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    DIY Powder Coating
    #1
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    I never realized how simple it was to p-coat until I tried. And it's economical.

    My buggy plans started off "too big" a couple years back, and I started hoarding stuff to make an ST2 buggy. I soon discovered I was lacking the metal-fab equipment and finances. So, most of those parts got sold off. Then picked up a basket case FL350R, and have built-up my shop equipment (big welder, 60-gal compresor, notcher, cut-off saw, lathe/mill, bead-blaster, etc.) over the past year. One day I will build a big buggy.

    So then I decided to try out powder-coating.

    Investment:
    - Powder-coat system from Harbor Freight (or Eastwood.com): $55
    - Electric stove off Craigslist: $40 (some appliance stores eve give away old trade-ins)
    - Inline air dryer: $3 ea
    - Red, black, and white powder form HF: $5/lb
    - Gold and chrome/clear powder: $10-$15/lb
    - Mack Gold, Mack Red, Mack Silver powder: free 5lb of each (connections!)
    - Mini-spray booth: $0 (cardboard box, shop-vac with high-eff filter, copper wire)
    - 2-gal of acetone or mineral spirits: $20-$30

    Must-haves:
    - Air compressor w/ variable pressure valve
    - Sand or bead blaster (especially for revitalizing used parts)
    - Rags / towels
    - Good ventilation
    - Charcoal breather, or at least a dust mask
    - Space
    - Ample electrical service for the oven
    - Latex gloves (or equivalent)
    - A brain which you use regularly and properly


    Plenty of how-to's about p-coating on the web for prep, powder application, and oven cure. Check them out! The only tips I can offer...

    1. Practice with the cheapy powder from HF.

    2. Use a light trigger finger and system pressure of 20-30psi to apply efficiently.

    3. Clean your parts with acetone or spirits.

    4. Use #12 or #10 bare solid copper wire for hangars and hooks.

    5. Make a spray booth, big or small. I used the coater's cardboard box and strung a piece of bare copper wire across it. That way you can hang the copper wire hangars on it, and simple connect the ground clip to the cross-wire. Hence, no clip marks on your part. And if your booth is free of debris, you may be able to reclaim any overspray.

    6. Do a prelim run where you hang the part in the booth, remove it, hang it in the oven, and then remove it from the oven. This will make sure you've got enough room to fit the part(s), clear path, no bumps, etc.

    7. When done curing (generally 10-20 min @ 400'F), just shut off the oven, crack the oven door open, and DON'T TOUCH THE PART. The coating will still be in a liquid state until it's pretty much cooled down to a temp where you can handle it with a bare hand.

    8. Remember that old parts that you sand/bead blasted may still have some surface roughness. The coating won't make that go away! Rough part surface = rough coating. The coating is fine, but don't expect the coating to magically smooth out your formerly oxidized parts. Oxidation (rust) can leave a metal surface pitted. Too hide imperfections, they make some powders that will cure with a texture (kinda like texturing your drywall walls at home to hide imperfections).

    9. Practice, practice, practice. Although, it's simple. Just try it.

    10. Buy powder in bulk (like 5lb or more) and/or find someone local in order to keep the costs down. Decent prices and selection on eBay and Eastwood.com.

    11. DO NOT use your kitchen's oven! Your wife will kill you, the cure process does produce some fumes, and you don't want to contaminate the oven in which you cook your food.

    12. For small parts, a toaster over works fine, too.

    13. Must be an electric oven. No natural gas or LP!

    14. Understand which powder type you need for your parts. Some are better than others for outdoor buggy parts. IMO, you want a regular polyester powder for buggy parts, as they tend to get beat-up alot and require the durability and abrasion resistance, and suitable for a home-grown oven setup. Stay away from the epoxy and hybrids. For more info on types of powder, go here.

    15. For larger items like frames / cages, you'll likely to have to pay someone to coat & cure. Save all the little stuff for your home process. Wheels, brackets, mounts, bolts, tools, plates, etc. can all be done at home very cheaply.

    16. Your hose will have some oil/water in it. The compression of air creates water. If you use an oiler system on your compressor, you will need to get a air/oil filter for your spray gun. They are cheap and will plumb with regular air fittings. On my compressor, I've got a a dryer/filter, and then a tee with one end having a hose connect, and the other having an oiler followed by a hose connector. Basically, one connector for my tools and one for spraying.
    Last edited by DMoneyAllstar; 12-08-2011 at 10:34 AM.
    "Hello. My name is Dan and I'm addicted to buggies."
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    Re: DIY Powder Coating
    #2
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    Jul 2005
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    Melbourne, Australia
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    Great info , thanks for sharing.

    Nick.
    Ride it like you Stole IT!!!
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    Re: DIY Powder Coating
    #3
    Seņor Banned Member Chikin's Avatar
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    220 miles east of Glamis>>>Aka North Phoenix Az
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    Yeah great info..... But here is another thing to add to the oven list.

    If you use a electric oven... >>MAKE SURE ITS NOT ONE YOU EAT OUT OF EVER AGAIN.<<<<

    As if you didn't know this already.
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    Re: DIY Powder Coating
    #4
    The Bob Ross of MBN Bullnerd's Avatar
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    Thanks Money.
    "Speed is time-time is speed"-Dennis Hopper

    Quote Originally Posted by TALON View Post
    did you use a special bigfoot camera or something ,you know all blurry could be a tree stump kinda thing .
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    Re: DIY Powder Coating
    #5
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    ok here's my idea....first off i didn't even realize i could powdercoat stuff myself.

    How would it work to make an oven the size of a frame?

    Using fiber cement board and insulation held together with a Metal frame...Gut 3 or 4 regular electric ovens and fab up a floor and a bit of electrical.

    I'm going to try it
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    Re: DIY Powder Coating
    #6
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    oh to add to that, by my calculations i'd have a little under $200 for the materials and my labor is free...it's way over that to have it coated anywhere near me
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    Re: DIY Powder Coating
    #7
    The Bob Ross of MBN Bullnerd's Avatar
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    "Speed is time-time is speed"-Dennis Hopper

    Quote Originally Posted by TALON View Post
    did you use a special bigfoot camera or something ,you know all blurry could be a tree stump kinda thing .
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    Re: DIY Powder Coating
    #8
    Senior Member
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    Its easy to do.....
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    Re: DIY Powder Coating
    #9
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    The oven in that buildup does not have an air circulation system (fan). For proper powder coat curing it is extremely important to have a convection oven. Any powder sprayed on a part going into that oven will over-cure on the lower half and under-cure on the upper half. Basically, the powder (paint) on the bottom half will discolor and/or have premature failure. The under-cured powder will have a better color to it, but will also have premature failure. Without circulating air, you will never cure the powder evenly throughout the part. Also, the Harbor Freight powder coating gun will work for DIY small projects, but because of the way its air system works it tends to pulse, or spit the powder as it is projected. This will create globs of powder on your part. You will have some light areas and some heavy areas. Again, this will cause differences in color and final curing. It it better to find a used powder coating system on ebay. It may be a bit more expensive, but it will give you much better results.

    So just to clarify, if you're coating small parts (brackets, brake calipers), then this system will work fine. However, if you are thinking of coating larger parts (bike frames, wheels) you may not be happy with the results.
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    Re: DIY Powder Coating
    #10
    The Bob Ross of MBN Bullnerd's Avatar
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    Good info nuts.

    This is from the faq page,

    "Does the oven need a circulation fan?"

    A low profile or horizontal format oven of small volume will probably not need a fan. The distance from the elements to the roof is small and the heat radiates well enough to heat the interior pretty evenly. As the volume increases, or if the oven is a vertical format with a larger distance from bottom to top, a fan should be considered. A fan from a convection kitchen oven would be an excellent choice, as would a fan from a downdraft cooktop. The fan from the cooktop would probably move too much volume and would require a choke to limit the volume somewhat.

    Which doesnt really make sense because it is a vertical style oven.
    "Speed is time-time is speed"-Dennis Hopper

    Quote Originally Posted by TALON View Post
    did you use a special bigfoot camera or something ,you know all blurry could be a tree stump kinda thing .
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