Thursday, February 5, 2009

Huffy/Raleigh Chrome Update

I promised an update on how my super cheap-o chrome touch-up went. I didn't get everything done last weekend that I wanted to, but overall I would say that the silver paint solution is only partially successful. Here's a rust spot on the front hub before and after touch up with the silver paint sprayed on a paper towel.

Obviously, it doesn't completely match the chrome, but for just a couple dollars a can, what can you expect? After all, the idea is to make the rusty spots look better, not perfect.

The main problem, however, is that even when dry, the silver paint (and all readily available metallic spray paints, based on the customer reviews I've found online) rubs off very easily. After more than two days of drying in very low humidity, I still had a bit of silver on my fingers after handling painted items. My solution to this (hopefully) is going to be to clear coat all of the silver painted parts with spray enamel, essentially encasing the silver paint. I've experimented with this on the small nose cap on the front fender, and it seems to work. The real test will be whether it works on the brake lever, since I'm not keen on showing up silver-handed everywhere I go.

I'll add that I would not recommend this technique for folks intent on doing meticulous original restorations, or who are super-finicky about having everything look just so. This technique covers the rust, but if anyone looks closely enough, it's very obvious that it's just silver paint. Also, only time will tell how durable this solution is. That being said, I think it's going to be just fine for the Huffeigh, since it's going to be a working cargo bike, not a museum piece. 


  1. Working bikes are good. I'm glad to know the skinny on the silver paint, I think this is a case of "suspicion confirmed". Otherwise it would be too good to be true, right?

    Thanks for doing the silver-handed test for us!

  2. Perhaps a set of replacement levers from Velo-Orange? They look decent and not too out of period.

    FWIW I have never had much luck with ANY metallic paints.


  3. @ Charlotte: yeah, same for me--I wasn't holding out a lot of hope, but I think many coats of clear coat might work.

    @ 2whls3spds: I considered those, but I really like the curve of the Raleigh levers (a strictly aesthetic consideration, true), so I wanted to give this trick a go and see if it worked. I haven't ruled out other options, though. Thanks for confirming my suspicion about the metallic paints--I've avoided them until now for just that reason, but this seemed like a good project to try it.

  4. My 1971 Raleigh seems to have the same levers as yours does, so you could replace them with a more recent bike's levers (assuming you can buy a used Raliegh cheap).

    I had to check if the levers were steel, or aluminum. (They were steel, of course.) But you can't believe all you read about "All Steel Bicycles". I found a pulley had failed because it was plastic! I need to adjust the cable now...

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  6. Tinker, thanks! If I could find a cheap 1970s Raleigh around here, I wouldn't be working on a cheaper 1950s Huffeigh! ;) No, I'm kidding, you're right, of course.

    I think I'll take a look at eBay again and see if some fiend has parted-out an old Raleigh recently.

  7. Did you degrease the hub before painting? The slightest coating of oil or grease would cause the paint to slip in thte manner you describe. I usually wash everything down with a clean cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol before painting just to be sure...

  8. Oh yeah, and the other parts I painted were never greasy or oily at all, and they all had this problem. It's not so much that the paint itself is coming right off, but that the sparkly "metallic" bits suspended in the paint are shedding when they are rubbed.

  9. A couple options for the levers I can think of:
    Brake lever covers in rubber or leather.
    Tool handle coating available at any hardware store or even at Mal Wart.
    I own a '74 Raleigh DL-1 which is in slightly rough shape that I have set up as a cargo hauler. Like you, I'm not going for the perfect rebuild so much as having a very useful classic bicycle. Will send links to photos soon.

  10. Hey, that's a great idea! I was also thinking cloth tape of some kind, since my hands get pretty sweaty when riding in the summer (not to mention the rest of me, but I don't think tape is going to help that).

  11. rustoleum metallics work good if you clear them afterward