22nd February 2007
If you're restoring a classic bike at home, then you'll inevitably need to paint some components. Sending everything off to the professionals can be costly, so Laurie Packer investigates a new DIY option...
With a good few restorations under my belt I am delighted when I come across a product which does exactly as it says on the tin - particularly if it's paint.
Whilst powder-coating looks, on the face of it, a good approach to frame finish, it does have disadvantages. Because of the temperature in the baking oven, epoxy filler and even lead loading can be damaged and so the finish often retains the pitting of the original metal. A positive side to powder-coating is that when you come to spanner things up, the plasticity of the coating is forgiving and it does not crack as badly as some paint finishes. Neither, under torque pressure, does it readily stick to itself. However you are by no means guaranteed that the coating is not sitting on a coat of rust!
Paints nowadays are becoming quite woossey - even Hammerite is a shadow of its former self. As for polyurethene one pack that takes 6 months to fully harden.... well give me a break! You can go for the ultimate 2-pack, but that needs specialist breathing equipment and regular blood tests to detect the incorporated poisons. And don't mention water-based paints!
Every time I see an advert that claims wonderful things I reach for the salt cellar, but occasionally I say 'What the hell..' and that's what happened when reading the blurb for POR15, a product emanating from the USA.
Now that's a society that's so litigious that any public claim as to a product's properties has to be right. This stuff is marketed by Frost Auto Restoration Techniques, a firm with which I have absolutely no links.
Having got to this point I experimented with tinware. I would normally go the acid etch, primer/filler, top coat and lacquer route but the adhesion I got from the POR15 set me thinking. So after any epoxy filler that was needed, and without being too precious about little imperfections, on went the magic brew by brush.
The following morning the paint was perfect for rubbing down, and after sufficient scuffing to get a key for the next layer, on went yellow primer filler. This was then rubbed down in time honoured fashion until only the imperfections showed in yellow. When I was satisfied that the finish was OK I switched to a brush coat of P400 Blackcoat. Next day I continued with a rub down with 600, then 1200 grade, and finally a coat of UPOL clear lacquer prior to final polishing.
Now this all sounds like a lot of work, and to an extent it is. But consider that the whole process takes only four days from start to finish. Consider also the price of professionally-painted tinware, and the buzz you get from doing it yourself. And although I haven't had this finish in use on the road through a salty winter, I have already found that bolting things up does not cause damage -- so bright yellow primer showing through the cracks is a thing of the past.
My experience suggests this stuff is well worth a try even if you still leave the tinware to the professionals!
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