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Polishing Stainless Steel Dropouts on a painted frame

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Polishing Stainless Steel Dropouts on a painted frame

Old 05-22-13, 06:47 PM
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moleman76
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Polishing Stainless Steel Dropouts on a painted frame

Semi-rhetorical question:

How hard is it to polish stainless steel dropouts in a painted frame?

I'm about to get a frame which has stainless steel dropouts, but like the rest of the frame they're painted. I'm thinking it would be nice to have slightly shiny tips on the forks and at the rear. From looking at custom builders' websites, I see that builders who polish before painting charge handsomely for the feature, but at least one had a rather minimal charge for polishing after painting (might just apply to the very tips where the lock nuts and quick release clamps make contact).

So, am I crazy to think about this? Obviously there would be an interruption of the painting at the now-polished dropout (perhaps that could be detailed with contrasting paint to re-seal it), and it does sound like a lot of work with a succession of sandpaper grits and then a dremel or other high-speed polishing tool - but something sort of like the chromed "socks" on bike frames, as in days of olde, would be nice.

Anyone ever do this? How did it work out?
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Old 05-22-13, 07:58 PM
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unterhausen
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my current road bike has painted stainless dropouts. I started to try to polish them when the bike was still bare, and decided life is too short. Next bike is going to get them polished one way or another. I don't see how it would be easier to do with the paint on. Fraught with danger of ruining the single most expensive part of most frames.
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Old 05-23-13, 07:49 AM
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fietsbob 
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you should know the basics... it's an awful lot of rubbing with ever finer abrasives..
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Old 05-23-13, 08:52 AM
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I think most SS frames with exposed shiny bits (lugs, dropouts, silver-on's, etc) have had those parts polished to a high sheen before the paint work was done. I don't do any SS, so I don't now how, but can hypothesize.

There are brush on, peel off latex coatings one can put on the shiny bits that would keep the paint from sticking to them. Then after the paint is fully dried or hardened (chemically or in the oven), the latexed areas could just be peeled off to re-expose the shiny bits. The latex is probably put on with a pin-striping brush. Would bet that a bit of work with an exacto knife would still be needed to execute... Rethinking this, could not one just put on some masking tape and trim the edges carefully with the same exacto knife before spraying??

/K
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Old 05-23-13, 11:00 AM
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Polishing SS before painting is the way to go. I'm still learning the techniques and the patience. I work from 100 grit to 2000 grit in as many increments as I can find and then go to the buffing wheel. Using the correct buffing compounds is critical if you want to get a mirror shine. I do black then green then white. I'm still learning about the buffing though. Use a different cloth wheel for each compound. Now, for polishing an already painted bike, you must protect the paint. Masking tape trimmed carefully with sharp razor blades might work but experiment first. I have tried touching up after one of my bikes was painted and burned the paint when the little Dremel wheel slipped and hit the paint for just a moment.
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Old 05-24-13, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
you should know the basics... it's an awful lot of rubbing with ever finer abrasives..
That's what I've gathered from the how-to links.

The frame is a Rawland Stag. Comes fully painted (the pre-shipping teaser/update photos show a small dull/shiny partial circle at the actual wheel contact points), so all of the "polish before painting" messages don't apply to me. The frame was painted at the factory.

I don't think I'll have the patience to do the painted-to-polished conversion before starting to build the bike, but it might be a winter project. I could see starting with the fork dropouts since there is less territory to deal with there, masking and over-protecting the fork blades and not trying to remove paint or polish on the portion of the dropout casting which returns to the fork blade, then outlining the "waterline" of the dropout lug with black or silver to match the graphics on the tubes. Maybe just take the polishing to a dull level instead of full chrome-like shiny.

Although http://www.llewellynbikes.com/HTML/F...za_finish.html the mirror-finish look, properly executed, makes me drool.

Thanks for all the comments so far.
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Old 05-24-13, 03:25 PM
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I think it's a recipe for disappointment. Round things can be polished with sandpaper on a sanding stick, but the flat areas are not that flat on most dropouts. So you probably have to use some kind of buff, endangering your paint. The likelihood is that you will expose primer at the edge, and I doubt you will be happy about how it comes out.
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