Is this rusted steel frame still salvageable? The local bicycle shop does sandblasting before they powdercoat a frame. Do you think the sandblasting alone would be enough to remove the rust?

I'm aware that all traces of rust must be removed, or the corrosion will continue under the new layer of paint. I'm just not sure if it would be possible in this case.

rusted steel frame

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    That looks like just surface rust, so yes. But, you'll only know when pull out the saddle, the cranks, and the fork and get a look inside the frame to see if it can be salvaged. – Andrew Henle Feb 20 '20 at 14:48
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    If you use a "rust reducing" primer you do not need to remove all surface rust. – Daniel R Hicks Feb 20 '20 at 17:10
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    Additionally - if the top tube is too far gone, a competent frame builder can cut it out and install a new tube. However this is likely to have a significant cost, and doesn't account for potential rust in other tubes. Is this bike special to you ? – Criggie Feb 20 '20 at 23:14
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    Yes, although sandblasting might be overkilling the job, however if you have that tool and know how to use it properly give it a shot. – DRP Feb 28 '20 at 14:24

Any amount of rust is removable by sandblasting or chemical means. That's not the problem here though, the real concern is how much frame material have you got left after the rust is removed. The top tube walls may be too thin for the frame to have structural integrity. Remember the steel may be rusted on the inside too, and there may be rust 'pits' that go all the way through.

If enough frame material remains, it looks like you'll have to fill and sand the top tube smooth otherwise it will look horrible when painted

I think at this stage you have to ask yourself if all this work is worth the time and money. If the frame is a rare, classic or means a lot to you it may be worth restoring, but would it cost less to just by another used bike?


If there is significant rust inside the frame it can be treated with an oxalic acid or other type of acid bath. This would also treat any surface rust prior to sand blasting.

Check your areas for auto shops which do restoration work as they likely can point you to a shop with a large bath. Some paint shops also do this service.

Should you decide to attempt to do the acid bath yourself do your homework. Some acids such as muriatic acid will release toxic gasses.


I recommend sandpaper on the paint and then emory cloth on the metal. Blasting it could cause more damage. It is tedious, but it is the best way.

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    Good thought, but sandpaper gets tiresome pretty quick, and a proper blaster will get into corners where sandpaper doesn't. Also, a smart sandblaster operator will use media appropriate to the task, not just whatever is to hand. I've seen rusty vintage car parts come back from blasting like they were almost new, the media used was fine walnut shells. – Criggie Feb 25 '20 at 7:27

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