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Redoing a P-38, Looking for Advice

My 1994 P-38 is in need of paint so I am redoing the bike. I believe that this bike has the original finish on it because of the intact decals.
I am wondering what paint was used as it will not burn off with a torch. I have stripped many a steel frame bike this way which makes the paint easy to remove or to add braze ons.
This is different as when it gets heated it turns black, blisters and then re-hardens into a black coating that is even harder to remove than the original paint.
The chemical stripper that I used did nothing to the finish. I am planning on having a cross tube brazed into the frame like the newer frames have.
I found it best to heat the paint and scrape while soft. I only did the area where the cross tube is being installed so far.
Anyways, while disassembling the bike, I noticed that it has the Stay-Tuff protectors at 3 places on the frame. Was this a factory or aftermarket install?
I looked at a bunch of P-38 images online and about 1/3 to 1/2 have these protectors looking at the pictures.
When I reassemble the bike, is it worthwhile to have these protectors or similar on the tubes, or are they overkill?
About the chain catcher under the seat, is it needed, recommended or can I run without one? This bike does not have it and I have seen images of other bikes without it.
I have also read of some recommendations for increased fork rake on these bikes. Does anyone have any experience with this?
If this is a good idea, is it worthwhile to have the stock fork re-raked or purchase an aftermarket fork with the desired offset?
Thanks in advance for advice!

Hi JTH -

1) I think that Lightning has been using a powder-coat finish on frames for many years. You may need to take the old frame to a sandblaster to get the old finish off before refinishing. Powder-coat has a reputation for being very thick and very tough. Which makes it a good choice for things that take abuse, like bikes.

2) The sta-tuff protectors might have been applied at the factory, or perhaps years after the bike was built. It is hard to say. Should you replace them after refinishing the bike? It couldn't hurt, and it might help. Cyclists have been putting protective strips on chainstays forever, to protect the paint from getting damaged by dirty lube coming off the chain. There are a few places on the frame where the chain gets very close, so protecting those spots is a good idea. It probably does not have to be the sta-tuff material that you use. Just about any thick tape, cut to size, should do the job. If it gets damaged, you can peel it off and apply it again.

3) The chain catcher thing also helps protect the paint finish on the frame. It helps prevent the long chain from bouncing around and hitting the frame tubes. You could likely create one yourself out of a strip of aluminum. Like the sta-tuff, it can't hurt, and will probably help.

4) The Lightning P-38 is one of the few recumbent bike designs that is widely regarded as a classic. Another would be the Easy Racers Tour Easy / Gold Rush long bike. These bikes have been happily used by many thousands of riders for decades, going back to the early 1980s. They must be doing something right! It is fun to experiment with different forks, seats, handlebars, and different sized wheels. I have done this myself. But the original design - including the fork geometry - is likely the best. Experiment to your heart's content, as long as the changes you make to the bike are reversible. Maybe you will like to slow down the handling with a different fork. But do NOT start bending the original fork, or cutting up the frame! Substitute a different fork if you like. But keep the option open of returning things to the default / standard form if you decide the experimental change is not really for the better. Which you likely will.

Just my 2 cents. Hope this helps some, and keep us informed of your progress, what works for you and what does not.

Safe riding,

These three prevent most accidents: seeing, being seen, & (usually) common sense.

Thanks for the reply Joel. This bike seems to have marks in the finish that at some point there was a fairing or something installed.
My thoughts tell me that down the road at some point that I would like to add a coroplast F-40 style fairing on the bike as I have seen others do online. This would motivate me to ride in cold weather and possibly rain.
It is unlikely that I would purchase an F-40 fairing unless I could find one at a low cost, which is unlikely. Would it be wise to add mounts to the boom before paint or wait and clamp the mounts on later?
Truth be told, this may never happen.

Hi again JTH -

1) If you want to use the Lightning F40 fiberglass front fairing on your bike, you should have the little mounting stub brazed on the front of the crankset boom before refinishing. You have the skills to do this yourself. The mounting stub is 11mm external diameter, and 44mm long. Find a piece of steel tubing, fishmouth one end to conform to the curvature of the crankset boom, and attach. Or just call up Lightning and have them do it for you. This is only needed if you want to use the Lightning original fairing though. They are only available on the used market rarely. Like almost never. A new F40 full fairing from Lightning costs around $2000 or so, or at least this was the case in the past. For most people, $2000 is real money. Some deep-pocket cyclists will pay huge sums of money for aero wheels that will only give you a tiny fraction of the benefit of a full fairing. There is a picture of a nice red coroplast fairing built by Chris Broome in the photo gallery of this site.

2) If you want to create your own front fairing, you do not need the front stub. You can attach the fairing in a wide variety of ways. However you choose to attach the fairing to the bike, it is crucially important that the attachment be reliable. You do not want the fairing coming off the bike when cycling at high speed. It could ruin your whole day.

3) A home-brew coroplast fairing can be cheap, fun to build, and very effective in boosting your speed. It does help in cold weather too, and can keep some of the rain off of you. If you have the itch to experiment with the bike, this is the direction that I would suggest. Leave the fork well enough alone, but build a fairing. The stronger you are, the greater the speed benefit you will get from the aerodynamic improvement provided by the fairing. Even if you are not very athletic, the fairing can help with the cold and extend your riding season. It can help with rain too, but somehow you will still get wet. Water finds a way.

Safe riding,

Yes, $2000 is real cash and more than I can justify. The Chris Broome fairing is the one that I had in mind if/when it gets to that point.
For now I am going to leave everything stock on the frame except for brazing in the cross tube support.
This is the answer that I was looking for, thanks again Joel.
When I am ready for the fairing, I will be asking more questions about braking and suspension to address the additional weight and speed.


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