DJ NS Suburban custom painted--epic picture log


Likes Dirt
I bought recently a TransAM from here that is in need of a new paint job. I wanted to do it myself, from stripping the old paint to polishing dat bish. But I didn't want to start on my "good" frame in case I messed up. Fortunately for myself, a frame came up very cheap in a moving o/s sale. The original owner did not care for the factory paint so he primed it and never got around to painting it another colour. It wasn't nice grey primer either, it was exceedingly ugly yellow/orange/yuck (sorry sam). The paint was in rough shape anyway and not at all worth salvaging.

Right away I had the idea to paint the city skyline on the frame as it's called a "suburban". This was the first mock up of what the cityscape would actually look like. Yes, I know the city is not the suburbs but I can actually see much of this skyline from nearby where I live in the burbs.


We invested in a sand blaster (as the frames are both chromo and it can also do soda) and started to work over the xmas break. There's no photos of the blasting as it's basically a mess. It took a long time but the paint was quite easy. There were several stickers on the frame which did not come off easily. They had been peeled at and soaked in solution and sworn at but the goo remained. Undoubtedly the worst part of the sanding process. The factory paint was very hard, in case anyone ever wondered, and took much effort to remove. The end result was great. After we blasted it, I hand sanded it again down to 1200. It came up amazingly smooth and good looking.

The rawed frame was cleaned with soapy water and then isopropal. With soda blasting, a bit of a film remains on the frame and you can wait up to a week (i've read) before painting so long as you clean the film off. Not sure that happens with sand. So we were very careful to clean it very well. As for priming, we just got a rattle can of metal primer. It's actually really good to use as the can allows you to get into the little fiddly spaces quite well. We did 2-3 coats of primer in all. It was sanded again to 1200 but in future I think up to 2000 would be good. The 1200 felt nice and smooth but it's not that fine. We used an old BB to shield the threads. The primer was allowed a week or so to cure, not sure if it needed it or not, it certainly didn't hurt it.

Next stop....paint


Likes Dirt
Part Deux!
The frame was never intended for me to ride as I prefer 24"s, the Mister was moderately helpful in choosing a paint scheme. His current bike fades from white to raw with blue and purple highlights. Many of the parts are already colour matched blue/purple so I decided a simple fade would be good. Originally I had wanted to airbrush clouds in the background to make a very obvious sky. It didn't happen for whatever reason, I forgot. As this is just a home project, a moderately priced "touch up" gun was purchased. Also as this was a home project and test, SCA branded enamel was purchased-it was really cheap so we got two. I had plenty of time to wait for the enamel to cure so that was a total non issue. First thing we did was mix up a custom blue, which ironically looks almost the same as factory NS blue that came out a few years ago.

I am aware I am not wearing a mask, it didn't fit properly. As this was just 1 day and outside, the likelihood of damage is minimal. However, I DO NOT recommend painting without one or supporting the Chicago Blackhawks. Paint came out my nose for a week.

This was all painted at home, but outside. We had a cover set up but it could've done with some side protection i think. The purple was exceedingly difficult to mix. It's quite dark in the flesh. This was my first go at a fade in this situation, so it could definitely be done better. There was some trickery of light happening and some bits that looked painted were actually a different colour all together. But for a first try it's decent enough.

The frame was left to cure for a week or so. Ideally you should get all your layers done together so it bonds properly but the graphic stencil couldn't go on with wet paint. Next


Likes Dirt
The whole basis of this frame is that it was a test for future projects. One of the tests was steciling and what/how/is it worth it vs vinyl decals. The city scape is intricate, especially the Harbour Bridge. The Mister suggested we use printed sticky paper stuff. Seemed alright, so we got an even cheaper test frame to try it on. The stencils here were cut out two different ways and they were not pressed firmly down to the frame along the edges like it should've been. It was applied 'freehand' so not using transfer tape. The results were decent however.

If it's not already obvious, we sorta live by the motto of "try it and see what happens!". This does result in a few "We're gonna need another Timmy!" moments but not too many.

The stencils were very careful cut out and placed on the frame. Much measuring and re-measuring was done to achieve symmetry. A guitar pick is good for smoothing down bubbles and edges. Since a stencil is cutting out the bit you want to paint, we used transfer tape to apply it. Do this. It's not at all worth trying to freehand stencils. The whole thing was very carefully cleaned again. I'd read about people using cling wrap to mask minis and thought it might work on the bike as well. I think there was 1 small spot we missed. It blends so well with the dark purple, i'm not sure I could find it now.

I procured a mask that fit and proceeded to paint. Just painted as per usual, nothing special was needed for painting the paper. I might've been a bit lighter on the application tho.

Much of the mask was peeled off straight away to prevent it from sticking or bleeding later. Some of the pieces of the Harbour Bridge were left in for days and they did not bleed so this may not have been necessary.

Once again we let it cure for a week or more before clearing it. The clear was a rattle can but I was not overwhelmingly happy with the results. We got a good 3ish layers but it did not spray as well as other cans I've previously used. It might've been too warm. The fan on it was just too large for a bike frame. In the spaces where the spray was exceedingly heavy it looked the best. So perhaps it just didn't have enough coats.
Next, frame whoring and building.


Likes Dirt
This is some frame whoring, pure and simple. This is post clear coat and pre sanding/buffing.

It was sanded again, only down to 1200 (this is the finest paper we had). This was really not enough. At least 2500 should've been done but live and learn. It was polished and waxed but that really added nothing in terms of how it looked. I think more coats of clear and better post sanding would have greatly improved the look before polishing. Also a different kind of polish has been looked into for future projects. The wax is keeping it protected for now and it may be removed for further polishing in the future too. Undecided. The frame may well end up on the wall too. :p

So, we built it. That was pretty standard process. As expected paint came off at the axle bolts. A small scratch was put in it somewhere too. I am a fairly light touch when it comes to painting so heavier or more coats are expected to be needed on future frames. We certainly didn't go heavy on this one.

Unfortunately this is the only shot of it being ridden so far. The drop is approx 2ft, so not super large. But more brave than I can do, so I won't judge....

Frame - NS Suburban (unsure park or dirt)
Front shock/fork - Marzocchi DJ1 80mm
Handlebars - BlkMrkt Bada Boom
Stem - Octane 1 Chemical
Headset - Blank
Grips - Primo
Saddle - Octane 1 combo
Seatpost - Octane 1 combo
Rear brake - Shimano Deore
Cranks - Primo Hollow Bite with Tree Bikes 23t
Chain - KMC 710SL
Pedals - Primo
Front hub - Nukeproof
Rear hub - Nukeproof SS 9t
Front rim - Spank Tweet
Rear rim - Spank Tweet
Spokes - DT
Nipples - DT
Tyres - Table Tops
Tubes - Maxxis
Total weight - Approx 12kg, fat little bastard.

Thanks for reading. I hope this helps your future painting projects. If you have advice I will listen, but since this is already done criticism of the job isn't really helpful. Let me say again, DON'T SKIMP ON YOUR PREP WORK. This could be the single most important part of the entire process really. The prep work here includes things like frame prep, stencil prep, equipment prep (ie, not having a mask that fit properly), time and space prep, etc., etc. I really can't stress enough how much being prepared makes your project flow. I am in no way a professional or even decent painter, this is just for fun.


That looks damn good, unfortunately you have made me want to have a crack at the same thing. When I start I hope it comes out as well ad your frame did.


One of the most interesting posts I've read in a while. Thanks.

No, I won't be embarking on a spray job anytime soon.


I however am very normal. Trust me.
Really nice post, love the post were people do something different.

The different wheels and grips color has set my OCD off, but it looks great.


Likes Dirt
Thanks guys. It was a super fun project.
As for the wheels, they were colour coated to accents on the first frame. I just didn't achieve the matching colours in my paint mixing. The grips were matched to the wheels based on foot position. So the left grip is blue, right is purple. I think the Mister was going to do the pedals too, but never got around to it. :)


Captain Critter!
Well done mate, love seeing the progress! City skyline looks great.

You should give industrial media blasting a go, it's cheap and effective against powdercoat, rust, stickers etc. There's a place in brookvale who did one of my frames for 50 bucks. Took no time at all too.


Likes Dirt
We wanted a blaster for cleaning a bunch of other things at home as well. It's actually pretty fun to use as well.