Introduction: Bicycle Steel Frame Overhaul

About: I love building and creating things.

Greetings fellow members,

It's been a very long while since I posted an Instructable, the reason being that most of the DIYs I've done so far have been left incomplete so I took the opportunity of posting this one since it's my most recent and also complete.

History: As we grow, we all have these memories of awesome experiences etched in out minds, many of mine involve around this old bicycle that I got when I was 9. I've rode thousands of km's on it and I kept using it even as I grew into an adult. This bike was gifted to me by my father, and I've used it to the max, since its a MTB I did some crazy trails on it, so it suffered some damage on the frame. It had a misalignment of about 3 cm on the rear triangle causing the wheel to touch the frame, the brake and lose gears. So I've got a new bike to do my trails but what to do with this old relic?! It gave me so many great memories that I decided to give it a second wind, a new life so that it may still give me a lot more memories on times to come.

Objective: My main objective is to turn an old MTB into a Roadie that can still be used whenever required. Since the frame suffered damage in the trails I decided to remove it from those altogether and turn it into a road bike. The frame also suffered corrosion damage from use and exposure to the elements, so new paint its a requirement as well. Most of the parts on the bike are as old as the bike itself, changing those was also a priority.
So bluntly my objectives were:
1) Realign the frame;
2) Cleanse the frame of corrosion the best possible;
3) Change old parts into new or better ones.

Materials: So I'll divide the Overhauls into 3 phases according to my objectives, and determine what I need for each one.

1)Fixing the frame:

*For assembly and disassembly of the frame, a tool case with spanners, wrenches, pliers, hex keys, hammer, chain tool; FREE since I own all those;
* For fixing the misalignment, a string or thin rope at least 2 meters long, measuring tape, hands on attitude;

2)Cleaning and painting the frame:

* A knife to remove old stickers; FREE
* 200 grit sand paper; about 1$
* Dish washing soap to remove oil and grime; FREE
* Paint primer; 6$
* 1x Spray Green Fluorescent Matte Paint; 12$
* 1x Spray Black Matte Paint; 6$
* Masking tape; 1$
* Old newspaper; FREE
* Fan to use as a extractor for paint fumes; FREE
* Face mask; Had one already FREE
Total------------- 26$


* New cassete; 17$
* New derailleur; 10$
* New seat; 10$ on ebay
* New used pedals; 10$ online
* Aluminium stem riser; 9$ on ebay
* Aluminum handlebar stem; FREE from a friend
* Silicone foam grips; 3$ on ebay
* Felt pads for scratch protection; 1$
* New rims (still to come); 40$
* New road tires (still to come); Still Unknown
Total------------- 100$

So let''s get to it.

Step 1: The Old.

This is the bike as I rode it for 26 years, most of the parts are worn out. The steel bars, drop post and stem riser are constantly rusting and staining the frame, the reason I decided to change as many old parts to Aluminium, also in a attempt to reduce some weight.

As the bike sits, the frame misalignment makes it unusable, the gears don't shift properly due to the age of the parts. The bike weighs 18 Kg with full load out.

I will not be showing any photos of the disassembly and assembly of the bike.

Step 2: Re-aligning the Frame.

For this step I used the wire or thin rope and passed it in front of the head-tube, and taped the ends on each of the dropouts, once the rope is tensioned I can measure the distance between the seat tube and the rope and have an idea of how much I need to force each side of the seat-stays.

My measurements game me a misalignment of 3 cm of the whole rear triangle.

I measured the distance between dropouts as a reference for the for reinstalling the rear hub.

For the alignment process I determined which side was coming out of the center line the most, Placed the frame sideways and with my weight I stepped on the dropouts gently to make them move inwards. Basically I reset the frame.The distance between the dropouts was dramatically reduced but now gives me the opportunity to gently reopen the dropouts to my desired position.

For the reopening of the dropouts, I placed the bike frame sideways with the head-tube against the lower corner of a doorway, and i sat on the opposite side of the doorway. Placed my feet on the seat-tube, and with my hands pulled the respective dropout towards me, rotating the frame so I could work both dropouts. Always checking the distance between the rope and seat-tube with the measuring tape after each pull, until I had the same distance on both sides. Took me about 30 minutes. Once doing this you need to be patient, don't pull too much, just enough, and keep rotating the frame. Don't forget the dropouts are connected so one pulls the other, it's always a 3 step forward 1 step back kinda situation. Once done I did the final check with the original distance between the dropouts and did some minor adjustments to guarantee the passage of the rear hub.

I did it this way because it was the best way for me, but there's many ways to fix a misaligned frame, its full of tutorials on the web, even here in Instructables.

Step 3: Cleaning, Priming the Frame and Paiting

So using the knife I removed all old graphics, which were old and cracking. Once that was done, i passed the 200 grit sandpaper to remove all remains of old glue and graphics, and focused on the rust bitten areas, digging all the way to the metal. I made sure to leave the original paint where it was good for extra protection. Didn't manage to do anything on the inside of the frame, although I could have had it chemically cleaned and treated it would cost me a fortune to do so. I decided it was not worth the cost, I rather be careful with the frame keeping it away from the elements.

Before the painting starts remember to paint in a well ventilated place, and use a face mask to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals.

Once all was sanded and cleaned, I used the same wire from before and hanged the frame by the dropouts and fork by the center-tube and gave it a few layers of primer, made sure to use all of the primer to give it a layer as thick as possible.

Once the primer was dry, I applied the main paint, which I chose to be Fluorescent green, I applied thin layers of paint so there was no dripping, focusing on the most visible parts of the bike frame. Also used all the paint to make sure I have the thickest layer of paint possible.

Step 4: Masking and Final Details.

So I've decided to paint black the whole undercarriage of the bike, since its the parts most exposed to dirt, grime and grease, making it easier to clean and conceal stains.

I masked the seat-tube, chain stays and bottom of the frame and covered the remainder of the frame with newspaper. Did the same process with the fork. Make sure you pack all newspaper tightly, paint fumes get in the smallest of spaces.

Once all masking was done went back to the paint booth to apply the black paint, also in thin layers, as many times as possible.

Once the frame was completely painted, I unmasked everything and left it to dry completely for 12 Hours.

Step 5: Final Assembly and Tryout

So the paint is completely dry, and I reassembled the bike with all the new parts as can be seen on the first photo.
With new seat, a new sealed system for the stem eliminating the old steel one, the new cassette and derailleur.

To protect the new paint I placed felt pads in the contact areas between the cable housings and the frame, also appllied electrical tape on the chain-stay next to the group set to serve as a chain-guard.

Went for a tryout ride, the bike is like new, no misalignment, no missing gears and no rust. Now it weighs 15,6 Kg with full load-out.

I'm now using the bike for road training almost every day, no complaints. Still intend to upgrade the rims from 26" to 28" or 29" and some thin road tires. Once I do that I'll update this Instructable as well.

Hope you liked this overhaul, what would you have done differently? Any suggestions and comments are welcome.


Step 6: Still to Come... New Rims and Tires

Will update when done.