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Painting Outboard Parts

I have to admit that these engines get gunk all over them. Since I am trying to refurbish some pretty old motors, I am going to repaint most parts that I can get to.

I have some parts already painted and it is a slow process, especially if you want a quality paint job without paying a small fortune.

First off, it is best that you do not plan any outings for at least 2 weeks when undertaking this task. Initially, it will take some time, especially if you are going to try to repaint parts on the powerhead. The initial sanding may take some time, but after that it is light sanding and a whole bunch of waiting. Painting with aerosol can takes longer. It tends to to leave an orange peel effect (look at an orange peel - it has little hills, valleys). If you want a smooth paint job, lots of time will be going to removing those hills. They can be minimized, depends on the paint and your technique, how clean it is, humidity, etc. If the dimples don't matter, then you can ignore some of the sanding. You will still need to sand primer to get good adhesion from paint to primer. There are different techinques. Some involve applying the clear coat directly on paint while no more than 1 hour. The way I describe is only one way and is for quality paint jobs with a high amount of reflection coming from the paint surface. It is worth the work.

Keep in mind - Aerosol paint jobs are no where near as durable as a paint job done with quality paint from a gravity fed spray gun.

With Aerosol Can Paint

Here are the steps.

Items you need:

  1. Quality primer (self etching), paint, and clear coat.
  2. clear workspace
  3. wet sandpaper - 400, 800, 1000 - 2000 (available at automotive shops)
  4. Quality Rubbing / Polishing compound (3M Perfect-it II) removes fines scratches
  5. Plenty of time and patience.

The primer, paint and clear coat should all be the same brand. Try to avoid the paint from walmart, lowe's and Home Depot. Get it from your automotive shops such as Autozone, Oreilly's, etc. You are looking for automotive durability if not better. There are industrial type paints but I have not tried them and am not sure of the finish they produce, but I will try and I will post results.

The finer sandpaper can be obtained from the automotive shops or try Harbor Freight company. They have a wide selection and it is cheap. Automotive shops tend to charge a premium for this non-durable stuff.

Try to use a sanding block on flat surfaces and keep the pressure even. For other areas, you can obtain paint remover from local shops but it takes time to remove. It works great for those recessed areas, but it is messy and toxic.

1. The item you remove and intend to paint should be sanded down to bare metal with the 400 grit sandpaper. You can go courser, but keep in mind that courser grades tend to scratch deep grooves into metal. The grooves can be removed but only with finer sandpaper. If it has decals you wish to protect, they painters masking tape will have to applied and removed after each coat you place before it has time to dry. Tedious but will prevent you from peeling dry paint that gets attached to tape.

2. Thouroughly clean the part with a solution of warm, soapy water water. If it initially oily, it is probably best to soak in some Castrol Superclean available from automotive shops and Walmart. Place in a spray bottle and let soak, brush with old toothbrush and rinse. After all oil is removed and items is clean, you can begin inspection. If deep gouges are discovered and are of importance to you, you can fill them with Bondo. They need to be removed prior to commencing to next step. Those gouges will show up in the end. If they are light, the primer may make them dissapear.

3. If its metal or plastic, apply the proper type adhesion promotor and then prime. The initial primer should be a light coat. Shake can and place in hot water for 2 minutes before applying. This helps atomize the particals. The process is very important during the paint and clear coat process in order to achieve a fine finish.

The priming process has to cover the entire piece. Wait 4 hours allowing primer to dry. When it is dry, go to next step.

4. Inspect item, look for areas that show dimples, cracks, seams, any low spots. Thes are the areas that you will be trying to smooth out. Those spots should have been removed during the initial sanding process. If you don't remove them or fill them, they will show up in the final stages and ruin a perfect finish.

5. After inspection, sand with 400 sandpaper. Try to remove any scratches / low spots. When you initially sand, the spots will come out after you clean the item with warm, soapy water. Those are the spots that you must try to cover up with the primer. One of the purpses of the primer is to get everything level.

6. When the sanding is complete, clean and allow to dry; prep for second coat of primer.

7. Warm up can of spray paint and again, spray using a moving pattern ensuring all spots are covered. Any spots that were sanded down to bare metal or plastic must again be covered with primer. This coat can be thick. You are trying to get a smoother coverage, but not so thick that it drips. Work slowly and allow some of the primer to dry slightly and continue.

Let dry at least 4 hours and inspect again.

Most of the imperfections should be gone.

8. With 400 grade, again sand item and inspect for imperfections. Repeat process if necessarry.

When satisfied with finish continue to next step. You are trying to get the piece as smooth as possible. There are scratches and those will dissapear with the next few steps.

9. Clean item in warm soapy water, and allow to dry. Avoid getting your oily hands on surface of part.

10. Get your paint, shake it for 2 minutes and warm in hot water for 2 minutes. Apply a light coat covering all areas and ensuring it does not drip. One of the biggest problems with this step are dirty, oily spots. They tend to repel the paint and you will know when it does. Paint will not bind and will form a circle / crater over dirty spot, so make sure they surface is clean. You may notice the orange peel effect. This is normal and will be removed with sanding. You will need to let all coats air dry for 2 days.

Dont worry about particles of dust collecting, they will be removed with sanding.

11. After 2 days of drying / cure time, inspect item. You should see scratches. Lightly wet sand the paint with 600 -

800 grade sandpaper (warm, soapy water for wet sanding). Now you are trying to remove the scratches and the orange peel effect you get when using spray paint. Where as before you were trying to get it smooth, flat surface free of pits. The piece to the right was the first piece I tried and you can see the orange peel effect and low shiny spots that the sand paper initially did not scratch. Needless to say, the sanding continued until the orange peel was removed. The low spots for me did not matter too much since this was a piece of plastic, some parts are harder than others to remove or fill in lower spots. Remember, you are trying to remove the scratches and orange peel.

12. Clean again and repeat paint steps, except the next coat should be thicker. Let dry for 2 days and inspect.

When sanding is done, make sure orange peel is gone. You can tell which spots are low because they will be shiny and the high spots will be sanded. Continue if you seek perfection. See before and after pictures to right.

13. If further coats are needed, then go ahead. Make sure you wait the proper amount of time or you will ruin the finish.

14. When satisfied, clean and allow to dry. Repeat warming procedures for clear coat. This process can go on and on, the more coats of clear coat, the better the results. In between clear coats,

sand with 1000 - 2000 grit sandpaper. This removes the scratches. They will not entirely dissapear but will be easier to remove with polishing cream in the end. Use a high quality rubbing compound available in automotive stores. It will leave a light haze. Make sure you let item cure for a full month before applying any further polishing finish.

You can see my first coat of clear coat to the right. It reflects fairly well but I will be putting on at least 2 more coats. When it dries, I will sand down with 1000 grit sanpaper to remove dust particles and to remove orange peel effect. Orange peel is not bad but you can see it is there. My final sanding will be with 2000 grit followed by a rubbing compound.

If you have doubts as to the outcome, try a small piece first and this will also give you an idea of how much work you want to put into it.

DO NOT BE TEMPTED to scratch the surface. It will scratch until the piece is allowed to cure fully, when that happens it will be very durable. Curing times depends on environemental variables such as moisture content in air, etc. I try to let my pieces air dry initially indoors, away from dust. When it has hardened to touch (read label, don't actually touch), I place outdoors so the heat can get to it.

More to come.




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