[CR] restoration is a tough business

(Example: Humor)

From: <"brianbaylis@juno.com">
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 2009 08:29:18 +0000
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Subject: [CR] restoration is a tough business


Imagine, after having read all of the discussions (over and over) about restoring, or not, classic bicycles what it must be like to have to make a living doing it. It should be pretty clear by now that each person has their own idea of how they would like it done, which things are most important, and how much money and or time it should take.

I can speak from experience, since I did my first bike restoration in 1972 (a Peugeot PX-10), have worked as a factory painter for several bike manufactures, and have painted my own custom frames as well as those of many other framebuilders. I also build custom frames, so I know what it takes to build a frame and how that is related to painting. Just for the record; I consider myself a framebuilder. I paint my own bikes out of necessity, and I only paint other stuff to sort of help out now and again. And yet, more times that I can count, I hear people call me a painter. I do have a large pile of trophies and awards for my paintwork; but the fact of the matter is that if those paint jobs weren't on my own frames, I suspect I would get a lot less attention for painting. One thing that some don't realize is how important the "canvas" is for the painter. It's also one thing to do custom paint on ones own creations as opposed to trying to replicate the original finish on factory bikes. It's not quite as difficult to copy custom frames, generally speaking, largely on account of the fact that we here in the states all have access to the same original paint systems.

As a restorer here in the US, we do not and never have had access to the factory paints used in Europe, which are very different from our paint here. In addition to that, original factory paint, especially the clear, breaks down and will oxidize until it's completely gone; so the older the bike is, the thinner the clear gets. Imron from the early 70's will hold up indefinitely and is definitely a little heavier viscosity than Euro paints, no matter how thin the paint is applied. Someone mentioned applying multiple coats of primer on frames. Not common as far as I know. I never use more than one coat of primer, and that I reduce to thin out, which is not how it's normally used on automobiles. Spot putty is most often used to fill pits and small surface defects, so that does not add to the primer on the overall frame. That gets sanded to the level of the base metal or the single layer of primer. That will be spot primed so that when sanded there is still only one layer of primer on the frame when it's ready for color. In the case of Cinelli silver; the file marks are so clearly visible partially on account of the nature of silver paint. It shows sanding scratches and file marks like no other color. Yes, silver is thin my nature, but it also shows all surface imperfections. The main reason the file marks are so obvious on Cinelli BB shells is first, they are sand cast shells which are rough to begin with, so what doesn't get filed is still rough; and what does get filed is only done with bastard files, BIG ones! They apparently never heard of 2nd cut or smooth cut files in Italian bike factories. The bastard file marks on Cinelli fork blades are visible for the same reason; they're huge gouges made with 12" bastard files. The only reason the file marks aren't visible on lugs is because the lugs on most of them are pressed steel and get polished smooth before plating by the buffers.

What I'm trying to get at here is that there are too many "standards" out there that make it really difficult to meet the expectations of everyone. In addition to that, there are a number of different ways of doing almost every one of the many operations involved in repainting a bike. Masking chrome is one of those situations. The lugwork itself will play a major role in what the outcome may be in the end. Sometimes the method used isn't the same as the original, which can generate complaints, depending on how picky the client is. What I have been having difficulty with in recent years is that there has surfaced a new breed of picky clients that don't understand all that is involved in the restoration business. I think a certain amount of that has come from this list and these discussions that often confuse some of the issues and involve people of many different opinions about how it should be done. None of these people actually do this sort of work for a living; and I think it's not unusual for someone to not understand what is practical to accomplish in a reasonable amount of time or for a certain price. This game is so complicated at times that communication can be difficult, especially long distance. This makes the job much more difficult.

I have had some difficulty in the paint business in recent years; since I got involved in trying to help newer framebuilders and aspiring painters. My routine has been disrupted, my ability to focus and concentrate on the crazy number of details involved, and having to move a few times for various reasons has made the paint part of what I do nearly unbearable. Finding help that is capable is nearly impossible and creates a lot of problems for a person like me. I finally decided to downplay restoration work until I can regain control of all the circumstances related to painting bikes. Some stuff still slips in upon occasion; but I am still after all a framebuilder, not a painter. I hope soon I can do some restoration work under the controlled and solitary environment that I work best in. I think I'm nearly there. I have been sensitive and irritable as a painter in recent years on account of these struggles with circumstances and tying to find people to fill the void of too few painters in the business. Things will change for the better before long, and I'm looking forward to it. I will remain focused on framebuilding, which is my real passion, and only take restorations that suit me and my style. I use to try to be all things to all people. I have found I can not do that as a single person operation. I also don't like working with other people. So I'm making the adjustments to right the boat. Sorry if I've been snippy from time to time on paint issues. But really, there are just too many different opinions and standards for one person to accommodate. It has been frustrating for me, and I'm sure for a few persons on the list as well.

BTW, not sure what the future holds for quality and durability of paint available to us. Water based color coats are right around the corner here in CA. I can honestly say I'm NOT excited about that. As a matter of fact, I hate it. We'll see what happens. I may give up painting altogether, you never know.

Brian Baylis La Mesa, CA Sorry to rant; but I had to get this off my chest.

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