Powder Coating at home

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    Powder Coating:
          About 18 months ago, when I first got my wire wheels, I became interested in powder coating since I really couldn’t afford to buy new wheels and also couldn’t afford to re-chrome mine.  Also looming is the difficulty in finding a good chrome guy.  (I have had bad experiences with chrome shops in the past.)  
    So, two months ago, when Happy Jack bought my spare set of 5 wire wheels, I told him that I had considered buying the stuff necessary and powder coating them myself.  That was the beginning of our experiment.  I watched many (all available) You Tube videos on powder coating, and read a lot of dos-and-don’ts on the internet.  
         Jack bought a $60+/- Harbor Freight powder coating gun that hooks up to any air compressor big enough to call itself an air compressor.  I bought a toaster oven.  And we were off and running.  The first couple of pieces that we did were very impressive.  Looked super good.  I had scraped around for various pieces of metal that we could test on.  Steel, aluminum, shiny, galvanized, and heavily rusted.  Everything came out terrific.  Very professional.  I have in the past tried, unsuccessfully, to paint on highly polished chrome.  No matter what undercoat, or even if I etched or sanded first, I was never happy and the top coat of paint never adhered well.  So, I grabbed a brand new 3/8″ socket and we tried powder coating.  Worked great.  This stuff really is super tough.  And it adhered to the chrome with no (as in NO) prep work on the highly polished chrome.  Almost impossible to scrape off with a pen knife. 
         Next, we went and spent a few hours talking to a guy here in New Bern that does powder coating professionally.  Looked at many samples of his work and all of his tools.  He had a few machines that cost thousands of dollars.  But, the finished product didn’t look any better than what we had done.  He had a standard kitchen range and a toaster oven for small stuff and he had built a walk-in sized oven for larger pieces like motorcycle frames.  He showed us a small hand held gun that has a fan in it and he said that he liked it for small jobs.  Craftsman.  No air compressor needed.  I became even more interested.  Soon after, we had a Craftsman hand held powder coater also and a few selections of powder.  
         This past week, I bought a used electric oven and now we can powder coat anything up to a standard 15″ wheel.  (We are limited to 16″ by the size of the oven.) 
         It is very fast.  The “cook” time is about 12-15 minutes at 380-420 deg F.  Powder seems a bit expensive, but it goes a long way.  We built a make shift spray booth out of cardboard and it is good enough.  You’ve got to do it in your garage because the powder is light, like talcum and any breeze carries it away.  The gun puts a positive charge on the powder and you attach a negative wire to the piece you are coating.  The gun, either by built in fan or air compressor, stirs the powder up inside the mixing cup until it is in suspension and homogeneous.  When you pull the trigger, the powder travels out the nozzle past an electrode that is at some +13,000 volts.  The powder is attracted naturally to the oppositely charged item that you are coating.  (You attach a negative lead to the item.)  It covers easily and surprisingly uniformly.  Then you carefully put the item in the oven.  You need to be gentle else the powder will fall off.  Within a few minutes, you can see that powder turn to liquid and flow.  A dozen or so minutes later, and you’re done.  
         The finish is far superior to rattle cans and similarly priced.  No disadvantages except that the piece must be metal and you can’t do rubber, wood or anything that couldn’t withstand the oven temperatures.    Cleanup is easier than painting with a brush and the results aren’t even in the same ballpark.  Powder comes in a very large assortment of colors and finishes.   
    The above are my words as a novice powder coater.  Come to Carlisle in May 2014 and see some samples.   
    This post is a copy of one in the “Custom Made Steering Wheel & Dash” thread.  I think that the subject deserves its own thread.  What we have not yet tried is the Chrome finish.  I will try and post pics and description of how it looks next week.    
    Paul Mossberg


    This is really great stuff Roy!

    Makes me want to disassemble my new engine and re-do all the cooling tin!

    Paul Mossberg
    Former Owner of a 1981 Classic Roadsters Ltd. Duchess (VW)
    2005 Intermeccanica Roadster

    If you own a TDr and are not in the Registry, please go to https://tdreplica.com/forums/topic/mg-td-replica-registry/ and register (you need to copy and paste the link)

    Dale Schumacher


    Sounds very promising – I guess I know where to send all my stuff for powder coating – thanks for giving me ideas for my speedster project.

    Neil J Flaherty


    Royal  What was your source for powder?  I’m guessing that the Craftsman powdercoating gun is an in stock type item at the sears store, correct?   Thanks Neil 



    Prismatic Powders, but only because they had some discontinued powders on sale.  We’re still learning here and could use some suggestions about powder.  

    One of the lessons learned so far is that this powder doesn’t store very well in a garage.  The instructions say to store it in a cool (<70) dry place.  I'm wondering about the refrigerator?  Some of ours turned into a very colorful and pretty rock because of ignorance on our parts here.   Not sure if it was the heat or the humidity – we've had both.  Mason jars might work good for storage.  ??
    Sears stock?  I don’t know.  There are lots of them on ebay.  The Craftsman version looks like a bulky version of your wife’s hair dryer with a wide base that it can sit on.  Rather delicate.  Be gentle. 
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