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Old 09-20-2006, 02:07 PM   #1
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Por-15 vs. Powdercoat on a new frame

Hi everyone,

I'm still working on the plan for my new frame. Just took the first session of my welding class last night. This is going to be big time fun!

I've been thinking about what to coat my new frame with when I get it built. Por-15 seems to be very highly recommended on these boards. And, I can put that on in my driveway.

My buddy who runs the RV frame plant in Indiana, however, says they powdercoat all their frames. He was going to make me a frame until we discovered that the older Airstreams use a different frame rail spacing than the industry standard, so it wouldn't work in his standard production jigs. So....I'm doing my own. This'll be more fun anyway.

That being said, since I'm going to this amount of trouble, what coating should I put on the new frame?

How well does Por-15 compare to Powder Coating?

What I'm thinking is that if Por-15 is even remotely close, that's the route I'll go due to trouble and expense. But if Powder Coating is infinitely better, then I may go that route.

What do you all think?
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:22 PM   #2
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Basically, for most, having a large powdercoat oven set-up for onesie-twosie items is not economical and POR-15 would be the way to go. Having a buddy with access to a powder coating oven large enough to put your entire frame in it is a luxury most of us don't have. I think the end result is comparable, but if you can have him powder coat it, it certainly is easier than working with the POR-15 which is messy. If cost comes into play...you will find the POR-15 more economical.

Shari
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:26 PM   #3
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E-coat

Jim,

You may want to look into E-coat. This way the inside of the frame could be coated as well - RV frames rust from the inside out - typically.

Good luck with your project,
Henry
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:34 PM   #4
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POR-15 is popular because it can be used by folks with everyday skills. It can be applied here and there as we do various steps in our rehabs. It is tough but it is fragile early on. I don't feel it is bulletproof; e.g., when subject to impact, rubbing from the bases of LP tanks, or bolting on U-bolts for weight distribution gear. I consider it to be fairly expensive, especially in the amount to do an entire frame. It adheres best on rusty steel. Doesn't new steel have a fine layer of oil on it? I feel you'd be facing a lot of preparation and adhesion questions for POR-15.

Ask your buddy and let us know how they prepare the frames before powder coating -- that could be useful to members. Would he be your source for powder coating? What does that cost anyway?

My newer Safari powder coated frame has some dings that I need to touch up but seems quite tough overall. My Argosy experience says I face some touch ups after using POR-15 in multiple areas. Let's see what other members have to say...
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:45 PM   #5
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I don't know much about the advantages of powder coating except the obvious ones: such as it's an outstanding cosmetic finish as well as being tough. Perhaps it's ultimately more durable but 90% of the frame is protected behind aluminum. For the exposed areas the POR-15 will certainly touch up easier but keep in mind that it is best when Painted Over Rust! A new frame is not the ideal starting point but with a little extra work you can still prepare it well enough for an effective coating.

POR-15 Application Instructions, will download as a PDF document

Best of luck,

Steve
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Old 09-20-2006, 03:00 PM   #6
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I had my "fish tank stands" powder coated and bird cages.

Use POR-15 save $$ lasts longer
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Old 09-20-2006, 03:10 PM   #7
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We've had several items powder coated. The prep involves sandblasting.
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Old 09-20-2006, 04:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by axleman
Jim,

You may want to look into E-coat. This way the inside of the frame could be coated as well - RV frames rust from the inside out - typically.

Good luck with your project,
Henry
Henry, can you give us more information on E-coat?

I sandblasted the frame on my '73 and POR-15'ed it, two coats. Adheres very well to sandblasted frame once prepped properly. Have had no problems with it at all. I also used a product from Eastwoods for the silver parts of the frame. I'm having all kinds of problems with it. It's been on the frame for less that a year and rust is coming thru all over.

My 2 cents.

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Old 09-20-2006, 06:38 PM   #9
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I'd make the trek if it's truly worth it...

Well, he would probably powder coat it for me in his factory. Problem is that he's 8.5 hours away, so I'd have to put it on the axles and haul it out. That's really further than I wanted to drive. I've got a buddy who powdercoats stuff here locally, but I think all he does is small stuff.

If it was light years better than an expoxy primer, I'd consider making the drive west. But if it's not that super duper much better, I'll probably just paint it at my house.

I redid a Dodge Charger a long time ago. When I did that, I got a scraper and a small torch and removed all the rubberized undercoating, then sandblasted the entire bottom of the car, and redid the sub frames with an aircraft epoxy primer. It turned out a really nice job and made a very tough finish. That's basically what I was planning on for this new frame for my Airstream. But, I'm not that knowledable about the advantages of powder coating so thought I'd ask.

Henry has a very good point about box frames. I am going to look into E-coating, but I've changed the design. I'm not going to use a box section, I'm going to use a channel. The open sections don't hold water like the closed ones do, and so that alone helps them resist rusting out so badly. A good coating would be icing on the cake.

Thanks!
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Old 09-21-2006, 08:23 AM   #10
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Sure!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim & Susan
Henry, can you give us more information on E-coat?

My 2 cents.

Jim
Jim,

E-coating or Electro-coating is really only an option for new frames. Once the frame has been welded it goes through a multi-dip process where it is cleaned, prepped and finished using electricity to bond the finish to the metal.

They E-coat Hummer frames, trailer frames, and the like for example. It provides a tough finish over all of the metal not just the outside (due to the dipping into the chemical baths). I think that Volkswagon was one of the first to bring this technology to the US. There are several E-coat facilities here in Elkhart, Indiana.

I hope this helps,
Henry
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Old 09-21-2006, 10:16 AM   #11
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Jim,

I am familiar with powder coating. It's great for the items I have done. Mostly wheels in automotive restoration. It's tough and durable. However the part has to be heated to something like 400 degrees after it is prepped. That's what get's the powder to melt over the parts. So for a frame you are looking to do some industrial type of plant will be needed like what your buddy has.

Same could be said of the e-coat that Henry describes above.

I believe the factory did not have any specialized coating like the powder coat or e-coat. If you are talking about your '77, the frame lasted almost 30 years. If you use the POR product, you will be able to do it yourself. You will be able to redo small sections later on with little hassle. And the POR product is far superior than what the factory did in 1977. Plus you will likely take care of it better than previous owners. So if you think you may still have the trailer in 40 to 60 years from now, POR should be a good finish for your frame. I have not used it, however I have seen some excellant results on several trailers that have gotten a lot of miles after the POR product was used. And none of those uses were done on an entire frame. Just the sections that had issues.

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Old 09-22-2006, 09:03 AM   #12
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Thanks for the responses guys. I'm going to look further into the E-coating. That does sound like a great coating. I've seen it on brake components so it must be tough. But it sounds like an epoxy paint like Por-15 would do everything I'd need to do. If I go to this much effort to bring this thing back to life, I'm darn well gonna take good care of it!
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