Tuesday 29 August 2017

DIY Powder Coating

What, no posts for two whole months ...what gives?! Well, I assure you that I have been progressing the car on several fronts, but I just keep coming up against panel alignment issues and other such demotivating frustrations, hence why I have not posted for a while. To reignite my enthusiasm I decided to focus my energy on something else for a change and thought it would be fun to turn my hand to power coating. I've always loved the way things looked in powder coat, but I didn't actually know anything about the process until doing it. I find that getting actively involved is often the best way to learn. 

To start with I spent an eternity methodically sandblasting and degreasing all of these miscellaneous components:

I then masked off certain areas using high temperature polyester tape and silicone plugs.

A word of caution: I ordered the masking plugs off of eBay whilst at work. I do not recommend searching for the particular key words 'silicone + plug' whilst visible to passing colleagues in an open plan office ...ohh, sh*t! Delete screen, DELETE SCREEN!

Using latex gloves to avoid contamination, I careful packed the parts into a paper lined shoebox and took them half a mile up the road to the workshop of my buddy Chris at 'Moody Moto'. He hand builds some incredible custom chopper motorbikes based around old Ducati engines and is one talented mofo (check out his sublime handiwork here). Anyway, he happens to have a basic powder coat setup and an repurposed domestic oven in his workshop for baking the parts. I bribed him with a pack of beers and set about it.

I hung the parts using conductive wire (thick welding wire in this case) from the removable oven shelf:

I opted for a black (RAL 9005) semi-gloss polyester coating manufactured by Interpon. I was concerned that full 'mirror' gloss might leave the parts looking a bit over-restored, so a more satin finish felt appropriate for my needs. The application of the powder was actually pretty simple. Once the electrode of the gun was attached to the metal shelf, the powder was liberally sprayed over the parts in a wafting motion. The electrostatic process attracts the powder particles to the charged parts leaving a layer of powder evenly distributed across the surfaces. I did it in 3 batches to avoid overcrowding and to ensure I could angle the gun sufficiently to coat all of the parts sufficiently:

Carefully the fragile dry coated parts were transferred to the preheated oven and were baked at 180 degrees for around 20 mins. Here is the magic result:

Look at that tasty serial number, so crisp:

A few more to feast your eyes on:

I am beyond pleased at the outcome as the cured finish exceeded my expectations. About 85% of the parts came out faultless and the remainder will need some minor touching up. Not bad for a first go! I have plenty of powder left and a few more parts that I think I will blast and coat in the near future; it would be rude not to!

Big thanks to Chris for allowing me to use his gear and guiding me through the process!