Paint or Powder indeed. I have been agonising with should I paint, or powder coat the cycle parts of my Squariel. My decision has been to use the right tool for the right job. That being to powder coat the frame and to paint the tinware.  I can hear my traditionalist friends cringe at this so hopefully the results will prove me right.

The Right Man for the Job

After plenty of searching, I found a powder coater not too far from me that specialises in small parts. Even more importantly was that his ratings and customer feedback were spot on. A call to Roberto from Roberto’s Custom Power, left me with the impression that I was talking to a guy that is passionate about his craft. He knew about Square Fours and said that he had coated one some eight years ago. I am still staggered by the amount of clutter that can be bolted to an Ariel Square Four frame. So, with several boxes, some pictures and an inventory list in hand, I went to visit Roberto’s.

Roberto's custom powder

Squariel frame pick up at Roberto’s

Talking with Roberto in person, confirmed my first impression that here is a guy that I can trust. I was careful about two things at this stage. I left the timeframe for getting the job done up to them and I did not ask for a quote. Reason being is that the paint finish is critical in having a presentable finished product. I did not want to compromise that by rushing them or being a cheapskate. I had a figure in mind for cost after reading the service catalogue on their website. Arriving with four times more parts than a normal person would, I actually had a couple of figures in mind. Those being what I hoped that it would cost and what I expected it would cost. As with my chrome plater, I am more than happy to pay for a quality job. Based on the finished product from Roberto’s, I am super happy with what I ended up with.

Ariel Square Four Rear Brakes

Rear Brake Plate

A Little Worried

Some weeks after dropping the parts off, I got a call from Roberto’s asking me to come over. Thinking that it was too soon for the job to be finished, I was a bit worried that something was lost or had blown apart during prep. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. The guys just wanted to double check where surfaces would mate, bearings would fit and generally what bits to leave unpainted. They also showed me the steps that they were taking in preparation. They showed me some bits that we cleaned, some that were primed then some that were ready for top coat. Once again, I left with a comfort that the Squariel is in safe hands.

Squariel Forks

Front Fork Leg

Picking up the finished parts

I picked up the finished parts on Friday. They showed me how, on old bikes, they put effort into making the bits that you see look good. They also like to leave lugs and cast parts looking as they did from the factory. Even better was that I can now easily read the frame number. It was not very legible previously and this is something else that Roberto’s are careful to preserve. Every part was inspected, checked off my inventory and carefully wrapped. I was rapt also. I could not have been happier with the quality and depth of finish. In fact, I now have a real fear of scratching it while putting it back together. All that foam wrapping will come in handy for protection while assembling.

4G MKII frame

Rear tank mounting

Is that a kiwi joke?

Anything that had a mating finish or threaded, was left bare or they gave it a light overspray to protect it. Their next advice for protecting the parts while in storage surprised me. It turns out that lanolin is the powder friendly product of choice to stop the bare metal from corroding. <insert Kiwi sheep joke here!> My workshop now smells mildly of a sheep shearing shed. I have spent plenty of time on farms over the years, so I don’t mind it too much. <alright, another Kiwi sheep joke if you must!>

1956 Ariel Frame

Frame Seat Tube Coated

Next steps

Hopefully I will get the tank back from the plater over the Christmas break. Then it will be a trip to the painter for the tinware. I also have a couple more bits coming up for Roberto that were not in the first job. Did I mention just how much stuff they managed to bolt to these things?

Powder Coating Ariel Parts

Powder Coated Christmas Crackers

In the meantime, I really need to get onto the wheels so that I can put together a rolling chassis. After that will be the engine……