Stripping a frame
I’m in the process of stripping some of the woodwork in our house, and on a whim last night I decided to try some of the chemical stripper on the fork of a single-speed I’m building up. Low and behold, it works like a charm!
I’m using Kleen-Strip Premium (the color-changing stuff, though all of their Premium line is comparable in performance in my experience). It’s $27 at Home Depot for a gallon…I’m just getting started, but it seems like a gallon would be enough to do 2 or 3 frames.
I’m just painting the stuff on, waiting the 15 or so minutes for the paint to bubble up, and then scrubbing it off with a stiff wire brush. I’ve got a jar of denatured alcohol to rinse the brush out in as it gets clogged, and then I’m doing a final scrub with grade 1 steel wool (grade 0 would probably be better, but Home Depot didn’t have any last night) soaked in alcohol to remove the stripper residue and any remaining loose paint. I’ve only done the fork so far, but all it needs now is a final sanding with fine steel wool before primer/paint.
I’ve also tried some of the Bix brand stripper…doesn’t seem to work so well (it costs about half as much as the better Kleen-Strip stuff and I’ve generally found it to be junk so I’m not surprised it doesn’t work well here). I’ve got some of the “less hazardous” chemical strippers as well (Citri-Strip & Peel Away 6). I’ll give those a try and report back.
Anyway, I’m just surprised at how well this is working and figured it was worth throwing out there. It seems faster/easier/more cost-effect compared to sand-blasting.
Has anyone else tried this?
Some more thoughts now that I’ve finished the frame…
Scratch the grade 0 steel wool…I’ll try grade 2 the next time. The stuff I used didn’t clog, but something a little coarser might scrub off the stubborn spots a bit better.
The frame was definitely more difficult, with all of the nooks and crannies. I couldn’t find any of my toothbrush-sized wire brushes so I had to do those with steel wool…time-consuming and tedious, but still not too bad.
I ended up using less than a quart of stripper for a medium sized MTB frame/fork, and about the same amount of alcohol.
I’m not sure if it’s faster than sand-blasting…I’ve only done a wrought-iron gate and it took me forever…but it was definitely an easy/inexpensive way to strip a frame.
I’ve never used a chemical stripper, but I can tell you that a wire wheel on a drill takes FOREVER AND NEVER EVER TRY IT. And that’s not to mention the hazards of breathing in paint dust. Next time I feel like doing a frame painting project I’ll probably go the chemical route.
So what’s next? Are you clear-coating or re-painting?
Also, if you happen to have a chance, do post some photos.
I chem stipped a frame over the summer, it was super easy. I then used car spray primer and rustolium spray paint. I really liked the outcome – no runs or anything. The only issue is that the paint is very soft and scratches easy. If I do it again I think I would try using auto paint as well, or maybe a clearcoat on top.
I’ve painted a ton of things with spray cans, and no matter what kind i use it always turns out very soft. I don’t know if there are any real quality spray paints out there for this type of application, but if there are I’ve never found any. The “Truck and Van color” at the auto parts store is ok, but you have to let it cure for like a month before its even a little hardened.
Have you eliminated the possibility of internal lugs? Some frames are bonded at the joints with an adhesive that holds an internal lug in place. With all the nooks and crannies you mentioned you can probably see your lugs (external) but I thought I would throw that out there to avoid a very dangerous possibility (the stripper strips the adhesive and the bike separates under stress – and stress usually involves high speed or air).
Good luck on the build.
Ricky, my first attempt at stripping was using the wire wheel on my bench grinder. After ten minutes (and about a tenth of the fork done), I gave up. Did you strip a whole frame using a wire wheel?
Next is to re-paint. I’ve got a compressor and a decent spray gun, so I’m going to see what the paint options are at the auto parts store. I’ll definitely post some pictures when I’ve finished.
I have no idea about internal lugs…this is the first I’ve heard of it. Any stripper that might have gotten inside the frame is negligible, though, so I’m not too concerned.
They key to avoiding soft paint is to do a ton of VERY thin coats over a few days, with one final thick coat of clear.
That being said, spray can paint is never going to be as hard as a catalyst hardened paint.
I’ve used chemical stripper, but I don’t really care for it. I usually a mix of radial abrasive bristle brushes and wire brushes on a 4.5″ grinder, and 3″ 3M Scotch Brite Roloc pads on a die grinder.
I guess the difference in mess would be a bunch of paint/stripper gunk v. a bunch of paint dust.
I have done an entire frame using a wire wheel. Or make that about 4 wire wheels because all the bristles break off. It’s terrible.
Before using a chem stripper I’ll take a piece of sand paper & go over the piece very quickly. Just to scuff it up so the stripper will work quicker.
I’m pretty sure you could find someone to sandblast a frame for $27. No toxic fumes/big disgusting mess collabro necessary.
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