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Eastwood Chatter

  • How To Outfit Yourself to Paint Safely

    One of the things that makes modern, 2K paints so long lasting and durable is one of the same things that makes them harmful to your health. The activated 2K reaction does not require air to “dry” so it will harden anywhere it goes, including into your lungs and other orifices.

    Not only will the paint harden anywhere it gets, but it also contains isocyanates, which are irritants that will attack your eyes and respiratory system.

     

    Don't forget these Painting Essentials!

    Respirator

    • Proper Respirator - You should not be spraying any paint while wearing a woven dust mask. To keep your lungs in good condition you need a real respirator. When you begin to smell or taste what you are spraying it is time for a new one, or new filter cartridges.

     

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    • Forced Air System - If you do a lot of painting, a turbine air system is a better idea. A hose and mask connects to a turbine which picks up clean air from outside your spray booth and pumps it to you.

     

    non air fed mask

    • Eye Protection - Since isocyanates irritate your eyes, you need an eye mask or goggles too. You can buy a full face mask respirator or one that works with the forced air system.

     

    gloves

    • Gloves - If you don’t already have nitrile gloves in your shop you don’t know what you are missing. Even if you don’t wear them all the time, when painting or using chemical solvents they are a must. They are cheap too, and also they keep skin oil from your fingers off what you are painting.

     

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    • Coveralls - Besides the fact that spraying paint will ruin your street clothes, lint and threads could ruin your paint. Better to buy several sets of painters coveralls, and head socks. Isocyanates aren’t friendly to your skin either, so best to wear something they can’t seep through, like our lint-free, liquid proof coveralls and head socks.
  • How To Weld a Butt Joint

    One of the simplest welding joints is the butt joint. It is not the strongest, but it is one of the most useful especially for automotive body work. This type joint is used whenever you butt 2 pieces together and then weld between where the two meet. Butt welding thin sheet metal can be complicated because thinner metal has a tendency to burn through on the edges. This doesn't mean it's impossible, just that there are techniques that can be used to minimize these issues.  

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    Because the edge of a piece of metal absorbs heat faster than a solid surface, you need to modify your technique with the electrode. Whether you are using wire feed, stick or TIG welding, you need to move the electrode quickly and dance around the weld area, to avoid burn through. With the stick welding technique, this can be done using a stitch welder, which moves the electrode in and out like a sewing machine needle when you pull the trigger.

    When done properly, a butt joint should show bead on both sides of the metal. One way to help insure this is to clamp the 2 pieces with a uniform gap between them. The Eastwood Butt Weld Clamp and Backer Set holds sheet metal slightly apart for better weld penetration and also helps hold the work tight to prevent warpage from the heat. These clamps also help to prevent crawl, which occurs when the metal tries to move away from the heat of the work area.

    Even with clamps, the first step in a butt joint is to tack weld along the entire length of the joint. Start with a weld every few inches, at a uniform distance, then go back and fill in with more tack welds between the first set. Before moving on to the final bead you should have welds about an inch apart along the entire joint. Even with this technique, there will be some distortion that needs to be hammered out afterwards, but this will help minimize it.

     

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    Some welders prefer to use a weaving/zig zag or circular technique with thinner metals. This leaves you with a wider bead than you need, but it helps to spread out the heat of the weld to minimize burn through and warping. Before doing butt welds on something important, practice different angles with the electrode, rate of travel of your welding and length of your arc until you are comfortable with the thickness you need to weld, and establish your technique to avoid burning through it.

    How to weld a butt joint

    The picture above shows 4 different welds in cross section that you are likely to see when making TIG welded butt joints. Figure B shows correct technique, while examples A, C and D have various issues.

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    A: A common mistake beginners make is to pile too much bead on the top side of the joint, in an attempt to keep from burning through. This can be because the weld was not hot enough or more likely because the electrode was not close enough to the surface for proper penetration. For a butt joint to be acceptable, the bead should envelope both edges on both sides of the work, so no trace of the original edge can be seen.

     

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    B: This is an example of the correct penetration of a butt joint. There is bead showing on both sides of the work, with the lower bead being slightly smaller than the upper weld.

     

    butt weld c

    C: When you have too much penetration, the weld will begin to show undercutting and take this shape. You can see how the bead has begun to sag through the joint and not fill the top side fully. Undercutting is where the thickness of the weld is actually less than the work being welded, which means a weak joint.

     

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    D: This shows even more penetration and undercutting; the top bead has taken an almost concave shape. This is an even worse example than the one directly above.

     

    In addition to the common problems, there are also a few different ways you can prep the metal before it is welded.  The following only really applies when welding metal 1/8" or thicker because any thinner and you will almost always burn through.

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    The first and most common is known as a square butt weld.  This is done when two flat pieces are up against each other. this is used for thinner metals and TIG welding.  If welding metal thicker than 3/16" this method should not be used because the weld will not penetrate far enough into the metal and will not be as strong.

     

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    The next type of but joint is known as a bevel or double V joint. This type of weld is a must when welding metal 1/4" - 3/4".  When the edges of each piece are ground down it creates a valley or grove for the weld to sit in, this gives more surface area for the weld to bond the two panels.

     

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    The third type of butt joint is known as a double bevel or double 'V" and is the strongest type of butt joint.  This type of joint is used in areas where weld strength is critical.  This type of weld is usually used when welding metal thicker than 3/4" but can also be used on thinner metals if more strength is needed.

     

    It is true that the strength of welds when doing butt joints to body panels is not as critical as when doing structural repairs. However, properly welded butt joints will make the repair look better with less grinding and body filler. A well done joint will also last much longer, while a poorly done repair may crack and ruin the paint and body work after just a few miles of driving. Because of this, it’s important to practice and get the underlying repairs correctly done before moving on to the next phase. Learn the proper butt joint technique, and you will use it on countless welding jobs.

  • Repair Manuals Will Save Your Project

    If you plan on doing any type of serious work on your car or even just basic maintenance its a good idea to to buy a vehicle specific repair manual.  Depending on the car you drive it may be harder to find the exact manual, but for the most part a simple internet search will help you find the correct one for your car.  If you think buying one of these is not necessary you should probably reconsider.  The companies that produce these manuals have already done all the hard work for you.  These manuals usually have step by step instructions on how to take apart and reassemble every part of your vehicle, some even will show a full engine break down.

    Nova Manual

    Going in to a project blind can be fun because we all want to figure everything out for ourselves and not have any help along the way.  What happens if you hit a wall in the middle or forget how something goes back together? In this situation you only have a few options, even searching the internet may not help because you may already be over your head.

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    Having a repair manual will allow you to go into a project without any unknowns, some will even give tips on the exact way to remove the part so you don't break it.  I know first hand that my car would not be running today without the help of a repair manual.  If your vehicle requires special tools, a manual will not only tell you what tool you will need, but also give a part number which will make locating one easier.

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    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

  • How Air Compressors Work

    The concept behind the air compressor is a simple one and easily understandable to anyone who is into old cars and such. The reason the pump on the top of your compressor looks like a simplified motorcycle engine is because it basically is. The vast majority of compressors, from the tiny 12v tire inflator you stash in your trunk to the big 80 gallon shop unit, basically compress air with an air cooled piston engine. In fact, there are kits to turn air cooled VW bug motors into gas powered air compressors that could be mounted in the bed of a truck; two cylinders power it and two compress the air.

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    When the electric motor kicks in, the piston is drawn down the stroke of the cylinder. A simple spring-loaded one way valve opens allowing clean atmospheric air in, usually sucking thru some kind of air filter to keep out dirt and dust just like your car. The piston then moves up, compressing the air, and a 2nd valve opens to let the now pressurize air into the tank, or out into your tire in the case of a tire inflator or the one outside at the gas station. When a gauge signals that the tank has the correct pressure, the motor stops.

    Because air tools, spray guns and the like only allow the air out thru a restriction, the tank stays pressurized for a while. If an air hose were to break, the air would all come out pretty quick and return to atmospheric pressure in seconds. The CFM rating on a compressor indicates how many cubic feet of air per minute can leak out via the tool you are using before the pump would be unable to keep up with the demand at a given pressure.

    Multi-Stage and Screw Compressors

    There are variations on how air compressors work. There are multi stage reciprocating compressors, and nearly silent rotary screw compressors.

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    Two stage compressors typically have a v-twin looking head on top of the tank. The first cylinder works just like a single stage, but instead of feeding the tank, it feeds the intake on a second smaller cylinder, the second cylinder, then compresses it even more. There are also three piston versions that work the same way, as well as single stage multi-cylinder units for more air flow at lower pressures.

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    Rotary screw compressors work more like a Roots-type supercharger. Two rotors intermesh, forcing air into a smaller space along the length of the rotors, and finally out into the tank. Because of how they work, they produce more of a constant “whir” then the “chuga-chuga” of a reciprocating pump. This makes them popular for applications where noise is an issue. This type of compressor is also generally used in larger industrial application because of its increased efficiency and ability to deliver larger volumes of air at high pressure.

    Care and Maintenance

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    No matter how you compress the air, you have to deal with the physics of thermal dynamics and moisture. Squishing the air makes it hot, it’s an unavoidable by-product of compression, which is why some units have cooling fins on the supply line to the tank, or even a separate intercooler. All air has moisture in it too and compressing it results in condensation, which is why you need to drain the tank occasionally, and use an air dryer in applications like spraying paint. Just like an engine, compressors need to be lubricated, and if you are spraying paint, you need to strip the oil out of the airstream as well as the water. Luckily, most air dryers function this way already.

  • Why Powder Coating is Better Than Spray Paint

    For some unknown reason a lot of car guys are very hesitant to take the plunge into the world of powder coating. This means a lot of people are missing out on all the benefits powder coating has compared to other types of coatings. It seems like there is some fear of powder coating that is preventing car enthusiasts from buying the equipment and starting to coat on their own. You might be surprised to learn that in some cases it's actually cheaper to powder coat something than painting. The truth is that there are fewer tools and materials needed to powder coat compared to painting. For instance there are many more consumable materials needed when painting and thats not including the paint itself. If you were to compare the differences between painting or powder coating a part for your car, the first step would be to take it down to bare metal.

    From here the processes are different, and also vary in the time required to complete each.

    Painting:

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    If you're coating the part with a traditional 1K or 2K paint the piece must be sealed to prevent corrosion and rusting. Using epoxy primer, which can be applied directly to bare metal is the best option. Automotive paints generally shouldn't be applied directly to bare metal because there could be adhesion issues. If you're spraying the part with a 2K primer you will need the correct activator which means another cost associated with the job.

    Ok so now that you went out to buy more activator and sprayed the piece with primer, you then have to apply a top coat. Not only will you need the paint, you will also need the reducer and activator if you are using a 2K top coat. Just when you think you're finally done you realize there is still one more step, applying clear coat. The clear coat requires its own activator as well, that's more money out of pocket if you don't already have it. At this point you think you may have spent too much time and way too much money, but the end result does look great.

    With Powder Coating you first make the investment in a powder gun and oven. From there all that is needed is to buy the powder itself. Pretty much any electric oven will work (just don't use one you cook food with!). No special activators, reducers, or other chemicals are needed (other than PRE, to clean the bare metal).  Prepping a metal object to paint or powder coat is a similar process, the only difference is that any non-metal pieces must be removed since they will not be able to withstand the heat needed to cure the powder.

     

    Lets see how they match up.Paintvpowder

    When comparing paint and powder, durability is always #1 on the list. Before we compare the two we first have to mention the different types of paint. Generally speaking, 1K paints in an aerosol can are worlds apart from the paint on your car. Most 1K aerosols paints are usually enamel paint. The down side to enamel paints are that they never fully dry, they just harden when exposed to air. Additionally they will break down and essentially melt if they come in contact with a solvent.  The paint on your car is known as a 2K catalyzed paint. This means that before the paint is applied an activator is mixed into the paint. The catalyzed paint will actually change its chemical make up and cure, making it resistant to solvents. While a catalyzed paint is much stronger than aerosol paints it still does not compare to powder.

     

     

     

    Density

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    Once powder fully cures it's much harder than traditional paint, making it much more scratch and chip resistant. There's a reason almost all high-end custom cars have powder-coated frames!  A powder coated part that is exposed to extreme conditions is less likely to chip off and peel like paint would.

     

    Flexibility

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    Powder isn’t just harder than paint, it's also extremely flexible. We've tested the flexibility of powder by applying it to tin foil, crumbling it up, and flattening it back out. The results were incredible, none of the powder had flaked off! Try doing that same test with spray paint, more will end up on the floor than the foil!

    Thickness

    One of the visibly noticeable differences between powder and paint is the actual material thickness. A functional coat of powder can be up to 10X thicker than paint. This means that there is a greater protection between the outside world and the bare metal.

     

    Corrosion Resistance

    When prepped and applied correctly, powder does an incredible job of preventing corrosion because of how strong it is.  When a painted surface is scratched it is much more likely to go down to bare metal.  At that point corrosion will begin and start to spread.  Since powder is so much harder than paint the chance that a scratch will reach bare metal is very unlikely, making it the perfect coating for chassis and suspension parts.

     

     Ease of Cleaning Up

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    If you've spray painted before, you'll know how awful overspray can be. No matter how much you prepare, it seems to get everywhere. Cleaning up overspray can be very difficult because it requires the use of harsh chemicals. In its raw form, cleaning up powder is no different than cleaning up sugar and flour spilled in the kitchen. Simply sweeping it up or using a vacuum is all that will be needed.

     

    Reclaiming/Reusing Powder

    2K paint must be used once it is mixed, powder does not require any additives. This means you can use it at you own leisure. Powder under normal circumstances does not dry out or cure even when it's left out.

    If you really want to be frugal, powder that doesn't stick to your part can be reclaimed and reused by sweeping it up and sifting. Just make sure you use a very fine screen to sift so that there are no other contaminants in the powder. This may be very tricky to do at home, but with some care it can be done.

    Eco Friendly Application

    Traditional paint guns atomize the liquid paint into the air while a powder coating gun uses air to propel the powder towards the part. As the powder is leaving the gun a slight charge is added to the powder. The powder sticks to the grounded part because the powder has a slight charge when it leaves the gun and it's then attracted to the grounded part.

    Unlike liquid paints that are sprayed, there aren't any may health threats to being in the same room without a mask on. Powder coating does not even require the use of a typical carbon filter mask, just a simple dust mask to keep from directly inhaling the powder when spraying. Because powder is heavier than atomized paint, overspray will fall on the ground right around the part and won't float in the air for extended periods of time.
    Check out the Eastwood Blog and Tech Archive for more How-To's, Tips and Tricks to help you with all your automotive projects.  If you have a recommendation for future articles or have a project you want explained don't hesitate to leave a comment.

    - James R/EW

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