Tag Archives: tips

  • Perfectly Powder Coated Wheels- 10 Tips to Make Your Wheels Look Great

    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!

    Removing Paint From Wheels Chemically

    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.

    Pre-Baking Wheels

    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.

    Gloss Clear Powder over Wheel Sparkle Silver Powder

    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.

    Custom Powder Coated Wheels

    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!

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  • 10 Tools That Make Auto Repair and Restoration Easier

    If you've ever gone into a professional restoration or repair shop you'd be amazed by the size of the toolboxes that they have. Some of them are as big, heavy, and expensive as a car! We've found that when you ask the pros which tools they use most often, they will rattle off 5-10 tools that are their favorites. Obviously it's a great help to have all of the expensive specialty tools for those odd jobs they encounter, but there's always a core group of products that they can't live without. We put together this list of tools that the pros commonly list off of as their favorites.

    GearWrench Impact Socket Set

    1. A Complete Ratchet and Socket Set- Regardless if you're doing autobody, maintenance, or full restorations, everyone can use a comprehensive ratchet and socket set. A good start is to get the tools that will allow you to complete the widest variety of jobs. We suggest a mid-length ratchet with an adjustable head like the GearWrench Flex Head 3/8 Ratchet and a comprehensive mixed set of standard and metric sockets. More and more cars are using metric hardware these days, and it is a good idea to have at least the common sizes on hand!

    Eastwood Hammer and Dolly Set

    2.Quality Hammer selection- It's inevitable that you'll be faced with the need to "persuade" something to move with a hammer on your car. Hammers are amazing tools and in the right hands can do anything from fix a dent to remove a stuck bolt in your suspension. We'd suggest investing in a quality hammer kit with both rubber and soft face hammers and traditional metal dead blow hammers (we affectionately call "BFH's"). If you plan to do body work, you can't use just any old hammer, make sure you pick up a Hammer and Dollies to assure dead straight metal forming.

    Eastwood Dual Action DA Palm Sander

    3. Dual Action Sander-Dual action or DA sanders are great to keep around, and a necessity if you plan to do any paint or body work. These are a time saver when removing paint or flattening out filler, and are extremely simple to use. We suggest a palm DA sander for anyone that plans to tackle any sort of body work.

    Eastwood MIG Welders

    4. MIG Welder- If you're working on anything mechanical there will come a time when you'll need metal stuck together. It doesn't matter if it's custom fabricated parts or just fixing rust, a good MIG welder is essential to your garage. The Eastwood MIG 175 is a 220V welder that can handle most anything a DIY enthusiast can throw at it, we even throw in the spool gun for aluminum welding!

    GearWrench Ratcheting Wrench Set

    5. Ratchet Wrenches- We love tools that save time, especially in a small package. Ratcheting wrenches give you the ability to quickly remove hardware that a ratchet can't get reach, but they still retain the ratcheting feature so you don't have to take the wrench off each quarter turn (we hate that!). Check out the selection of Ratcheting Wrenches we offer. There's a good chance we offer a set that will fit your needs.

    6. Screwdrivers- This seems to be a no-brainer, but everyone needs a good set of screwdrivers in their tool box, garage, kitchen junk drawer, shed, etc. You can never have enough screwdrivers. They seem to be one of the most universal tools that ALWAYS come in handy. If you want the best bang for your buck we suggest picking up either the Fairmount Drill and Driver Bit Kit or the Channellock Ratcheting Screwdriver Kit that will allow you to remove and tighten just about any screw, hex head, and torx style screws.

    Eastwood Locking Pliers

    7. Locking Pliers- We'd all love a perfect world where every part, nut, bolt, and screw comes off easily with the proper tool, but cruel reality comes to ruin your day when you find that rounded off nut or bolt on your project. While we wouldn't advocate using the locking pliers as your go-to item in your toolbox, they are a valuable universal tool that can make many tough jobs easier! We have used the Eastwood Locking Pliers to save our necks countless times!

    Eastwood Tin Snips

    8. Sharp Snips/Cutters- At some point a DIY guy is going to need to cut metal, wiring, or something on their vehicle. The Eastwood Aviation Snips can cut anything from 18 and 20 gauge sheet metal for fabrication to electrical wiring in a pinch. Some of the most experienced metal workers will name their tin snips as one of the tools they can't live with out. We'd have to agree!

    9. A strong Pry Bar- Like locking pliers, Pry Bars are one of those tools that are a necessity and need to be used with care. You will surely run up against something that needs more force than your prying hands can handle. That's where leverage and a quality pry bar comes into play. Use these to help remove stuck brake calipers, suspension parts, or even the belts on your tractor. It really is one of the most universal tools you can have in the toolbox.

    Allen Wrecnh Hex Keys

    10. Hex Key Wrenches- Hex socket cap bolts used to be hardware that was predominately found on European cars in the past, but as the years have passed most auto and motorcycle manufacturers have begun to use them. These days a complete set of Hex Key Wrenches are almost as important as a set of standard wrenches.

    If you stock your toolbox with these items you can tackle most any job when maintaining, restoring, or repairing your car, truck, motorcycle, ATV, or most anything else that has hardware. Be sure you check the Eastwood website for all of the must-have tools no matter how basic or unique, we probably have them!

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  • Media Blasting Basics- 5 Tips to make your blaster work better

    Eastwood Dual Blaster Pressure Blaster

    Media Blasting is a pretty simple process when you break it down into the basics. You mix an abrasive media with high pressure air and shoot it out of a small orifice in a gun/nozzle. Media blasting is extremely effective if you make sure you follow some fairly simple tips. In this tech entry we will cover the basics you need to follow when blasting with a pressure blaster.

    1. Proper Equipment- The number one thing that will cause a media blaster to work incorrectly is a compressor that can't keep up with the blaster. Be sure to check the ratings of the blaster you are purchasing (or own) against your compressor. Ideally you do not want your compressor to be at max capacity when running the blaster. Constant running of the compressor without rest causes excessive heat which creates moisture in the lines and can cause clogs in the blaster (another reason to have a proper Air Management System). Remember that media blasting requires a high amount of constant pressure to work effectively and if your compressor can not produce the volume required, the blaster will NOT work correctly.
    -The industry standard for pressure at the nozzle is 80-100 PSI. Less than this and the media will not have the force needed to properly remove material. Running much higher than 100-120 PSI can exceed the blaster tank maximum pressure and cause the media to disintegrate when it hits the surface and reduce the cleaning abilities.

    2. Hose Length and Shape- While it's nice to have a long air hose that can reach anywhere in your shop or driveway, it can drastically hurt the performance of your media blaster. Try to keep your hose as short as possible and free of any bends or kinks. Excessive lengths and bends can cause the compressor to work harder and decrease performance. Keep the same tip in mind with your blaster hose. Every loop or hard bend in the line will cause a significant drop in pressure (we've seen 5-10 PSI for every hard bend or kink in the blaster hose).

    Eastwood Air Dryer System

    3. Water Is The Enemy- We hinted at it above, but we can't stress enough how important it is to have a proper air separator or dryer in line on your compressor. We suggest adding a new Inline Disposable Air Filter each time you start a new blasting project. They are cheap insurance to avoid those wet clumps of media blocking up your pressure blaster.

    4. Properly Adjust Blaster- Most pressure blasters have similar deadman-style valves that block air or media. These valves do not always need to be opened fully. Each media/nozzle combo and job require different settings. A general rule of thumb is that your air to media ratio should be 90/10. Too much media will kill the end media pressure when it leaves the nozzle. We suggest doing a test run and slowly open the media valve until just after it starts removing material off of the test piece.

    5. Technique- One negative thing that often gets said about media blasting is that it can warp thin panels and actually damage parts by removing too much material. This can usually be chalked up to improper technique. You want to have a steady side to side movement when blasting. DO NOT stop and blast in one concentrated area for any long period of time as it can warp thinner panels and remove too much material on some surfaces. Additionally, keep your nozzle at a 60-45 degree angle and aimed in the direction you are moving when blasting. This will help the media clean more efficiently and helps avoid sitting in one area for too long.

    Follow these tips and make your blasting jobs go as smooth as possible and do the job right. If you have any further questions about blasting feel free to send us a message or jump onto our forums and join our technical discussions!

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  • 5 New Unique Tools Your Toolbox is Missing- Tips to Make Auto Repair Easier

    After disassembling, assembling, fabricating, and tinkering with so many projects over the years, I've found that there are a core group of tools that will get most any job done. But there are some tools that just make life so much easier, I decided to put a list together of 5 new tools that really can come in handy.

    Indexible Pry Bar

    1. Indexible Pry Bar- How many times have you had a full set of pry bars and you never seem to be able to get into the correct position to pry effectively? With the handy Gear Wrench Indexible Pry Bars you can now click your pry bar into any number of positions to get into those hard to reach areas. We now find ourselves reaching for this whenever we need to pry on something since it handles most of the jobs a set of basic pry bars would have before.

    Radiator Hose Pinch Off Pliers

    2. Radiator Hose Pinch Off Pliers- One of my least favorite things to do is draining cooling systems when working in an engine bay. This is something that couldn't be avoided even when doing a "quick" job like replacing a coolant temperature sensor, an electric fan switch, or a simple radiator hose job. With the KD Tools Radiator Hose Pinch Off Pliers you can now isolate the coolant inside of the engine or radiator by safely clamping the hoses with these pliers. These pliers will save you coolant, clean up time, and messes associated with coolant system work. I'd suggest buying a few of these so you can block off numerous hoses at once, I know I keep a few on hand when working on the cooling system myself!

    Power Probe

    3. Eastwood Power Probe- Scary doesn't even begin to describe some of the electrical systems in cars that we've seen over the years. Between previous owner fixes and deterioration, it can be tough to track down electrical problems. You need to have numerous tools and different types of test leads to even begin to test all of the electrical components in a vehicle. This new Eastwood Power Probe allows you to test many of the functions test leads and multimeters combined would accomplish. I love the ability to test the function of electrical components without the risk of burning up numerous fuses! Reach for the power probe first when testing electrical circuits in your vehicle!

    Cable Hose Clamp Pliers

    4. Hose Clamp Wire Pliers- It always seems like hose clamps are put in the hardest spots to reach and then turned so the tabs are in a direction you can't reach your pliers or hands into. The GearWrench Cable Hose Clamp Pliers are like that skinny, long, third hand that you wished you had in those situations. These pliers allow you to get into those tight areas, slip the clamps over the tabs on the clamps, and squeeze the trigger to free the clamp, then slide it off of the hose. These are life savers, and keep the swearing, cuts, bruises, and headaches to a minimum from the other methods.

    QuadBox Ratcheting Wrenches

    5. Quadbox Ratcheting Wrenches- Having a house-sized toolbox stocked with every tool imaginable isn't going to help you save time if you have to walk back and forth to find the tools you need every few minutes. We love saving time and keeping the pile of tools used on a job to a minimum. This is where the GearWrench Quadbox Ratcheting Wrenches come into play. In this two-wrench set you will replace 9 tools (a ratchet and 8 sockets) and save time going back to the toolbox for more tools! Remember, every minute you save searching for the correct wrench or socket is a minute you could be finishing the project and move on to driving and enjoying your ride!

    Stay tuned for our next tool list where we cover more of our favorite hand and power tools on the market!

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  • Watch and Listen to your MIG Welder, It's Telling You Something!

    When learning to MIG weld, one of the biggest things you can do is to listen to the sounds your welder makes when welding; and also knowing what the error is when looking at a weld. Once you understand what to look and listen for, you will notice your welds improving dramatically.

    A properly adjusted MIG welder should sound like it is frying up bacon when laying a bead. You want a nice sizzle with little "pops and spits". The final weld should be relatively flat and even throughout. Above you can see some examples of MIG welds. The first weld has our MIG 175 settings dialed in pretty good. Notice how the bead isn't protruding from the work surface too much, and the bead is fairly uniform in width. The backside of the work piece will show a nice outline of where the weld penetrated properly into the metal.

    On the second bead we turned the wire speed up way too high. You can instantly tell the difference in sound and look of the bead. You can also feel it in the MIG gun when welding. The problem here is that the welding wire is coming out too fast for the surface you are welding on and the heat settings you are using. The wire is hitting the surface and not melting into the metal fully. You will feel the wire pushing back on the MIG gun because of this, and you will hear a lot of random popping from the welder. Lastly, you can see in the picture that as we moved along the welder just made individual "globs" but no puddle was formed. With this weld you won't see an outline of the weld on the backside of the metal as it hasn't penetrated into the metal. This is very bad, and is a weak, dangerous weld.

    The third bead we did quite the opposite, we turned the wire speed far too low. When you do this you will notice a pronounced "hissing" when welding. This will sound like you have a gas leak. You will also notice the wire burning before it even gets to the surface and the inability to move the puddle. You can see in this example the puddle started, but as soon as you move a little bit, you lose the puddle and the welding wire isn't coming out fast enough to keep up and add to the puddle. Because of this you can see the arc was still present, but the puddle didn't start again until we stopped moving and let the puddle form. This is also a weak, unsafe weld, and should not be used.

    The fourth example is a common mistake when you first begin welding. In this bead we left the shielding gas bottle turned off, and attempted to run a bead without the aid of shielding gas. When this happens, there will be an extreme amount of popping and hissing, as well as an excessive amount of sparks and slag flying from the work area. The shielding gas cleans the weld puddle and keeps contaminates from entering the weld and making it weak. Here you can see the weld is very porous and much darker in color. Keep this in mind when welding. If you see a weld like this, make sure you check that your gas bottle is turned on, the tank output pressure isn't too low, and the tank isn't out of gas. DO NOT attempt to use anything you have welded without shielding gas, all of those pores are imperfections that will make the weld weak.

    Now go out in the shop, set up your welder, turn the music down, and listen to what your MIG has to say. It has a lot to tell you!

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