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How to Strip Off the Paint and Polish an Aluminium MTB Frame


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Having recently started a SS build using a brand new (but old) Raleigh RM 5 aluminium frame I though I'd share the process of stripping the paint and polishing the frame here as well (there is a dedicated thread to the entire work in progress on the single speed section as well). I don't profess to be an expert and have learnt through trial and error - and of course I have been guided by suggestions and comments from fellow Hubbers

 

Some before pics:

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I used some Fixit "Double Strength" paint remover that I bought at the local Builders Warehouse. I don't know if the paint stripper is just really hectically potent stuff or if the Raleigh paint job is just cheap ass but the stripper had the paint peeling and bubbling off in literally a couple of minutes. I didn't want to use a normal metal scraper in case it left marks on the frame so I ended up cutting up an old plastic bottle that was lying around and used the plastic strips to scrape the paint off - this worked really well and didn't mark the frame at all.

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I used some Fixit "Double Strength" paint remover that I bought at the local Builders Warehouse. I don't know if the paint stripper is just really hectically potent stuff or if the Raleigh paint job is just cheap ass but the stripper had the paint peeling and bubbling off in literally a couple of minutes. I didn't want to use a normal metal scraper in case it left marks on the frame so I ended up cutting up an old plastic bottle that was lying around and used the plastic strips to scrape the paint off - this worked really well and didn't mark the frame at all.

 

Better, put on the paint stripper wait 10-15 min and then use a pressure washer to take the paint off. Repeat 3 time

Edited by flat29
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After all the paint was stripped off I rinsed the entire frame and lightly sanded it using a fine sanding block dipped in water. This really left the entire frame really smoothed off but not "shiny" at all.

 

Stripping off all the paint actually only took a morning - at first I was a bit impatient and started scraping before the paint stripper had a chance to really work, let it do it's thing for a couple of minutes and the paint literally just bubbles and peels off when you use the scraper.

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Thanks to a photo posted by divernick I ended up deciding not to send the frame off to be spray painted at this point but to polish the entire thing. Back to the local Builders warehouse and I get myself a polishing attachment that fits on any electric drill.

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Thanks to a photo posted by divernick I ended up deciding not to send the frame off to be spray painted at this point but to polish the entire thing. Back to the local Builders warehouse and I get myself a polishing attachment that fits on any electric drill.

 

I have just purchased such an attachment to do my cranks. Can't wait to get em shiny.

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And so the polishing begins :) Make no mistake it's a seriously dirty business and it didn't take long for me to put on a long sleeve dust coat, safety glasses, and a pair of gloves; even with wearing all this I ended up looking like a coal miner when I finished.

 

At first I tried doing large sections of frame at a time but pretty quickly worked out that concentrating on a small piece and getting that polished up nicely before moving on to the next section was actually faster. Patience is the key though. I also thought I'd be clever and fit the polisher to my big Makita drill - wrong move, it's too fast and it's also to big and clumsy to work with - my smaller drill worked much better.

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So all polished up but what to seal it with? Once again I was pointed in the right direction by the Hubbers and I went out and bought some car polish and the polishing started all over again :) This time by hand though. The polish didn't really make the frame any shinier than it already was BUT it did give it that smooth feel, run your hand over a new car's paint and that's what I'm talking about.

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All in all the cost of polishing the entire frame was negligible (thinking paint stripper, polishing attachment, polish, etc. here) but you do make up for it in the time spent polishing the frame. The frame turned out way better than I originally thought it would so I'm really happy.

 

As my 2 year old little daughter would say "Ta Da" - How to strip and polish your frame in only a couple of Hub posts :)

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Better, put on the paint stripper wait 10-15 min and then use a pressure washer to take the paint off. Repeat 3 time

 

Unfortunately I only figured this out quite late in the process :) Very good advice though :thumbup:

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Looks good. Well done.

 

I used the same polishing principle when I did the Jeff Jones mod to my cranks.

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