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Old 10-19-12, 09:47 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Sendai, Japan
Posts: 1,649

Bikes: Vitus 979, Simplon 4-Star (Romani), Woodrup Giro, Gazelle AB

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I don't have a vast collection, but of the six I have (including one I am building for my son) this is my accounting for finishes — present and future.

* One on which I repaired numerous chips and damage by carefully infilling with a mixing of enamels (applied with art brushes) ... then clear coated after a rub down. All graphics were preserved.

* One where I just brushed enamel on the stays just to keep the rust off — my old and trusty MTB. I don't really care what it looks like.

* A handmade, 35 year old frame with a gorgeous color and great graphics. I'm bending over backwards to try and retouch the chips, sc****s and gouges. I will not even try and clear coat the result — just some very hard wax. We'll see ... I'm kind of excited.

* One that is in the process of being paint-stripped with a heat gun due to some light rust that has nevertheless gone "to the bone" ... to the metal under the undercoat. Long story on the decals — let's not go there.

* One classic, hand-built frame that is badly chipped and buggered. I could live with that and some wax and touch ups, but I hate the colour. So it's going to be painted. I tried imagining living with the colour — and failed! The decals are not going to be cheap — dammit!

In the latter two cases, I am thinking of using an airbrush. I will not go into the 'whys' and 'wherefores' here except to say that decades ago in the motorcycle world I saw some amazing work that employed airbrushes as opposed to a regular spray gun, or touch-up gun. Bit of a PITA, but it works. (Best you have a small compressor).

As Randy suggests above, see his "My Ten Speeds" site. He has written up and illustrated an excellent step-by-step guide to brush-painting a frame. I like his results. But be prepared: in another lifetime I was a painting contractor. Painting pipe with durable enamels is a bit of a challenge. Don't expect a luscious finish without a lot of effort, preparation and practice. Lighter colours usually give you a better result due to the incidence of light as reflected on imperfections. Try white, blue-grey etc.

I agree with all the advice given above. Contingency is an all important consideration. If you intend to keep the machine, suit yourself. A suggestion and IMHO: regardless of what you do to paint your frame, obtain decals that are contemporaneous with the frame ... decals that identify the tubing. This is a pet thing of mine. Others may say that without the brand/marque included you still have nothing but a steel triangle. But of course, obtaining any other, additional facsimilies of the original artwork is a good and better thing. Then again, if you you intend on keeping the machine and don't care for conservation, decals may mean nothing to you. But, we C&V people are inclined to preserve the identity.

Extrapolating from numerous other threads on this subject, that is to say according to my memory, a lot of members may advise the following: thoroughly overhaul the bike. Wax the daylights out of it to protect the metals. Ride the snot out of it. If you really fall in love with the bike, tear it down and send it off to a pro for painting.

These days you usually have these choices that will be, or should be applied after a full preparatory treatment for removal of old finish and rust — unless it is expressly stated that the refinisher will do all the stuff for you. Sometimes paint is removed by heat. Sometimes chemically. There are a number of options. And as for preparation of the frame in other ways, see below.

CHOICES — other than DIY

* Sprayed two-pack special enamels. (This is not a DIY project sort of chemistry. The paints are extremely toxic, and the spray environment is strictly controlled.
* An electrolytic process known as "powder-coating". There can be dubious results, so get recommendations. You may get only what you pay for.
* An automotive shop may undertake a respray using acrylic enamels. You may have to expedite the stripping yourself.
* Perhaps the last company on the planet to spray stove enamel (a baked, traditional enamel) is Argos in the UK. (See their website.) A very nice finish.

Before putting up the dosh for a pro painting job, you want to be sure all the bending and tooling that an old frame may require has been done before the new finish goes on. In the process, you may even discover that the frame is knackered and not worth refinishing.

Some usual stuff includes: "stringing" the frame to see if it all lines up and is true and straight (again see Randy's site). Aligning the stays and drop outs. Chasing the bottom bracket threads. Refacing the bottom bracket shell ( I have found just one that really needed it, and it was on a handmade frame!). Making sure the threads on the steering tube are clear and unbroken. Taking care of any extensive, internal corrosion in the tubing has to be either neutralized or removed.

Hmmm ... makes one think twice about vintage ... does it not? Well, maybe not.

And, as implied above, even a rattle-can paint job adds up. Abrasives, strippers, tapes, spray bottles, decals. And then the possibly dubious performance of the result. YMMV. Some members are quite satisfied with their canned finishes, but they will all say that preparation is vital. And curing the paint is an important factor.

There is this thread that you started ... but a LOT of other discussion is heaped up in the archives. Please chase it down.

So, best of luck. Show us some pics. Keep in touch. Don't go away. Don't give up. ENJOY!
Vitus 979, Simplon 4 Star, Gazelle Champion Mondial, Woodrup Giro, Dawes Atlantis

Last edited by Lenton58; 10-19-12 at 09:53 AM.
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