Anyone Can Prepare Auto Parts for Powder Coating
Whenever you’re working on a vehicle engine, you must take into consideration how the parts are going to be protected inside that engine. After all, the temperature tends to rise rapidly inside of engines, so you need to do everything in your power to make sure that they remain protected. Powder coating is one of the most common methods, although the average car restore hobbyist can’t do this on their own. Nonetheless, anyone can prepare auto parts for powder coating.
Here are several tips to keep in mind when getting any auto parts ready to be powder coated:
- Almost any part can be powder coated, whether it’s a brake caliper, valve cover, bracket, or even the car’s entire frame.
- When in doubt about whether a part can be powder coated, think about whether it can stand up to temperatures of around 350 degrees Fahrenheit or more. This is the temperature at which powder coating is baked on, so if the part can’t withstand the high heat, then it can’t be powder coated.
- Many parts that have electronic components or bearings that can’t be replaced can’t be powder coated because they can’t withstand the high temperatures needed to do so. Plastic parts and those with internal workings that can’t be removed also may not be able to withstand the high temperatures necessary for powder coating.
- To prepare any part for powder coating, start by removing everything from the part, including bearings, gaskets, and brackets.
- Use chemicals, sand paper, or bead or sand blast to remove the old paint from the part.
- Apply a vapor degreaser or industrial solvent like methyl ethyl ketone so that the part will be completely clean. Avoid using your bare hands to touch the part after this application because something as simple as the oils in your hands can cause defects in the surface finish on the part. Cotton gloves are exceptionally helpful in this case.
- Cover all areas of the part that you don’t want to be powder coated with a high temperature green tape. Of course if the right powder coating is selected, then it’s possible to machine these areas clean, but it’s still better to cover them. It is common, however, to machine some parts of engine blocks like cylinders, bolt taps, and gasket surfaces.
- Silicone caps and plugs will help cover blot taps and any other bolts or screws that are attached and can’t be removed.
Just as important as preparing auto parts correctly is making the right selection when it comes to choosing a shop to actually do the powder coating for you. If the shop you choose isn’t qualified or knowledgeable about the right type of coating to use, then your parts will be ruined and you will have wasted a lot of money. The wrong finish can also degrade much more quickly than it should, which will require that it be pulled back out of the car, cleaned, and coated again in a very short amount of time..
Also beware of low end powder coaters that don’t use any pretreatments. Every vehicle manufacturer requires auto parts to be pretreated before powder coating is applied, and for good reason. Pretreatment actually removes all contaminants from the surface of the part and then creates a chemical reaction that helps paint to adhere to the part better and keeps corrosion or rust from occurring. Here are some general guidelines to follow: use an iron phosphate for steel, use a chromated or fluorinated system for parts made of aluminum, and use an acid wash for magnesium parts.
Of course you should always check with an expert for specifics on which pretreatment and powder coating is right for your parts. Let the experts at Toefco help you with all of your powder coating needs.