Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Collecting velodromes - and some pin striping

As I mentioned last time, I've spent this shedweek painting some pin stripes. Although I greatly admire the old guys who could do this free hand, I don't. I use a tool to do the job, the same as Raleigh were using at 7:20 in this film from 1945. I'm sure you've seen it before, but I love that film although the working conditions were terrifying. I've used a few tools over the years and I can save you some time trying to find one that works. Don't be cheap, just go and buy a Beugler. Easily the best tool I've used and although requiring practice and a reasonable degree of manual dexterity, it's possible to achieve good results quite quickly. Alternatively sent it to me with some cash and beer and I'll do it for you. I've developed a system that works well and requires the minimum number of sessions to get the paint on. I can't paint all the lines at once or both sides at the same time so it has to be done over several evenings. When not in use I wrap the tool in cling film or glad wrap as it's known here in NZ. This prevents the paint inside the tool drying and I only need to clean it when all the lines are on. For paint I use those little pots of enamel for model making, Humbrol or Revell are both equally good. I've found that some colours are easier to use than others. Primary colours go on the best and gold and silver are the hardest to work with. So of course I'm doing my lines in gold. A long time hobby of mine is to photograph original pin stripes on bicycles whenever I find a new pattern. Genuine Victorian examples are rare and disappearing fast as the bikes get over restored. I hate that but then I don't own them.

The patterns seem to have got simpler over the Victorian age, Early bikes could have designs that to our eyes look really quite gaudy and over the top with lots of swirls and flourishes. Later designs were less flamboyant. Since I've never personally seen a geared facile in original paint, I don't know what the design was like. The catalogues merely tell us that plain lining was 5 shillings and gold lining 10 shillings. That price difference suggesting that gold paint was more expensive and as I've found, more difficult to put on successfully.

I've chosen a double box design that I'm going to put on the forks front and rear only. Less is more with pin striping and as this is a later machine, entirely appropriate.

Here's how I do this design. First spend some time thinking about where the design is going to go and the extents of the lines relative to components that are going to be bolted to the frame. For example, on the facile the lines on the left side shouldn't be hidden behind the sun gear. The design is asymmetric with the ends of the boxes further away from the axle on the left than the right. If it was symmetric the result would look odd. You need to think about access with the tool, you can't get into tight corners with it and you may need to have a rethink or be prepared to do a few lines free hand. The disadvantage with using a tool is that if (when) you make a mistake, whilst you can wipe the paint off, it will also mark the surface you are painting on.

With the design worked out, place low tack masking tape across the ends of the boxes.

Then run the tool down the tube and onto the tape, these are the outer lines.

Remove the first piece of tape.

Then run the tool down the inside of the first lines and at the correct distance from them. Run onto the tape again.

Remove the second piece of tape and allow to dry for a few hours.

Then using small pieces of tape, place them outside the lines you just painted. 
Mark on the tape with pencil where the lines across should go. 
Take great care placing these bits of tape and pencil marks as 
they will define how sharp the corners of the boxes are.

Paint both cross lines, starting and finishing on your pencil marks on the tape. 
This is relatively hard as you have no guide to follow. I have a little trick to do it accurately every time.

Remove all these little bits of tape and leave it to dry.

It's important not to wear long loose sleeves when doing stripes as it's easy to brush across a perfect line and ruin it. Also plan the order of the stripes so you don't have to lean over one you've already done, you can always come back later when they're dry. If your corners aren't perfect, you can always join up any gaps with a tiny modellers paint brush. Any lines that are too long can also be trimmed back with a scalpel very gently scraped on the excess bit. Don't polish aggressively as you'll polish the young paint right off, however you can 'age' new lines by doing this.

I'm now at the stage where I can clean up the unmasked threads and put the whole thing back together, how exciting is that?

In other news, Pete and I drove down to Oamaru on Saturday to watch the penny farthing racing. We took a couple of racing bikes down and rode the safety events. I was using my 1906 Royal Enfield road racer and I bent the handlebar at the start of the 200m sprint. Hmmm, I'm going to have to have a good think about this as the bike is pretty much 100% original components all stamped with the Royal Enfield name and serial number. I can easily make a new set of bars to the same pattern but that's not the point. Due to my fear that the weakened bars would break, I was unable to unleash my fearsome gallop in the 4 lap race and Pete cleaned up. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it..

1906 Royal Enfield Road Racer earlier today. 
It doesn't go around corners very well, has poor brakes and is too highly geared. I love it.

Now with added handlebar bend.

We drove back the same day and on the way home we collected velodromes. That is to say we called in to see all known velodromes between Oamaru and Christchurch. It's another hobby of mine. The rules are simple, the velodromes do not have to be in use and in some cases are simply banked grass tracks. If there is no trace remaining we can't count it.

We collected 6 out of a possible 8

Waimate: sealed asphalt, good condition.
Temuka: sealed asphalt in a D shape, OK condition which could be ridden but it had a game of cricket going on at the time.
Tinwald: sealed asphalt, good condition, highly regarded, active club.
Leeston: banked grass track, not in use
Halswell: banked grass track, not in use
Denton Park: Concrete, built for the 1974 Commonwealth games.

We missed Rakaia and Timaru and we couldn't count English Park as there's nothing left. I think I know where one was in Oamaru as well but we'd gone past it by then. If you know of others, I'd love to hear about them.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Pedantically Painting Parts

Painting takes a long time you know. I certainly don't claim to be an expert coach painter but I do admire their old ways of doing these things. About a hundred years ago I painted a few vintage motorcycle petrol tanks using some of these techniques. The results made an impression on me and when an antique bike requires painting, I use the same method. Incidentally, I need to state that I much prefer to leave the original finish intact if possible. Indeed if the bike is Victorian and has any original finish, I will leave it alone. It's a judgement call of course and you may like the wet, shiny look of modern clear coat on your antique bikes. I don't and I'll explain why. The only suitable paint for an antique bicycle is enamel. Not acrylic, cellulose, two pack, clear coat or powder coat. All of those finishes can be excellent and I own bicycles with all of them, but they are all much younger machines where the finish is appropriate. Enamel has the one major advantage over these finishes, it is possible to cut the finish back and polish it to a deep lustre without any loss of colour or fear of breaking through the clear coat. Coach painters, proper coach painters will spend more time taking the paint off than putting it on. The only trouble is that it is getting harder to get proper coach painting enamel due to valid concerns about VOCs. However saying that, Resene have just introduced a new low odour (read low VOC) formulation for their enamel and it is excellent, I'm genuinely impressed by it.

Painting is all about preparation, it's a little like plating in that the finish you get is entirely depending on the substrate finish. Clean and free from rust, dust, oil and other contaminants.

These following steps are the way that I paint, it's not necessarily the best way or the easiest to get right but it works for me. It's certainly not quick but then I've already spent over two years on this so a couple more weeks won't hurt.

first step is to fill any pits or depressions, I use a modern two part epoxy system and slap it on quite liberally, you don't need to spent too much time at this stage as most of it is coming off again anyway. Then when quite dry, use a block and sandpaper to remove the excess so that the blemish is gone. I only needed to apply a small amount of filler at the cut and welded splits on the lower fork legs and backbone. The actual amount used was tiny. You're aiming for a feather edge that when painted will not show through. You can repeat as necessary.

Next step is to mask off all the bits that you don't want to paint, in my case this was all the bits that have been plated and all the larger threads that I don't have taps for.

Next I apply a coat of primer with a spray gun, this is just flashed on to get an idea of highs and lows.

I don't spray in the workshop, I just hang bits up to dry.

When dry, it is rubbed down to key for the next coat, more filler can be added to any lows remaining. For these initial coats I use Scotch pads rather than wet and dry paper, these pads come in a wide variety of grades.

Some Scotch pads, yesterday.

Then apply another coat of primer and repeat the rubbing down. At this point I would normally apply an undercoat but this new formula of enamel doesn't require one so it's straight to the first topcoat. This can be either brushed or sprayed on, it doesn't matter since the finish from the brush or spray gun isn't the final finish. Leave this for few days in the sun to harden then cut it back with a scotch pad, you don't want to break through to the primer or undercoat at this stage.

This is black but rubbed down.

Then apply the first final topcoat candidate. I say candidate because bicycles are tricky things to paint and any undetected runs will need to be sorted out properly and another coat put on top. If you do get runs, wait until very dry for a week or more and use a block to remove the run, this may break through to the lower coats requiring another topcoat.

It's not a garage darling, it's my spray booth.

I like to let my freshly painted bits dry for a day or so in a dust free environment, then hang them in the sun for a week.

Hanging out to dry.

At this point, I then cut back the finish very carefully. I use 1200 grit wet and dry paper which has been rubbed on itself to make it even smoother, you want to remove as little paint as possible. Then using lots of water and a bar of soap rubbed on the paper, very gently and carefully go over the entire finish. This takes time. You are trying to remove as little paint as possible whilst achieving a flat surface. You have to be very careful about contamination of the paper as any grit will cause swirl marks in the finish. I also do it entirely by hand as the paint is still young and relatively soft. Then hang it up for another couple of days to cure this new outer surface.

Finally polish with a gentle, very mildly abrasive polish. T-cut is too much and you'll tear through the paint with it. Take your time and do it in good daylight. The finish will be a deep, smooth lustre. Of course this is almost impossible to photograph successfully so you'll have to take my word for it. The paint will continue to harden over the next few months so treat it carefully.

Mmmm, shiny.

Mr Middleton berated me once for having 4 molecules of paint out of place, it won't happen again I tell you.

Next week, I'll paint some pinstripes on it.

In other news, I am very pleased to announce that the deck is finally done. All that remained for me to do this week was to apply the final coat of stain. In sharp contrast to the care taken to apply the paint to the bike, I just slapped the stain on with a big fat brush. It was excellent and I now have stain all over myself and a cat that was a little too curious.

In more other news, this week I celebrated my birthday. We went out for dinner to the children's favourite restaurant, Tutto Bene. I think the kids like it because it's a loud, lively very Italian restaurant and I can't tell them off for shouting. The food and service were excellent btw.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Philip Louis Renouf

A few days ago Anne left a comment on one of the entries. She told me that she was the great granddaughter of Philip Louis Renouf and she was trying to research his history. Renouf was a very active man in the cycle industry during the 1880s and he is responsible or jointly responsible for both of the marked patents on the geared facile. Anne, I would love to get in touch with you about your grandfather but I don't have your contact email. The blog comments don't give me that information. If you send me an email or use the link to the right, I can share what I have with you. Thanks, Bob