Paint, Fumes and Frustration. (PFF syndrome)

So…To the subject of paint. This post could be very short. In summary…it (paint) is just an expensive pain in the ass. The last number of days has involved me buying paint from one company to be told it’s the wrong paint by another company to lead to me buying MORE PAINT…to then buy MORE PAINT AGAIN! The story is long, emotional, painful and expensive. I hope this spiel brings out the rawness of the anger still circulating through my veins.

Paint options

The first lot of paint purchased on the left. The preferred paint which I used on the right (2 pack Carboline)

I will try and summarise it real quick then get to the good stuff. I purchased $160.00 worth of Concept enamel topcoat on recommendation from Steel and Tube who said that you’d be fine relying on the blue steel primer. I had some zinc primer for the welds so we were told we’d be good to go. THEN I spoke with Craig who worked as a builder of agriculture equipment and he said to me ‘no way’, you’d need a bombproof layer of undercoat primer to keep the steel sound. I then went to Altex and spent $360.00 on a full 2-pack under coat along with gloss black 2-pack topcoat. Kind of annoying but hey, I didn’t mind. The team at Altex advised me to just use the topcoat thinner to degrease/clean the oils of the steel prior to paint. The thinner is also required for cleaning of the air gun. This lead to the big screw up…

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The early drive down to Geraldine is stunning.

I got to the farm shed just before 7am. I knew there was going to be some rain around 2-4pm so I wanted plenty of drying time after applying the paint. The topcoat was going on okay but there were some issues getting the paint on heavy enough without it running on me. Anyway, I had gotten through a litre of topcoat when at 10:00am it began to rain! Unbelievable, hoping it would pass and as I had run the gun out of paint I start mixing up the next lot.

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Rain sitting on the freshly painted axles…not a good start. The rain does ruin the finish on fresh paint by leaving large marks everywhere the water has been sitting.

I had about $100.00 worth of nice black topcoat mixed up all ready to pop the thinner in and get in sprayed on. But unfortunately there was not sufficient thinner meaning the paint was still too thick to put through the gun. So I now have a stack load of paint that needs more thinners and the only place who stocks them are 2 hours away in Christchurch. At this point I was less than happy. While storming around in the yard calling people to try and find some thinner the rain just got heavier. I had to succumb to the fact that nature and some bad calls had gotten the better of the situation. That afternoon I headed back to Christchurch where I bought MORE paint (an extra $120.00 worth) in the hopes that I can spray the following day…keeping the fingers crossed.

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Trailer once the primer layer (undercoat etch primer) had been completed

So with all that said, here’s some progress on the build and details on the paint.

With the trailer all welded up, flanges put on the guards and end caps welded on the RHS it was time to begin paint prep. This involves grinding off all the mill scale (a layer of various metal compounds that builds up on the surface of hot rolled steel products), cleaning up welds and finally sand blasting the burnt paint.

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Trailer with a single axle temporarily fastened so we could pull it outside ready for paint.

We hitched the tow ball on and one temporarily fastened axle so we could get it rolling for the first time. This allowed us to bring it outside where we could use the sand blasting gear without filling the shed with sand. The sand blasting worked well and was reasonably hassle free minus sand getting all through your hair and into your socks…love it! We then cleaned the steel to remove the loose sand and oils using paint solvent on a rag.

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Craig working on removing weld spots from the chassis. At this point we had completed cleaning up the welds and I had sand blasted the chassis taking away any burnt paint/ zinc.

The primer used was a Carboline 636 2-pack. The undercoat has an acid mixed through it so that it etches the steel giving it a very strong and robust bond to the steel. The undercoat requires 4 parts paint to 1 part hardener with roughly 15% thinner (#12 Altex thinner). The primer sprayed on well and I managed to get 2-3 fast coats over the entire chassis. It rained intermittently but it wasn’t enough to stop the show.

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Getting ready for the first round of primer to go onto the chassis.

The follow day was the 2-pack topcoat, Carboline E-line 347 black. The topcoat was simply 1.25 litres paint to a small can of hardener (around 5:1 mix). They recommended thinning it up to 20% with #25 thinner. Although I am still in the process of applying the top I can say it’s not an easy job to spray a chassis and get it looking nice. I want a smooth thick glossy finish but due to overspray landing on the frame it’s very difficult to get it consistent. I think I may have over thinned the paint, which was also causing it to run before I could get a nice layer to settle on it. To put a positive spin on the situation, I am happy that I have learned some lessons and can have a second shot at getting it sorted.

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Trailer on the rotating stands as I begin spraying the first coat of primer.

Painting top coat

Working on the top coat later in the evening post the rain.

All in all, I realise this is perhaps not the most exciting post but it is a crucial stage in the build process. I am relying on that paint to preserve the trailer for many years to come. I want to get it right, and the perfectionist inside of me won’t be happy until it looks mint…BUT I think I will have to terms with a slightly average finish if I am being at all realistic.

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The end of a long frustrating day…trailer is starting to shape up OK. From a distance at least: )

Moral of the story, If you are thinking of painting your own trailer, get sound advice first time round, buy enough thinner and avoid painting outside if at all possible. I have half the local bug life preserved on the frame of my trailer not to mention the unpredictable rain and wind…GOOD TIMES!

Will keep you posted on how the topcoat comes up. Post that its trailer assembly time! Can’t wait.

Thanks for reading, be sure to check in again for more progress.