clear coat raw steel

i’m thinking of stripping the paint of my frame to achieve a raw steel look.

so, once paint is removed, do i need to clear coat the frame to prevent oxidation/rust? is it possible to powder coat clear without blasting first? what other information do i need before i embark on this adventure?

I have researched this a fair bit. Every paint system or powdercoat I have looked into has a clear that will dry with little pores.
These will let in air/water and lead to rusting within a few months

Though I have been thinking that it might be worth leaving a frame raw and treating it with something like boeshield, it leaves a protective wax on the surface, you would just have to reapply every few months.

Haven’t tried this yet, just a theory

yeh i clearcoated a fork and it slowly rusts underneath, slowly

My brother’s GF has a Mercier that was off-the-shelf clear over raw. Hasn’t rusted in the 8 months she’s had it. Looks to have a fairly thick powdercoat over it.

But as Brakefree says, I also know that frames painted with acrylic clear laquer get rust lines really quick - like in weeks rather than months. I’d look into powdercoating.

I recently layered a raw frame with clear, and had some very very humid days afterwards.

Rusted in a week.

You can take the frame to a powdercoater for a clear powdercoat, slightly more durable. Otherwise stick with paint, because removing clear is quite difficult (as you dont know where it is/isnt)

wasn’t this benzy’s? this was done puposefully i believe?

i was thinking of doing this to one of my frames also, so i’d be interested in more thoughts.

as far as i knew, it’s not detrimental to the frame in a structural sense? what about a lugged frame, can you polish the lugs and have them stay shiny whilst the rest goes “rusty”? i was hoping to go raw, apply decal, polish lugs, paint lug cutouts and clear coat.

Its all steel, polish all you want it will rust.
May be use polyester resin and sand it back and polish it this has no pores.

Just so I’m clear on this, “were” saying if you put say 3 coats of 2 pac clear onto raw steel there are going to be pores that allow for oxidisation! Seriously.
I did the old Rattle can clear on bare steel and it obviously rusted, but only in the areas where there is constant contact e.g. legs rubbing on top tube, rocks n stuff hitting bottom bracket and under side of the down tube and so on. But the head stock and the seat tube (on the front side obviously) are still spotless!
I put this down to the paint having no undercoat to hold onto. Being a rattle can not 2pac and not having hardener (amongst other amazingly carcinogenic chemicals) it never really had a chance. I got a boat/hotrod painting mate I am going to get to redo mine in 2 pac clear and possibly with candy and fleks as well. I’ll stay in touch with this one, but Auto/Marine quality finish with pores hhmmmmm.

High quality auto pAints rely on chemical reactions between the base and clear coats to give a durable finish.
Just spraying clear is like trying to paint oil on water, it’s just not gonna stick properly

^^ Yeah cool, didn’t realise they worked together. I bushed back my frame pretty heavily so it had that brushed look and had a real tooth on the surface. I recon that helped with the “can” clear holding on well where it has. You recon this could help the good stuff as well? Just out of interest there was (I think it was a Cuda) on the cover of street machine mag recently that was clear over bare metal, someone has solved this one. They usually mention the painters in the write up in street machine, I might be up for a back order and a phone call hey…

I just clear coated my new Perkins road frame with 5-6 costs of 2pak clear as I wanted to get a lot of depth to the paint. I also added some white pearl into the clear, it looks amazing in the sun. I really should get around to a build thread and post some pics.

Pretty sure that cuda was just cleared to show off the body work and to protect the steel during wore steel work.
This was popular in the early hotrod days pre fibre glass bog.
This is where the term lead sled comes from when filler involved lead filler and body work was all steel.
I’m sure that cuda would have about 15 coats of paint by now.

On bare steel, so any issues getting the paint on? Sounds like you sprayed it your self yeah? Home garage booth job or what…

No problems getting the paint on, layed the coats over about 2 hours. 4 coats then the last 2 with a little more reducer for a better off the gun finish. I just finished painting my car so i had a ghetto booth setup in the garage. I’ll post some pics.

You can’t really notice the pearl in low light but you get the idea. As for the steel tarnishing, the paint is a week old and its already starting.

Brakefree suggested Boeshield — but if you want a ‘tough’ bare steel treatment, and you’re happy to do regular maintenance, then what about this Parkerizing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

That would be cool, might be too much Nickel in some frame alloys though?

There are plenty of steel frames out there with much worse rust HIDDEN under paint that you CANNOT see. My Hillman is a great example. If you dont mine possibly having to sand your frame back once a year or whatever and re-clearing it, then do it. It’s steel. Not Fairy Floss.

Plus you can see when/where the rust gets gnarly and treat it accordingly.

The following are photos of my tourer I took about 6 months ago.


It has clear powdercoat applied direct to the steel, which was bead blasted prior to coating. Apparently sandblasting will also work well but gives a much more dull appearance, whereas the beads “polish” the steel a little and makes it look almost painted. The rust has appeared, and some very faint spots appeared almost immediately, but with paint remember you cant see this happening. However it has been at least 3 years since it was coated and it gets ridden in the rain etc. The coating is quite tough and I dont see that it’s much worse than regular paint, if at all and has taken some stiff knocks without any damage that would have easily removed the paint. I’d say it’s not porous in the slightest or the whole bike would be rusty by now, which is not the case. If it’s a “showy” bike or track only type whip I’d say have no fear. Even if you use it daily it will take a couple of years at least before it starts to get ratty.

Good thread on LFGSS on the subject:

I can take some more photos in day light if anyone wants, and show some of the worse bits.