[LOTS OF PICS] Turning a neglected old Torker into a shiny new blue uni for a friend!

This is a long post, a bit of a narrative describing a small project in progress. It involves the first time I’ve ever painted anything metal, as well as the third time I’ve bought a unicycle for a friend.

It might be boring for anybody who’s an expert painter, but I’m proud of my amateur accomplishment so I wanted to do a little project writeup.

Since I’ve realized that my good friend Dan is far too dangerous for the world as a jogger (video evidence), I’ve taken it upon myself to train him as a unicyclist. He’s practiced quite a bit on my 20” as well as a Sun 20” that I bought for another friend a year ago, and compared to the other friend (who quickly gave up), he seems really keen on learning. So, I figured that it would suit him to have his own unicycle.

Being the kind of person who really enjoys giving gifts, I decided to hit up Craigslist. A quick search for “unicycle” lead me to one guy selling a “Fun” (yes, not Sun) brand uni for $100, a no-brand uni for $70, and another listing for a Torker 20” for $50. I chose the Torker. Like most Craigslist ads, there was one blurry picture with “almost new barely ridden just a little dusty” and a phone number. I shot him a text, talked him down to $30, and headed out with the excitement of a giddy schoolgirl to get my friend a gift. I was hoping that I could maybe do a practice ride with him later that day.

Of course, like most Craigslist ads, “just a little dusty” actually means “recently recovered from a swamp.” As the owner rolled up in his two-tone rusty pickup, I felt a little hesitant. This thing was rough. The tire was flat, as expected, but the entire thing was covered in a solid layer of grime – not the well loved mud of fresh muni, but the thick sludge of disuse and neglect. Sad day. I handed over my $30 and wondered if I should have backed out of the deal.

The bearings were gummed up with swampy sludge, the decals were faded and peeling, and the frame looked like it was potentially rusty in spots where the paint had chipped off. As an added bonus, the hub came complete with a spider web. I’m surprised the guy didn’t list it as “silk spoke reinforcers” and jack up the price.

The frame is interesting. I can’t tell what model of Torker Unistar this is. It’s definitely an older one, maybe circa 2003? My girlfriend owns a newer LX and it’s not even close. I looked up pictures of the various models and now they all have flat crowns. Note that this one has a round crown. DX? CX? Anyone with an idea can feel free to chime in. :slight_smile:

As I inspected the unicycle, I decided that giving this thing as a gift would be a good way to lose a friend. So, I decided to give it a meticulous, thorough deep cleaning, and also go outside my comfort zone and do something I’ve never done before: paint the frame.

Excited for a new project, I called my friend and told him about my surprise. Then I asked him what color he wanted. I was excited for the prospect of something vibrant and eye-catching. Maybe a bright purple, or a color-shifting metallic green, or even some kind of shiny nuclear orange.

Nope. “Dark blue,” he says.

I’m more of a fan of crazy, shiny, and bright, but oh well - it’s his unicycle. At least he could tell people it was a Kris Holm. :slight_smile:

With that, I bought some paint and spent the next fifteen hours in the garage. Surprisingly, the tire held air, so I inflated it and tested it out for a few pedals. At least it was ridable. Satisfied, I took the whole thing apart and got down to meticulously detailing every last part. I was going to change out the pedals (which I had originally suspected as low quality Walmart pedals), but upon a deep cleaning I discovered they are almost-brand-new Wellgos, so I’ll keep those on the final product.

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Since it didn’t even have a valve stem cap, I cannibalized one from the crappy old mountain bike I always take parts from. For a finishing touch I think I’ll buy something a little cooler and put that on instead.

After reading for about five hours on steel painting, I decided to dive in. I stripped and sanded the frame and other metal parts, making sure to wear gloves the whole time and wipe down any oils that may have come into contact with the bare metal.

Then I hit it with a few coats of primer.

I spent the remainder of the day applying the paint, lightly sanding every other coat or so. I put about 4 coats of Oxford Blue Satin, and another 4 coats of clear. Note that I’m painting the thing standing up on the bearing holders - I thought about stringing it up and suspending it in the air, but I decided to just leave the insides of them untouched through the whole process. They’re black, but you’ll never know.

For my first time painting, I’m quite happy with it. Obviously powdercoating is a better option, but I’ve always wanted to do some metal painting so I figured this was a perfect opportunity. Considering I was just spraying in my garage without any wind protection – and of course it started storming outside – things turned out really well; no bubbles or streaks to speak of on the frame itself. There is a small rough patch on the seat clamp, but that’s going to be hidden when it gets put on anyway.

My inner perfectionist wanted to sand the clamp all down again, but after a great deal of soul searching I decided to let it pass. It was a character building exercise.

In retrospect, it would have looked even better to spray the clamp in yellow, or black, or even just clearcoat over the bare metal, but I think it’ll be just fine for my first attempt at painting.

I’m not sure how long this will hold up, but I made sure to focus on prep, multiple coats, and lightly resanded every other coat or so. My girlfriend teased me for taking fifteen hours to paint a small piece of pipe, but I’m really quite OCD when it comes to this kind of stuff.

No matter what, I had fun doing it and learned something, and that’s what counts. Plus, my friend gets a free unicycle out of the deal, so if it rips off like plasti-dip in a tornado on the first ride… he still has a free unicycle.

I’m going to let everything cure for the rest of today and tomorrow, and then slap it back together so I can give it to him on Wednesday. I’ll post an updated picture of everything together when that time comes.

Perfect? Not even close. But for my first try I’m quite happy with the results.

Beatiful finish on the paint work. Well done Foxxy :slight_smile:

Looks like it turned out really well! I’m looking forward to seeing it all put together. Yes, fifteen hours is a lot of time but you’ll be looking at it for an even longer time when you watch your neighbor on it so you should like what you’ll be seeing. Rattle cans save time mixing paint and cleaning up, but it takes even more prep and care to get a decent outcome with them. You did good there.

Thank you, gentlemen. :slight_smile: I’m quite happy with the result considering it was my first time. I tend to overprepare and over-research when I take on new things I’ve never tried before, but as I’ve heard over and over, preparation is 90% of the battle with painting. So it was a good fit and a fun way to spend my day.

Nice job. Perhaps this is the AX model. Search the forum and you’ll find pictures of it.

Scratch that. Older models had a round crown.

I never knew that Torker made an aluminum uni. I’d never heard of the AX until you mentioned it, which made me do a lot of reading. So I learned something at least. :slight_smile:

I think I’ve figured it out. It appears to be a 2003-or-earlier LX. This looks like it exactly:

According to the site I found the picture on, the 2004 model had a “new flat crown,” so everything prior was round. Also according to that site, the LX of that generation came with black Wellgo pedals and 125mm cranks. Along with the picture, that convinces me it’s an old LX.

If this thing really has been “lightly ridden,” I’m betting somebody bought it in 2003, couldn’t figure it out, and it’s been gathering grime in a barn for twelve years.

That’s definitely an LX. I’ve got the same wheel with a square crown frame. It’s not an AX since they didn’t make it that size if I remember correctly.

Looks sharp so far, keep it up!

Great job! That’s a really nice shade of blue.

Very neat!

Now we want to see it re-assembled!

That’s my goal for this evening, if only to get a few good pictures. :slight_smile:

So, I can officially say I’m finished with my little project! Considering it was my first painting job, I think it turned out pretty well, and it definitely has a unique (if simple) look.

The pedals look almost brand new! I have a good feeling that this thing hasn’t been ridden much.

I figured I’d add one last custom touch and swap out the boring basic valvestem cap for something a little more personalized.

As excited as I was to give it to my friend… there was still one thing left to do.

And that thing was riding it, of course.

By the way, it’s a known fact that wearing a pink shirt makes you more aerodynamic and better able to perform cool tricks.

Science doesn’t lie.

This thing might have started out in a swamp, but now it’s clean enough to eat off of.

So that’s that! My little unicycle customization project is finished, and all things considered I’m extremely happy with it. For my first time painting something, I had very few issues and it was quite a lot of fun. I’d definitely do it again. For a total cost of around $60 (half for the unicycle, half for painting supplies), it was well worth the investment.

And now my friend has a free unicycle with a nice new paintjob to destroy! :smiley: