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My Steel Bicycle Finishing Experience - A Photo Timeline

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My Steel Bicycle Finishing Experience - A Photo Timeline

Old 03-12-16, 07:28 PM
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PHOTOS ADDED - My Steel Bicycle Finishing Experience - A Photo Timeline

Below is a photo timeline of my recent bicycle finishing process. The bicycle is not painted, per se, aside from the fork. Instead, I used a blackening patina to preserve the intrinsic qualities of the raw steel, while giving it a much more refined look.

The frame is a custom steel CX frame fabricated by Michael Catano of Humble Frameworks. Love the aesthetic of his frames - especially the curved seatstays.

Enjoy and let me know your thoughts!

UPDATE: complete build photos added on page 2

1. How frameset arrived


2. After sanding & misc surface prep


3. After initial coat of blackening patina


4. Immediately after application of 2nd coat. You see that the metal turn very cloudy, which is the chemical reaction taking place. You can see the rag laying on the ground that I used to apply the patina. At this point I rigorously scrubbed the brass fillets to remove the patina and maintain the raw brass look. Otherwise, the fillets would have resulted in a very dark brown finish.




5. After 2nd coat of patina


6. Detail before applying metal oil.


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Old 03-12-16, 07:28 PM
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continued...

7. Detail after coat of metal oil. You can see that the oil darkens the finish a bit. I used the oil to penetrate, seal and protect the patina.






8. "cured," with decals applied



9. Detail after spraying matte clear coat



10. Finished product
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Old 03-12-16, 07:46 PM
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Nicely done.
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Old 03-12-16, 07:47 PM
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That looks great. Wow.
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Old 03-12-16, 08:25 PM
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I really like that a lot.
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Old 03-12-16, 08:26 PM
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Is this process similar to cold blueing a firearm?
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Old 03-12-16, 08:31 PM
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Originally Posted by chedarhead View Post
Is this process similar to cold blueing a firearm?
Yes, exactly the same, aside from the metal oil and clear coat obviously. Can also be applied hot to achieve different effects.
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Old 03-12-16, 08:59 PM
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Never heard of that before. Well done.
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Old 03-12-16, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
Never heard of that before. Well done.
I hadn't either, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Worst case scenario would be that I sand off the patina or paint over it. Really pleased with it...doubt I'll ever see anybody else do something similar.

On that note, anyone, feel free to reach out to me to do something similar with a project of your own!
email m.brett.bowers@gmail.com
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Old 03-12-16, 09:50 PM
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I have never heard of this being done to a bike, very unique and quite honestly very nice looking! Nice touch showing the brazing too! This reminds me that I had a few guns in my basement and had some moisture problems and they got some rust pretty bad, might have to be re bluing them. I'm curious how it holds up with the clear coat. For some reason you never see steel clear coated, always some kind of painted finish.
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Old 03-12-16, 10:21 PM
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Originally Posted by T Stew View Post
I have never heard of this being done to a bike, very unique and quite honestly very nice looking! Nice touch showing the brazing too! This reminds me that I had a few guns in my basement and had some moisture problems and they got some rust pretty bad, might have to be re bluing them. I'm curious how it holds up with the clear coat. For some reason you never see steel clear coated, always some kind of painted finish.
I don't think you want to be clear coating firearms. Just reblue and keep well oiled. Invest in some moisture-absorbing packs to keep in storage with your guns. Know Browning sells them.
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Old 03-12-16, 11:00 PM
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Congratulations on a drop dead beautiful finish. Years ago when I used to manufacture tools, we sent many out for a black oxide finish. Sometimes, the combination of alloy and temper makes the steel resist and instead of black it comes out reddish, unless they "cook" the hell out of it.

Once they delivered a finished batch, and in bright light it was a rich chestnut brown. I really liked it and asked if they could duplicate that on a consistent basis and they nearly threw me out.

Anyway, a question and sort of a warning.

How did you get the decals to stick on the oil finish?
Also, these types of finishes do very well in conditions where oils and waxes are replenished, as from human hands. But they aren't very tolerant of weather or long term humidity, so take care of the frame.
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Old 03-12-16, 11:21 PM
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Now I'm wondering how a rust browned finish might look. The fillets would blend. Rust browned carbon steel has a pebbly or fuzzy feeling finish and might do best with wax. Could be interesting on the right frame.
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Old 03-12-16, 11:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bowermb View Post
I don't think you want to be clear coating firearms. Just reblue and keep well oiled. Invest in some moisture-absorbing packs to keep in storage with your guns. Know Browning sells them.
Oh, I did not mean to imply one should be clear coating a firearm. I mean you just don't see clear coated steel at all. But clear coating other metals like aluminum we see every day.
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Old 03-13-16, 12:08 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
How did you get the decals to stick on the oil finish?
Also, these types of finishes do very well in conditions where oils and waxes are replenished, as from human hands. But they aren't very tolerant of weather or long term humidity, so take care of the frame.
The finish isn't oil - it was just a step in the process. A certain amount of oil gets absorbed into the metal, and all the excess is wiped off. Additionally, the entire frame was thoroughly cleaned with lacquer thinner before applying decals and clear-coating. The clear coat I used is specifically made for application to raw metals - 2K acrylic urethane, 3 coats. UV, chemical and salt-air tolerant. The thing is bullet-proof.
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Old 03-13-16, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Now I'm wondering how a rust browned finish might look. The fillets would blend. Rust browned carbon steel has a pebbly or fuzzy feeling finish and might do best with wax. Could be interesting on the right frame.
Rust Never Sleeps on Sofia?s AWOL Touring Bike | The Radavist

FeO2 | Cycle EXIF
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Old 03-13-16, 01:32 AM
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Gorgeous! Love it. Giving me lots of ideas for a future project. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 03-13-16, 01:32 AM
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The Fe02 is closer to the dark reddish brown I had in mind, but that bike looks like it needed to be carded more thoroughly between treatments. A rust browned finish shouldn't look merely rusty and pitted. But it may not be feasible to get the same finish color and texture as a black powder gun on a bike using steel suitable for a bike frame. Or the folks who finished that bike may not have had enough time to do it properly. It can take weeks to complete a rust brown finish.
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Old 03-14-16, 11:54 AM
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I like your project here much better, petina is classy, rust is not lol. As long as the finish stays as such. I've polished up copper tubing before and clear coated. but the copper faded right under the clearcoat. It was more of an outside all the time thing though and I don't remember what I used for clear it was many years ago.
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Old 03-14-16, 12:07 PM
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Coolest. Finish. Ever.

Makes me want a custom frame just to be able to do something like it.


-Kedosto
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Old 03-14-16, 01:16 PM
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Looks good. About the only thing I'd have done differently is continue the curved seat stay motif by using curved fork blades.
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Old 03-14-16, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Looks good. About the only thing I'd have done differently is continue the curved seat stay motif by using curved fork blades.
That struck me too, but I figured this thread was about the finish, not the frame itself.

OTOH - rather than be consistent with curves/curved, I'd have gone with a curved blade fork and straight or reverse curved seat stays. But that's more a question of taste, not better and worse.
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Old 03-14-16, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
Looks good. About the only thing I'd have done differently is continue the curved seat stay motif by using curved fork blades.
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
That struck me too, but I figured this thread was about the finish, not the frame itself.

OTOH - rather than be consistent with curves/curved, I'd have gone with a curved blade fork and straight or reverse curved seat stays. But that's more a question of taste, not better and worse.
I don't want to speak for him, but I don't see any reason why Michael couldn't do something like that. Heck, he's probably done it before. He lets you spec what fork and construction type you want...I just happened to want a very simple, classic style.
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Old 03-14-16, 03:02 PM
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Gorgeous finish on the frame. Love it! I will admit that I find the glossy black handlebars and stem a bit.... out of place however. Maybe I'll come together with the full bike. Anyway, great job.
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Old 03-14-16, 03:39 PM
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A really different look, definitely not seen everyday. Great job and thanks for sharing.
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