Clear coat protection for steel

Fork with the legs Permalacd and the steerer left alone

I did a little experiment with a product called Permalac.  I heard about it through the mtbr frame forum i think as a potential clear coat for steel.  I like this possibility for DIY frame protection, especially when you want to keep the welds free of paint so you can see if and where anything cracks.  On the first few frames I’ll definitely be using this stuff, until I get more confident in my welds and brazing.

little spots of surface rust on the steerer

I sprayed my first fork legs with this stuff the other day and left the steerer tube alone to see what would happen.  I left the fork out in the rain and snow and sun mix that we’ve had the last few days and took a look to see how one coat of Permalac did.  As you can see, the steerer has little spots of surface rust and the legs don’t! I’m not sure how it’ll hold up to getting hit by rocks or getting scratched by branches, but for my purposes it’ll do just fine.  I can always spray more on if it chips away. $25 for a spray can that will last several bikes is much cheaper than getting everything powdercoated!

EDIT (Aug. 8th, 2011): I’ve been riding two bikes with Permalac on them and some places are still covered but others are not. The top tube looks like a sweat-stained surface-rust mess on my 1st frame. It’s easy enough to use some emery cloth to get that off and re-spray it…but I have yet to do that.  This is definitely NOT a substitute for clear-coating a steel frame. It does less than what I though it’d do in fact, spraying primer and then rattlecan automotive paint is a bunch more resistant to scratches and rubbing…and that’s not saying too much.  I will be rattle-canning it from now on so if anybody wants my extra bottle of Permalac let me know and I’ll send it to you for $20, shipping included.  I haven’t tried it on TOP of paint though…hmm…

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