I spent last weekend working on the Hercules. Saturday was devoted to cleaning up the front wheel. The original rim was plated with a black stripe down the center. Unfortunately, paint over plating does not tend to last very well. Add to that the fact that it had been housepainted, and the center stripe was pretty much unable to be saved. Fortunately, the plating underneath where the paint was is still in good shape. The plating where the brake pads rub is long gone, but then that's honest wear and there's no shame in it. The sides are a bit pitted. The inside of the rim had surface rust but nothing overly serious.
Method: Cleaning a Bicycle WheelI used a basic method on the wheel rim: once I knew the paint was just going to flake off, I went for a Dremel brush and brushed it all off. It basically just came off in flakes. There's a reason you don't see a lot of makers paint large areas over plating- the paint just doesn't adhere well it seems. I took the brush around and around until it was down to the plating and metal. For the spokes, I used WD40 and bronze wool. The galvanizing is gone. There is moderate pitting on the spokes, which is never a good thing. I may re-spoke the wheel, but then again it has all its original spokes and is in tension still. Perhaps I will try to save it. On the hub shell, I used a combination of WD40 and bronze wool. On tough spots, I reached in with the Dremel wire brush and WD40.
Cleaning A Bicycle FenderThe rear fender was covered in a layer of primer, then home spray paint, then house paint on top of that. To make it worse, then another layer of white house paint was used for the white tip. Removing the fender brace bracket showed the original paint was plain black.
Polishing:Once the over paint was gone, it was time to see what the original paint could do. I took out the Scratch Doctor polish and went to work. The original black shined up for the most part. The over paint primer had made a few stains, and the area hit by the white spray paint was down to bare metal. After polishing I hit any surface rust with a Dremel brush and WD40. Last night, I came back and cleaned the inside of the fender well with soap, water, a Dremel brush, and WD 40. I then used a black paint to coat the inside of the well to prevent rust. Tonight, I returned and began to patch up the finish on the outside of the fender. I used a basic, thinned black enamel. Using a brush I filled in the holes and using a black paint/thinner impregnated rag, I rubbed over rough spots and the bare metal of the lower portion. At right you can somewhat see the results. The day was done and I was stuck with my garage lights for this picture, but it gives you the idea of the condition: decent original paint overall with some patches of touch-up.
At this point, I have to get to work on the back wheel and clean up the rim. First, I need to decide whether I am keeping the original spokes or replacing them all. Two spokes on the back wheel are replacements already, but all the other spokes on the bike are original. The fronts have some pitting. The backs look a bit better, but I still need to clean them.