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Cleaning and Painting

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  • Cleaning and Painting

    Hi Guys... another couple of questions about restoring machines

    1) How do you go about preparing a lathe for paint? I've done smaller machines all by hand but with larger ones it seems like there might be a better way than elbow grease. If I taped all the holes and was very careful, what do you think about pressure washing and a thorough towel dry afterwards? The carriage and tailstock would be removed for that.

    2) What kind of paint do you guys like? I know this has been asked many times here before, but I thought I'd throw it in since it pertains to the cleaning question. Rustoleum had crossed mind since it is temptingly cheap but ... well I guess I'll have to use the search function

  • #2
    Wire brush and a bath in MEK..or L51 toluene.

    battleship grey is a fine color, add a pinch of blue.

    Iv painted shops full of machines, that worked for us..


    • #3
      Just an ordinary enamel like Rustoleum or something special? I hadn't thought about adding a touch of blue but you can definitely see it in older machines. Thanks for the tip!

      <edit> Important point: The original paint is still present in pretty decend condition except at the feet of the lathe and a few other places. Earlier, I stripped the paint from the apron using a spray on paint remover. It did a great job removing the top few layers of paint while leaving the original intact. A second application directly on the original will remove it as I did remove some of it accidently. Anyway, I plan on leaving the original coat. It is almost like that gray epoxy they use to seal basement cracks. Its thick and tough - really good stuff it seems like. The lathe was originally purchased by the Navy, maybe they painted it themselves with something to handle nasty marine yard conditions ... ?
      Last edited by Fasttrack; 06-07-2008, 02:39 AM.


      • #4
        The touch of blue in the grey looks good.


        • #5
          Pressure washer? Stop and think. Do you really want all that high velocity water finding its way into the crevices and innards of your machine tool?

          Nope. Better simply clean it by hand, working a few square feet at a time. It may take a few hours but you'll make far less mess and do a better job. Do a premilinary clean-up and remove any sheet metal or other interferance.

          Spread cardboard or newspapers to catch the drips. Start with a putty knife or a chisel shape made of hardwood and a screwdrive and scrape all the crud in a small cardboard box. Then using mineral spirits paint thinner scrub down the machine following up with a scotch brite pad as needed. Once the machine is as clean as you can get it with mild solvent allow it to dry and follow up with a strong spray-on kitchen cleaner. Finish with a clear water wrinse.

          If the existing paint is sound, sand, patch and prime. If not, remove damaged paint without disturbing any underlying filler. I strongly suggest you hand paint any machine tool smaller than a semi truck. They are very cluttered with way surfaces, lead screws, shafts, electrical panels, label plates and panels etc. By the time you mask it all off for spray painting, you could have hand painted it three times.

          Use a good machine tool paint. It won't stay virgin for long. If you use the machine for what it was intended the paint will get scuffed up in a metter of weeks. Resist painting it with expensive two part paints. An engine lathe aint fine furniture or a classic car: it's a working machine tool.

          I once cleaned a mid sized Rockford planer about 22 ft long. It was encrusted with goo and chips. Total materials used were 3/4 gallon mineral spirits, one bottle of 409, a pint of lacquer thinner. half a box of scotch brite, a couple of flattened cardboard boxes, some rags, a couple of rolls of paper towels. Took me a couple of days. Scrupulous cleaning of grubby machine tools can be done with a minimum amount of every day materials so that EPA doesn't have a heart attack. I burned up my waste in the barbecue.


          • #6
            No "prep". Spray paint over everything, particularly the ways and leadscrew, and you'll have today's fashionable eBay look.


            • #7
              Read this thread from Dennis Turk on PM. He gave some words of wisdom from his 10 years of experince repainting machines.



              • #8
                I use Castrol super clean for a detergent/degreaser.I spray it on working top to bottom and let it sit and run down the sides a few minutes before wiping it off with a rag and hot water.Wear rubber gloves since it's a form of caustic.It will remove the grease and goo and even etch the surface of the old paint.

                Once the machine is clean I wipe everything down with clean mineral sprits.

                Paint I have used everything from Rustoleum to high dollar automotive paint.The one I like the best for several reasons is Krylon in quart or gallon pails.The larger Home Depot stores carry it,runs about $40/gallon.

                Large flat surfaces I paint with a HVLP touch up gun using drop cloths to cover things like ways from overspray.The rest I use brushes.
                I just need one more tool,just one!


                • #9
                  I am so frustrated...typed a long reply and then my browser timed out trying to submit it.....all lost.

                  I second the recommendation on Castrol Super Clean. Its a water based caustic with a surfactant and does pretty good, but I usually use it as a second pass when most of the gook is petroleum based. I start with Gunk SC (Super Concentrate) mixed with Kerosene. They sell and engine cleaner calle "Engine Brite) in a spray can that is the same stuff or at least appears to be. Don't get the foamy version...different stuff. Anyhow, a first pass with this followed by a water rinse (the pressure knocks the stuff off) is a good first step. Its not water miscible and even tells you that as little as a drop of water will reduce its effectiveness, so follow up passes are with the Super Clean. Both require thorough rinsing however as a caustic film under your new paint would be a recipie for a mess later.

                  I would generally agree with Forrest on pressure washing although most of my machines were cleaned that way. They were disassembled at that point though, so mostly it was raw castings that were being cleaned. I would never recommend this around any mill head/spindle or lathe headstock. You need to follow up with compressed air in all the screw holes and then I usually sit the stuff in front of a high-speed fan. In warm weather, leaving the castings in the sun for a while both makes them warm which helps the Gunk solvent combination penetrate and also makes them dry extremely fast. They end up hot enough you just about can't handle them and the water almost flashes off.

                  At the kerosene/gunk stage, I use a a brass bristle brush, putty knife, screwdrivers, dental picks you name it to scratch the heavy or trapped stuff loose. When using the Castrol product, I usually scrub with a stiff plastic bristled brush. I sometimes have to re-wet with a hose to keep it from drying in place, too. As prep just before paint and after its otherwise clean enough to eat off, I use mineral spirits and sometimes lacquer thinner which will break the gloss on existing paint for better adhesion.

                  Edit-- One thing I forgot to add in the re-draft is that water based coolant films etc are not often removed only with petroleum solvents...thus another reason to use the Super Clean and water in addition to anything petroleum based. Leave this film in place and it may act like "mold release" for your repaint. One of my mills had been used with mist coolant and had what looked like a mixture of wallpaper paste and swarf sprayed on the column. was sticky...and only dissolved with a water based cleaner.

                  I have had very good luck with the Valspar equipment enamels. They are sold locally through a regional farm supply chain and last I knew Lowes carried them too. Tractor supply carries the same stuff under the name Best Paint Sold--Still Valspar. They also carry it in a bunch of implement MFG. colors. I use their hardner sold there too. Its not the typical polyisocyanurate "wear a pressure respirator stuff" or at least it does not seem to imply that. I am brushing it, too which means no mist. It adds gloss and makes the paint flow better as well as making it harden sooner and harder. The only down side is you have to calculate a mixing ratio to make up small batches for things like a machine where you won't paint everything at once. You also have to mix the stuff off and on for 30 minutes before commencing to start the polymerization process. I have also had better luck with Napths for thinning. It doesn't reduce gloss like mineral spirits and also increases your "open time". The paint flows much nicer almost feels "slick".

                  Good luck to you and be sure to take plenty of before and after pics to show us!

                  Last edited by pcarpenter; 06-07-2008, 11:58 AM.
                  Paul Carpenter
                  Mapleton, IL


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Fasttrack
                    Hi Guys... another couple of questions about restoring machines

                    1) How do you go about preparing a lathe for paint?
                    Two concepts that are only a little related.........

                    Forrest didn't jump you for the misuse of terms, so I will.


                    Paint in that use is for making a worn-out (or brand-new) machine look good. Painting does not improve any function, and is actually un-necessary for function.

                    Why just paint a machine that really needs a good overhaul instead? It's basically a "feel-good" thing, but isn't of any real help.

                    Keep eye on ball.
                    Hashim Khan


                    • #11

                      Thanks JT, I guess you guys are only getting part of the picture. I'm in the process of ... well not really restoring because I don't believe the bed is worn enough to warrant any work on the bed or other slides, but I am replacing all of the carriage bearings, bushings etc. It needs the tailstock fixed, compound fixed, new shaft and key for the apron, oil plungers fixed, etc etc. This machine sat from around 1947 to 1975 in a gov warehouse before being donated to a school, so the ways are in good condition.

                      Anyway, I was looking ahead while working on the mechanical issues.

                      Cleaning by hand it is! I already started the process but got to wondering if there wasn't a better way to do it. I didn't really like the idea of a pressure washer, thats why I asked here. If I liked the idea, I would have gone ahead and done it!


                      • #12
                        Careful Fasttrack, you're teetering on the edge of oblivion

                        I'm just finishing-up a concourse-grade restoration of my Clausing 5914, and I'll never do it again. It turned into a 2 year obsession that was way more involved than I could have possibly realized.

                        The Clausing has a hydraulic vari-speed, so it's one of the more complicated home-shop grade lathes you'll find, and I replaced nearly every bearing, belt and bushing, completely rebuilt the clutch/brake, replated and rebushed the vari-speed sheaves,...

                        But the mechanical restoration probably took 1 tenth of the time that the paint did.

                        My first mistake was stripping off the factory primer. Cast iron castings are very rough and uneven. If you remove the primer, it takes a lot of bodywork/filler/primer to get the castings back to the point where you can paint. I've got a good friend who's restoring a '67 Camaro, and prep and bodywork on a old beat-up car is much easier by comparison: virtually nothing on a machine casting is straight or flat (except the precision surfaces, of course, but you're not painting those ).

                        My second mistake was using Polane -- a 2-part polyurethane epoxy that's often recommended as the "ultimate" machinery paint: it's hard as rock, and nearly impervious to solvents. I've spilled paint stripper (MEK) on catalyzed Polane, noticed it about 15 minutes later, and it didn't touch the Polane. But Polane is very expensive, highly toxic, and is extremely subject to orange peel. When you try to color sand it to knock-down the orange peel, you find that it's like sanding T-15

                        So somewhere between the obsessive, life-consuming Paula/Daryl Bane restoration and an Ebay Rustoleum restoration is what I'm planning for my next machines.

                        Later on this week I'm going to tackle the Atlas 7B: I'm going to strip off the peeling paint with sprayable aircraft paint stripper (which is pretty weak compared to the gel strippers or pure MEK), and re-paint with a good quality one-part marine paint. The marine paints self-level, so they don't need to be color-sanded, and they're a lot more durable than automotive paints.
                        "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rantbot
                          No "prep". Spray paint over everything, particularly the ways and leadscrew, and you'll have today's fashionable eBay look.
                          I think it is time to update that ''e-bay look'' use a big dip tank that way there wont be any overspray problems .


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pcarpenter
                            I am so frustrated...typed a long reply and then my browser timed out trying to submit it.....all lost.
                            I feel your pain brother. Been there, done that too many times.

                            Any time you feel the need to post anything more than a quick 1 or 2 line response, load up Notepad or any other text program and type away, even the Photobucket picture links. Then, when you're ready to post, select the whole thing, press Ctrl-C, open your post window and press Ctrl-V. Voila, no pain, no strain.

                            Or, type away to your heart's content in the post window but BEFORE you press the "Submit Reply" button, do the Select All/Ctrl-C thing just in case the Internet Gremlins devour your post. If they do, just press Ctrl-V and all is good again.

                            "Accuracy is the sum total of your compensating mistakes."

                            "The thing I hate about an argument is that it always interrupts a discussion." G. K. Chesterton


                            • #15
                              Yeah - I'm not too worried about the paint job. I'm just looking for a continous color and something to protect it from moisture. The feet on the lathe are in the worst condition, the paint is peeling and the metal rusting. I just want a simple coat of paint, no muesuem quality paint job

                              Some of you guys have done absolutely amazing jobs on your machines and the paint jobs look like show car quality! I'm always impressed by that but I'm not up to such a project right now.