To be perfectly frank, I had no idea what I was getting into. I’m a technical systems analyst, so to say I have soft hands is an understatement. From everything I read, prepping the surface is one of the more important details when painting a surface. I think I remember that from cub scouts when I made my pinewood derby car.
The most ideal approach to prepping is to sandblast the frame down to its core aluminum. I don’t have a sand blaster. I’m too cheap to rent one.
The next best thing would have been to use sandpaper to strip the frame down to its bare aluminum. I’m not a Zen master; I have no patience. That wasn’t an option to me. I wasn’t about to spend weeks of time hand sanding the frame down all the way.
The last best thing was for me to go over the frame with a rough grit sand paper so at the very least the primer would stick. I was worried about this approach because technically the primer would be sticking to the roughed up factory paint job. So essentially, my paint job is only going to stick to the frame as well as the factory paint job would. If you have more time or the tools, go with the complete stripping approach. If you’re lazy and cheap like me, use my approach.
For this job, use 100 grit wet sand paper. The wet sand paper helps keep the dust down and becomes more important in the later stages.
I started off pretty OCD about getting all the painted Sette logos on the frame off thinking it would screw around with my end product. After spending 45 minutes getting just one of the 5 painted decals and logos, I decided that it probably wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought. The painted logos was as suceptable to the sanding as the rest of the frame, so I figured it’s best to scuff a nice even surface all over the frame and not get too hung up on being so meticulous. After all, this was just a $100 frame and I was itching to ride.
Once I had the entire surface sanded, I needed to set-up a defacto paint booth.
The Paint Booth:
I think my wife ended up being pretty happy about this project. It basically forced me to clean and organize our extra garage so I had a place that would be relatively free of dust, debris and wind.
Once I was done cleaning and organizing the garage, I laid down a tarp and rigged up a hanging system for the frame. I wanted to be able to get around and under the bike without having to fidget with a stand or clamps.
The Hanging System
I grabbed some extra hanging hooks from the other garage and inserted them into the wooden support beams overhead.
I then used a 3 foot metal pole to thread through the bottom of the bottom bracket shell. I used some tape and straps on the end of the pole and strapped the pole to the overhead hooks.
To support the front of the frame I ripped apart a toilet stopper. I ran a couple threads of high tess fishing line through the plunger and the ran the fishing line back up to the hanging hooks.
It wasn’t a very eloquent solution.. but it worked. The bike was magically suspended in a garage that could be closed off to most wind and dust. I had my paint booth!
Sealing the important parts:
There are a few places on the bike that are very important to seal before any priming or painting can be performed. If you don’t seal these parts, you risk not being able to install critical components such as the bottom bracket, the headset or the seat post! If you end up getting paint in these places, it isn’t the end of the world. You will most likely have to take the frame up to the LBS and have them prep whatever place got painted. They have tools for it. Save yourself some time and money and just make sure you seal up the following places: