A big advantage of doing a project bike like this is that if things do go wrong, it’s not like you’re out a huge amount of money. So while in theory I could have just taken old parts off and replaced with new parts, it makes sense to strip the bike completely, check over the frame and then apply a new coat of paint before the final build.

Stripping the frame was fairly easy, especially when you know that not all parts need to be kept. However, I did do a little bit of research beforehand, and purchased a few tools to help, including a Park Tools CWP- 7 crank puller tool (to help get the crank arms off the axle) and a set of cone spanners, plus a larger one, again to help remove the bottom bracket. I also ordered a Park Tool CN-10 cable & housing cutter as well as a Park Tool BBT-9 Bottom Bracket Tool

One thing at this stage that helped is while I was waiting for the items to arrive in the post was, I sprayed a lot of 3-in-1 down things that could be seized, such as the headset.

25 plus years of rust on the seatpost.

Overall it probably took less than 2 hours to get the frame stripped completely. I started by taking as many photos as possible, mainly just for reference for re-assembly later.

Then I took the cable cutters and removed the cables, as well as started unbolting easy things like the chain, pedals and brakes. From an ease of handling perspective I decided to leave the seat post until last, but probably the hardest thing I found to remove was the crankset. Even with the crank puller, and some fairly large spanners, it was hard to get enough torque to pull off the crank arms. It was almost like they were cross-threaded, but when I did eventually get it off (since I wasn’t planning on keeping the cranks there may/may not have been a few tips of a hammer to loosen things up 🙂 )

Millimetres of grease and grime everywhere.

Taking the fork off was fairly easy, although again the amount of rust on the lockring etc made it a challenge. It does look like I may have dented the lock ring itself, so may need to order a replacement. Taking the seatpost required a bit more force, but in fairness not as much as I thought: clamping the seatpost (again sacrificial) in a bench vice, and applying a bit of elbow grease, eventually got the post moving.

Stripping the Paint

Next up was to strip the paint off. I had a few ideas in mind, but ultimately it probably took a bit longer than planned to get to the desired finish I wanted. And at that, in retrospect I could have even spent more time.

First up I decided to powerwash the frame, given that it had 20-plus years of gunk built up. While doing it I discovered that the old decals started to come off, and even though it took longer than planned, I figured that anything I could do at this stage might be a time-saver later on.

Bike frame in a bike stand.
Frame clean of decals after power-washing

Once both the frame and fork were both dry I decided to sandblast the frame, using a Parkside sandblaster that I had bought a few years ago, hooked up to my garage air compressor. Having seen some previous examples it seemed like the best way to remove paint from a steel frame, but proved to be woefully inadequate.

More info on YouTube!

Next up I tried a tin of Rustoleum Green Paint Stripper to much better success. Ideally, I would have liked to have tried another couple of cans, as the first removed maybe half, and it was a pretty easy job. However, it still left a lot to do. One thing to note, I did this outside on a perfect day, and even at that, I had some very bad headaches after, so be extremely careful about where you use this.

Half the paint stripped using Rustoleum.

I’m pretty certain that another round or two of paint stripper would have removed the bulk of the remaining paint. But being a bit naive I thought that I might be able to easily remove it using power tools. I started off with a Black&Decker Mouse detail sander, using a 120 grit paper. And while it did strip it, it was pretty slow.

Work in progress: finished removal in the foreground and WIP in the background on the inside of the chainstay

Next, I picked up a more aggressive, paint & rust remover disk for a drill, which certainly increased the speed of the operations. Finally to do some of the finer details I switched to a Dremel with a wire brush attachment. I’ll discuss it more in the next post, where I’ll discuss paint, but even though I felt the finish was adequately smooth it could have been better.

Frame fully stripped

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