Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Project Z How to paint a bike frame the Davo way

Raw and ready

I have two projects going now. One is building a Cyclocross single speed which will be my pit bike later this year. I figure the time lost actually changing wheels is greater than just swapping bikes and riding a single speed. The other project is the painting of my old steel Jamis frame for my son who has taken an interest in cycling. His request was to have the bike custom painted in Orange (good taste) and Silver (eh). He also is correctly convinced that SRAM has the best feeling shifters on this planet. My garage has more spare parts than many bike shops and so I only needed a few odds to complete a bike for the young buck. The CXSS is still lacking pedals and a fork, so stay tuned on that one. I’m reluctant to start building until all the parts are in the house.

I’ve painted six bikes previously and I’m following my tried and true methodology on this one as well. First I sand the old paint. The sanding can range from roughing up the enamel to getting down to bare metal. On one of my paint jobs I used a paint stripper and that was like devil gel in a can. It was quick but messy and I still had to touch up the frame by hand. For some weird trad reason I prefer to sand it down with 100 grit sandpaper. I feel like I get to know the frame when I’m sanding the whole thing. Zach helped with this task. After sanding and just before priming I wipe it down with alcohol to make sure the surface is clean of grease and dust free.

Then I prime the frame to get an even coverage before applying the color. I have usually done blends, but since the orange and silver don’t have a ton of contrast, I thought it best to tape off after painting the primary color to enhance the contrast. I saw an Assos clothing ad where the bike had a generic paint pattern and I used that as my inspiration. I used Chevrolet engine orange paint so it is sturdy and a nice dark burnt orange. The color isn’t pumpkin, but a rich reddish orange. One of my top ten dream jobs would be naming colors and if it were up to me I would name this fire orange.

Orange is the fastest color.

After taping I apply the silver color. Then I remove the tape and apply the decals. I have found I can get custom decals from the any of several folks who sell decals on eBay. A little email correspondence and a week or so after money changes hands they show up in the mail. For Project Z the decals reflect the correct make and model (Jamis Eclipse) and frame size as well we the Reynolds 853 steel. I have taken some liberties and you shall see those when I complete the project and share photos.

Tape it baby

Silver over tape. No previews...

After the decals I apply the clear coat. This is where the artistry comes in. After applying a thin coat to seal the stickers, then I try for a thick coat. The thick coat results in a glossy finish. Too thick and it runs and drips ruining the look. Too thin and the finish has a satin look forever. The easiest tube to paint is one that is vertical, so I hook the frame to a bike stand and rotate it around and around as I paint one tube then another. Usually this means I clamp the seat tube in the middle and paint everything else and then put a seatpost in and attach the bike stand clamp to that and paint the seat tube.

Finally I use automobile paste wax to bring out the luster of the clear coat. The result is amazing considering it all comes from rattle cans.

Quick summary: Sandpaper 100 grit, alcohol and rags, metal spray primer, color, decals, spray clear coat, buff it, assemble it, ride it.

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