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Frame Painting

Painting a frame is a really tricky area of bicycle restoration. The main problem is finding a paint that will be durable enough to withstand inevitable knocks and scratches. Secondly, preparing the frame for painting is fairly hard work and messy. Thirdly, getting a good finish can be difficult. I painted frames by hand at home for many years, and was rarely completely happy with the result. I'd think it was pretty good until putting the bike near a similar model that somebody else had spent a lot of money on; then I'd feel insecure about it. There's no question that other people do look at your paint finish almost before anything else.

In recent times I've given in to the tough, colourful and glossy finish that powder-coating can give you for £75 plus VAT. It's nice having somebody else do all the hard work and get the bike back looking perfect. Also, you don't have to buy any paint; no primer, no undercoat, no colour coat and no laquer. You won't have the nearly-full tins sitting on the shelf. Furthermore it will last for many years and look marvellous. Powder-coating is money well spent- providing that you actually have the money.

And here's the rub. Many of the bicycles that we might consider restoring do not have a high monetary value. Most of those shown on this website were bought for £5 and even after restoration might only fetch £50-£80 on ebaY. Deduct the selling fees from that and you are going to be out of pocket. Now, this could well be the reason why people do not bother restoring bicycles. They look at it from a commercial point of view. Basically, Britain is a would-be America and America is a Capitalist society.

To cut a long story short, if you think of bicycle restoration in purely monetary terms, you miss the environmental value of repair and re-use. In other words, we should not just keep buying new imports of poor quality and throwing things away. Chances are, if you are reading this then you have some sympathy for this view. And possibly have an eye on the pennies. You may well have very little money to spend and you may well simply not care that much about cosmetics such as paint finish. It is only skin deep after all.

I have gone around the houses, but what I'm saying is that bicycles are for riding, not hanging on the wall. We absolutely should be able to brush some paint on ourselves and not feel guilty that we have done a bad job. Hand painting is creative, reasonably cheap and can protect the frame well against rust. And you can get some very acceptable results with the right equipment. I'm no expert, but I'll tell you all I know about it.

Princess painted with Japlac

Last Updated on Sunday, 07 November 2010 22:30