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Using CarboLift to strip carbon fiber

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Using CarboLift to strip carbon fiber

Old 05-26-16, 05:23 AM
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eastbay71
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Using CarboLift to strip carbon fiber

I bought a '90 TVT92 from an eBay seller in Hungary. When it arrived I found that the FD clamp had been overtightened at some point slightly crushing the seat tube. I didn't want to keep the frame but it was too expensive to return it so I came to an agreement with the seller to split the costs. He refunded me half the buy it now price and shipping. The bike had been badly repainted but I wanted to see if I could use the fork on my CT3000. It would need to be stripped and repainted.
I searched on the interwebs and came across a product called CarboLift thats made to strip paint from carbon fiber. I couldn't find many reviews. I did find one not so glowing review but it had been commented on by someone at CarboLift saying they had reformulated and asking the reviewer to give it another try. I decided to give it a shot. The stuff is not cheap. Their standard size bottle cost $55 delivered from Canada to California. After ordering the stuff I sent an email to their contact address and asked for any tips they could give me. They responded asking for my phone number but never returned the call. After it arrived I downloaded the instructions and tried to follow them as closely as possible. Here are my results so far;

Here is the part I'm stripping. They recommend sanding with a purple scotchbrite pad first. I had green ones so used those.


The instructions said to apply a thin coat and wait 30 minutes


After about 20 minutes the paint started to bubble


After that you're supposed to re-apply the stripper and wrap the work in cling film. I used a trash bag. the directions say you should try to keep the temp between 75-90F so I set the piece on top of a lighting transformer and let it sit. You can let it sit for up to 24 hours but I could see the whole thing bubbled up after about an hour. I gave it another 2 hours and then opened it up.


After about 5 minutes of scrubbing with a green scotchbrite pad and water you could see clearly that this fork used to be on Jeff Gordon's NASCAR or possibly the bike was originally a Greg LeMond TdF replica.


The carbon fiber weave below the paint was starting to become visible.


Ready for another application.


Now that we're down to factory paint I expected the process to get harder and I was correct. After 30 minutes wait time there was very little bubbling in the factory paint but the blue tinted clearcoat at the top did start to budge.


I've wrapped it up tight in plastic again and set it back on the warm transformer. This time I will let it go much longer unless I see some significant bubbling.

So far I would say the stuff works as described. I got it on myself a couple times while working with it and it didn't burn like normal paint stripper does. It didn't seem to have any smell either but I'm practically smell blind so I'm not the best judge. There were no fumes to bother my eyes or make me cough and sneeze though. I'll follow up tomorrow and show you guys how the second application went. At this rate I would expect to need 2 bottles if I were going to strip an entire bike. That seems a little pricey to me but for the right frame I may do it.
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Old 05-26-16, 08:16 AM
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interesting but not so much a burning issue (yet) for most of us C&Vers who own little CF stuff.
Seems they came up with a formula that will attack paint but leave the resin (polyester?) that binds the carbon fabric alone. is there any info in an MSDS that sheds some light on the chemistry?
Has anybody experimented with 3M Safe Stripper or similar water-based strippers on a broken CF part to see what happens?
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Old 05-26-16, 08:34 AM
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I admire your willingness to experiment, but can't help asking: If you were going to repaint anyway, why bother stripping down to naked CF? Why not lightly sand existing paint smooth and re-coat?
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Old 05-26-16, 08:46 AM
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That stuff works quite slowly.......24 hours for the first application, wrapped in plastic??
Most in this forum who restored C&V CF bikes use just a sanding method to get the finish off, usually clear coats but I can see why you cosine red this stripper as you have multiple color paint coats on the frame......
Keep us posted on how it goes as I am considering stripping and refinishing a Trek OCLV frame in the future....
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Old 05-26-16, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by unworthy1 View Post
interesting but not so much a burning issue (yet) for most of us C&Vers who own little CF stuff.
Seems they came up with a formula that will attack paint but leave the resin (polyester?) that binds the carbon fabric alone. is there any info in an MSDS that sheds some light on the chemistry?
Here is a link to the MSDS. https://eco-lifting.com/wp-content/up...olift_MSDS.pdf


Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I admire your willingness to experiment, but can't help asking: If you were going to repaint anyway, why bother stripping down to naked CF? Why not lightly sand existing paint smooth and re-coat?
My original goal with this project was to see if I could just expose the original paintwork below the poor quality respray. After some searching this product seemed to have to have best potential to do that. I bought the CarboLift before I saw the frame and realized I didn't want to use it. Then I decided to see if I could strip the fork to the bare carbon fiber weave to match my Miyata. My surgically repaired shoulder is already sore from the scotchbrite work I've been doing so sanding would have not been a choice for me.

Since I'm not planning on using the frame I may try a standard paint stripper like Klean-Strip on it to see how it affects the resin. It could be that this product is completely un-necessary.

Last edited by eastbay71; 05-26-16 at 08:26 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-26-16, 08:35 PM
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I took the plastic off after about 16 hours to see ow it was progressing. Most of the fork crown is bare to the resin now with no damage to the resin itself. The tough factory paint hasn't bubbled but it is noticebly grittier and anywhere there was a chip or a crack in the paint the stripper seems to have gotten down to the base. Maybe I should have used a more aggressive abrasive after I cleaned off the first layer of paint. Its looking promising so I applied another coat. If I can get all the original paint off I'll spray it with a 2K clearcoat to get that nice shine back.

Here is what it looked like after the wrap was removed


After a little scrubbing



Chips allowed the stripper to get all the way to the base in some areas

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Old 05-26-16, 11:46 PM
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hmmm, I'm a little skeptical of the cosmetically enhanced MSDS provided by the company that sells it, I'd like to see one from a neutral party but online searching turns up only this one. If it's reliable info, seems the active ingredient is 5% hydrogen peroxide...surprised that's an effective paint remover, but...looks like it can be.
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Old 05-27-16, 02:01 AM
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@unworthy1 I've worked in industry for over 25 years. No company provides neutral party MSDS and there is very little standardization. Maybe that will change with the recent changes to toxic chemical regulations.
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Old 05-27-16, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by eastbay71 View Post
Since I'm not planning on using the frame I may try a standard paint stripper like Klean-Strip on it to see how it affects the resin. It could be that this product is completely un-necessary.
Interesting winter project: use sections of the scrap frame to conduct unspeakable experiments on. Various mechanical and chemical paint removal methods to characterize their impact on the base carbon/resin layer. Post results. Maybe even find friends and neighbors who will give you a wee bit of the various paint strippers they have on the shelf. Reminds me of the racks of paint samples you sometimes see out in the sun and weather - various compounds on the same base to measure durability. You can even tape off sections of a seat stay in order to test 3 or 4 methods on the one stay. Go for it Inspector Gadget.
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Old 05-27-16, 09:00 AM
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Originally Posted by eastbay71 View Post
@unworthy1 I've worked in industry for over 25 years. No company provides neutral party MSDS and there is very little standardization. Maybe that will change with the recent changes to toxic chemical regulations.
That makes sense: I used to work at a Co. that had an online account that we downloaded all the MSDS we ever wanted and they all looked consistent and 'official' so i got this mistaken impression there was some gov. agency distributing them...thanks for clarifying.
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Old 05-28-16, 03:41 AM
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Thread Update; I let it sit for another 16 hours wrapped in plastic at about 85F and when I opened it up the paint was pretty soft. It didn't just slough off but I was able to scrub all the remaining paint off with a scotchbrite pad. I think thats how this product really works. You don't get the dramatic bubbling of a convential stripper. Its more of a softening that allows you to safely strip off the paint. But it does take some elbow grease. It took about an hour and a half to scrub off the remaining paint. One of the things I was concerned about when stripping the paint was exposing the carbon fiber weave causing it to fray possibly making the fork unusable. That did not happen so I'm pretty happy. Overall I'm not sure how many people would want to use this product. My number 1 complaint would be the price, followed by the manufacturers lack of support or even to respond to the emails I sent. I think they should also sell the stuff in a bigger bottle. But if you have something you want to strip really carefully this may be the right stuff for you. It did do what it said it would. It lifted the paint off the carbon fiber without damaging the base material. I would want to try some other products like the 3M safe strip mentioned earlier in the thread before recommending it to anyone. I'm also going to go ahead with some standard strippers on my frame so I'll update this thread when I've done that.





After the scrubbing was done.



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Old 05-28-16, 11:47 AM
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in addition to the commonly available (in the US, anyway) 3M Safer Stripper and CitraStrip that I have used on "plastic" paints so MIGHT be attacking to the CF resin, there are those sold as "poultice" or "blanket" strippers such as Peelaway 1 and 7 popular in the UK and particularly good for really heavy multiple coats of housepaint. I have no idea about the active ingredients in this stuff, which you spread on with a spatula and cover with the "blanket" they supply, then wrap with Saran plastic to extend the working time. All the paint sticks to the blanket (in theory) and you throw the whole thing away, simplifying cleanup. They sell a 'trial pot' of both formulas so you can test first (which they stress to do), they sell this in the US but harder to find than the other stuff.
https://www.decoratingwarehouse.co.uk...a782232a0c.pdf
Another one you might test are the (relatively new) soy-based strippers, sold as environmentally friendly...I have yet to try any cause they are pricey and I still have plenty of the others back stocked.
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Old 07-22-16, 01:53 PM
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I know the thread is getting old but I'm very curious about this product and might want to use it to strip original paint off of an old carbon Specialized Roubaix. The last picture you posted is of the completely stripped fork and it appears that there is some removal of carbon at the crown – or is that just the photo creating that appearance? I’m also in the east bay, btw.
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Old 07-22-16, 03:00 PM
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If the problem was in the clamp area --- you could have sleeved it internally then touched up the carbon outer layer

easy fix, but may add a few oz.
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Old 07-22-16, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
I admire your willingness to experiment, but can't help asking: If you were going to repaint anyway, why bother stripping down to naked CF? Why not lightly sand existing paint smooth and re-coat?
My thoughts exactly.
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Old 07-22-16, 03:52 PM
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Interesting, as I have an older carbon frame that someone else stripped and cleared, but it's so nice you really can't tell.
It does give me a $55 starting point and guidance if I decide to buy a real ugly duckling version of the same bike or a Y-Foil
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Old 07-22-16, 04:54 PM
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If it's reliable info, seems the active ingredient is 5% hydrogen peroxide...surprised that's an effective paint remover, but...looks like it can be.
Hydrogen Peroxide is a really strong oxidizing agent.
When putting a recycle paper plant on line, a HP salesman demonstrated the power of the stuff. We bought it at 70% and diluted it to 50%. At 70%, the salesman spilled a few drops onto a work glove, that he had placed on the concrete floor of the Recycle Plant. With-in seconds the glove burst into flame.

That stuff was always transported through the mill inside a double pipe. One pipe inside of another. If a leak occurred in the inner pipe, the outside pipe chamber recognized the change in pressure, and shut the pumping system down.

INcidentally, the HP we cleanse a wound with is 0.03% strong. Not sure I would want that stuff anywhere near one of my bicycles. But that is just me.
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Old 09-09-16, 02:38 PM
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Thanks for the writeup.

I snagged a badly abused, and repainted CADEX frame yesterday.

There is also a bottle of CarboLift for sale on Craigslist.

I just have to decide how much money I want to put into the frame. It might make a great "beater", and something I could experiment with a bit. RACKS?
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Old 09-09-16, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Thanks for the writeup.

I snagged a badly abused, and repainted CADEX frame yesterday.

There is also a bottle of CarboLift for sale on Craigslist.

I just have to decide how much money I want to put into the frame. It might make a great "beater", and something I could experiment with a bit. RACKS?
I should be getting onto phase 2 of this project sometime this winter. I've decided to try to salvage the frame. The seat tube had been crushed by overtightening a FD clamp. I'm going to try to use some fiberfix to patch up the damage and use a new SRAM 1X drivetrain on it to eliminate the front derailleur. So I'll need to strip off the previous owners really poorly applied rattle can job and the base coat applied by TVT.

Valu Home Centers Watch FiberFix Drive A Car With A Duct Tape Roll Cage Off A Cliff!
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Old 10-05-18, 10:10 AM
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Originally Posted by eastbay71 View Post
I should be getting onto phase 2 of this project sometime this winter. I've decided to try to salvage the frame. The seat tube had been crushed by overtightening a FD clamp. I'm going to try to use some fiberfix to patch up the damage and use a new SRAM 1X drivetrain on it to eliminate the front derailleur. So I'll need to strip off the previous owners really poorly applied rattle can job and the base coat applied by TVT.
What was the outcome with removing the paint from the frame and using fiberfix? Don't leave us hanging!
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