Friday, February 22, 2013

Rattle Cans

Painting stuff is fun—not to mention satisfying. (There’s something startling about the complete cosmetic makeover a splash of paint confers.) But painting stuff with spray paint? Now that’s an absolute blast. 

Messy? Of course, as with many fun activities, but that’s part of the thrill. Bad for you? Oh, yeah. Those fumes are nasty, even with full Darth Vader-style ventilator mask on. These days, what with everyone all bully on the ozone layer, we just don’t get to spray much of anything, except for the odd squirt of whip cream, air freshener, or insulation foam. The ozone layer’s well being aside, this is a shame.

I’m all aflutter about spray paint because Gil and I finally got around to painting the MB 2000 frame last weekend. This phase of the MB 2000 Project took a lot longer than I thought it would. As with most painting projects, the prep was a killer, sucking up a pile of time. I got this silly notion in my head that we could strip the old paint off the frame by using a wire brush attachment on a power drill rather than resorting to evil chemical paint removers. I guess I thought that this old-school method would somehow make the task more authentic. (I realize that spray paint itself is pretty evil stuff, but this seems different somehow. There aren't many options for applying paint effectively.) 

Well, if by “authentic” I meant tedious, time-consuming, and dusty (as in gazillions of tiny paint particles floating around my garage), then we got our fill of authentic and then some. I stopped counting the hours we put in after about ten (not all at once, of course). Then we finally gave into modernity and purchased a can of heavy varnish and paint remover. This was a glorious day. I don’t know what’s in this gunk, but it kicks paint’s ass. Thus did we learn that sometimes chemicals are our friends.

                   At the start, when the wire brush was still fun
One thing about painting—whether it’s your living room or a bike frame—is that, provided you prep properly, you sure get to know, and I mean intimately, biblically know, the object you’re painting. I feel I am on intimate terms with this bike frame. It’s not just the time we’ve spent together lo these past weeks; it’s also the intense scrutiny of its every inch. I know each joint, each weld, blemish, dent, and threaded hole. We have a bond now.

Once the onerous prep was finally finished, we got down to business—sheets of poly spread around the laundry room, windows wide open, rags and steel wool at the ready, masks and goggles in place. Bring on them rattle cans! I have to admit that I don’t really understand the science behind the rattle; however, I do totally understand the magical appeal of the sound together with the spray, making these cans part maracas, part child’s rattle, part colored air. Gil had never, in his twelve years, spray-painted anything. After the first pass, he turned to me, looking like a demented young Vader, and gave me that big-eyed look, as if to say, how come you never told me about these things you call rattle cans?  
The transformation of the likely-30-year-old frame was stunning. Gil chose an electric greenish-teal, the color of a mountain lake or some kind of cosmic plankton. I tell you, the color makes the steel come positively alive.   

The MB 2000 project has a fresh breath of life. It might just be ready for spring.

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