I recently acquired a steel fork, but the paint is very damaged and I would like to polish it and have it silver colour.

What is a good system to have it nice as the one they sell, which look so bright?


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    The ones which are shiny are chromed, not painted over plain steel. – Batman Oct 10 '16 at 16:59
  • I would like only to clean it, and then apply some clear coat. I know that anodized are the shiny ones, right. Do you suggest anything to remove the old paint? – Paolo Goatspeed Oct 10 '16 at 17:01
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    It's probably going to look worse than it already does (post a picture). Read this as well: sheldonbrown.com/paint-prep.html – Batman Oct 10 '16 at 17:07
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    You best bet would be to media blast the old paint off, and then sand it with increasingly fine paper, start with 320 and work up to 2000 grit or higher, the higher you go the less lines you will see and the more polished it will look. After you get it where you want it apply several coats of clear coat. it will look raw rather than polished but you should be able to get a good sheen. – Nate W Oct 10 '16 at 17:21
  • Guys thanks a lot, I will try and do as you say! a lot of people online use some toxic paint remover, and I was wondering if I could go around it. I really appreciate it. – Paolo Goatspeed Oct 10 '16 at 17:30

Shiny metal parts on a bike are either chromed steel, stainless steel, aluminum, or titanium.

Bare steel can be polished to a shine, but the shine will only last a few hours (if that). Steel naturally reacts with oxygen in the air and turns to rust, so any steel that is not to be painted is generally plated with chromium.

Stainless steel (which is essentially steel mixed with chromium) can be polished to a shine and will hold the shine, but it's heavy and its properties as a metal are not ideal for major structural pieces (though it does make pretty good screws and the like).

Bare aluminum isn't really all that shiny, but rather has a matte finish due to being "anodized". If aluminum is not anodized it also oxidizes and turns kind of a mottled white/gray.

Titanium can be polished to a shine and is reasonably corrosion resistant (it oxidizes but the oxide is protective). It also costs an arm and is only found in expensive bikes.

You can attempt to polish the steel and then clear-coat it, but you're not likely to be very successful. Steel that is to be exposed to reasonably harsh environmental conditions needs to be "primed" with a special type of paint that chemically bonds to the steel. Other coatings are apt separate and peel off.

  • Thanks for the answer. I must say that I did never paint or un-paint much; I have quite some experience "using" some materials but the few times I used "paint remover chemicals" or spray painted the result was quite poor. Probably the best painting result I obtained was by brush-painting. I appreciate the input and suggestions by you all. How would you suggest to remove the paint from the forks I am planning to repaint, would be a hard work to do it just by sandpaper and brushes? Let's see what I will manage to do... – Paolo Goatspeed Oct 10 '16 at 18:33
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    @PaoloGogliaUnchained - Hard to say what the best approach would be to remove the existing paint. Simply sanding is apt to be difficult, as the factory paint (if well done) is quite hard and well-attached. Likewise, using chemical strippers might not be effective on certain baked-on finishes. – Daniel R Hicks Oct 10 '16 at 21:26
  • it is very true! – Paolo Goatspeed Oct 11 '16 at 5:58

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