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  1. #1
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    When to re paint aluminum frame?

    I admit it, I'm overly emotionally attached to my Santa Cruz Chameleon. I purchased it new in 1999, raced it in college, converted it to a single speed and it is still my favorite bike, 15 years later.

    Over the years the frame has sustained damage from the chain an other things hitting it.

    It's aluminum and based on the photos, how concerned should I be about corrosion? At what point should I strip the frame and recoat it, or do I even need to worry about that since it is aluminum and not steel?

    When to re paint aluminum frame?-ss-frame-1.jpgWhen to re paint aluminum frame?-ss-frame-2.jpg

  2. #2
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    The "damage" just looks like cosmetic wear and tear.
    For a 15 year old bike that has been ridden a lot, the paint looks fine and the chain slap is minimal.
    Ride it as is and don't worry about winning any beauty contests.
    However, you are riding a 15 year old frame.
    Depending on the type of riding you are doing and the amount of trail time that the frame has seen and will be seeing in the future, frame replacement may be a better investment than a repaint/recoat.
    Those frames last a long time though. Still lots of older SC frames out on the trails everyday.

  3. #3
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    Buy some paint thinner,4-5 rolls of Bounty,rubber gloves,300 grit sand paper,hit the auto parts store and find some body filler....take everything off the bike and clean it really good,fill in the rough spots,sand the hell out of it and clean again...hit home depot and buy some spray paint or hit up your local body shop and ask them how much to repaint the frame....I did this to my '99 FS,came out really nice but I practiced spraying on some pipe I had laying around just to make sure it came out good...Just an Idea I'm throwing out there

  4. #4
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    I see no NEED to repaint, I stripped and polished my aluminum frame and ride the hell outta it. Aluminum doesn't corrode like steel so bare spots are of no concern.

    If u want to repaint, auto body place will produce best results unless u have the skills and equip to do it yourself. Aluminum is difficult to paint vs most other materials.

    That being said, to strip the old paint:

    Aircraft paint stripper, chemical proof rubber gloves, plastic scraper, and green scratch pad or very very fine steel wool. Sanding with no less than 500grit paper.

    Self etching primer and paint of choice. Many of the primers will do small fill work for you. Rest easier for you to research procedures vs me try to explain. I'm yet to do on a bike frame cause already a difficult job before all the curves and bends etc of a frame.
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  5. #5
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    Aluminium doesn't need repainting, even though it is highly reactive this reactivity means that it oxidises immediately on contact with air. The miniscule layer of Al2O3 formed is a realtively hard, properly bonded, self repairing, water resistant anti corrosion coating. It's basically a naturally occurring anodisation process as such only anodising is any better at protecting Al frames. It does dissolve in moderately strong acids and alkalis though but this shouldn't really effect bike frames.
    Only repaint if you want to for aesthetics , no need to be concerned about corrosion.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies. I'll leave it as is. I'm to that point where anything I'd do to it (new wheels, or drivetrain especially) are a losing investment given the age of the frame. But I've spent more time in this frame than on my wife, so I have an unhealthy attachment.

  7. #7
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    One hears horror stories about people wearing through their frames with chain slap. I think it's worth wrapping any really high-wear spots.

    I also think if a bike is worth riding, it's worth maintaining. But if my old hardtail's suspension fork starts doing something dangerous, I may just stick a rigid on and call it a day.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  8. #8
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    When to re paint aluminum frame?

    id paint it, just for fun. why not
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  9. #9
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    No need to paint, but if you ever decide too, go see a powdercoater before you do anything. IME, best way to go, hands down. Usually surprisingly affordable, even including media blasting to remove the old paint, and you don't have to get stuck picking from whatever extra colors an auto body shop might have kicking around, as they're less likely to go mixing something up for such a small job.
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  10. #10
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    Check out the "raw aluminum" posts, it's a neat way to make an old bike special.

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