This is what the frameset looks like after I touched it up.  I decided to take some pics before building it up, while the touchups I did could still be appreciated, and before putting some fresh new chips on it.

The photos with a yellow border are linked to "before touchup" photos, for comparison.  Click any part of the photo to see them.

I've included some touch up tips at the bottom of the page.



I used Testors enamel to mix my own touchup paint for this frame (as well as others before).  It's inexpensive and easy to find (you can buy it at any hobby shop or arts & crafts store, but not Home Depot), there's a large assortment of colors (even metallics), it adheres well, and it dries fairly hard.

For this color I started out with White, and I added one small drop of Blue at a time until I got close to the right color.  Then I started adding one tiny drop of Blue at a time, using a toothpick to add tiny drops and to mix the paint.  Remember that it's better to add too little than too much, otherwise you may have to start over.    Eventually I got the right color match (at least to my eyes). By the way, I use plastic bottle caps for my mixing.  They hold the right amount of paint, it's easy to mix the paint inside the cap, and you can cover it with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator if you need to stop for a while.

Once you think you have a good match, brush a little paint on an inconspicuous part of the frame, then wait until it dries (about 20 minutes).  If you have a hard time finding the spot you painted when you come back, you're in good shape.  If not, wipe it clean with a some thinner/mineral spirits - it'll come right off and not damage your original finish, don't worry - and keep trying until you have a good match.  This is a trial and error process that is not difficult, it just takes patience.

Once I had the right color match, I applied the paint with extra small artist brushes that I bought at an arts supply store.  The smaller the spot, the smaller the brush that I used (I only used three brushes for this job - small, very small and really tiny).  In the case of chips (as compared to scratches of scuffs), I take the touchup paint to the edge of the chip.  In the case of scratches or scuffs without a hard edge, I go a little over the area that needs attention.  I don't worry about trying to  make the edges blend seamlessly, or about the depth of the touchup paint being equal to the original paint.  So long as the touchup paint is a good color match, the final result will look good.

My rule of thumb is that if that if I can't tell where the touchup is from six feet away, I'm happy, especially on the big touchups.

Let me know if you have any touchup tips to share.

UPDATE:  My thanks to Mark Cutrufelli who wrote with the following helpful suggestions:

If you have a McCormick paints nearby they will custom match a hard rust resistant enamel at less than $5 a pint. I used it on a very hard to match beige old Buick Century years ago and it lasted and stopped the rust as stated. Testors is soft (they make a higher line but still soft). When you touch up cable guides with Testors you will find the paint - even after drying one year - rubs off on the cable housing. Auto painters will also often mix small quantities at a higher price for you. Your local Home Depot will custom match hard enamels but I recommend McCormick as the best I have used. Their paint is quite hard and they do an EXACT match! Also, isolating the spot with a tape with punched hole is a good technique. Oh yes, Branford bike has Letour clear touchup for the topcoat. Great stuff.

UPDATE:  My thanks to Bruce Thompson for the following advice:

I concur with the last person who posted a comment about the softness of the Testors paint.  In that it may look fine to photograph a bike that sits indoors, it can never stand up to abrasion or weather, not to mention a good past wax.  I am not satisfied if a touch-up can be detected from 6 inches away, much less 6 feet.
  I first prep the chip by deciding if there is rust in the pit or not.  Also if there is loose or chipped paint I will remove it with a small needle file. With a toothpick I will dab a drop of Naval Jelly just big enough to fill the chip hole. It is important not to let the Naval Jelly to run on the rest of the painted frame.  I fill several chip holes at the same time and wait at least half an hour and then wipe the area(s) off with a wet rag.  If you became friends with an auto body shop, you could secure a small bottle of epoxy primer and catalyst.  I was fortunate enough to find a can of each at a yard sale...enough for 30 years of filling in scrapes and stone chips.  I will mix the catalyst and the resin  a couple of drops at a time on the lid of a paint can and again apply the primer with a clean toothpick.  Wait about a half hour for it to dry.
   The paint products I prefer are from the automotive paint company "Dupli-Color"   Although they don't have every color under the sun, their products are LACQUER and the lacquer works better, dries faster, shapes, sands, and polishes better than anything else I have found.  I always have a bit of lacquer thinner on hand when I work the touch ups.  If the chips are excessively wide or very deep, you must also make the determination of using a 'spot putty', also available at auto supply houses.  This stuff is thick and goes over a primer then should be primered AFTER it is sanded smooth.
   I fill a small metal cup with the lacquer and slightly thin it, filling up an artists brush till its full.  We are not just painting to cover the chip but filling the void.  So I give a slight push to the brush and draw it out slowly watching for the 'dome' to show on the filled hole.  Lacquer can dry in as little as 10 minutes so there is a chance to do several chips in a single pass.  One of the methods I use to level the new paint is to have those flat wooden swizzle strips that better coffee shops have on hand.  I usually make about a dozen disappear on a visit.  When I get home, I will sand the ends smooth and then super glue 320, 400, and 600 grit strips to the ends.  This is what takes off the rounded dome of the chip.  If the paint is not 'proud' you will have to do it again.  Successive sanding is followed by using the nail buffers that your wife has.  If you are certain of your masculinity, you can go to a beauticians supply and pick ups a small pile.  The grit of these abrasives are not specified, but will be down to about 1000 grit if you chose right.  One one side there is usually a 'buffing' or polishing side without abrasive.  This is the final step.  Buff out any of the course grit marks and then stand back and admire the work.  You then may apply a thin coat of clear if you wish.  I just finished a GRANDIS that looked like it was rolled down a cliff and is now almost show-room quality.  You can't tell where the chips were from 3 inches.  







Updated September 21, 2008