Electrostatic Powder Coating

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I thought I’d try out a DIY powder coating system.

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to get the results I did.

I think the phrase ‘Pleasantly surprised’ sprang to mind. 🙂

DIY POWDER COATING

I was in one of those impatient rushes. The mini oven I’d ordered for drying the parts in the garage hadn’t arrived. So I was left with the other option suggested on the website; a hot air gun. A tiny old modellers air pump was used as the compressor and the spray cabinet was just an old cardboard box.

The scene wasn’t really set for great results. Grade C- (must try harder).

For my first attempt I used a small scrap bracket. The system was used to dust the item over and I blasted it with the hot air gun. The bracket quickly heated up and the powder quickly turned into shiny paint. I then dropped it onto the dirty garage floor as it was too hot to hold. DOH!

Grade D (must try much harder).

Attempt 2….

I cleaned up a pair of Sierra front drive shafts using electrolysis, but I could have used the much slower and dirtier method of wire brushes. I masked them up with standard masking tape and cleaned them over with cellulose thinners.

I placed the shafts onto wooded V blocks and rotated them, whilst applying the powder.

This time as I tried to heat the shaft with the air gun, I realised the benefit an oven would have. The shaft was basically a massive heat sink. Any heat applied, was absorbed and dissipated across it’s whole length. In order to get one part hot enough to melt the powder, I had to move the heat gun quite close. This just blew some the powder off of the shaft, leaving a uneven finish.

Grade B (nice try, but room for improvement)

Rethink and Re-read of literature. In the instructions it mentioned, porous items you could be pre-heated to improve penetration).

So, I cleaned away the dust from the shaft and wiped off any powder that had melted with thinners.

I took out my old trusty blow-touch and heated up the shaft until it was starting to leave scorch marks on the wooden V blocks.

I re-attached the powder coating system’s electrode and re-applied the powder. This time within seconds of the powder hitting the surface I was left with one bright shiny powder coated shaft. Grade A

Any imperfections were retouched with the hot air gun. The results were really impressive. I was expecting a finish similar to that cheap hammer finish paint you can buy. What I got was similar to that you see on some showroom cars. Plus, the finish was thick enough to absorb many of the surface imperfections.

Next time, hopefully I have my mini oven. I’ll heat all the parts before hand and then dry them as recommended. The results can’t get much better than what I have but the turn around time will drop considerably.

Two hours was all it took to strip a pair of rusty old shafts, clear an area in the garage, find parts for my air compressor, change the fuse in my hot air gun, powder coat a pair shafts and take some photos.

DIY Powder coated shaft

I’d chosen ‘Chrome Silver’ as I figured high chrome was a little too ‘bling’. This would be a good choice for anyone wanting that freshly machined steel look. Just look at the camera flash on the painted section.

DIY Electrostatic Powder Coating Systems

Remember, the shaft you see above; 2 hours before; was looking rather sorry for itself, wearing a 25 year old coat made from rust and oil. Now, it was free from rust, inspected for wear and powder coated in an almost floor-less silver coat. It had been a total transformation from something that you’d wear thick gloves to chuck into a skip, into something that you just want to pick up and admire.

This is the rear shaft off the same car:

Powder Coated Ford Drive Shaft

Powder Coating Restoration

I don’t know if it shows, but I’m pretty damn impressed.

To copy my results, you don’t need much skill. You just need a £40 outlay on an oven and approx £130 on a powder coating system. Look out for offers on ebay and in magazines as I saved a substantial chunk of money on mine.

Plus see my notes on electrolysis rust removal

Genuine Ford Brand New Old Stock (BNOS) c.v. joints, stub axles, hubs and boots have been sourced for this build, so the shafts will be the only used or secondhand parts on the whole suspension set-up. Needless to say I didn’t want the shafts to look out of place or tired. Now I feel like I should strip the factory paint from the Ford items and powder coat them properly.

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