Ok, as a follow-on to my previous blog entry where we fessed-up to buying a triplet to have “just in case” and perhaps as something we’ll be able to use with the grandkids, here is the first of what will probably be two or three updates on the re-birth of that triplet.
You’ll recall that we bought this Precision-branded triplet and quickly realized that it really needed to be stripped and repainted due to a variety of issues with the original paint job that were unique to this frame as it was the only one painted by a particular painter. As just one example, here’s a photo of the head tube area where in addition to some really rough welds, you can see where the paint had lifted along the lower weld fillet. Above that and on the internal tube you’ll see where the paint came off the frame while I was wiping off some grunge with “Goof-Off”, a fairly mild solvent. Turns out that this part of the frame had been repainted but never cleared. You can also see some heavy orange peel under the top tube as well as some very thin paint coverage. Similar issues plagued the rest of the frame, hence my decision to have it stripped and refinished right off the bat.
So, we made arrangements to drop the frame off with Hall Clarke at AirGlow in Washington, Georgia on April 20th, with a goal of having the frame back in our hot little hands by May 11th; a week before we’d be headed to the Georgia Tandem Rally… hopefully with our new triplet. Before dropping the frame off it needed to be stripped of all components which is typically a no-brainer. Well, that was until 7pm on the Thursday night before I would be headed out to AirGlow when I realized I never had to mess with any outboard bearings and didn’t have the correct tool to remove the FSA Mega EXO bottom brackets! Thankfully, we have an REI shop nearby that stays open until 9pm. And, as luck would have it, they had a Pedro’s universal integrated bottom bracket wrench in stock. It wasn’t until around 11pm that I finally got around to removing all of the parts from the frame. By 11:30pm I had everything removed, bagged and tagged and the nekkid frame was ready for the trip to AirGlow. Kind of amazing to see how few parts there really are even for a triplet where there are 3x as many seats and handlebars…
The drive out to Washington was about 2hrs, about 1/3 of the time on secondary roads, which is actually kind of nice. AirGlow is a home-based business that you’d never find without a GPS or a very good road map. The “shop” is a very non-descript outbuilding next to a family home that you’d never guess was a paint shop just looking at it from the outside. Inside it was a compact workshop with a very large paint booth. They have an oven, but no way that 8′ long triplet frame was going to fit in there.
Hall is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and his skills are amazing. There were several frames hanging in the workshop area that were absolute works of art, including a full restoration and pair of matching Six-Eleven custom frames, noting that Hall paints most of Six-Eleven’s most spectacular-looking bikes; you can find some examples HERE.
Anyway, Hall laid the frame out on a pair of saw horses outside the shop and sized up he job ahead. The only cosmetic frame work that I wanted done was a clean-up of the head tube area, as it was clearly the roughest part of the frame and also one of the most visible. Beyond that, it was just a matter of getting the old finish off, doing any minor repair to any dents or other frame issues discovered once the paint was removed, and then laying down a new finish. The paint scheme that we came up with was a huge departure from the original, and from most any other triplet that we’ve seen. In some respects, it’s a somewhat “sinister” paint scheme that pays homage to my preference for black vehicles, but with a little added touch of black cherry at the rear of the frame to help give it some visual interest and break up the otherwise massive frame. Below is a notional view I created using a drawing program I developed back in 1998 when I worked-up the paint scheme for our first Erickson. The “frame tubes” are actually cut-outs in a drawing and behind it is a color palate that allows you to create fades in any angle, etc. The color at the rear of the bike isn’t quite right for what we hope to achieve, as it should end up being a bit more subtle and a darker black cherry. In fact, I believe that the black cherry will be applied as a red pearl top coat blended with black pearl top coat on the front.
As for the branding, rather than putting the stock Precision decals back on Hall is having stencil’s made and will paint-on the logos. The down and headtube branding will be applied using the same black cherry color from the back-end of the frame on black, which should also make it pretty subtle.
As for progress to date, Hall sent over some photos of the frame lat night and it already looks amazing. As you can see, it took a lot of work to clean-up the head tube but now it’s every bit as clean as the head tube on our Calfee. The fame only had two blems that needed some work: a minor dent and then some oxidation that was painted over. You’ll also note the clever suspension system that Hall created that allows him to easily flip the frame. Finally, you can see that he’s already laid down the black base coat and it’s looking good!!! More to follow….