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Eastwood Powder Coating Beginner's Guide

Book Review

by Ryan King

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From little brackets to rear ends — even entire car frames — there are a number of parts on your ride that can benefit from powder coating.

If you don't know what powder coating is, it's an environmentally friendly dry plastic powder, free of VOCs, that gets blown onto a part, the powder coming out of the gun is positively charged and the part is grounded through the gun, which attracts the powder to the part. Once the part is coated with powder, it's put in an oven and baked until the powder flows out into a tough, durable coating. While powder coating is much more difficult to control for finish quality than painting, the results are fantastic for parts that see environmental abuse like chassis components and engine brackets — especially in restoration scenarios that don't require the finish quality of some custom show cars. Powder coatings are excellent for replicating factory finish aesthetics on many functional parts while doing so with a coating far more durable than the original, cheap, often poorly-applied paint.

I've had powder coating done in the past, such as on a rear end housing for the 347, as well as engine parts and a second rear end for the LX, but I've never done the work myself. I have, however, looked into it extensively and I want to step into it in the near future when I'm finally able to get back to my Car Projects. As an example, there are quite a few components on the El Camino that would benefit from a nice powder coating and would mimic the original paint used at the factory.

In order to reacquaint myself with the process of powder coating, I've picked up a copy of Eastwood's Powder Coating Beginner's Guide by Joe Richardson.

Follow along as I give this small book a once-over:

The Book

There have been at least two other books on the subject of powder coating aimed at enthusiasts, but, neither of those books are currently in print. This is the only one I know of still published. It's also really tiny at only 52 pages, including the front and back cover.

Although spiral bound, don't let it fool you: its production is high-quality.

Best of all, its geared directly to automotive enthusiasts, which means its brevity isn't necessarily a bad thing: it doesn't cover anything extraneous like lawn furniture or the kind of work you might find in an industrial shop environment — it's just for us guys and gals that turn wrenches in our own shops and garages.

Unlike traditional publication-fare, this book isn't broken down into chapters, but into 11 short sections. Normally, when I write a book review, I like to take a shallow dive into the details provided in each chapter so that you get a clear idea of what you're getting when you purchase the book. In this case, some of the sections are so short, writing a thorough account of the section would mean providing all of the information, so, expect the section reviews to be short for this one.

Introduction

This section is short, so this review is short. Author Joe Richardson introduces himself and provides a brief explanation of the approach taken with the Powder Coating Beginner's Guide.

What Is Powder Coating and How Does It Work?

As the title states, this section provides a basic understanding of powder coating and how it works. It focuses on what powder coating powder is and how it's applied, then goes on to provide an overview of the curing process, which includes a detailed description of what happens when the powder "flows out" over the part, when it's heated in the oven.

Safety and Warnings

Just because powder coating is environmentally friendly and free of VOC-causing solvents, doesn't mean there are no safety measures you need to take to keep yourself safe and healthy. Powder coating powder is an eye-irritant, a potential respiratory hazard, and a fire hazard. The process also uses electricity to function, so high-voltage electrical shock is a danger. Read the Safety and Warnings section in the book for more information and be sure not to skip it when reading the Powder Coating Beginner's Guide — and as is recommended in it, read the entire manual before trying to tackle any powder coating projects. You might just save yourself a trip to the ER.

What Is Needed to Begin Powder Coating?

That's a good question and this section provides a good answer. Mind you, this is an Eastwood-published book, so the answers are Eastwood products, but I can tell you without letting the cat out of the bag that you're going to need a special powder coating gun and accompanying accessories, and an oven to cure the parts. Check out this section in the book for the complete list and more on the details of what they recommend you pick up, but be aware, one of the options mentioned, the Eastwood Bench Top Powder Coating Oven, is no longer available on their website as of this writing — as are some of the other products mentioned throughout the rest of the book.

Preparing, Hanging, and Supporting Objects for Powder Coating

The title says it all. This section is about part preparation, hanging light objects, as well as properly supporting those heavier items that can't be hung. In addition, it covers masking and the use of filler to smooth out the substrate on damaged parts.

Although this review is short, this is one of the largest sections in Eastwood's Powder Coating Beginner's Guide, and it's chocked full of good information for the neophyte powder coater.

One thing I noticed missing from this section is the use of iron phosphate metal preparation often associated with powder coating. From what I understand it helps with adhesion, durability, and corrosion resistance. If memory serves, it's also one of the things commonly used by professional shops to get the best results. There may be a valid reason it isn't covered here, but I wanted to make sure you, as a potential reader, knew it wasn't covered.

Applying the Powder to Objects

This section is a scant two pages, but it covers the subject clearly and concisely, so you'll have a good idea what to do to apply powder coating to an object once you're finished. Of course, it also recommends practicing before attempting to powder coat something you care about — which is good advice.

Advanced Powder Coating Techniques

This section is far and away the largest at nine pages. In it, we get into some advanced powder coating techniques as the title suggests. The techniques discussed include applying clear coats, translucent coats, smoked tints, hot flocking, two-toning, highlighting, and how to use primers. This section covers a lot of ground, but, like the rest of the book, is clear and concise, and doesn't leave you wondering what it was talking about.

Problems, Causes, and Solutions

This section is broken down into two subsections. One covers powder application and the other, flaws in the cured coating.

Although not exactly like paint, the issues are similar in many respects, so if you have an understanding of painting and the flaws that can occur, you'll feel right at home, here. Not having a great deal of experience applying and curing powder coat, I don't know how thorough this section is, but it is clearly written and covers a lot of issues — and I can't think of any I've read about that it doesn't.

Frequently Asked Questions

Mother may I?

Did you play that game as a kid?

That's kinda what this section is, but about powder coating. It's filled with what the author says are the 10 most common questions asked by newbies — most of these are answered in greater detail earlier on in the book.

Advanced Equipment Needed to Go to the Next Level

If the Powder Coating Beginner's Guide has you urning for more, this section will further tantalize your taste buds and give you an idea of what you'll need if you want to do more.

The six subsections in this section cover seven areas of concern for moving up to larger parts, higher volume outputs, and commercial applications.

Glossary of Powder Coating Terminology

To understand powder coating, there are quite a few terms unique to the subject and still others that are important to know to get the most out of your research. In this section, it covers 24 such terms and provides precise definitions for each.

Conclusion

Eastwood's Powder Coating Beginner's Guide is an excellent introduction to powder coating, but, it is less of a book, more of a booklet. Don't let that deter you, however. It's brief, but it covers most everything you'll need to know to get started. At least, what I can tell from my previous research as, again, I've never actually done any powder coating, myself.

If you're looking to understand powder coating from an automotive enthusiast's perspective, though, this book should be your first stop. It'll get you headed in the right direction and should have you up and powder coating in no time.

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For more information contact the Eastwood Company on the web at www.eastwood.com or by phone 1.800.343.9353.

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