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  1. #1

    Default Frame Painting: Spray or Powder?

    Winter is coming here in the Midwest, I'm starting to tear down my '02 Sportster. Rebuilt the motor last winter and did a gazillion other things to the bike, this winter I'm focussing more on cleaning it up since it's performing great for me and I'm done fabricating parts for it.

    My frame has a few lightly rusted spots, plus I've been wanting to clean up the stock tank mounts since I welded in bungs for the Fresco-mounted tank I've been running, plus I'm wanting to clean up a few other useless tabs and whatnot. Seems like a good time to tear everything apart and get that frame nice n fresh.

    What's the consensus on spray painting vs. powder coating?

    I get that I'll need to clean up the head bearing cup and swingarm bearing cup after powder coating, since it goes on thicker than spray. And I know that powder is much more durable and less likely to chip/flake than spray painting. If I spray, I'd do it myself and save lots of $$, but not sure I want to go that route if it won't fundamentally last as long. I've painted plenty of stuff before with good results, just not frames. What do you consider when deciding powder or paint for your frame?

  2. #2

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    Depending on the talent of your powder coater, you may not have much clean up work afterwards, my powder coater plugged all the threaded holes and taped off spots you don't want coated.

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    I love to paint, am doing it right now on my bike. I am doing some custom type work and have a molded frame so powder will not work for me.

    But saying that, if I was leaving a frame "stock", that is no molding, and I was going black or some other easy to match with paint, standard color, I'd go powder any day of the week.

    For frames, I think paint is too easy to scratch or ding, however it is also easy to touch-up.

    Just my thoughts.

  4. #4
    tzienlee
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    personally I would go powder for a few reasons
    but there are also one or two reasons why not to,
    first, if done properly, powder is harder, longer lasting & will give ya the silky smooth dipped in treacle look,
    but to get that it needs shot blasting, then smooth flatted back by hand to get rid of blast puckering, then a pre heat with a primer, then colour followed by a clear,
    each powder must be compatable or ya pissing in the wind, a good powder coaters will mask & plug threads & mating surfaces with either a heat proof tape or with silicon bungs removed once coated or soon after being fired, i prefer before, then re-tap all threads to get any stray powder out
    plus there are many types of powders & not all by far, are designed to last & protect outside,
    a buddy had his frame shot blasted & satin silver powdered at work,... after a month rust was leaching through as the powder he used at work was for indoor furnature use & wasnt waterproof for outside use,
    get it done by the best, not by the cheapest or a buddy who can do it cheap where he works,
    downside is it's a bitch to remove if you ever needed to before & after welding if you need to later where wet paint can be blended in easily, plus if ya want trick custom powders they are few & kin expensive..
    Last edited by tzienlee; 11-17-2021 at 12:59 PM.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by tzienlee View Post
    personally I would go powder for a few reasons
    but there are also one or two reasons why not to,
    first, if done properly, powder is harder, longer lasting & will give ya the silky smooth dipped in treacle look,
    but to get that it needs shot blasting, then smooth flatted back by hand to get rid of blast puckering, then a pre heat with a primer, then colour followed by a clear,
    each powder must be compatable or ya pissing in the wind, a good powder coaters will mask & plug threads & mating surfaces with either a heat proof tape or with silicon bungs removed once coated or soon after being fired, i prefer before, then re-tap all threads to get any stray powder out
    plus there are many types of powders & not all by far, are designed to last & protect outside,
    a buddy had his frame shot blasted & satin silver powdered at work,... after a month rust was leaching through as the powder he used at work was for indoor furnature use & wasnt waterproof for outside use,
    get it done by the best, not by the cheapest or a buddy who can do it cheap where he works,
    downside is it's a bitch to remove if you ever needed to before & after welding if you need to later where wet paint can be blended in easily, plus if ya want trick custom powders they are few & kin expensive..


    I have had three builds with powder coated frames, 2 rigids and a SA. Do it: Prices here in Colorado Springs for a super crew that does PC did my frames, really decent prices. You want a chrome rigid frame like Captian American? Get it done with PC. They have so many colors, and even a chrome PC if you are into it

    PC looks great and durable: Be aware though, PC can scratch and chip. Lots folks think it wont

  6. #6
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    Talked plenty about powdercoating and paint prep on here but I’ll say it again .
    Do all the prep work yourself and save a lot of headaches later on. Put bolts in all threaded holes. Any spot you need to attach a ground to on the frame put a bolt and appropriate sized washer that will match your ring terminal to it. Threaded rod with a washer on top and bottom where your neck cups are going. Home make a blank plate that covers your engine mount surface areas so your motor will ground properly . Any bosses or holes ( such as a mechanical brake crossover tube or seat post tube that has bronze bushings pressed in afterwards.
    In other words Any and All places you can foresee yourself grinding or tapping out powder coat or paint after the fact for mechanical , electrical , or mounting surfaces .
    Remember to leave extra bolt length nuts and washers for the painter/ powdercoater to be able to hang your frame while applying their product.
    Make it “dummy proof “.
    Don’t count on someone else and you will save yourself a lot of aggravation and wasted time.

  7. #7

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    Quality PC shops sand blast your frame and clean it prior to PC. But I agree, any threads, plug them. Forgoit to add, I had a set of Fatbob tanks PCd, super results

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    I will be the lone dissenting voice on powder.. Even though I have it on most of my bike.

    It is a superior coating and it cleans much, much better than paint. It wears better.

    But, when you're constantly refining something and making small changes, it doesn't lend itself to that well and it isn't easy to color match or touch up. Particularly if you get away from the blacks and into the metallics and candy looking finishes. If you want to remove it? Good luck.. It's a major, major PITA.

    I like it on components, to make them easier to clean. I have clear over a polished transmission. Black wrinkle over crappy engine castings. Candy Metallic on the Vette's oil pan and TPI intake, because there's no good way to keep either of them clean.

    It works great there. I have even used it on pitted flanges and castings, and sanded it flat afterwards. I have seriously considered using it inside things like the intake plenum on the TPI as a smoothing, hillbilly, extrude hone, type finish..

    Dunno that I'm going to hit my whole frame with it, though? You want to touch it up or weld a bracket or something and it'll be a pain in the ass.

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    Quote Originally Posted by confab View Post
    I will be the lone dissenting voice on powder.. Even though I have it on most of my bike.

    It is a superior coating and it cleans much, much better than paint. It wears better.

    But, when you're constantly refining something and making small changes, it doesn't lend itself to that well and it isn't easy to color match or touch up. Particularly if you get away from the blacks and into the metallics and candy looking finishes. If you want to remove it? Good luck.. It's a major, major PITA.

    I like it on components, to make them easier to clean. I have clear over a polished transmission. Black wrinkle over crappy engine castings. Candy Metallic on the Vette's oil pan and TPI intake, because there's no good way to keep either of them clean.

    It works great there. I have even used it on pitted flanges and castings, and sanded it flat afterwards. I have seriously considered using it inside things like the intake plenum on the TPI as a smoothing, hillbilly, extrude hone, type finish..

    Dunno that I'm going to hit my whole frame with it, though? You want to touch it up or weld a bracket or something and it'll be a pain in the ass.
    I prefer paint over powdercoat as well.

  10. #10

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    I have certianly have had more than one occasion having to weld on a power coated frame. Things come up with builds, etc...... You rough sand the PC off, weld, and paint over the aera. Just like paint, really no dif. If you think, doing it on a paint job requires the same: Match shade, paint, clear over.........

  11. #11

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by confab View Post
    I will be the lone dissenting voice on powder.. Even though I have it on most of my bike.

    It is a superior coating and it cleans much, much better than paint. It wears better.

    But, when you're constantly refining something and making small changes, it doesn't lend itself to that well and it isn't easy to color match or touch up. Particularly if you get away from the blacks and into the metallics and candy looking finishes. If you want to remove it? Good luck.. It's a major, major PITA.

    I like it on components, to make them easier to clean. I have clear over a polished transmission. Black wrinkle over crappy engine castings. Candy Metallic on the Vette's oil pan and TPI intake, because there's no good way to keep either of them clean.

    It works great there. I have even used it on pitted flanges and castings, and sanded it flat afterwards. I have seriously considered using it inside things like the intake plenum on the TPI as a smoothing, hillbilly, extrude hone, type finish..

    Dunno that I'm going to hit my whole frame with it, though? You want to touch it up or weld a bracket or something and it'll be a pain in the ass.
    Thanks a ton for your reply, I think this line of thought makes most sense to me. I know after this winter I won't be done modifying my frame for good, might be easier on me in the long run to deal with touching-up damage/wear with the trade off of not being totally locked in to a setup without having to strip down to the bare frame just to touch it up/re-powder.

    Never thought about using powder for smaller components. I've made a lot of brackets and components on my bike, including the whole rear sissybar section. I like the idea of just powder coating those things that I know I won't be changing or modifying.

    Thanks!

  12. #12

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tzienlee View Post
    personally I would go powder for a few reasons
    but there are also one or two reasons why not to,
    first, if done properly, powder is harder, longer lasting & will give ya the silky smooth dipped in treacle look,
    but to get that it needs shot blasting, then smooth flatted back by hand to get rid of blast puckering, then a pre heat with a primer, then colour followed by a clear,
    each powder must be compatable or ya pissing in the wind, a good powder coaters will mask & plug threads & mating surfaces with either a heat proof tape or with silicon bungs removed once coated or soon after being fired, i prefer before, then re-tap all threads to get any stray powder out
    plus there are many types of powders & not all by far, are designed to last & protect outside,
    a buddy had his frame shot blasted & satin silver powdered at work,... after a month rust was leaching through as the powder he used at work was for indoor furnature use & wasnt waterproof for outside use,
    get it done by the best, not by the cheapest or a buddy who can do it cheap where he works,
    downside is it's a bitch to remove if you ever needed to before & after welding if you need to later where wet paint can be blended in easily, plus if ya want trick custom powders they are few & kin expensive..

    Thanks for the reply. Yeah I would definitely not want to powder coat myself. Whole idea in getting a more durable long-lasting paint would hinge on letting the pros handle it. I have equipment for spray, and did the spray work on my tins myself and it worked out.

    I got a lot to think about here. On one hand it'd be nice for the durability of powder, but I think I'd be afraid of not being able to easily modify my frame any more.

  13. #13
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    When I was coming up the hot ticket was Imron clear over lacquer. It gave a finish that looked like glass and would withstand chips and the elements. Wicked stuff to spray, super toxic and all, and God help you if you needed to strip it off, lol.

    I am pretty impressed with how well the House of Kolor clear held up on my bike. Like Imron it is a catalyzed paint which sets up pretty hard, but still not as much as the Imron did.

  14. #14
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    PS: I do powder on lots of smaller things, and I use the Harbor Freight powder coater set (Which I think I gave 70 bucks for) and an old electric oven from the classifieds section I bought for 35...

    And it works pretty darn good!

    Can't fit a frame, obviously.. But it'll do anything else on a bike.

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