Thursday, May 7, 2009

Building a Bike - Part 5 - Painting

Now that my frame lay bare and naked, there is no time to lose in protecting her from the harsh elements that would love nothing more than to wreak havoc on her innocence and beauty. She longingly looks to me for protection. Sensing her vulnerability, I wasted no time in reaching for the paint can.

To paint my frame, I went down to our local auto store and chose some automobile grade paint. I don't know if one brand of paint is better than another, the one consistent theme that my research revealed was that it was important to stick with one brand of paint for the primer, base coat and clear coat. Even though it was more expensive than the name brands found at hardware stores, I chose to pick up paint from the auto store, cause I figured that automobile paint, given its intended purpose, had to be better quality. The supplies I chose are shown below:I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about spray painting my frame, primarily because of the high risk of runs and drips. I resolved that no matter how tempted I was, I was going to apply the paint in very thin coats.

I started out with the primer. I sprayed extremely light coats, waiting 10 to 15 minutes between coats. I must have applied 10 or more coats of paint. I didn't really keep track of the number of coats, but I know I went through 2 full cans of spray paint. The primed product turned out very nice, even if I were to say so myself.I waited a week for the primer to cure and then I was ready for the base coat. I chose black paint because in my mind it is simple and basic. That was what this bike was all about. I lightly sanded the primed surfaces with 400 grit sandpaper. As with the primer, I applied thin coat after thin coat until I had blown through 2 full spray cans of paint. I was very, very pleased with my handiwork.Once I had the base coat applied, the weather threw a major wrench in my top coating plans. I had to wait 3 weeks until the temperature and humidity got their act together. After what seemed like an eternity, I was finally able to put the finishing touches on my masterpiece. I used 600 grit wet paper to lightly sand the base coat. This dulled the finish a bit, but based on what I had read on the Internet, I was confident the clear coat would restore the luster and add depth. In applying the top coat, I followed the same procedure successfully employed on the primer and base coat. I applied 2 cans worth of multiple thin coats. When all was said in done, I was so proud of the finished product that I could restrain my glee.
With the paint job complete, now came the hardest part, waiting for it to fully cure before final assembly. Mind you, I am a Cajun and patience is not one of our virtues.

Stay tuned - the next episode is the final one in this series. You don't want to miss it. This is the episode when I take the assortment of parts and carefully install them, transforming my freshly painted frame into a masterpiece - a work of art - a labor of love.

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