Powdercoating At Home
Dishing up some batter-dipped parts for a '65 Barracuda
Scott Lachenauer - December 15, 2011 10:00 AM
1 I headed out to the Eastwood R&D facility in Pennsylvania for a one-on-one seminar on powdercoating from their in-house guru, Joe Richardson. Here you see their research room, complete with vented hood area for powder application, and also a few of their ovens for curing. The white oven is used for smaller parts, while the big blue one can handle larger parts up to eight feet in length.
2 I scrounged up a box of parts from my project Barracuda to bring in for Joe. For the process to work properly, all coatings and rust should be completely removed from the pieces. This is a shock plate from my Mopar 8¼-inch rear suspension that was cleaned and is now ready for a good coat of color.
3 First off, threads should all be protected before any powdercoating is done. Here, silicone protectors are placed over the threaded area on the shock plate. These protectors will not melt under the 400 degree temperatures we will using for curing these pieces, and they can be reused over and over again.
4 The next step is to get any grease, wax or oil off the pieces by spraying them down with Eastwood Pre Painting Prep spray. This will insure a good bond between the powdercoating material and the fresh metal. Joe blows off any excess solvent with a compressor. This will speed up the drying process and remove any dirt present on the metal.
5 We had a myriad of colors to pick for my parts from the Eastwood catalog, which added to my creativity … and my indecision! Since my ride is a total resto-mod, I was free to pick any color, which was nice! I chose a deep orange-red for my shock plates.
6 Pieces are hung from a metal rod by bent metal wires for conductivity and to keep contact area to a minimum. Powders attach to metal parts due to the powdercoating gun placing a charge on the piece to be coated, which is opposite the charge on the coating. To do that, an electrode must be in contact with the part that is being coated. The powder will then electrostatically stick to the piece due to the contrasting charges.
7 The Eastwood Hotcoat gun used here is included in their at-home kit for the car hobbyist, but it still gives professional results. The canister is filled with the powder of choice and the gun uses compressed air at 5 to 8 psi to “spray” the powder onto the piece. Pressurized air enters the canister and “fluidizes” the powder, making it flow out of the gun in an even stream. Coat the piece until all the metal is covered.
8 Once the pieces are covered, they are carefully removed from the hood and are hung in the oven, which was preheated at 400 degrees. Once cured, the hardened finish is much tougher than conventional paints.
9 While our pieces cure, we take the time to clean up the area. Unused powder can be easily put back into its container to be used at a later time. The gun and canister clean up with just a blow of pressurized air. Since our coatings are not in a liquid suspension, clean-ups are a breeze. A quick sweep of the floor of our overspray and we are ready to roll again.
10 During the curing process, the coating “flows out”, that is, it morphs from the dry look of the powder to a wet look of a freshly painted piece. Let the parts bake for another 20 minutes after this occurs. These parts are finished and ready for removal.
11 This shows just how tough Eastwood’s powder finishes are. We powdercoated this piece of aluminum along with our shock plates to prove a point. Joe bent this piece back and forth about 20 times to its breaking point to show how durable the coating is. Even after this torture, the coating shows no visible cracks or breaks.
12 I decided to coat my pinion snubber with some argent silver powder to offset the complete black of the rear end. Obviously, any rubber parts should be removed before coating and baking. Here is a great shot to show you exactly how well the powder coats these parts. After spraying just the front, the part is turned around to show how well the powder wraps around the piece due to the static charge. Try doing that with paint! And what if you accidently mar the finish? No problem. The powder can easily be blown off and applied again. Try doing that with paint!
13 We did several pieces in a bunch of colors and glosses and then hung them in the big oven for a quick bake. Once cured, these pieces will add a nice touch to my Barracuda restoration.
14 I saw a cool metallic color that Joe had used on a valve cover and had to have it on the shock plates. Changing colors is pretty easy on these parts, as the original red coat does not need to be removed. First Joe baked the shock plates in the oven to heat them up for about 15 minutes, and then once again got them under the hood and hit them with the metallic red.
15 Here we have some of the finished parts. This shows the different levels of gloss you can achieve with Eastwood’s powdercoat. From left to right: flat, semi-gloss, gloss … all super durable and easy to apply.
16 I coated this transmission cover with Eastwood’s aluminum powdercoat. The finish gives off a nice sheen very similar to natural aluminum. However, this coating will help extend the life of the part, protecting it while I’m driving through the wet, salty weather of the Jersey Coast.
17 Since it is electrostatically applied, the coating gets into every nook and cranny by the charge pulling the coating particles in. And you can see how thin you can apply it as well, as the part ID numbers are easily visible on this latch. Also, the powdercoating will not gunk up the moving parts in any way … they move about freely with no issues.
18 Eastwood has a large variety of interesting finishes on hand. Check out their catalog and see the many examples of coatings available. For a durable finish you can apply at home for little expense, nothing beats powdercoating.
Don’t you hate it when you spend all day painting up some fresh suspension parts for your favorite ride, taking the time to carefully install and tweak them only to have the first rock that kicks up into your undercarriage take a nice quarter-pounder sized chip out of your freshly painted control arm?
If you hate to waste time spray-bombing parts that will need touching up constantly, you might want to look into powdercoating your high-wear parts that are constantly exposed to the hazards of everyday life on the road.
You say it’s too expensive? Too much drain on your already shrunken bank account? Not anymore, as there are personal coating systems you can purchase for less than a night out on the town with the wife and kids that will definitely help bring your road rash nightmares to an end.
Too difficult to master you say? Not good at reading 66-page manuals? Well, lucky for you those anxieties have now been terminated, since the Eastwood Company has come out with a nifty do-it-yourself home kit with everything you need to turn your air compressor into a powdercoating machine. All you need is a good non-food use oven (easily found used on eBay or Craigslist) and some nifty parts to coat and you’re set for an evening of baking colored metal doodads for your choice ride.
For those of you that have been restoring cars under a rock for the last 40 years or are still painting their cars with brushes and watercolors, powdercoating is the process by which a resilient plastic coating is electrostatically applied to clean metal in a dry powder form, and then cured to a hardened finish by high heat. This “powdered” color is usually thermoset in nature, which means once the product is cured (usually at 400 degrees F) it forms a tough skin in which the powdered pigment crosslinks and forms a higher molecular weight polymer that is resistant to heat, UV rays, scratching, corrosion and most chemicals.
The advantages are several. Not only is it much tougher than conventional paints, it also lacks a liquid solvent as a carrier, which means there is less of an environmental impact, and less clean-up. Overspray can be swept up and reused, if you see fit, and colors can be adjusted if there was error in their application before the curing process takes place. Also, parts can be coated and then immediately installed after a short cool down period. Sold yet? Take a look at a typical powdercoating session and decide for yourself.
For Your Information:
The Eastwood Company