Tag Archives: beginner
It's a known fact that a set of wheels can make or break a car. We've seen some of the biggest "junkers" become legendary with a nice set of wheels and a ride height adjustment. The opposite can happen when you have a nicely restored vehicle that has dirty, beat-up, or badly finished wheels. It can ruin the overall appearance of the car or truck. We're here to show you how to make your rolling stock look as good as your ride with these 10 tips to powder coated wheel perfection.
1. Preparation Is Key!- Powder Coating, like traditional paint, requires a clean, dry surface for the best results. We suggest to media blast your wheels down to bare metal for the best powder adhesion. Powder coating is a "high-build" coating that will fill the texture left by media blasting. Eastwood offers DIY Media Blasting Kits that make it a pretty affordable option. The other option is to remove the finish chemically or mechanically. Both methods can be quite messy and time consuming, but they do the job. Once the wheels are free of any old coatings, wash them down with a solvent like PRE or After Blast to remove any grease, dirt, or grime. At this point we'd suggest wearing clean rubber gloves. The oil from your skin can transfer to the surface and actually cause imperfections in the powder during curing. Remember, the cleaner the better!
2. Pre-Bake Wheels- The wheels on your vehicle are subjected to some of the harshest conditions on your vehicle. They see extreme temps, brake dust, grease, grime, salt, and anything in between. No matter how often you cleaned the wheels (especially cast wheels), they'll still have some residue or contaminants baked into the metal. Those contaminants can release when the wheel is heated up. If that happens when baking and curing your powder, it could cause popping, bubbling, or even a fisheye effect in your cured powder. We suggest to bake your wheels at 350-400 degrees for 30 minutes to an hour to assure that you have released and baked out the years of contaminants in the metal. This way when you apply the powder and cure it at a similar temperature, those contaminants would have already been released.
3. Assure you have a good ground connection- Grounding your wheels to the powder coating gun is very important. Most wheels have some tight corners and crevices that can be difficult to get the powder into. The static charge that is created by grounding the wheels and charging the powder is what helps the powder cling into every crevice. Without a good ground the powder won't stick in these spots and you'll get an uneven finish. We've had luck by running thin metal wire around or through each wheel and then connecting the ground to the metal rack the wheels sit on for coating and curing. This allows you an easy spot to clamp your ground clamp to the rack or even the wire under the rack.
4. Hot-Flock you wheels- "Hot-Flocking' is a procedure where you preheat the part and immediately coat the wheel. The hot wheel will help the powder "stick" to the surface easier as the powder may begin to melt as soon as it hits the surface. This technique takes some practice to perfect. You will need to be quick with laying the powder down so the part doesn't cool too much. Also be mindful to avoid laying too much powder during this method as you can get "runs" or "clumps" of powder that will collect in one spot.
5. Use High Temperature Masking Tape- Use this high temp tape to mask off lug holes, hub bores, and any other areas that have a tight tolerance and could cause issues when refitting the wheels. You can also use this tape to mask off portions of the wheels to apply a second coat of powder for a custom application.
6. Apply Clear Coat Powder- Use your choice of clear powder to add an extra layer of protection to your wheels and make cleaning brake dust and road grime off easier (high metallic and textured powders especially hold dirt and grime!). Additionally our high gloss clear powders really give your finish a "deep" "wet" look.
7. Protect the inside of the wheels- One of the nice things about powder coating is that it helps seals the metal and keep your wheels from corroding. We have found a good practice while powder coating your wheels is to apply a layer of powder on the inside barrels of the wheels to protect them from corrosion. The inner barrels or hoop see the harshest conditions. You can make the coating as basic as satin black powder or go full custom and use an eye catching Translucent or Candy Powder.
8.Remove anything that shouldn't be coated- If you don't want it coated or it can't handle the heat, you must remove it before starting the process. This includes valve stems, sealing rings, trim pieces, lug covers, hubcaps or center caps, etc.
9. Use metal or high temperature filler on damaged wheels- Have a wheel with some "curbing" or damage? Use an all metal filler like Lab-Metal to fill and sand imperfections smooth. Powder Coating can have some filling properties, but heavy scratches or gouges need to be filled. Alternatively you could use an AC/DC Tig Welder to weld and fill major damage.
10. Use a Quality Powder Gun- As mentioned earlier, powder coating wheels can be difficult with all of the crevices and tight areas you need to coat. Not all powder coating guns are created equal and you need to make sure you use a gun that has the ability to switch to a lower voltage that allows the powder to cling to those hard to reach areas. Our Dual Voltage Powder Coating Gun is one example of an adjustable voltage gun.
If you follow these tips and take your time, you can make your wheels look as good as the rest of your ride and last just as long too!
This is a lead in from some of our other "beginners TIG welding" articles. Once you have started getting your technique and hand positions down on a piece of flat metal. Then make sure your beads are looking satisfactory (and uniform) and then you can move to laying some welds on a simple butt joint. The key when learning, is to make sure you have the two pieces clamped together tightly before welding. The larger the gap in your butt joint, the harder it will be for a beginner to fill the joint, and make a nice weld. I like to clamp the piece at both ends, then put small tack welds on each end before running your beads. Make sure you watch your puddle as you weld the joint, and be sure it doesn't get too large and start blowing the gap apart. First try running beads on these joints in between practice runs on flat metal. Eventually you will start to mimic your better weld beads from your flat stock to your butt joints.
Remember Practice Makes Perfect!
More so than MIG and ARC welding, TIG welding requires a lot more practice to be proficient in. There are a lot more ways to control the arc, puddle, and final outcome of your weld than with a MIG welder. Here are 5 tips that are essential to keep in mind when learning the basics of TIG welding.
1. Cleanliness- TIG welding unlike other types of welding requires a very clean surface to produce a clean arc and nice welds. Make sure you are cleaning the work surface extremely well before you weld. For aluminum and stainless we like to use a dedicated stainless brush for each type of metal we are welding on. DO NOT use the same wire brush you use to clean rust and scale off of your chassis! You will find the more time you take cleaning your work area before welding, the better your final results will be.
2. Choose the correct Tungsten- Depending on the surface you are working on, you may need to change out your Tungsten. Traditionally green tungstens are used for aluminum and red for steels, but some people prefer the red tungstens across the board. We suggest trying the "traditional" use of each before making a decision. Believe it or not, it's possible to use too small or too large of a tungsten for the thickness material you are welding. By using too large of a tungsten you will have to turn the heat up far too much to strike an arc and could risk warping or burning through the workpiece. On the other side, using too small of a tungsten can cause damage to the tungsten from being overheated. Below you can see an overheated 1/16 tungsten.
3. Touch the Tip, Regrind- This is one of the most frustrating parts of learning to TIG weld, as well as one of the hardest to obey. If you happen to touch your tungsten tip into the puddle, even for a split second, you have contaminated it and you MUST regrind the tungsten. You will know if you have done this because the arc will start to wander badly, as well as a it will be difficult to keep a focused arc on the metal. Below is a picture of a tip that was just touched for a split second, notice the sharp tip now has "splits" in it.
4. Keep up productivity- There are a few things you can do to keep you welding longer, and without interruption. Distractions and interruptions will make a beginner easily forget what they have just learned and will make it more difficult where they left off. A few things can be done to optimize your time learning to TIG. A big one is to keep extra Tungstens ground, and ready in case you contaminate one. Also keep any pieces you plan to weld cleaned and in arms reach. Lastly, keep plenty of extra filler rod in a close arms reach (it goes quick!).
5.Grind your Tungstens Correctly- A common first-time error beginners make is to not correctly grind their tungstens. Make sure you are grinding the tungsten length-wise, and as even as possible. Grinding the opposite way will make for an unpredictable arc that tends to wander on the workpiece. If you aren't using a tungsten sharpener, we suggest using a dedicated bench grinder to only grind tungstens on, otherwise your tungstens can be contaminated if using an all purpose grinder.
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I am a wiz when it comes to MIG welding after many years of practice, and I usually can spot the cause of a poor weld, or why a machine isn't welding correctly pretty easily. But with TIG welding, I am pretty much a total beginner in the grand scheme of things. I've been taking tips from the more experienced guys here and even a few local pros.The big thing I've recently been trying to focus on is making sure my tungsten tip is ground correctly; and while I'm welding that it is kept in the correct shape. After some practice yesterday, I took 2 shots of tungsten tips that were incorrect, and I had to regrind. I figured I'd share so that it helps other beginners learn from my mistakes and makes their learning experience that much better.
The first here is a green tungsten in which I had the TIG 200 set to put too much heat to the torch. It was making the ball far too large and hard to center when setting up a freshly ground tip. I cranked the clearance effect down from -1 to -3.5 and I was able to make a smaller ball much easier. Lesson learned there!
The second picture below is of a red tungsten I had been using. I found that my arc was wandering quite badly. It was making it very hard to focus the puddle, and then it hit me, I had every-so-briefly touched the tungsten to the work surface when I first started welding and it deformed the tip. I've been told time and time again, you must stop and regrind your tungsten if you touch it to the work surface while welding. It doesn't matter even if it is for a split second, it will still deform the tungsten and cause an inconsistant arc.
I'll add more of these tips and hints as I make mistakes and (hopefully!) get better. I hope it can give anyone that is a beginner some insight on what to look for when first starting out!