WORK­SHOP: COAT­INGS

Scoop on a com­pany that can help cover things…

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - CONTENTS -

Just sup­pose you’re look­ing to sort out the run­ning gear of your bike but wanted some­thing a bit more ro­bust than, say, the more tra­di­tional routes. Pow­der-coat­ing is a fine thing but just like any pro­fes­sional fin­ish it needs to be done right or it can cre­ate more prob­lems than it solves. Two pack paint gen­er­ally looks more like the orig­i­nal fin­ishes and it’s very of­ten the medium cho­sen for those who turn out show stan­dard ma­chines. But let’s say you want to build a good look­ing bike that’s also go­ing to be ac­tively rid­den, in a va­ri­ety of con­di­tions and not nec­es­sar­ily overly pam­pered. How about a fin­ish that can take a bit of wear and tear and not show ev­ery lit­tle mark; what are the op­tions then? When the clas­sic move­ment took off two decades ago there were still many com­pa­nies car­ry­ing out stove enam­elling and by all ac­counts it’s a damn good fin­ish. Sadly the ba­sic eco­nom­ics of the set-up meant it was costly and when health and safety reg­u­la­tions changed many of the old time enam­ellers de­cided to call it a day. And this left a gap in the mar­ket which, un­til re­cently, few have sought to fill. For­tu­nately, in a par­al­lel mar­ket, sim­i­lar H&S changes saw the use of many metal pas­si­va­tion sys­tems ei­ther out­lawed or se­verely cur­tailed and this hit mil­i­tary ap­pli­ca­tions es­pe­cially hard. The use of man­ganese, chromium or zinc com­pounds had dis­pro­por­tion­ate en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts and most were ei­ther banned or heav­ily re­stricted. Yet for all that, as the

say­ing goes, it’s truly an ill wind that blows no one any good. An Amer­i­can com­pany, NIC In­dus­tries Cer­akote, just so hap­pened to be de­vel­op­ing a unique sys­tem based around a wet paint­ing process un­like any other up to that point. It’s for­mu­lated around a car­rier ve­hi­cle which not only con­tains the ‘paint’ pig­ment but also clev­erly sus­pends a su­per-hard mi­cro­nised ce­ramic com­po­nent. The prod­uct is ap­plied via a tra­di­tional spray gun yet it’s only ac­ti­vated when the cat­a­lyst is kick started via heat cur­ing. The end re­sult is a se­ri­ously strong coat­ing. Bet­ter still, by vary­ing the level of cat­a­lyst within given pa­ram­e­ters, the re­sul­tant fin­ish can be ad­justed for lev­els of sheen or gloss. The US mil­i­tary loved the new su­per hard fin­ish and the rest, as they say, is his­tory. See­ing al­most lim­it­less mar­kets for the prod­uct has led Cer­akote to run a train­ing set-up where would-be li­censees learn the in­tri­ca­cies of the prod­ucts and pro­cesses. Of course, it wasn’t long be­fore the con­cept found ap­pli­ca­tions within the au­to­mo­tive mar­ket and es­pe­cially the re­fin­ish­ing and restora­tion fields: which is good news for us clas­sics fans who like to work our older ma­chines hard but still want them to look good. Imag­ine hav­ing a paint/coat­ing ap­pli­ca­tion that’s re­sis­tant to ev­ery­day abra­sions? How re­as­sur­ing would it be to know one drop of brake fluid isn’t go­ing to mess up that re­built brake or clutch mas­ter cylin­der? Or know that the paint on your en­gine cases won’t sim­ply melt in front of your eyes at the first whiff of ethanol con­tain­ing petrol? All this and more is now avail­able and amaz­ingly it’s not out­ra­geously ex­pen­sive ei­ther. En­ter Mark Dun­ford of High Cal­i­bre Coat­ings who is a Cer­akote-ac­cred­ited prac­ti­tioner and mo­tor­cy­cle en­thu­si­ast. He’s a highly skilled fine de­tail en­gi­neer who just so hap­pens to be a fully qual­i­fied and reg­is­tered gun­smith. Hav­ing been work­ing with Cer­akote for a num­ber of years now he’s gained a fine rep­u­ta­tion within two dis­parate worlds for qual­ity work at af­ford­able money; both firearms and bikes can now ben­e­fit from a fin­ish that stands the rigours of daily use. To fur­ther ver­ify his cre­den­tials Mark was the man se­lected to ap­ply Cer­akote to Guy Martin’s record-break­ing Wall of Death In­dian mo­tor­cy­cle. There’s noth­ing quite like the glare of na­tional me­dia to fo­cus the mind! Mark’s work­shop is in the mid­dle of ru­ral East Anglia and neatly set up around the var­i­ous dif­fer­ent tasks the process re­quires. The main area is ded­i­cated to the strip­ping and ex­am­i­na­tion of the com­po­nents; here a pre­cise eval­u­a­tion of their con­di­tion is made and any se­ri­ous de­fects flagged up to the cus­tomer. From there the parts are care­fully blast cleaned but not be­fore crit­i­cal ar­eas such as mas­ter cylin­der bores, bear­ing ar­eas and brake caliper in­ter­nals are masked off. The use of both 80 and 120 grit gar­net pow­der gives a good com­pro­mise be­tween re­mov­ing old coat­ings/cor­ro­sion ver­sus ideal sur­face prepa­ra­tion. Knowl­edge of blast­ing and its lim­i­ta­tions is key to the prepara­tory work, as is recog­nis­ing de­fects that were pre­vi­ously not vis­i­ble. Any se­ri­ous de­fects such as road rash in al­loy en­gine cases is rec­ti­fied us­ing a marine grade epoxy putty which is also tem­per­a­ture re­sis­tant. All crit­i­cal ar­eas

are hand fin­ished to en­sure blem­ishes are erad­i­cated and any out­stand­ing is­sues rec­ti­fied. Once the sur­face is clean and de­fects sorted the com­po­nents are masked up as nec­es­sary but not be­fore ev­ery sur­face is scrupu­lously cleaned with an air jet and in­dus­try stan­dard tack cloth. From here it’s into the spray booth and to all in­tents and pur­poses what hap­pens here is pretty much like any went paint sys­tem but with some no­table ex­cep­tions. Firstly you’ll not see Mark us­ing a high-end mega ex­pen­sive spray gun. The Cer­akote paint is, by its na­ture, abra­sive due to the ceram­ics it con­tains and tends to rapidly wear guns and noz­zles. For this rea­son alone a medium-priced gun is the weapon of choice and gets re­placed when it wears out. Se­condly the Cer­akote paint and the ac­ti­va­tor-cum-cat­a­lyst are mixed to give the re­quired level of gloss, satin, or matte. At ‘base’ dos­ings, a given amount of cat­a­lyst gives the level of gloss you’d ex­pect to see on a bike frame; chang­ing the level gives the satin fin­ish seen on brake calipers and at ex­treme lev­els the cat­a­lyst de­liv­ers a flat matte coat­ing as used on early Yamaha en­gine cov­ers etc. If you’re not sure what colour or fin­ish you need just like any good sprayer Mark can ad­vise; with over one hun­dred stock colours there are plenty of op­tions. Post spray­ing, the com­po­nents are oven cured at 100ºc and from there on in your bike parts have a qual­ity coat­ing that will re­sist pretty much any­thing your bike and Her Majesty’s high­ways can throw at it. Typ­i­cally the fin­ish is around 12-25 mi­crons which with an or­di­nary paint re­ally wouldn’t be any­where near enough but with Cer­akote there’s more than enough to with­stand the rigours of the two wheeled world. Any com­po­nents that aren’t ex­actly right go back to the blast cabi­net where the whole process then be­gins again. We’ve only touched the sur­face of what Cer­akote and High Cal­i­bre Coat­ings are ca­pa­ble of so have a look at the web­site below. There are com­plex ex­haust sys­tems, brake com­po­nents, firearms and a stun­ning pair of Yamaha LC wheels that typ­ify the at­ten­tion to de­tail. Prices are sen­si­ble, the range of op­tions ex­ten­sive and the pos­si­bil­i­ties nigh on un­lim­ited. Chances are you might never pick up a rat­tle can again! Thanks Mark Dun­ford for ac­cess to the process: www.hc­coat­ings.co.uk 07941 668265

The magic in­gre­di­ent...

Be­fore the pro­ce­dure: not bad, but not good!

Clean­ing down for the coat­ing it­self.

Paint off and ready for the next stage.

It’s all about the prep!

In the blast cabi­net.

The medium used.

Myr­iad colours avail­able.

Be­fore and af­ter: chalk and cheese!

On it all goes...

Get­ting the right colour is key.

Load­ing the gun.

Painted and cur­ing.

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