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Care and feeding of aluminum(3 posts)

Care and feeding of aluminumcaptainxray
Dec 24, 2003 8:49 PM
This is not really a vintage bike question, but I figured if anybody knew about this sort of thing... Anyway, I have an old Trek aluminum MTB frame I am using as a single speed and the paint is literally falling off. If I strip the paint and leave it bare will it corrode away? Would it help if I polished it? Should I clear coat it? Paint it? If so, with what and how? Answers to any of these Q's would be great and all input is appreciated!
You have many options, GrasshopperCory
Dec 25, 2003 9:06 AM
I went through the same thing with an old Cannondale mountain bike not long ago. It's kind of outdated, but it fits and works fine for the riding I do, so I decided to keep it (tragically, my wife interpreted that as meaning I'd apply logic to the purchase of new road bikes, too, but that's another post...).
I've repainted two or three bikes with only modest success. It's easy to make them look good, but hardware store paint just doesn't last.
You could strip it and have it powder coated, which a friend of mine did. Cost him about $60 several years ago, and still looks good, but I think he got a deal in exchange for some work he did for the powder guy. Worth checking, though. I've been thinking about having my own steel singlespeed coated.
I also know a guy who had his frame painted at Spraycraft or Earl Scheib or one of those cheapie car-paint places. They did it along with a car in the same color, and baked it in the booth while they were doing the car. No idea what he paid, but he was pretty happy with it. Probably have to work it out with the paint guys--I don't think it's a regular service.
Bare aluminum won't rust away. It WILL oxidize, so it looks dull and splotchy, but that doesn't hurt anything if you can stand the ugularity. Might be cool, on a single, just to look ratty. The world is full of unpainted aluminum boats that last forever.
Same thing happens if you polish. It looks nice but soon dulls. You can touch it up, I guess, or just let it go.
I've never clearcoated over bare metal, so I dunno about that. Off the top of my head, I imagine you'd scratch the clearcoat eventually and that might look scruffy, or the clear might not bond well to polished aluminum. Krylon makes a clear, if you want to try it, and I think I saw some Flecto clear in Home Depot the other day.
You have many options, GrasshopperDorf411
Dec 25, 2003 1:38 PM
I would be careful with powder coating a Trek Aluminum. If this bike is constructed similar to the aluminum road bike I had, it has bonded lugs and tubes. Part of the process of powder coating is to bake the item that was painted at a very high temperature. I am not 100% certain that this baking would cause problems for the frame but I would be concerned about the integrity of the bonded lugs afterward.