Watching paint dry…
As part of the fun of getting the F-bomb ready for 2017, I decided to pull the engine and paint it. Per my usual planning, I gave myself a little less time than I probably should have. This meant that two weeks out from the first event the F-bomb would be attending, I had some good friends come over and give me a hand pulling the motor out of the frame. The plan was to polish the side covers, clean the engine completely, and coat it with Duplicolor Engine Enamel. Then put it back together and heat cycle it a couple of times.
The reality was that I found myself doing all of that and also the following 1) building a mobile paint rack that would double as a baking oven, 2) using a heat gun for about 6 hours straight to heat said oven for one cycle and 3) having to touch up a tiny but obvious spot on the engine once it came out of the oven. As far as projects can go, these additions weren’t so bad. Like everything else I have done since starting this adventure, I also learned a few things. If you have landed here because you are researching about how to paint an engine, great. Read on for some of the things that I learned.
Do not overthink what you are doing. You are going to use spray paint, like the most user friendly of paints. Read the instructions and follow them and you will be fine. When I caught myself overthinking it, I remembered that painting consists of three basic truths. Get whatever you are going to paint as clean as effing possible. Follow the application instructions as close as possible. Let what you painted dry for as long as possible. That is it. Simple. I used a 1/1 mix of Simple Green twice on all my parts. Then I wiped the parts down with acetone before painting them on a 75 degree day. I used Duplicolor’s Engine Enamel primer and applied three coats per the instructions. Then I applied three coats of Duplicolor’s Engine Enamel in Cast Coat Aluminum color over the primer within an hour, as directed.
I had two problems. Painting an assembled engine, even just the bottom end, works better when you can suspend it so you get all of the surfaces at the same time. It also minimizes how much you touch the engine. I also had to come up with a way to move these pieces out of the garage so I did not get overspray all over everything. I used a garden cart as the base and built a wooden painting rack on top of it. That way I could hang the engine and pull it out of the garage to paint it but then roll it back in the garage while it was drying.
The rack also allowed me to solve the final problem. You need time or heat applied to cure this paint. I was dealing with a small window of time when temperatures were high enough to apply the paint. But I needed to do something to heat cure the paint because of that same small window. What I ended up doing was buying some foil backed rigid foam insulation from my local Home Depot. I covered the mobile painting rack with panels of this stuff to create a make-shift oven, aka very large foil-lined box. Then I hung two heat lamps inside the box with all of the painted parts and sealed it up over night. The next day I cut a small hole in the insulation so I could add more heat to the box using a heat gun. I was skeptical at first. But surprisingly, the addition of the heat gun got the “oven” up to and held it at about 170 degrees on the high setting. I let the paint bake for the afternoon, checking on it to make sure the contraption did not burst into flames. The next day the temps were back up in the 70s, good baking weather. So I cranked the oven up and baked the parts again at a surprising 190 for a couple of hours. A day later I ran the oven again for about 2 hours.
I used the time while the paint was drying to polish up the side covers. It made watching the paint dry a lot more enjoyable.
Plan for a mistake or two or three.
Be prepared for some clean-up/touch-up. Admittedly, I was not ready for this, and thankfully the spot I had to touch up was small. But I did not stop there. I still had to reassemble the engine and there were tools and shit that could screw up all the hard work. So I took a step back and broke the reassembly down into pieces. I stopped at logical points. I took my time, and when I got clumsy, I stopped and took a break. Take Effing Breaks.