Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Buffers and Pipes

The buffers on 1005 were very badly rusted. It was all surface rust, but there was an awful lot of it. It's a job for a sandblaster.

Our beadblast cabinet is wonderful, but its glass beads are intended for lighter work, and the cabinet is intended for lighter (and smaller) pieces. So one of the volunteers funded sending it out to a commercial sandblaster and powder-coater.

Powder coating was not used in the "good old days". They would have if they could, because it is so much more efficient. It is applied as a powder and then heated to melt it onto the part. Click here to see how powder coating is applied. The gun "fluffs" the powder into the air, while imparting an electrostatic charge which draws it to the part. It's pretty easy to get a uniform coating, because a thick enough coating insulates the electrostatic charge, meaning new powder won't stick as well. But you have to get it right, a coating already baked on cannot be re-baked.

Once the part is coated, it is gently carried to an oven. Jarring the part would knock off the powder. It's typically baked at 400 degrees for 15-30 minutes depending on the part. The coating melts onto the part, giving a uniform, spray-like finish. No runs, drips or errors. One coat. And no toxins either - powder is relatively non-toxic compared to paint. Cleanup is easy, and if the shop is clean enough, spilled powder can even be reused. It is not a historic method though, so we don't tend to use it much.

Lastly, here is a bunch of the air piping under 1005, going to scrap. This gives you an idea how much piping was replaced during the restoration.

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