoat. While the powdercoat stuff is nice, it always ends up being that they have to ream or grind away pieces here and there because the coat is so thick -- thus is that why it lends itself to durability? In the show they even go on to state that they prefer the look of paint and how it pops and shines.

    In the end, while I think paint chips easier and might not be as durable, the look of paint appeals to me. Good paint as you mention and state the case for, can look stunning. That wet, silky look is something I find lacking in powdercoat.

    My position and choice would be to go paint and get paint done with someone who knew how to do paint well (like yourself). As with many choices we make with regards to what we get and how makes it and the quality vs the price, this is another good decision to make when considering the aesthetics of a frame.

    Places like Cylclart may be expensive (as well as Spectrum) but the quality that comes out is beautiful, and yet another reason to understand who's painting or powdering your frame.

  19. #19
    PS NOT STOLEN Mouton's Avatar
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    I'd like to mention another option in the paint arena: POR-15
    You can have it any color so long as its BLACK
    You cant paint over it.
    It seals so your bike wont ever rust where its been painted.
    You probably cant remove it without loss of blood.

    Car Restoration people use this stuff for serious rust prevention on sensitive old steels (old italian steels are notorious)

    Its not something to do to your colnago, but your winter bike will last forever painted with this stuff.

  20. #20
    Senior Member morbot's Avatar
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    i just had an old beloved bike frame powdercoated, it is nice, and only cost me $80. i went to a place that predominately does cars and motorcycles, and i have gotten nothing but compliments on the great job they did.


  21. #21
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mouton
    I'd like to mention another option in the paint arena: POR-15
    You can have it any color so long as its BLACK
    You cant paint over it.
    It seals so your bike wont ever rust where its been painted.
    You probably cant remove it without loss of blood.

    Car Restoration people use this stuff for serious rust prevention on sensitive old steels (old italian steels are notorious)

    Its not something to do to your colnago, but your winter bike will last forever painted with this stuff.
    Thankyou for posting the link, i'm very interested. Note -needs to be clearcoated, por15 is UV sensitive.

    THIS is what i'm interested in http://www.por15.com/PRODUCTS/CLEANE...0/Default.aspx

    To get rust inside chromoly tubing -ready for a rust preventitive. I was possibly going to use acids or a dip tank at a chroming plant.

  22. #22
    Beausage is Beautiful Fugazi Dave's Avatar
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    A very interesting read. Painting is something that doesn't get nearly enough respect as a high craft, IMO. I have not yet had a bike that I would put a lot of money into a paint job for, but for the right bike, I know I would. I re-did the paint job on my Basso in my old workshop, with lots of sanding, priming, sanding, and very careful rattlecan work. It came out beautifully and is holding up extremely well - far better than the original factory finish. [as a quick aside, I will say this - if you want a cheap, durable paint job and dig the color black, go for the Dupli-Color engine enamel] I can only imagine what a top-end paint job would be like on a bike of my own. Something to look forward to, I suppose.

  23. #23
    dc pirate, 4evah. chimblysweep's Avatar
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    Jason, awesome info. Thanks for that.

    I know I had a rather public struggle with the 3rensho over what to do with the paint - leave it, restore it with paint, fix it up with powdercoat. I went with powdercoat because I was willing to sacrifice the authenticity factor for the durability of powdercoat. After three months of locking that frame and beating it up, I do have to say, I'm glad I got the powdercoat- it's ballistic. At the same time, though, one of the sexiest lugs is sort of masked, which makes me a little sad.

    I've had a lot of people tell me they think powder is cheaper. This ain't true at all. To tell you the truth, it cost just slightly less ($50) than having Joe Bell do the paint.

    And I'm really looking forward to having you paint my next frame, Jason...

  24. #24
    make way for the MGL MLPROJECT's Avatar
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    here's my paint rant:

    Rattlecan is the dumbest word ever. It is called spray paint.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fugazi Dave
    I re-did the paint job on my Basso in my old workshop, with lots of sanding, priming, sanding, and very careful rattlecan work. It came out beautifully and is holding up extremely well - far better than the original factory finish. I can only imagine what a top-end paint job would be like on a bike of my own.
    I was happy to read this...
    I was plannning on hooking up my peugeot's paint job eventually with rAttLEcAn...

    did you re-do all the paint? or just do touch-up work?
    sounds like a real extensive, time consuming, but FUN process
    any tips or comments on your process?
    did you isolate a color, sand, prime, sand, rattlecan...then move to the next color do the same..and then do uniform clear coats?

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