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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    311

    Using Enamel Paint On A Bike Frame

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    Some girls deal with disappointment in life by getting new hobbies, I deal with them by...attempting to build a bike. In the course of it, I've acquired an ugly as anything Giant NRS 3 frame. And of couse, I intend to strip and paint the frame to a nicer color and throw decals on to sexify it a little bit. So I'm wondering. Has anyone used enamel paint to hand paint a bike frame? Has anyone ever dismantled a frame with a rear shock before and put it back together successfully? What do I need to beware of for either? And also, for the painting part, are there any preferred methods to stripping off the old paint, priming the frame and painting it? ANY knowledge that can come my way is more than welcome. =D
    "My school is the doubt in your eyes." - Tito Mukhopadhyay

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    california
    Posts
    293
    i have not done any of this but i have a nice old bmx bike i plan to strip and repaint at some point. not sure when since i don't want to deal with chemicals around young kids and i spend my life taking care of my son and will soon have another little one. but i will pain her one of these days! i plan to have her as my "art bike" and use enamel paint pens to draw all over her as well.

    so i guess i don't have much input other than i am interested in this as well. i do know when i looked into it i found that if you get a frame that is aluminum you have to use a special primer for the paint to adhere to it properly. my frame is steel so it won't be an issue for me.
    Pi - 2010 Luna Orbit / brooks 68 imperial
    Fish - 2009 Marin Bear Valley/ brooks 68
    Trixie - BMX / to be decided

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Honestly I'd spend the money to have a pro do it. By the time you've built yourself a paint booth - which you really need to keep dust particles out of the finish - bought the appropriate respirator, paint gun and other supplies, I find it hard to believe that you'd save money doing it yourself. Maybe if you have a friend who does bodywork and can help you out...

    I totally understand the appeal of doing things oneself, but painting metal that you want to look nice is one thing that I'd leave to someone who knows what they're doing.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  4. #4
    Kitsune06 Guest
    Enamel painting is pretty easy but it comes down to preparation, preparation, preparation, and, oh! yeah! preparation. As far as dismantling the bike, that is for someone else to instruct on...

    The below is all about how to get a mirror finish, which may be more than you're looking for, but I assure you, pretty much anyone is capable of doing it with enough care.
    Bear in mind, my experience with this is mostly based on painting a few motorcycle tanks, saddlebags, a bike, and some car parts, but as long as you're careful and attentive to detail, your results should be good for a minimal price. If you're worried about frame integrity, feel free to strip it down, but if you think it's going to be alright structurally, I'd just sand it coarsely at 200-300 grit paper until it's a uniform 'grey'.

    Your 'paint booth' can be as simple as a refrigerator box in the garage or a proper paint booth rented from a local body shop. That's up to you. My painting was done with a respirator on my apartment balcony with the tank hung by a chain in front of a large box. YMMV. For acrylic enamel, you will want it to be less than 65% humidity and preferably over 70*F. Still days are favored because there will be less chance of poo blowing into your wet paint (though the thin coats you will be using dry very quickly).

    Use a tack cloth and wipe it down very with an automotive prep clean spray (smells like lighter fluid) this should dissolve any waxes, hand oils, etc. From here on out, it's rubber gloves if you want to touch it. Hit it with a primer, either a building primer that will fill in minor nicks/chips or a plain primer.
    If you REALLY want to be anal about a correct mirror finish, after a few coats of primer do a light dusty spray of a black or something that really contrasts with your primer. Wetsand with 600, 800, 1000, 1600, then 2000 grit sandpaper, with a drop or two of soap in your water basin to facilitate removal of debris. The contrasting dust spray will show you, after your wetsanding, where the low spots are, and from there you can use more filler or a 2nd coat if you need.

    Once you're SURE you have a perfectly smooth finish, you can start with your enamel. I used black automotive acrylic from Napa. Thin and easy does it, because drips are a PAIN to sand out. Too far from your frame and it'll look dusty. Too close and it'll orange peel. Practice and get a bit more paint than you expect to use.

    True automotive acrylic enamel takes a month to fully cure, but regular Rustoleum and the like are fairly well cured after a couple days (or whatever the cans say)

    If you're using automotive acrylic enamel, once you get the paint several sprays thick, alternating directions so you don't get stripes, you can start with wet sanding again (I know, it'll darn near break your heart) at 1000 this time, progress to 2000, then use an automotive rubbing compound, then a light cleaning/dehazing compound, and do a finish polish with Nufinish car wax. The result should be basically mirror like. You could clearcoat between the wet-sanding and rubbing compound if you like, but one of the beautiful things about an acrylic clearcoat is just about any scratches and dings buff out beautifully.


    A lot of this, though, can be skipped if you're really just looking to put some color down, and if you're shooting matte, then just strip the bike like you would have anyway, rough 'n scuff, primer, spray, and reassemble.

    Be sure to mask off ANYTHING that threads or anything, like boltholes, brake/shifter fittings, etc... you can remove it or mask it. When I painted my other bike she was just covered up in masking tape but I don't know that I should officially reccommend that. She was a little 'tankgirl' looking hoopty that I loved.

    IF you go the 'other' route and get it powdercoated, make sure you disassemble it and mask off anything you don't want to get paint in. Powdercoat is a P-A-I-N to try to clean out of threads, but powdercoat is also extremely durable, and if you're going the mtb route, you may want to go this direction.

    HTH!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    179
    Plastic wardrobes/closets also make for a decent DIY "paint booth" when turned upsidedown.
    2009 BMC Road Racer SL 01 / Specialized Ruby 155
    2007 LeMond Reno / Luna Chix Team Saddle
    1980-something Lotus Odyssey / Brooks Finesse
    1992 Bridgestone RB-2 / Brooks B-17 Imperial
    Nada Bike singlespeed / Brooks Team Pro in white

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Abq, NM
    Posts
    309
    I just did what Kitsun06 did to my old Panasonic. I stripped it and painted it. Looks pretty darn good, not perfect, but the gloss really sharpened it up. I took my time, bought paint on sale, and spend about $45 with a few stickers under the clear coat.
    Lookit, grasshopper....

  7. #7
    Kitsune06 Guest
    just need to be careful that the clearcoat doesn't eat the stickers. Not hard to do though, just pull the sticky stuff around the stickers (that material the sticker's punched out from) and put it on something, then hit it with a few blasts and wait to see if it curls. No worries after that!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    311
    Question,my friend recommended handpainting with enamel paint. As in with a paint brush and all. Is that even a good idea? I'm sussing out how much stripping and painting would cost at the shop. Sounds like I should just let them do the base painting and then decal something on....
    "My school is the doubt in your eyes." - Tito Mukhopadhyay

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Abq, NM
    Posts
    309
    Hand painting is certainly a theft deterrent. I suppose enough shiny top coat will make stuff look pretty good at 30 mph....
    Lookit, grasshopper....

  10. #10
    Kitsune06 Guest
    There's that saying... "Looks good at ten yards or ten mph"

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    311
    HEE!!! Well since I doubt I'll ever get to 30 mph, I'll go with decals or a spray job...
    "My school is the doubt in your eyes." - Tito Mukhopadhyay

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    california
    Posts
    293
    i read someplace around here on a thread that hand painted is not as much of a theft deterrent as people sometimes think. it won't hide it if your bike has spiffy components.

    that being said i think hand painted can look awesome the trick is not to try and make it look like a professional paint job but make it look fun and artistic and unique. when i get around to painting my bmx i plan to use enamel paint pens and draw all over the bike. i plan on the bike as my canvas and to paint it and draw on it to express myself.
    Pi - 2010 Luna Orbit / brooks 68 imperial
    Fish - 2009 Marin Bear Valley/ brooks 68
    Trixie - BMX / to be decided

 

 

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