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Old 27th Apr 2021, 11:11 am   #1
untune87
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Default Painting modern enclosures

Hello all,

Not particularly a 'refinishing' query but along those lines; I have a small project that I've put together (just a simple circuit, not really important) and I've purposefully tried to give it a particular aesthetic by using vintage British components etc. I have a Takachi aluminium enclosure (from RS) to mount it in, and I'm thinking about how to paint it.

In regards to the aesthetic I really like the 'retro lab equipment' look, something that belongs in the BBC Radiophonic workshop to give you an idea. To that end I've been thinking about paint colours and how to obtain them (in small quantities). The thing is, many reference photos from that era are black and white, but most of the colours I have in mind are various muted shades of green/blue/grey. Is there any history surrounding the particular colours used on old lab/audio/test gear, or did it stem from military applications? I'm thinking of going for something resembling a Ferrograph series 2, black hardware and a subtle teal-blue-grey, but even variation in reference photographs has made it difficult to work out the actual colour! The 'lid' of the enclosure I'm thinking of doing black or some kind of textured black or dark grey, like a hammered finish—not decided yet.

Authenticity isn't paramount so there is some flexibility, I'm just curious about it. Does anyone know of a good source for this paint (ideally in spray cans)? Would enamel sprays like Plastikote etc be ideal or are there better options?

Secondly, I've not painted one of these particular enclosures before, is there anything particular in terms of prep work they need? Do they need priming? Especially in terms of textured paint, I've no experience with it.

Cheers!
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 12:47 pm   #2
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

do a google search for painting aluminium
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 1:07 pm   #3
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

Get the aluminium thoroughly clean. Spray with etch primer (do not breathe, it's acidic)

Halfords used to make up aerosols to any colour you wanted to match a sample or a car colour code. But now all their places send this work out, so it's not while you wait. Woodauto in Huddersfield do do it while you wait, as aerosol or liquid in a can. One aerosol or multiples of 0.5 litre, though half a litre can be expensive - always ask first, before they mix it. Other towns will have similar trade suppliers. Usually they don't mind the occasional non-trade visitor.

For a gloss finish on most modern colours, you may need to finish with an aerosol of 'clear-over-base' lacquer.

If the box had been plastic, there are plastic primers to use instead of the etch primer.

That's how to do any colour of your choice, if the aerosols in a hobbyist car accessory shop's display rack don't meet your needs.

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Old 27th Apr 2021, 1:21 pm   #4
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

Mt 'preferred' aesthetic is 1940s military/industrial [black wrinkle-finish, paint available from classic-car-restoration suppliers] or 'pseudo-post-WWII-Military' [think Larkspur-green].

Plasti-Kote works OK but I find it too shiny! - my current go-to is the Rust-Oleum Matt range which gives a much more-discreet and appropriate finish. Quite a few of my things are done in their 'Oxford Green' which isn't _excatly_ the same as NATO-green but still looks good.

To get good adhesion on aluminium you really need to use an etch-primer. U-Pol "Acid #8" - available from Halfords etc - is my preferred option here. You only need a very thin misting, don't put it on any thicker than just enough to conceal the underlying metal.

One other tip - leave things to dry properly! Avoid the temptation to start assembling controls etc on to your sprayed parts as soon as it ~seems~ dry, or you risk tearing the paint around screws/nuts etc.

I leave the primed parts for several days in a warm place [on top of the oil-boiler during winter]. If you can still smell solvent when you sniff them, the primer's still curing so needs to be left longer.

Then spray top-coat - don't overspray, too thick a layer will either run, wrinkle as it dries, take finger/thumb-prints when subsequently handled, or tear round fittings as mentioned above. After the same drying as for the primer I often pop the painted parts into the oven [at maybe 150C, after the previously-cooked food has been removed] and left as the oven cools-down to help the final curing.
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 1:42 pm   #5
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

I recall that it is not a good idea to use wire wool to clean the aluminium as it leaves traces of iron on the aluminium surface which causes corrosion problems under the paint.
Better to use the Scotchbrite pads.

Good luck,
Chris
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 3:46 pm   #6
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

Thankyou for all the advice, that's incredibly useful. I have painted a die cast Hammond style enclosure in the past but I think I was a bit impatient so I'm avoiding the same mistakes. I have found some websites that do various military paint colours, I guess it's just a case of picking one I like!

There are some really great little tips here that wouldn't have crossed my mind though, it's the little bits of experience that people pick up that makes this info all the more valuable. There's a car paint place not far from my parents come to think if it, but the etch primer should be easy enough to get hold of. Weather seems to be edging towards ideal for painting too so hopefully I can get underway with it soon!

Cheers
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Old 27th Apr 2021, 4:03 pm   #7
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

I use Autotek acid etch primer which is suitable for priming aluminium, galvanized, zinc coated steel, and for GRP and rigid plastics. I've also used it on Bakelite cabinets when I've repaired damaged ones and have resprayed them, such as KB FB10s off the £5.00 'basket case' pile at BVWS events. Great stuff, and it's high build too, so will fill imperfections to a degree.

Single cans are a bit pricey due to postage, but two 500mL cans are typically £13.95 post free from bodyshop suppliers, though admittedly perhaps more than what most would want: EG:


https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/183718066...xoChVQQAvD_BwE
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Old 28th Apr 2021, 9:11 am   #8
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

Thanks for that David, good to know!

I've done a bit more research today and have a good idea of what I need in terms of primer. Per G6Tanuki's suggestion I've had a look into the Rustoleum range of mattes and there's one called "Robin's egg" which isn't far off what I had in mind; the screen swatch looks quite bright, but the pictures I've found of various real applications seem to have the right muted tone I was going for. Alas, it seems difficult if not impossible to find in the UK! Rustoleum also have hammered options for the lid and that one seems more readily available.

The Takachi enclosures are great in that because they are U shaped and slot together, it should be fairly easy to orient and get good even coverage on each piece.

Thanks again for the contributions everyone, there is some great advice here

Cheers
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Old 28th Apr 2021, 1:21 pm   #9
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

You can get the clear overcoat varnishes in various grades of gloss. Once you've found the colour of your dreams, just choose the overcoat to give you whatever gloss you want from full matt to bright gloss.

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Old 28th Apr 2021, 1:50 pm   #10
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

Quote:
Originally Posted by Radio Wrangler View Post
You can get the clear overcoat varnishes in various grades of gloss. Once you've found the colour of your dreams, just choose the overcoat to give you whatever gloss you want from full matt to bright gloss.

David
Be careful though not to mix different brands of base-coat and clearcoat! I did this once and the clearcoat reacted with the base-coat, leaving a wrinkly, crazed mess.

Time to strip back to bare metal and start again!
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Old 28th Apr 2021, 2:03 pm   #11
untune87
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

Both very good points there; always a good idea to test them both on scrap for a reaction before committing to the finished piece

A bit more research led me to the use of BS697 'Royal Navy Light Admiralty Grey' as touch up paint for a Racal RA17, which looks a lot like I originally had in mind. I'll pop a link in here just in case it is of use to anyone else looking for similar, they have a good selection of BS381C colours that might be useful for anyone doing restoration

https://www.yourspraypaints.com/prod...t-1k-2k-400ml/
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Old 28th Apr 2021, 2:39 pm   #12
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

I've used these guys with great success https://www.paints4u.com/ProductDeta...productID=5021

You can send them a sample (which is what I did) and they will replicate it, including the degree of matt-ness of the sample. I sent them a sample of Tektronix blue, and what came back was superb.

If you don't have a sample, they can probably base it on a RAL colour too.

Craig
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Old 28th Apr 2021, 2:45 pm   #13
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

Yes - just found their custom page https://www.paints4u.com/ral_bs_ncs.aspx?ProductID=9805

They do any specification for British Standard, NCS, RAL and RAL Design System. You send them the code, and they make it up in gloss, satin, matt

And direct to aluminium too.

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Old 28th Apr 2021, 2:53 pm   #14
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

The yourspraypaints link from untune87 also looks very good!

Craig
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Old 28th Apr 2021, 3:08 pm   #15
untune87
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

Thanks for the link Craig, that looks like a good option! I also found this place which gives some additional options which may be of use if you need more control over durability/specific formulation etc

https://www.riolettcustomaerosols.co...l-spray-paint/

However both this one and the one I posed originally also appear to cost 2-3 pounds more than yours when you factor in the vat and shipping
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Old 28th Apr 2021, 4:11 pm   #16
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

That also looks like a great site!

Craig
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Old 29th Apr 2021, 1:41 pm   #17
untune87
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Default Re: Painting modern enclosures

This morning I decided to order from paints4u, given that they were cheaper by about a fiver all in (including a scotchbrite pad to do some prep) and also given that Craig was pleased with his experience.

They do a 'straight to aluminium' paint as mentioned previously, but in the end I decided that I'd get a tin of the Autotek acid etch that David mentioned in post #7 and went for the standard BS satin aerosol. Reasoning being that it'll give me a bit of practice in prepping the surfaces properly, plus I'll be doing the lid a different colour at some point and will need a primer anyway.

I was expecting to get it next week but I've had an email to say it will be delivered tomorrow—service is great so far! If I get time/weather this weekend I might make a start on it.

Not sure if the 'direct to aluminium' would be much different but if anyone has used it before let us know your experiences, might be useful for future reference.

Cheers!
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