I did quite a bit of reading on the contentious subject of priming, and looked into some of the chemistry. Without further justification, my decision was to prime using an aerospace grade two part epoxy primer. As a result of this decision, I would need to set up some sort of spray booth. Spraying outside is not an option, weather is too variable and this is after all a sheep farm – at times it is hard to tell the difference between the hordes of enormous Calliphora stygia and low flying helicopters. Just doesn’t seem right to be prising insects off parts after they landed on wet primer and got stuck.
I have a reasonable amount of room, so I built a spray booth capable of holding enough parts to make up any of the assemblies. I built it out of structural pine, covered it in builder’s plastic, and installed a mesh table, lighting, an exhaust fan and an intake filter. I put the whole thing on 4 inch castors so I can just roll it into a corner when not in use.
I decided to use the Van’s practise kit parts as a means to test the entire process. This meant the practise kit stayed in pieces while I got the booth finished and waited on some of the sundry items I needed. The process I’m using is:
- Clean and degrease with PPG Deso-clean 110
- Etch with a 5:1 solution of Alumiprep 33
- Spray on an adhesion promoter, PPG EAP-12
- Spray on PPG CA7700 epoxy primer
I’m using the EAP-12 in preference to Alodine because I have no way of dealing with toxic rinse water here, anything that wound up on the ground around the workshop would eventually wash off into the main dam, and then get pumped to all of the stock troughs that the sheep (and a lot of local wildlife) drink from. I didn’t want to be responsible for causing some sort of zombie sheep apocalypse in the area.
The practise kit trial went OK. The booth could use some back lighting which I will add one day. Cleaning and etching went off without a hitch. I didn’t mix up enough EAP-12, so the application was a bit thin for one of the skins. I decided to let this go, since it was just a practise piece. I tried a few different air pressure and spray gun settings during the primer application. As it turns out the settings I started with were perfect, and each alternative I tried degraded the result – which is OK, that’s what a trial is for. There was some paint spitting when I dropped the air pressure too low. I also got so pre-occupied evaluating various gun settings I coated the skins too heavily.
Now I get to do it all over again with the Vertical Stabilizer parts.