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  1. #1
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    Prolong steel frame life

    Ok I just got my first steel bike , Specialized AWOL Deluxe, which will serve me in my month long tour in Transilvania. What is the most you can do with a fresh bike to save it from rust? I will rode in mountains, I can expect cold nights , and often rains. Are plastic frame protectors helpful?

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    If it wasn't done at the factory or your bike shop, you may want to apply a rust inhibitor to the inside of the frame. ProGold Frame Saver and J.P. Weigle Frame Saver are two commercial options (in the U.S. anyway). Some say that you can also use "motor fogging oil" or boiled linseed oil. You'll want to apply these treatments before you attach any components to the frame.

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    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    I've been riding (and riding and riding) the same frame since 1996 in all kinds of weather. Anytime I spot a chip in the paint, I immediately apply some nail polish to it to help halt the rusting process. It looks like hell, but it has sure done the trick for me.

    PS: You'll need to reapply every few months or so.
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    Don't leave a bike unnecessarily out in the rain. Check the bottom bracket (remove the cranks and the BB cartridge) regularly to check on water and corrosion there (it is the lowest part of the bike frame). Old-style bikes used to have drain holes in the bottom of the bottom bracket, but not so much these days -- the hole is taken up with the rivet or bolt holding the cable guide.

    Other than that, washing off your bike and polishing with Pledge helps -- you can check for stone chips and cracks why doing it. Keep the seat post greased a little to stop it corroding to the seat tube. Likewise the brake posts on the fork and seat stays.

    And if you really want to be protective, get some Lizard Skins headtube protectors.

    I've never put frame protector inside my oldest steel frame, and it's still very sound after 65,000+ km. But then, I don't leave it outside in the rain needlessly, it lives indoors at home, it never travels outside my vehicle unless it absolutely has to, I avoid puddle where possible, and I service it reasonably frequently.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    When I picked up my wife's frame at the Co-Motion shop, I asked whether they had used "frame saver" on it. They said they don't use it on their frames. That was good enough for me.

    You would have to remove your headset, and bottom bracket before applying the rust inhibitor. You would also want to be careful not to get that stuff on any moving parts.

    I did use Wiggle Frame Saver on a LHT I built up, but there is no way of knowing if the coverage is 100% or the effectiveness. I think a frame treatment might be beneficial if you live in an area where salt is used on the roads.At my age, I'll rust out before the bike does.

    I still cringe when I see the traditional dunking of the rear wheel into the ocean when starting a Coast to Coast trip.

    I had one steel framed bike for over 35 years, and there was no evidence of rust on the inside of the tubing. Exterior rust I keep at bay by frequent waxing. Small nicks can be covered neatly with finger nail polish either clear or a color to match. Sand with 600 grit followed by 1200 grit wet or dry sand paper, and you have a good fix.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    ...
    I still cringe when I see the traditional dunking of the rear wheel into the ocean when starting a Coast to Coast trip.
    ....
    A friend of mine rode cross country a few years ago. They of course had to get the photo of everybody with their bikes in the Atlantic at the start. I asked why they did that, weren't they afraid of corrosion on their rims? He scoffed at that saying there was nothing to worry about. A minute later he said that every biker in the group had to replace at least one rim later in the trip.

  7. #7
    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    The first thing to do is not over react. Touch up scratches however you are comfortable, some people use contrasting colors to show off the "battle scars" and some obsess over color matching. Every few years I spray some LPS-3 into the tubing. LPS-3 is an industrial strength anti corrosive which is available at some hardware stores, Boeshield also works and there is Weigles Frame Saver also. I ride in Michigan winters and have never had a problem with my steel frames. I just clean 'em up before and after the season and enjoy the ride.

    Marc
    Last edited by irwin7638; 05-18-14 at 08:00 AM.
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    Senior Member fairymuff's Avatar
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    I'm gonna go out on a limb here. I don't own a steel frame. I mainly do light touring on a Trek 7.3 Disk. The bike cost me 500, it's flown halfway across the world, and I've done multiple (short) tours on it. I just ride it, and I don't care much about chips and dents. I take normal care of it (it does live indoors when not in use), and it doesn't spend much time (fully) submerged. If I need to retire it at some point, I will simply get a new one. If that's after 10 years, I'll have spent 50 per year, which is fantastic value for money.

    My wife and I were out touring in Thailand last year and ran into a couple who had rented mountain bikes locally, since they didn't dare to put their Koga bikes on a plane since they cost €2000 each. So they had these fancy bikes that they weren't riding for fear of damaging them. We were riding our own bikes because we weren't afraid of damaging them.

    Bottom line: by all means take good care of your bike, but at the end of the day it's meant for riding and enjoying it. It is possible to be too anal about bike care, and if a bike is finished, just look at the bright side: you get to buy a new one
    Last edited by fairymuff; 05-18-14 at 06:23 AM.

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    About 10 years ago, I built up a new touring bike, and applied frame saver. I did multiple long tours in all kinds of weather, and the frame never rusted (on the inside). The seat post lug eventually failed (cracked), so I recently replaced it. I don't know if the rust inhibitor kept it going for those 10 years, but I did the same on the new frame just in case.
    Applying the frame saver was a small amount of effort, money & time. Do it somewhere with ventilation.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    I've never put frame protector inside my oldest steel frame, and it's still very sound after 65,000+ km. But then, I don't leave it outside in the rain needlessly, it lives indoors at home, it never travels outside my vehicle unless it absolutely has to, I avoid puddle where possible, and I service it reasonably frequently.
    Older frames are likely to have been made with thicker tubing that brand-new steel frames. The current trend toward light-weight double-butted tubing means that tube walls are often very thin: as little as 0.4mm in some cases. Just because an older frame hasn't rusted through is no guarantee that today's lighter, thinner steel frames won't rust.

    If I'd just purchased a modern steel frame and planned to ride it in the rain, spending $10-15 for a can of J.P. Weigle's Frame Saver would allow me to sleep a bit better at night...

  11. #11
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My Self built in '75 frame is still OK.



    If you want, pour paint (or boiled linseed oil /'framesaver') inside all the frame tubes and slosh it around then pour out excess ..

    then both sides will be painted ..
    Last edited by fietsbob; 05-26-14 at 07:57 AM.

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    My Raleigh 753 made in the early 80's is still as good as the day it was made,but i keep it indoors always and when i wash it i dry t off.my new Thorn audax is sealed on the inside.
    steel is fantastic just look after it dont leave it in a damp shed keep it indoors always if the wife complains divorce her quick.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Vintage_Cyclist's Avatar
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    An incomplete list of things worth doing:

    1. If the bike gets wet, wipe it down. Pay attention to creases, lugs, braze-ons, areas where cable is against the frame, etc.
    2. If it gets wet from dampness overnight while touring/camping and you're going to ride off in the morning, a quick wipe down is always a good idea. But I wouldn't worry too much about it because it will air dry from riding.
    3. It's a good practice to occasionally clean the bike frame by hosing it down with a gentle stream of water. I lean the bike to the non-drive side and avoid directing water into the drive-train while doing this. Then wipe down.
    4. Frame Saver, Boshield, etc. the inside of the frame. Does it really help? I don't know, but I've done it to some of my bikes.
    5. Treat any surface rust that does develop immediately with something like Rust Reformer, that chemically converts the rust by removing oxygen from it; then touch-up paint. Inside the frame (usually the seat tube), scour off what you can (with sand paper, scotchbrite pad, etc.), then pour it in and rotate the frame around to get coverage. Note-Rust Reformer will stain black, so wipe it immediately off any areas not being treated.
    6. Keep an eye on joints, lugs, braze-ons, drop-outs etc., where there are creases that tend to allow water to remain longer before drying off.
    7. The bottom bracket up to the seat post and the top tube are at enhanced risk from sweat coming off you. This is especially an issue if you have brazed-on cable guides on top of your top tube; the sweat will collect inside and around them.
    8. Wipe down wheels too, pay attention to the area around the nipples.
    9. Keep an eye on the inside of Allen bolt heads.


    My current steel framed bikes lead me to believe that there is an element of it being a crap-shoot if you end-up with rust problems on a bike.

    1980 Panasonic Sport 1000 - Bought new. I also did none of the above for 34 years. Currently a mess of scratches and abrasions, no rust inside or out. Ridden for years as a commuter in all kinds of weather. I still treat it like a neglected child.

    1988 Centurion Ironman Master - Bought new. Diligent wiping down and cleaning. Seems to breed rust (I suspect it might have been an issue with the manufacturer's tubing). In addition to surface rust at all the problem areas, there is rust in the seat tube and even visible rust flecks in the downtube, top tube, seat stays and chain stays. You'd think the bike had gotten submerged in the ocean. All this despite routine cleanings, wipe-downs, touch-ups. Inside of frame treated with Rust Reformer and Boshield last year.

    1985 Centurion Ironman - Built-up from a purchased frame last winter. Just some powdery surface rust in the seat tube. Inside of frame treated with Rust Reformer and Boshield prior to build-up.

    1997 Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo - Bought new. Clean as a whistle, just the occasional wipe-down. Inside of frame untreated.

    2014 LHT - Bought new. 5 months old, just the occasional wipe-down. Too soon to tell. Inside of frame untreated.

  14. #14
    Junior Member JDFLood's Avatar
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    I've had a number of bike for over 20 years, never worried about it, never had a problem. I get rid of bike because I got a better one long before they ever wear out other than the moving parts.

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    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fairymuff View Post
    My wife and I were out touring in Thailand last year and ran into a couple who had rented mountain bikes locally, since they didn't dare to put their Koga bikes on a plane since they cost €2000 each. So they had these fancy bikes that they weren't riding for fear of damaging them. We were riding our own bikes because we weren't afraid of damaging them.
    +!

    My wife summed it up best for me one day when I was commenting about a scratch on her new bike. She said, "it's a tool". We take care of bikes, but they were are meant to be used.

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    Not a spot of rust inside my 35 year old tourer, its always been in damp cities too.
    Even the 1940's bike i found leaning up against the outside of an old farm shed had a good solid frame.

    I have used a lanolin based cavity spray (fairly thin, i had some left over from my car) on my tourer. Mainly because it will be living outside, or under the edge of my tent. I dont think it was super necessary, but it worked out free.
    You could have the frame galvanized if you were super keen, maybe even copper coated.

    I think you are asking more about protecting the outside of the frame though.
    You will probably get scratches on the chain stay and headtube (from leaning the bike on things)
    both can be covered with a plastic overlay, or even leather.

    Take good care of it, it will eventually suffer wear, thats the nature of the beast. The patina look may grow on you, and you can repaint a frame in 10 years anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
    A friend of mine rode cross country a few years ago. They of course had to get the photo of everybody with their bikes in the Atlantic at the start. I asked why they did that, weren't they afraid of corrosion on their rims? He scoffed at that saying there was nothing to worry about. A minute later he said that every biker in the group had to replace at least one rim later in the trip.
    What sort of failure? If they had the hub soaking in salt water i could believe it, but just dipping the tyre and a little of the rim for a few seconds, once, shouldnt have any effect.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    So what about condensation from water bottles constantly dripping to the bottom of the frame, all around the bottom bracket and the chainrings? Does anybody have a solution for this?
    Papa Tom

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    Use JP Weigle's frame saver ASAP. Sludge on your bike is worse than salt water. Of course, they're both bad. It's just that sludge is worse, in terms of rust. Apply rust proofing inside your frame, both before and after your cycling venture. Otherwise, don't worry about it during your trip. Just do a quick wipe down every morning. That's it!

    Good Luck!

  19. #19
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Papa Tom View Post
    So what about condensation from water bottles constantly dripping to the bottom of the frame, all around the bottom bracket and the chainrings? Does anybody have a solution for this?
    car wax. It looks good on the rest of the bike too.

    A bike is made to ride in the rain; a little condensation drip should not hurt anything. Most contemporary bottom brackets have sealed bearings, and are mostly trouble free. I've only needed to replace one in the last ten years.

    Sometimes there is a lot of "condensation" Drip.


    Our bikes are well taken care of, but on tour they are outside unless we get a motel. We just cover the saddles with a shower cap and secure them in camp at night. They are completely gone over (bearings , brake pads, cables, etc) before and after a tour. Bearings are all cleaned, greased, and adjusted. Everything is cleaned and the frame gets a couple of coats of car wax.

    The little nick above the "O" on my 7-year old Bianchi Volpe was the first scratch put on it 7 years ago. I can still remember the day. My wife and I were on a long tour, and I was adjusting the front derailleur looking down at the barrel adjuster while riding it around a parking lot. I looked up just before I ran into a "No Parking" sign. The only thing done to that scratch was a good coat of car wax on it. It never rusted at all. It is also the bike I've ridden almost every day, rain or shine, to the store, gym, library etc. for the last 3 years.


    Heck, I purposely squirt my BB when cleaning the bike on tour. If I can't find a hose, I use my water bottle to rinse the soapy water off after washing the bike I go over the bikes about once a week if I can.
    Last edited by Doug64; 05-18-14 at 10:45 PM.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Older frames are likely to have been made with thicker tubing that brand-new steel frames. The current trend toward light-weight double-butted tubing means that tube walls are often very thin: as little as 0.4mm in some cases. Just because an older frame hasn't rusted through is no guarantee that today's lighter, thinner steel frames won't rust.

    If I'd just purchased a modern steel frame and planned to ride it in the rain, spending $10-15 for a can of J.P. Weigle's Frame Saver would allow me to sleep a bit better at night...
    The oldest steel frame is circa-2000. Then there is Machka's Marinoni Ciclo which has Nivacrom Columbus Zona tubing, pretty thin. It has never been treated with rust saver and has been ridden in all sorts of really bad weather. Then there is the 2008 Santana tandem. Again wet weather and no issues.

    Of course, issues could manifest themselves in another 10 years' time. But I am not going to lose any sleep over it. And I've saved $45 in frame saver
    Dream. Dare. Do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
    The little nick above the "O" on my 7-year old Bianchi Volpe was the first scratch put on it 7 years ago. I can still remember the day. My wife and I were on a long tour, and I was adjusting the front derailleur looking down at the barrel adjuster while riding it around a parking lot. I looked up just before I ran into a "No Parking" sign. The only thing done to that scratch was a good coat of car wax on it. It never rusted at all. It is also the bike I've ridden almost every day, rain or shine, to the store, gym, library etc. for the last 3 years.
    I can't help but think the better quality frames have an undercoat with zinc to help prevent rust. But also I've noticed the good quality steel alloys are resistant to corrosion, a bit more like stainless steel.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  22. #22
    Senior Member robert schlatte's Avatar
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    I have had a steel frame bike since 1980 to which I never applied frame saver and there is no rust. But I took good care of it and did not needlessly leave it outdoors as others have said. If you take good care, frame saver may not be necessary. That said, I did apply frame saver to the inside of the tubes of my new steel frame I bought last summer. I figured it couldn't hurt and I figured I would probably never get the opportunity to do it again once I built the bike. I also took the frame to my LBS to check alignment and to face the head tube and bottom bracket and clean all threads, etc. I did all this in the interests of doing it right.

  23. #23
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    I have pretty much neglected my bikes when it came to cleaning. I also have generally not treated the frames with rust proofing. I have bikes that were used for many years and many thousands of miles and have never had a problem with rust other than maybe a bit of surface rust that wipes right off on the dropouts. I have toured on the coast in the salt air and still no issues. I don't store my bikes outside when not on tour though.

    That said if you are concerned you can always spray something into the frame tubes. Boesheild T9 reportedly works well for that.

  24. #24
    ghost on a machine Bike Hermit's Avatar
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    The aluminum seat pin can corrode when in contact with steel. Galvanic corrosion I think. I had to destroy a Dura-Ace post to remove it from my Serotta Colorado. Damaged the frame enough to require a trip back to the factory- but I don't want to even think about that now. That reminds me; I need to go and pull the seatpost out of all my steel bikes, wipe everything off, let it air out, reapply grease and put them back together.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
    A friend of mine rode cross country a few years ago. They of course had to get the photo of everybody with their bikes in the Atlantic at the start. I asked why they did that, weren't they afraid of corrosion on their rims? He scoffed at that saying there was nothing to worry about. A minute later he said that every biker in the group had to replace at least one rim later in the trip.
    Quote Originally Posted by tortron View Post
    ...
    What sort of failure? If they had the hub soaking in salt water i could believe it, but just dipping the tyre and a little of the rim for a few seconds, once, shouldnt have any effect.
    Not the hub, the rim. Most good quality touring rims have a box section shape where the salt water can get inside the rim through the spoke holes when you submerge part of the rim in sea water. I did not see the rims that failed but I think he said that his rim cracked at the spoke holes.

    If you are getting half a dozen people together to pose for photos with their bikes standing in the water, it is not a few seconds, it is probably half a minute or more and they likely rotated the wheels all the way around making sure that all inside surfaces got a nice coating of sea water.

    Different bike, the first photo below is a bike I bought for $5 at a garage sale. Had been stored outside for over 10 years. The guy I bought it from had to get the sawzall out of the garage to saw down the 2 inch diameter tree that had grown up thru the frame.

    25IMGP2474.jpg

    Took a lot of hours to fix up, but it is now the bike I ride for errands, grocery store runs, etc. Took a day to get the bottom bracket unfrozen from the shell, but otherwise the bike is in great shape. I did do a thorough job of applying Frame Saver on it because I store it outside. But, after being stored outside for all those years before I bought it, it probably did not need it.

    25IMGP2138.jpg

    I mentioned that I store it outside.

    20IMGP0409.jpg
    Last edited by Tourist in MSN; 05-19-14 at 03:48 PM.

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