Blog 14-06-23

After picking up the newly built, or nicely trued, wheels yesterday, from BG Cycles in Portobello, I’ve finally got started on painting them. But first something interesting, or perhaps, even surprising. I’ve done a rough calculation and it seems that only 5% of my time is actually holding a spray can and spraying paint on anything, and that’s being generous. Which means that 95% or more of the effort involved in painting a bicycle is actually preparation or cleaning up afterwards.

A good example is the wheels, which I’ve been working on today in the bike shed, or should I say, the roasting shed, as it 30.7 degrees. So bloody super scorchio that it’s almost cool! So, from the beginning: degrease, wash, dry, rub down, wash, dry, mask, final clean, setup spray area, build support to hold wheel while spraying, fix up hooks to hang wheel to dry after painting, shake can for 3 minutes, and finally spray. Then hang up wheel to dry, clear away spray area. Get the idea? Perhaps I’ve being too pernickety and shouldn’t bother so much getting things perfect, right?

But perhaps the biggest problem when spray painting a wheel rim is protecting the remainder of the wheel, which, of course, you want to keep clear from overspray, unless you are going for that rat-bike look. Took a bit of thinking to find the easiest method. So, what I did was first wrap masking tape around the spoke nipples (Am I allowed to say nipples?), all 72 of them. Ach, I’ll say it again, just for fun. Nipples! To protect the inside of the rim I used a strip of masking tape, which will also be used to mark which colours will go on which sections of the wheel rim. Once I decide what that will be! On design No 8 at the moment.

For the main area of the wheel, namely the spokes, I did think about using masking tape on each but that would mean using 20 plus meters of masking tape, and more importantly, having to laboriously remove it all later. Removing the tape from the spoke nipples will be tedious enough. Cling film was also considered but was deemed too fiddly for the wheel. In the end I dug out some new plastic builders’ rubble bags, cut out a 560mm diameter circle, two per wheel, placed them over the wheel and stapled them together. A ring of masking tape around each outer edge of the plastic sealed off the spokes from spray. Quite pleased with this idea, good and solid, and easy to remove when finished.

Another task was to construct some means of supporting the wheels while spraying. Scott at Mutts Cycles in Newtongrange kindly offered some unwanted bike frames or forks but, in the end, I used some scrap timber to create a portable wheel support. Nice and simple and easy to secure in the spray area with a few old bricks. Works a treat! Cheers and thanks anyway, Scott.

Well, that’s both wheels primed and ready for paint, which was ordered this morning and should be here tomorrow. Also primed the new handlebars. Just need to make that final decision of the design. I’m using the same eight colours as the Harley Quinn but the design will need to be slightly different as the wheels are 36 sections rather than 32 and the overall design is based on the wheels.

Picked up the frame from being sandblasted this afternoon, and can now get started prepping the frame for paint. First task is to give the frame a good shake outside to clear out any residual sandblasting medium from inside. The last thing you want is for it to emerge when you are painting the frame. Been there, done that, and it’s very annoying.

Next stage is to rub down the bare metal with wet ‘n’ dry sandpaper. This will smooth off the rough texture that the sandblasting process leaves. What we want is a nice smooth surface for the primer, but not too smooth as we still want some texture for the primer to adhere to. I don’t have enough primer left from the Harley Quinn project for the frame so will have to wait until the paint arrives tomorrow. Back soon.

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