advice on frame damage needed!! (cross post)
Well, this is a sad moment for me. This weekend I noticed some "anomalies" in the top tube of my beloved Rocky Mountain Element. The paint had been scratched long ago (probably from a crossed-up brake lever), and I just noticed that the scratch has become alarmingly deep, maybe about .5mm. I think the aluminum is exposed, and I'm just about positive that it wasn't always this way. Even more alarmingly, surface of the tube about 2" fore and aft of this scratch is now what I would describe as bumpy. There are hairline cracks in the clearcoat all around the area, although they don't appear to be actual cracks in the frame (yet). All of this damage is on the TOP of the tube; I've inspected the bottom of the tube, and can't see any damage or weirdness. Also, this is pretty much mid-span in the tube.
This is a pretty impossible thing to photograph, but I've done my best. So my question is, am I screwed? My five-year frame warranty is up, and although I'm lusting after a new bike, cash is a little short right now. I'd hoped to get another good year out of this bike. On the other hand, I'm also not psyched about the prospect of visiting the emergency room with half a bike frame embedded in my privates.
Any advice would be MUCH appreciated!
Drinkin' the 29er KoolAid
Well I'm no expert, but I had similar blemishes in the finish of my (R.I.P.) 2001 Instinct frame. Don't worry, that's frame's death was not related to those blemishes. In the case of my Instinct it was around where the cable guides were welded to the top tube and because that part of the frame was only clear coated it was very obviously corrosion of the underlying aluminum. I think what happens is any crack or damage to the paint allows water to seep in and thus starts this corrosion process. Once this has started I think you're looking at stripping and repainting that area if you want to halt it. My feeling is this probably not a serious problem other than being unsightly, but I suppose if it went on long enough it could weaken the tubbing but that part of the frame is probably not under a great deal of stress.
If in doubt have you dealer look at it and contact Rocky to get an opinion.
That doesn't look good. Especially the "lumpy" part, that would tend to indicate some sort of corrosion under the powder coat. Is this a TO Scandium frame or standard aluminium?
I've had scratches or chips to bare aluminium, but I've never had a problem with corrosion under the paint before. The other possibility is that the lumpiness is actually just the powder coat lifting where stress cracks under the paint have broken the powder coat loose. That's actually not an improvement is the severity of the problem.
On the plus side, top tube failures usually happen under compression and will start to make lots of noise as the crack propagates and the two broken surfaces work against each other before it fails completely. How far forward of the shock mount is that scratch?
I don't know whether Rocky has a crash replacement plan, but it might be worth checking.
Thanks a lot for the advice. I'll take it in to the bike shop, but I'm not sure I trust them entirely to do anything other than try to sell me a new bike. I like the idea of stripping/sanding in order to inspect it, so I'll try that next & report back. No word yet on crash replacement.
The scratch ("gouge" is probably a better term) is about 2" in front of the shock mounting gusset, about 4-5" total in front of the actual shock mounting bolt. This is the aluminum version of the Element, which makes me wonder how thick the tubing actually is in this area. Glad to know I'll hear a failure coming, hopefully soon enough to jump out of the way!
Get it to a Dealer
I'd say get it to your nearest Rocky Mountain dealer and get them to have a look at it.
If you do ride it keep an eye on the area and see if it gets any worse.
opiate of the masses
I asked about your bike at work today (I work at Rocky) and I got an idea of what it might be. Sometimes with powder coat when the coating itself has been worn through in one area, oil or other contaminates can seep under the coating and cause that bubbling effect that is on your bike. It shouldn't actually be any problem at all for your frame but it does suck when something pretty gets messed up. I can't give you any for sure answer without seeing the bike in person but this is a likely reason. For the record, I'm a Rocky employee in the paint department but I do not speak for Rocky Mountain... I can only offer my oppinion as a forum member.
chips & bier
@budgie: I have exactly this same effect on my Cannondale commuter. I have seen 'Dales where the corrosion has gone right through the tubing, but that may have to do with all the salt they dump on the roads in winter. I'd suggest eventually removing the paint (at least locally) and repainting it.
Originally Posted by opiateESP
@opiateESP: I have a question regarding paint, could I PM/email you about this?
opiate of the masses
sure, feel free!
Originally Posted by eric
I took the bike in to my RM dealer, and their take on the situation was that corrosion had occurred under the paint, but it was unlikely to have compromised the frame. They also suggested I sand/scrape off the paint in the affected area to inspect it, but since I know a good local powdercoater, I might just have them beadblast the whole thing. Then I can get a pimpin' new paint job -- their prices are pretty decent.
I guess that would mean I'd have to pull all the bushings.... anyone done this before? Got a race coming up in a month, so I'll probably put it off until then, now that I know it's not an urgent situation.
Thanks for all the comments...
The bushing removal is a piece of cake although you have to watch the flat head bolts in the chain stays, they aren't a super hard steel, it's easy to round out the allen socket if the allen wrench is not a solid tight fit, and it's a good opportunity to put some new bushings in. You can likely order replacement decals from Rocky.