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Eastwood Auto Restoration Blog - Free How-to Automotive Tech Advice for Everything DIY Automotive

  • How to Prep Metal For Powder Coating

    Much like painting and welding, preparing metal for powder coating is multi step process that must be followed in order to have the best results.  If any of these steps are missed or not done properly your end product will risk having flaws.

    What Can Be Powder Coated?

    During the curing process the part will reach 400+ ºF, this means that only certain materials can actually be coated.  With that said any parts with plastic, rubber, gaskets of any kind and wiring will have to be completely removed before starting to prep the metal.  With that said, anything with moving parts must be taken apart and coated separately, then reassembled after.  It the powder is applied across a moving joint the curing process will lock the two together.  Depending on the type of part you will be powder coating, different levels of disassembly will be required.  For example a valve cover or set or coil spring will not require any disassembly since there are no moving parts.  More complex parts like alternators, Carburetors, and Steering components will require a lot of time devoted to making sure all of the pieces are properly taken apart and sealed.


    Preparation Steps

    Step 1

    Photo Nov 06, 9 39 55 AM

    First your part must be fully disassembled and any pieces that will not be coated removed.

    Since I will be powder coating these engine brackets, removing all the bolts was the only disassembly needed .

    If, for example, you were powder coating a carburetor, all of the openings must be plugged with rubber plugs to prevent powder from getting into any of the crevasses and openings. Additionally any moving parts must be either removed or taped up using high temp masking tape.  When disassembling complex parts like this its important to take pictures along the way.  Check out this article which talks about the importance of taking pictures during your project.


    Step 2

    Photo Nov 06, 11 39 03 AM

    The next step in the process is cleaning the metal.  There are a few methods of doing this but first you always want to remove any dirt or grease by using Eastwood PRE Painting Prep, spray a liberal amount on a rag and wipe down the surface of the part.  this will remove dirt, oil, grease and grime from the outside of the part.  During this step you will not need to worry about removing any paint or other coatings that might be on the surface, this will be dealt with next.


    Step 3

    Photo Nov 06, 5 36 48 PM

    This step will take care of any coatings that are currently on the part.  By far most effective method would be to Media Blast the part but if you do not have access to a blaster a good sanding with 80-120 grit Sand Paper or a Flap Disc on an Angle Grinder should be able to handle the job of stripping off any coatings on the metal.


    Step 4

    Photo Nov 06, 6 07 05 PM

    Now that any previous coatings are removed, use a blow gun to remove any dust. Instead of wiping the part down, you should completely spray down the part with PRE Painting Prep and then let it air dry.  If you were to wipe it down with a rag there is a potential that contaminants on the rag or towel could be transferred to the part.

    Step 5

    If you want all of the exposed metal coated then you can skip this step.  For most parts there are certain areas that you will want bare metal to remain.  In order to mask off these areas the use of a special type of masking tape is needed.  Paint Masking Tape will not hold up in the high temperatures that the oven will reach.  High Temp Masking Tape is the answer to this dilemma, coming in sizes from 1/8" to 2" this tape will be able to cover any size area needed.

    Just make sure you don't touch the part with your bare hands it is ready for powder coating.


    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


  • Choosing the Correct Coating for your Exhaust Manifolds

    A vehicles exhaust system can be one of the most common areas for rust.  The majority of all cars have exhaust systems which are completely exposed to the elements at all times.  If thats the case, any untreated steel components run the risk of rusting out fairly quickly.


    To ensure this does not happen to your exhaust system you may consider coating it to prevent any corrosion.  Sounds simple enough, but you wont be able to use a typical spray paint.  Normal enamel spray paints are only able to handle temperatures up to around 250ºF, far below the temperatures the typical exhaust components reach.

    In order to properly coat your exhaust so it will not rust you will need to use a coating specially designed to withstand the high temperatures exhaust components can reach.  Eastwood High Temp Ceramic Coating is capable of handling temperatures up to 1400ºF, far above temperatures that will be found in and around the exhaust system.  This coating contains special additives that make it very different from normal spray paint, containing small metal flakes that are extremely heat resistant.


    The preparation process is very similar to any other type of painting, if you plan to use this on headers or exhaust components we recommend that you take it down to bare metal to achieve best adhesion. To do this the part can either be media blasted or gone over with heavy sand paper.



    The first step in getting ready to coat this set of headers is to put it in the Blast Cabinet to remove all of the black shipping coating that is mostly warn off from only a couple thousand miles of use.



    After verifying that all of the coating was removed and only clean metal was exposed it is necessary to clean the metal.  Use a blow gun to remove any dust or blast material left on the manifold then wipe the part down with PRE Painting Prep.  Sand paper and blasting material can trap dirt and contaminants which can get left behind on the surface of the metal.


    Photo Nov 18, 4 25 26 PM

    All of the exhaust ports must be masked off because not only will this prevent the coating from going into the header, it will prevent any trapped dirt or dust from contaminating the coating during application.


    Photo Nov 18, 4 11 15 PM

    Once wiped down again with PRE Painting Prep, the part is ready to be sprayed.  Make sure you are in a well ventilated area and use proper safety equipment when dealing with any type of chemical coating.  This includes Gloves, a Respirator and Safety Goggles, when necessary.  All of the safety equipment you will need can be found right here on the Eastwood website.



    Apply 2-3 light-medium coats with about 30-45 minutes between each. Applying this product too heavy can cause durability issues and even flaking.  After the final coat the part must sit for at least 24 hours before it can be used.  After the 24 hours it can be put back on to the engine but before normal use it must be cured.  Start the vehicle and let it idle for about 20 minutes, the heat from the engine and exhaust gasses will fully cure the coating to achieve maximum heat resistance.


    The before and after results are staggering, now you can open your hood with confidence at the next show and not have to worry about those ugly rusty headers.  All of this with the added assurance that they will not rust out.


    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 to Build Simple Engine Mounts for a Hot Rod

    To me building a hot rod or custom car is all about building with what you've got, using some ingenuity, and making things from scratch. Sure you can point and click with your mouse and buy a "hot rod in a box" from online vendors, but I think that those cars lose the soul that makes a hot rod so dang cool. Recently I built a chassis for a 1930 Ford Model A coupe I'm putting together and I needed to make some simple motor mounts to attach the Flathead to the chassis. I know you can buy some, but where's the fun in that?! I decided to show a simple way to make some mounts from scratch.
  • How to Select a MIG Welder

    So you are ready to get serious about your metal work, and you want to add a wire feed welder to your shop’s arsenal. Good for you, a welder is one of the most useful pieces of shop equipment. Below, we take a look at the features and specifications you need to think about before deciding which one is right for you.

    Flux Core VS MIG

    Wire feed welders actually consist of 2 different welding types: Metal Inert Gas (MIG) and Flux Core. Flux core uses wire with a hollow core that releases a shielding gas as it melts. MIG uses a solid core wire and a tank of inert gas which shields the weld from contamination. Nearly every MIG machine can do flux core welding, but not every wire feed welder set up for flux core can be converted.

    Flux 90


    Eastwood Flux Core 90

    Besides the lower cost, flux core welding does have other advantages. The flux does a better job of shielding in windy or dirty environments, so it’s great for field work. No gas and no tank – That means one less consumable to buy, and a smaller lighter unit to carry around if you take it to the job site or race track. Plus, flux core actually burns hotter, so it is actually better for welding thicker material.

    There are several disadvantages of getting the lower cost, flux core only machine. First, flux core produces sloppy looking welds with lots of splatter, even in the hands of a pro. Second, because it burns hotter it is hard to weld thinner sheet metal without a lot of burn through.

    Wire feed chart

    So there's lots you can accomplish with just flux core wire, but, except for the lower initial purchase price, there is no reason to get just a flux core wire feed welder, when every MIG machine can do both. above you will see the suggested settings for the Eastwood MIG 135.  The bottom two lines of the top chart show the suggested settings if using Flux core wire.

    Choosing a MIG Welder

    MIG 175

    MIG welding (Metal Inert Gas) takes the basic method of wire fed flux core welding, and uses a solid wire instead, plus a tank of gas which provides the shielding. Many basic flux core welding set ups can be converted to do MIG welding with just a few parts. Typically, you need to add a gas solenoid, a regulator, and a tank of shielding gas, though some already come equipped with the solenoid.

    MIG works just like flux core: you pull the trigger, wire is fed, and gas comes out the tip to shield the weld. MIG welding produces cleaner, neater, more consistent welds, especially at lower heats on thinner metal. MIG is also the preferred way to weld aluminum, though you will need a special aluminum spool gun, and a tank of argon.

    110v VS 220v

    This choice may be dictated strictly by where you are planning on using it; if your shop isn’t wired for 220v, or you plan on using it on the go, 110v is the choice for you. But there are some welding units out there that run on either voltage, with just an adapter plug. This is a great compromise if you are planning on rewiring your shop in the future, or already have 220v in the shop, but want to be able to weld anywhere and everywhere.

    The Eastwood MIG 135 is our entry level MIG welder.  It is perfect for the home user that wants a shielded welder but only has 110V power source.  This welder is rated to 3/16" which is perfect for auto body and basic structural repair.

    Moving on to the next level is the Eastwood MIG 175.  This is a 220V only unit which means it will be able to weld thicker metal up to 5/16" steel.  You may think that there is not much difference between the two but the big difference is the duty cycle.  With the MIG 175 you will be able to weld on a higher setting for longer periods of time.

    Lastly we offer the Eastwood MIG 250, this is a dual voltage unit and is internally controlled.  This means that you don't need to change any settings when going from 110V to 220V, just simply plug it into the desired power source and the welder will adjust accordingly.  On 220V this welder is rated to 1/2" steel, making it great for heavy structural welding.

    But what are the advantages of the higher voltage? Obviously a higher voltage unit is more powerful than a lower voltage one; they typically can put out more heat and weld thicker materials. This is also important for welding aluminum, which requires more amperage compared to welding steel of the same thickness. If working with a lower amperage within the range of most 110v units, like 90 amps for instance, a 220v unit is going to have a much higher duty cycle. So, you’ll be able to get more done faster, with less down time.

    Duty Cycle

    Screenshot 2015-11-11 16.17.57

    The duty cycle for a welder is usually expressed as a percentage at a given amperage, 20% at 90 amps for instance. That is a typical rating for a home use 110v MIG welder, it means with the power set to 90 amps, you should only be welding continuously for 2 out of every 10 minutes to avoid overloading the welder. You could see how that would be an issue if you were building a bridge, or a tube famed chassis. A 220v machine is often rated at 30% at 135 amps, and something like 60% at a lower 90 amp setting. That means you can weld much longer without overheating the machine and having to take a rest.

    Transformer VS Inverter

    Years ago all MIG welders were transformer welders. They all used windings of wire to transform the 60hz AC voltage coming out of the wall into much higher voltage at the end of the welding torch, but still at 60hz. In the 21st century, there are now welders that use solid state inverters to step up the wave frequency of the electricity to much more than 60 cycles per second. Because of this, they can produce higher voltages with much smaller transformers. Since transformers are just windings of copper wire, the smaller they can be, the more portable the welding unit can be. The inverter technology also allows machines like the Eastwood 200 Amp MIG/Stick to exist because they can switch internally to the different electrical requirements of flux core, MIG welding and stick welding, and produce different shaped waves if need be.

    Inverter based units also need much less energy to run. If you are planning on running your welder off of a generator the inverter is the way to go. Transformer-based units require a much larger generator in order to work. The extra money you spend to move up to the inverter unit is money you will save by buying a smaller generator. The lower current draw of an inverter unit typically means you can run it on an extension cord for easier use around the shop. Your electric bill will be lower too.


    Photo Nov 11, 4 28 28 PM

    Some machines these days can practically set themselves up, while on the low end some just have “high” or “low” heat settings. Like all things, if you can’t adjust it to suit you, you are going to have to adjust to suit it. MIG machines usually have 2 important settings: wire feed speed and power. Most times the more power you use the faster you want the wire to be fed, but not always. The more basic machines usually have fewer settings, and typically are “stepped” or “notched” meaning you can’t choose a setting between 1 and 2. The better machines are infinitely adjustable; you can choose any setting between anywhere on the dial, not just the numbers 1-10. If you can’t find a setting that works with the speed you want to weld on the material you are working with, then you have the change your speed to suit the output you can get. This is where the fine adjustments can come in handy.

    Parts and Serviceability

    A welder ought to be a lasting investment, but buy a unit from a low cost generic brand that hasn’t been around for long, and you may find parts and consumables impossible to find in a few years. At Eastwood we have been here since the late 1970s and we plan on being here a long time, standing behind our products. Not only do we have quality welding units at an attractive price, but we also carry all the parts and supplies you will ever need for them, except for the gas, but if it was possible we would sell that as well. We sell replacement tips, wire, torches and more for our MIG welders. We also have technical support for you by phone and email.

    We are committed to providing professional quality welding machines at a price the home hobbyist can enjoy. You can buy more powerful welders from other brands, and you can buy less expensive welders, but we don’t think you will find a better welder for less.

  • How to Select the Right Paint Gun

    If you are the type of guy who likes to do everything himself, eventually you will have to go shopping for a proper paint gun. The paint job may be the last step of the job, but it’s likely the first part everyone sees . So getting the paint right is very important, and the right gun is part of that.

    There have been many changes in the past 20 years in the types of guns and paints that are available, and that are legal to use (depending on where you live). Your paint gun, air compressor and paint all have to be compatible with each other, so take a little time to learn about different types of paint, and look up your compressor specifications.

    Types of Guns:

    consour pro

    • HVLP - The high volume, low pressure gun (HVLP) has pretty much become the industry standard for the 21st century. They were created to spray paints with less over spray, and therefore less environmental pollution. The best feature of these guns is that they use less paint to cover the same surface, so you save money. Less over spray also means you don’t have to mask off your whole garage before painting to avoid everything getting covered with paint. Most paints these days are formulated to work with HVLP guns.


    conventional spray gun

    • Conventional - The standard, old school paint spray gun used a low volume of air, at a high pressure to atomize paint. Some paints and coatings with higher viscosity, or higher solid concentration, still go on best with conventional spray guns. If you are spraying something like chassis undercoating, truck bedliner, heavy duty industrial or tractor paints you may need the high pressure air from a conventional gun to get good atomization without excessive thinning.


    compliant gun

    • Compliant/Green Guns - There are also guns called simply “complaint spray guns” or sometimes “green guns”, or “reduced pressure (RP) guns”. These guns are a hybrid of the conventional and the new HVLP. They meet the letter of EPA rule 40 CFR Part 63 (6H) because they still use a low pressure at the spray head, and reduce overspray, but they spray more like old school guns so you can paint faster and the transition is easier for people with conventional gun experience.


    turbine system

    • Other - There are also new LVLP guns, which means low volume low pressure, and all in one turbine systems that don’t use an air compressor at all.


    High Volume, Low Pressure or HVLP

    concours pro teardown

    If you are just learning to paint with a spray gun, HVLP is the way to go these days. It’s the current standard, so there are plenty of different guns to be had for not a lot of initial expense. Eastwood alone offers nearly a dozen options from our own Economy line, our higher featured Concours line, and top brands like Binks, Iwata and DeVilbiss. Since most modern paints are formulated to spray through HVLP equipment, it is going to be easier to get good results with it.

    There is no need to jump into the deep end either. You can buy a lower cost gun and learn how to spray automotive finishes, then relegate that gun to primer only duty and buy a higher price gun for your next paint project.

    When buying a HVLP gun, be sure your compressor can flow enough volume to run it. What is the point of saving money on the gun, if you are going to have to upgrade to a bigger compressor to run it? This is also a good time to look at your compressor fittings, hard lines and hoses. Too small of a line, or a bottle neck anywhere can result in less volume reaching your gun. Remember, these are high volume air guns.


    Conventional Guns

    conventional gun cut awat

    These high pressure spray guns have been popular since the turn of the last century, and many people still prefer them. The good news is that they are still available new, and still supported by most major brands. The EPA even granted home users an exemption from the federal low VOC spray rule, though your state, county or city may have other rules. The bad news is that you typically need a much larger compressor to run them.

    If you plan on spraying ElastiWrap, bedliner, Plastidip, Lizard Skin, or heavy industrial coatings a conventional gun may be your best option. These types of thick heavy coating take a lot more pressure and energy to atomize out of the spray tip. Often times low pressure guns just can’t deliver a satisfactory spray pattern when applying them.

    If you have a compressor, and experience with a conventional gun, you may just want a new version of the gun you are familiar with, but you should also consider the new RP compliant guns as well.


    Compliant Guns

    In order to satisfy the needs of their customer base, and the federal EPA mandate, most big spray gun makes have designed these new versions of conventional guns. These new reduced pressure (RP) guns have redesigned spray heads to comply with the EPA rule for pressure and overspray to reduce VOC emissions. These guns spray very much like the old style guns, but still reduce the amount of wasted paint oversprayed into the atmosphere, which also saves you money.

    Besides the way they spray, RP guns are also typically faster than a HVLP gun to cover the same amount of surface. One of the only downsides for compliant guns is they tend to cost more than the HVLP, because they are aimed more at the professional user. Look for the letters RP or the word Compliant to identify these types of guns.

    Turbine Systems

    Turbine base

    One of the latest developments in automotive paint application is the all in one turbine system. Typically it consists of something like a vacuum cleaner, with the hose connected to the spray gun. These typically are low pressure systems of various volumes. The nice thing about them is you don’t need to buy an air compressor, air dryer, or regulator, and the spray gun is perfectly matched to the air supply.

    Turbine systems work just as well as HVLP guns used with a regular compressor with most coatings. If you have no reason to buy an air compressor, these self-contained systems can be very attractive. The lower cost ones, with the turbine, cost less than just the price of many high end spray guns. The higher end systems cost close to the price for a spray gun and compressor, but unlike your compressor they are always ready to go. To spray with the typical shop compressor you typically have to drain any excess  condensed fluid out of the tank, then run a line with dryer and regulator out to where you want to paint. In order to paint with the turbine, you just plug it into the wall and start shooting.

    Other Types

    There are other types of guns out there: LVLP, MVLP, etc. These are low volume, low pressure, and medium volume, low pressure, and are just further refinements of the HVLP systems by different brands. There is not much difference except for their air requirements.


    So now that we have gone over what is out there, how do you choose? First you ought to consider what you are spraying, now and in the future. If all you want is the ability to apply temporary ElastiWrap colors to your car every few months, we have a value priced turbine kit perfect for that. If your plan is just to do the prep and primer and let a professional finish the job, nearly any low priced gun will get you started. But, be sure to know the output abilities of your compressor before you go shopping for a gun, they can vary widely even among similar sized machines.

    If you are starting from scratch and want the ability to paint anything and everything, the HVLP or reduced pressure (RP) guns are the way to go. Not only will they save you money in wasted paint, they will save you money when you buy the matching compressor. You will also use less electricity powering the compressor to paint with a low pressure gun as well. The biggest deciding factor in the end though may be this, less over spray is better for you, and everyone who has to breaths air.


    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.

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