Ol’ Paint no more

Bicycle frame after repainting

With the renewed rusting of the clean frame and the coming of the rainy season on the horizon, I was finally spurred to action yesterday. I gathered up all my supplies and carried the workstand from home to the workshop, and arranged for the Halfakid to join me there.

Man in mask and hat spraying bicycle frame
Halfakid lays down the primer

I took a few minutes working out how to set up the bike on the stand. I wrapped a wooden dowel in a shop towel and clamped that in the workstand, then lowered the frame’s seat tube over the dowel. Then I inserted the fork into the frame (cutting through the careful masking I’d done there). Finally I covered the workstand with some newspaper (Nana’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun) to protect it from the paint.

Neither the Halfakid nor I have any experience painting bicycles. The instructions were to shake the can for three minutes (which I cheerfully allowed the Halfakid to do), spray for three seconds before trying to paint the bike, and to spray at a distance of at least 20cm. The primer mostly went on OK. We got far too much in the seat cluster from a distance of about 3cm, so I just wiped it off and we did it again.

Bicycle frame in stand covered with white primer
Primed and ready

We kept finding spots we’d missed or where we could still see the steel frame through the primer. Finally the spray can gave out and spit out a few blobs in spite, right on the top tube.

Splattering of primer on bicycle tube
Think you’re smart, huh?

Fortunately, after we’d let the primer dry for two hours, everything was smooth — even the splatters. So no need to sand it down and try again. (Anyway, we didn’t have any more primer.)

The instructions for the color were identical, except the spray distance is 5-12cm — much closer. Again I handed the can to the Halfakid and he shook it for three minutes. Then we tackled the frame. Unfortunately, we’d both forgotten the instruction to spray off to the side for three seconds, before spraying the bike. For the first second or so the can spewed out a stream of gunk onto the drop tube and head tube.

Painted bicycle frame showing splattering from spray can
That’ll buff out?

I told the Halfakid not to worry about it, that I would wait for the paint to dry, sand it down and try again. After spraying off to the side for three seconds, we continued. The paint — Battersea from spray.bike — went on very well despite the two monkeys handling the rattle-cans. Despite our best efforts it did not drip or bubble or orange peel. (Unfortunately it’s sold out now, but I have another can!)

Spray painting a bicycle forkSpray painting a bicycle fork
Tuning this fork to a perfect pitch

As with the primer, we kept finding spots we’d missed, where the white primer was showing through. We’d just spray the area again, often changing position as the wind swirled around us, and once again the paint would go down smoothly and not run or bubble up.

Color paint sprayed onto bicycle frame over primer
Smooth, baby!

After perhaps 15 minutes of spraying, we left the bike to dry. I waited the recommended two hours before moving it into the workshop for the night.

Bicycle frame after repainting
Ol’ Paint in new colors

This morning, sans Halfakid, I had a second go at the bike. The splattered areas sanded out very quickly, and after another coat of paint it’s all perfect. I found a number of areas we’d missed the first time around and gave them another shot. I have no idea how professional bike painters make sure they get every last spot. The rear triangle is particularly challenging — towards the end yesterday I was touching an already painted bit every time I tried to get another shot in at a different area.

After today’s touch-up, I left the bike to dry outside for more than two hours. Then I took it into my office to continue drying overnight. I brought the workstand home today, and I’ll bring the bike home tomorrow. There’s rain in the forecast Saturday, and that may be our chance for the final assembly.

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