Saturday, July 5, 2008

Unpack and paint some parts

Finally! Time to start! The first task is to paint the chassis and rust proof it so the vehicle doesn't rust away during the winter time when salt is applied to the roads. Unfortunately, the garage flooding was rather hard on the EV to be. A mild coat of rust was forming outside (and probably inside too) so I felt that simply coating the frame with paint as per the assembly manual was not an option. Doing so would just seal the rust in. So, I decided that a zinc based compound should be applied in the hopes that the zinc would rust before the steel does. The compound of choice was a product made by LPS (1-800-241-8334). It's an aerosol can product called "cold galvanize corrosion inhibitor" that claims a zinc purity of 99%. Using this coating is an experiment. However, I'm willing to try most anything to prevent roadway salt from eating my bug!

So, to paint, the first step was to unpack the bug components. The upper supports on the shipping crate were quickly sawed off with a portable reciprocating saw and lifted off. Then, the fiberglass body was lifted off. The shell isn't too heavy but I feel it's beyond one person to lift it off safely. Fortunately, with two people, it's easy and only takes about 5 minutes. After that, the other parts were unpacked and rear fiberglass housing and battery tray were then taken off. The last component to be taken off the pallet was a two-piece steel frame which was attached to the pallet with two giant wood bolts. Once all the parts are separate, they can all be moved by one person.

The two piece steel frame was detached from the pallet, then taken apart. This was not easy. I found that the large bolt holding the two main frame pieces together needed to be hammered out with a railroad spike. Then, a 1/4" drill bit was used to drill holes in various places under each frame piece so zinc spray could be applied via a straw. To do so, the aerosol nozzle of the zinc compound was replaced with a different spray nozzle that can accept a small plastic straw. Note, a WD-40 nozzle spray top has the wrong spray can "gender". Fortunately, I had a key lock lubricant which had the correct gender and straw. Painting was done in a low cost kiddie pool to catch drips from the zinc compound. After the paint straw was removed, 1/4" rubber grommets were applied at each access hole. Hopefully, each access hole will allow water to drain so rust doesn't form as quickly from the inside as it would without treatment.

Since there is quite a bit of visible but mild rust on the outside of the frame, a chemical approach was used to remove it. The chemical of choice was naval jelly, available in most auto stores. It dissolves rust but not the rust-free steel. As the rust is dissolved, it can be scrubbed with a wire brush and then the compound is washed away with tap water leaving bare metal. The parts look great after doing this but they are very vulnerable to corrosion so they must be coated immediately after washing off. The parts also had oil left on them from drilling holes for anti-corrosion steps so the parts needed to be washed further. The parts were set in the kiddie pool located in the driveway and lacquer was applied by brush. Some internal galvanizing compound broke down when exposed to the lacquer so the parts didn't look too clean. However, the parts were clean enough to accept the galvanizing compound. Disposal of the lacquer was not a problem. It was a hot sunny day so the used lacquer just evaporated on it's own.

Next, I put the frame parts back on the pallet, put on the respirator and started spray painting. Since I ran out of galvanizing compound, I finished the job with Rustolium's corrosion inhibitor product. I found the Rustolium product didn't cover as well and tended to run more. Also, I've decided to use a different color primer rather than gray so I can tell I've entirely covered the gray anti-corrosion layer. I've also decided to go with a shiny finish on the frame instead of the matte black color since I suspect it will repel roadway grime better. The matte black spray paint I already bought will now be used for the console area instead.

For painting, I was originally going to use spray primer then coat with spray paint after. However, after reading the labels on the cans I had a problem with that approach. Turns out, many primers don't bind to galvanized metal! I didn't want to take the chance the galvanized paint would act like galvanized metal (in terms of paint retention) so I looked for other alternatives. Fortunately, Rustolium made a black enamel paint for appliances that didn't have the galvanized metal warning. As a bonus, it even recommended that the paint be applied direct with NO primer! The finish looks OK. Hope it is as durable as it seems!

There is something more I should mention about painting for any would be bugE builders. Since my neighborhood has a homeowner association, they have rules on keeping the neighborhood tidy. So, with the assistance of a home made dolly, I just wheel the whole pallet out of the garage to paint, then wheel it back in to dry!

Step Summary:
1) Take off cardboard. Check in parts against packing list. 1/2 hour
2) Detach bug parts from crate & set asside parts that don't need to be painted. Then take apart frame for painting. Document (or take photo of) tie rod ends & rear shock - 1 hour
3) Drill 1/4" holes, apply anti-rust compound squirting compound inside holes, swishing around compound inside frame, then apply grommets - 3 hours (and overnight to dry)
4)Apply naval jelly to remove rust from exterior. Then rinse to remove 1 hour.
5) reapply naval jelly again, grind & scrub if rust is severe 1 hour.
6) Set in kiddie pool and apply lacquer thinner to all exterior surfaces to prep metal for treatment 1 hour
7) Apply zinc corrosion inhibitor to top side 45 mins (then wait > 3 hours to flip)
8) Apply zinc corrosion inhibitor to bottom side 45 mins (then wait 8 hours)
9) Apply black enamel spray paint to exterior on top. 45 mins (then wait 8 hours to flip)
10) Apply black enamel spray paint to exterior on bottom. 45 mins (then 8 hours dry time)
13) Reassemble bug frame & parts according to images taken before disassembly & put on sawhorses. (haven't done yet)
14) Blog about it - Est. about 8 hours at various points during the week.

Tools used so far...
Reciprocating saw
Socket set (for detaching frame from pallet)
Screw gun (for detaching bug from pallet)
Drill (and 1/4" bit)
Respirator, safety glasses, earplugs
Screwdriver, hammer, railroad spike
sawhorses, kiddie pool
paint brush and a throwaway container for jelly and thinner, coat hangers & rags.
Shipping pallet & home made dolly

Purchases - HOME DEPOT - Tax not included:
1 - box Nitrinol Gloves 2.99
2- Rustolium 12oz primer spray paint 3.97 ea. - 7.94
2- Rustolium 12oz matte black spray paint 3.97ea - 7.94
1- pt. Lacquer thinner 6.69
2-sets respirator filters 15.49ea - 30.98

Purchase - Toys-R-Us - tax not included
1 - kiddie pool - 7.99

Purchase - Radio Shack - tax not included
2- Vinyl Grommt Kit assortment (Part 64-3025) - 1.99ea - 3.98

Purchase - Home Depot - tax not included
1 -Rustolium Corrosion inhibitor
3- Rustolium 12oz black gloss enamel spray paint 3.97 ea. - 11.91

ACE Hardware (Suburban Hardware) - tax not included
2-LPS galvanize spray 12.49ea - 24.98
1-Naval Jelly 3.99 (free shipping)
2- CIPA Lighted Euro Sport Side View Mirrors - 49.95

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