Friday, May 29, 2009

And so it begins in earnest...

On Memorial Day, I met Jerry Campora. Jerry is semi-retired, lives in the Pittsboro area, and is the one name on everyone's lips when I ask about refinishing a bicycle frame.

Jerry came down a few years ago from the Northeast, where he was a crane operator. On the side, he was learning how to media blast and powdercoat, two things he wanted to learn so he could work on hot rods, one of his hobbies.

Richard's Red Raleigh was done by Jerry, and the results were pretty spectacular. Several of the fellas at the Clean Machine and the Bicycle Chain had previously had bike parts blasted and powdercoated by Jerry, and all had good things to say.

I met Jerry in the morning, on a beautiful day. He came out and shook my hand, and we looked at my frame and forks. Jerry said they were in pretty good shape, and would need no bodywork. He took me through his shop, showed me examples of his work. The shop was spotless. The equipment was clean and ready to use. His examples? He pulled a fork down off the wall.

"This is just an old trash fork I powdercoated," he explained.

It looked better than new. Folks, there are brand new bikes sitting on showroom floors that didn't look as good as the finish on that fork. It was french blue, with a high shine. The lugged fork crown was in stark relief; not too thick, not too thin. Just perfect. I was sold on Jerry's skills.

We dug out the color samples, and looked through them. I had decided, after seeing a particularly nice Rene Herse porteur online, that I was going to go as classic as possible, without going black. I went with a medium, non-metallic gloss grey. It's close to what you might call a 'flannel grey'. I also asked him to grind off the old cable guides, as I would not be needing them on a single speed bike.

(A Rene Herse Porteur from the mid-1950's. Classic.)

Jerry assured me he could give me an excellent finish on the frame and fork, and that all the un-coated areas would be kept pristine. We shook hands, and I left my baby in his capable hands.

The price was reasonable, and within my budget. I'm quite glad, because for the level of work Jerry was showing me, I had expected to pay a bit more. This will likely be the most expensive single part of my rebuild, and I want it done right.

Jerry called the next day to say the powder was ordered, and everything was on schedule. He was beginning prep work. I like Jerry, he answers calls and asks questions. If he says something is so, it will be so. That's how business should be done.

When he was prepping the frame, and preparing to grind off the old cable guides, Jerry noticed that the guides had been welded in such a way that grinding them off might grind into the frame. Instead of taking a chance, he called me, and recommended leaving them in place and coating them. I agreed.

The finished powdercoating should be back in my hands next week! I am a bit excited about this. I have moved out of the deconstruction, and into the re-construction! This makes me happy.

Future plans for the frame and forks include having the lugs all relief-pinstriped, and having old-style 1940's script logos painted on in the proper locations. Photos will be in the offing.

*does the happy-snoopy dance*

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