Third Phase Media Group

Project Monty: A Quick Paint Job

After checking the bike out for mechanical problems, I figured I’d might as well repaint the frame and get that part out of the way. I’ve been painting things for a long time (I used to really enjoy modding cars), and over the years I’ve gained quite a hand at quick and dirty spray paint jobs. 

I wanted to get rid of the silver/red Euro look and replace it with a neutral tan/khaki color. A trip to the auto parts store and $15 later, I had a can of coyote tan spray paint, as well as a can of self-etching metal primer and a bottle of TSP substitute. Here’s the breakdown of everything I used for the paint job:

  • 1 can of auto spray paint for the finished color (in this case, coyote tan.)
  • 1 can of self-etching metal primer.
  • 1 bottle of TSP substitute (for cleaning/degreasing prior to spray.)
  • 5 sheets of 400 grit sandpaper.
  • Masking tape.
  • Some plastic grocery bags.
  • A few rags for cleaning the bike.

Bear in mind that this bike is meant to get dirty – it’s for goin’ not for showin’, as we say – and so I wasn’t aiming for perfection. Even still, I got pretty dang close, which goes to show you how easy repainting things actually is when you don’t over-think it.

I began by taking a few of the simpler parts off just to get them out of the way. All I removed was the seat and the front wheel. Because I was only painting the silver parts of the bike, it made things extra simple. The next step was to tape off whatever was near the silver part, but wasn’t destined to become tan. When you’re doing this part, make sure to get your edges straight and push the tape down completely to prevent “feathering” along the seams.

How to spray paint a bike.

Tape off the parts you don’t want painted OR damaged by sanding.

After taping, I sanded down all of the silver with 400 grit sandpaper. I wasn’t looking to strip the anodizing off of the aluminum, although stripping to the bare metal is usually the best way to get a good surface for painting. My only goal was to take off all the shine, essentially roughing up the surface. This was accomplished in about fifteen minutes.

Next, I cleaned off all of the dust and grit with a clean rag soaked in TSP. I made three passes, just to be sure. Any oils or dust on the surface will seriously mess up the results, so it’s best to err on the side of caution when cleaning.

I then finished masking the bike using tape and old plastic bags. The more concerned you are about over-spray, the more you should mask. I wasn’t too worried about it, so I just covered up the parts closest to the area that would be painted.

Spray painting, primer coat.

This is the self-etching metal primer. If you were going for an Olive Drab look, you could stop right here!

One final swipe with a clean, TSP-soaked rag (followed by some time for it to dry) and I began laying down thin layers of primer. The key with spray painting is to make consistent passes and put down thin coats with drying time between. The first coat should look like you just misted the surface with color. It might look like you’re not accomplishing anything, but after five or six coats, everything will be covered.

After finishing off the can of primer, I set the bike aside to dry for 24 hours.

The next night, I used a slightly-wet piece of sandpaper to sand the primered surface. Only one pass was enough to ensure there were no bumps or fibers that had clung to the paint while it was drying. I then washed it down liberally with TSP once more and then allowed it to dry. The final color came next, and I applied it the same way I did the primer: slowly, and in thin coats.

After the finishing coats were applied, I let the bike dry overnight again. The following morning, I pulled off the tape and bags, and she was all done! Total time spent was less than two hours.


The final color. Just in time, too, as the sun was setting on me.


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