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  1. #1
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    Anyone interested in a "How to Paint Your Frame" video/article walk-through?

    I'm an automotive custom painter, and I've just gotten into the idea of building my own frame, so I've been crawling all over this section of the forum soaking up all the info I can find. What I've noticed though is that people don't seem to talk about paint or powdercoating very much. Obviously it's a big part of the whole frame project, but it seems many don't know how to do it themselves. There is a lot of info out there already, but not a lot if any directly related to bikes.

    Of course paint is my particular area of expertise, so I thought I'd ask... Would anyone be interested in a write-up and accompanying video? If so, is there any specific process you would like to see? I know people are usually receptive to how-to articles, but I wouldn't want to put the whole thing together here if a lot of people either aren't interested or if there is a better area or forum to put that kind of info.

    My idea is pretty simple - take a bare frame and work through prep, priming, base coat with multiple colors (logos), clear, and finishing.. showing each step along the way.

    What do you guys think?

  2. #2
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    You've left off the environmental regulations and safety issues, which are some of the biggest issues preventing the at-home builder from doing their own. It's not trivial. While your idea may be simple, I think you would be doing the readers a disservice making it seem so simple.

  3. #3
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    I can certainly go into the legal and safety end of things if that's what you guys would like to see.

    Safety is easy to cover. There are concerns of course, but beyond using basic PPE and constructing correct ventilation, there are no major hazards.

    For the environmental end, there are no legal concerns for the at-home builder or hobbyist here in the US. There may be local ordinances which dictate certain hours or days aerosolized paints may be used, or distances from roads or structures (rare), but nothing else preventing anyone from using even catalyzed automotive paints on personal projects at home. It's quite literally no different from spray painting your deck as far as the EPA is concerned. For the obvious environmental disposing of these excess chemicals after use, that can be covered as well. Again, that part is surprisingly easy.

    The process is in fact very simple, and is within reach of anyone who is capable of following basic how-tos and doing their own DIY work. Certainly frame builders are capable.

    I used to work for a major DIY paint and restoration material supplier (everyone who works on restoring old cars would know the company immediately), and I've done some on-camera work as well as writing tech articles directly aimed at the at-home DIY guys, with the purpose of explaining just how these things I've listed above are far closer to the reach of the average guy than anyone was ever taught to think in the past. It's very easy to do this stuff, and there is really nothing preventing anyone from picking up some real auto paints and doing it themselves at home. I'd like to do something similar for the bike community.

  4. #4
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    I would love to see a frame painting video. I painted my first couple frames and they came out mediocre, so i've turned to powdercoating.
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  5. #5
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    I would love to learn more about painting. Bring it on!

    -Walt

  6. #6
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    Yes please! I've diy painted my old car & of course all three diy bike frames... And agree there isn't much info about how to do it properly to get good results especially in tricky details.

    And, as I'm living in oceanside city and near arctic circle preventing frames to rust, and building frames so that condensation doesn't erode frames internally is of course important.

    Also, good solutions to protect paint in high wear spots like chain stays and where cabling rubs would be valuable, too.


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    Last edited by mhelander; 04-15-2017 at 12:27 AM. Reason: Typos
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  7. #7
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    Removed duplicate, dang Tapatalk...
    Last edited by mhelander; 04-15-2017 at 12:26 AM. Reason: Duplicate
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  8. #8
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    DC2, I think that you've got a great idea. I would appreciate seeing what you put together.


    briderdt can take a hike. It not like you're developing an at-home major production.
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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  9. #9
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    I certainly would like to see that. I used to paint bikes at the advent of catalyzed paint. Probably lucky to be alive

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the feedback guys! I'll see what I can come up with. I'll most likely spray my old hardtail frame, it was done once and then I beat the snot out of it, so it's due for a respray if I'm going to keep it around as a respectable backup frame.

  11. #11
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    I would also love to see an article or video on this subject! I've also noticed that there's very little in the way of painting conversation here, and it's something that interests me. Please let us know if you put something together!

  12. #12
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    Powder coating is a no no for aluminum frames unless you take steps to prevent annealing.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingtaco View Post
    Powder coating is a no no for aluminum frames unless you take steps to prevent annealing.
    Powder cures at no higher than 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. That will not do anything to your aluminum frame. That's a myth that has been debunked a long time ago. Every alloy frame from any large manufacturer is powder coated, and in the powder coating process there is nothing you would do differently to prevent any negative effects. You simply powder and then heat the part to cure it.

    In my case, I'm mainly talking about painting, not powder coating. My background is originally as a collision painter, turning entirely to custom paint work, then changing industries and only doing the custom stuff on the side. Just through similar interests, I've done a significant amount of powder work, and I have a friend who has a powder coating business so I could go down that route if you guys are interested in seeing powder processes as well.

  14. #14
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    Is 15 minutes with newer powders? I've been told it's hours by several Joes that paint parts (lots of wheelsets) for our auto club.

    If you are a good painter with a good setup I'm sure you'll have no issues (as my disclaimer indicated), but everyone and their mom powder coats using DIY setups in their garage. The warning was to make sure the painter knows what they are doing.
    I will suffer no butt-hurt fools!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DC2.2GSR View Post
    Powder cures at no higher than 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. That will not do anything to your aluminum frame. That's a myth that has been debunked a long time ago. Every alloy frame from any large manufacturer is powder coated, and in the powder coating process there is nothing you would do differently to prevent any negative effects. You simply powder and then heat the part to cure it.
    6061-T6 loses ~15% of its tensile strength after 30 minutes at 400f. I certainly agree lots of bike frames are and can be powder coated, but it must be done carefully.

  16. #16
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    As Car-Nut said, I asked the manufacturer and was told temps needs to be under 400F if not you begin to mess with the heat treat process. Doing small bits and pieces at home might work, but figuring out how to make an oven to bake a frame is another story, for the cost and hassle of trying to do PC or even paint at home, it's just cheaper and easier to take it to a shop and have them do it for you. Still would be interesting for those who've never done something like that to see a good how-to on paint, but for me, for an MTB, I stick to powder coat any day of the year for it's durability over paint.
    Quote Originally Posted by DC2.2GSR View Post
    Powder cures at no higher than 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes. That will not do anything to your aluminum frame. That's a myth that has been debunked a long time ago. Every alloy frame from any large manufacturer is powder coated, and in the powder coating process there is nothing you would do differently to prevent any negative effects. You simply powder and then heat the part to cure it.

    In my case, I'm mainly talking about painting, not powder coating. My background is originally as a collision painter, turning entirely to custom paint work, then changing industries and only doing the custom stuff on the side. Just through similar interests, I've done a significant amount of powder work, and I have a friend who has a powder coating business so I could go down that route if you guys are interested in seeing powder processes as well.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  17. #17
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    I would like to see this. Thanks for offering.

    BTW regulations are probably different elsewhere in the world, so really it's the more obvious safety stuff that you should mention, eg don't drink that thinners...
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by car_nut View Post
    6061-T6 loses ~15% of its tensile strength after 30 minutes at 400f.
    Can you cite this?
    A bad day of cycling is better than a good day at work

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingtaco View Post
    Is 15 minutes with newer powders? I've been told it's hours by several Joes that paint parts (lots of wheelsets) for our auto club.

    If you are a good painter with a good setup I'm sure you'll have no issues (as my disclaimer indicated), but everyone and their mom powder coats using DIY setups in their garage. The warning was to make sure the painter knows what they are doing.
    There's never a situation where any powder cures for several hours. 15-20 min at 400 degrees is standard max length. It has been that way for many years, it's nothing new. You can go right to Prismatic's website and see cure times. In fact, most commonly used topcoats are shorter, in the 10-12 minute range. This is after the part reaches temp, then the clock starts on the cure time. Larger parts like wheels can take longer to reach temp, but never several hours. Usually with aluminum surfaces, it's a best practice to "outgas" the part before powder, and this would mean cleaning thoroughly and then putting the part into the oven for a longer time and at a higher temp than you expect to cure the powder, and then re-cleaning before coating. This still won't reach into several hours.

    6061-T6 loses ~15% of its tensile strength after 30 minutes at 400f. I certainly agree lots of bike frames are and can be powder coated, but it must be done carefully.
    Looking for a citation on this as well. In all the R&D testing and design, and technical support for a major supplier of powder coating products, I've never once come across such a low temp or high loss of strength as this. Sources I've seen put that temp well into the 500s for an hour or more before strength is affected.


    As a side note, I wanted to clarify - What I'm mainly referring to with my how-to idea is automotive paint. I'm not sure how the subject of powder became the central idea, but they're two separate things. Paint is liquid applied to the surface and allowed to cure, powder coating is powder applied dry to the surface with a static charge, then baked in an oven to flow out into a liquid and cure once it has cooled. Referring to powder coating as paint is incorrect, as it's a separate process altogether. I know that seems pedantic, but for clarity I wanted to mention the difference. It's common to hear people refer to powder coating as "powder painting", etc. but that's just confusing things.

    As for the durability of paint vs powder - yes, powder is much more durable. However, I've painted quite a few bike frames and other high wear items over the years, and paint doesn't wear any faster than powder. Technically speaking, it's not as chip or scratch resistant, but the practical difference between the two coatings just isn't very dramatic on a bike frame. Using a chainstay protector and some small spots of tape or something to protect against cable rub is all you need. Catalyzed automotive paint is a very durable option on any MTB frame.

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