Bare / naked steel frame finish. Advice wanted.

Evil Laugh
Evil Laugh Posts: 1,412
edited March 2010 in Workshop

Have got myself a nice NOS columbus steel frame.

I'm wanting to strip this to the bare metal and give it a protective coat.

I've done a fair amount of research on this but wanted to see if any of you had done this before and had any advice before I go ahead.

I was thinking of using armourtex to heat strip and clear powdercoat so any specific experience of them doing this work would be especially useful.

I'm aiming for something like this.... ... queur.html

or this



  • lae
    lae Posts: 555
    It won't look like the second one unless you polish it. And if you polish it, the clearcoat won't adhere and will flake and chip quite easily. Plus if the lacquer starts to lift, you'll have to strip it all off and re-lacquer it. If you want a mirror finish, it might be easier (but not cheaper) to get the whole frame chromed.

    If you want a finish like the first one, I'd just get it painted silver and clearcoated - that's what it looks like anyway! Armourtex do 'metallics' but it's actually just a clear lacquer with sparkle in it, and I think it looks pants. Go to your local car body shop and see what they think - the finish will be ten times better than powdercoated 'metallic' paint, and still very tough.

    Alternatively, you could leave the frame in bare steel (sandblasted, sanded, brushed with wire wool (gives a nice effect) or polished) and wipe it down every so often with a rag dipped in boiled linseed oil (or any oil, really, but boiled linseed is what the rat look car/motorbike people prefer). The steel will tarnish slightly and give a cool patina which gets more intense the less you oil/re-polish it, but the frame won't instantly dissolve like some people would have you believe. It's fine if you keep your bike in your house or in a warm dry garage and only ride it in the dry, but I wouldn't do it to a regular rider, unless you're serious about maintaining the finish.

    I have an old French chef's knife that is bare polished steel and it needs oiling every day, because it gets wet when I wash it. I can live with that, so I think a dry-only bike is manageable.
  • Evil Laugh
    Evil Laugh Posts: 1,412

    I was hoping to have a more polished finish like the fbm bikes. They polish and clearcoat theirs, I wonder how they manage it?

    This picture is much clearer, sparkle aside, that's what I'm after.



    Off to armourtex tomorrow to see what they say anyway as I'm visiting someone at the hospital nextdoor.
  • lae
    lae Posts: 555
    It'll work fine, but the clearcoat just won't be as tough as it would be over paint. Just don't drop it!

    I'd like to know what armourtex say, I'm tempted by a brushed steel frame now.
  • Evil Laugh
    Evil Laugh Posts: 1,412
    Yeah they said it will work but they won't polish themselves, only blast and clearcoat. £25 for each process. Think I'm gonna strip and polish myself and let them coat it.
  • lae
    lae Posts: 555
    Cool, post pics of how it turns out. Polishing a whole frame is gonna be a pain, but it'll be worth it!
  • Having just done this process myself, a word of advice:

    I would honestly just take the whole bike apart and take it to someone who will sandblast all the paint off. I couldn't do that because I didn't want to risk any damage to the carbon stays on my frame. So I had to do it the long way with aircraft stripper, steel wool, and a lot of time. Sandblasting will also allow them to get in the nooks and crannies where you may have a hard time getting steel wool or wire brushes to scrape the paint off. All in all, it'll be less time consuming too. I've been without a bike since Mid-October... Hoping to get the repaint finished in the next two or three weeks.

    But that's just my opinion. Good luck getting the polish you want!
    -The Cowboy

    "Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway." -John Wayne

    "Converting calories into gas, a bicycle gets the equivalent of 3000 miles per gallon." ~Bill Strickland
  • chrome the whole frame.

    anyone know if I could chrome my carbon frame to make it look like steel?
  • lae
    lae Posts: 555
    @ cowboy. The guy has a steel frame, so a few coats of nitromors will have the paint bubbling off. Then a scrub with a wire brush and wire wool will get all the paint off in an afternoon. Polishing it though will take quite a long time.

    @ banana - Yeah you can get chrome effect paint (not the crap from a halfords rattle can though, that's just silver paint basically). It costs an absolute packet though. I used to be a painter and it would take a dozen coats of this very thin horrible watery stuff to get a decent finish, and we were using the cheaper variety of paint which is apparently easier to work with!

    I'm now doing a degree in vehicle design and I got quoted on a 1/20 scale model (a bit bigger than a scalextric car) of one of my designs - £40 for the cheaper stuff or £75 for the proper mirror-finish one! To do a bike would be a few hundred, probably.

    But with CF's smooth seamless curvaceous frames, I can't help but think that it would look absolutely stunning, like liquid metal :shock:
  • Evil Laugh
    Evil Laugh Posts: 1,412
    It's ok I'm used to stripping paint. I've got loads of tools and tricks for awkward spaces and a lot of time off work still. I wanna be gentler on the stripping to hopefully make the polishing a bit easier. Hopefully the frame arrives today and I'll start a build diary thing for those interested.
  • lae
    lae Posts: 555
    Definitely interested!

  • But with CF's smooth seamless curvaceous frames, I can't help but think that it would look absolutely stunning, like liquid metal :shock:

    Thanks for the info! Yeah! Thts the idea: my frame is a TT one with smooth curves and it would look amazing I bet!
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    Chrome looks nice on steel - I had my chainstays done, but it does make it prone to corrosion - I had to have them replaced after only a couple of years, and that was on a bike I looked after too !

    Not bothered with chrome since.
  • lae
    lae Posts: 555
    ^ you had to replace the whole chainstays after just a couple of years?

    I think I would've questioned the quality of the chrome plater's work. I've got bike parts from the 50s that are chromed and still not rusty. I've had cars from the 60s with 40-year-old chrome bumpers that are fine and they lived outside!

    Chrome is slightly porous and it does need waxing to protect it, but it should last much longer than a couple of years, especially on a bike presumably kept in a dry garage/shed!
  • Evil Laugh
    Evil Laugh Posts: 1,412
    Right, I stripped the frame and have started a thread for it with pics etc here... ... t=12690338

    I stripped it very gently with nitromors and very fine wire wool as the steel underneath had a lovely brushed finish which was exactly the sort of thing I was after.

    It took a whole day to strip and I used a whole £7 pot of nitromors but it was worth it. What took the time was soaking all the fiddly areas enough times so that I didn't have to use anything too abrasive on the frame. If you soak enough you can just brush the old paint off with paint brush used to apply the stripper.

    The BB area was a total bitch and needed a lot of scrubbing with wire wool. I think sandblasing would have ruined the look of the metal.

    Going to see if armourtex will clearcoat it tomorrow. There's some lovely areas of the frame that reflect light in an oily rainbow way, if you get what I mean, that I hope will be preserved by the clearcoat, silmilar to the dark areas on the Sword bike pictured above.

    I'm delighted so far. My shitty Iphone camera pics don't do it justice at all. It gleams in the flesh. Lovely.
  • lae
    lae Posts: 555
    Nitromors works a bit better if you really slather it on, then wrap it up tightly in clingfilm and leave it for a few hours.

    Looks really good btw. Nice fillet brazing!