What does that mean? Well, I spend a lot of time at work thinking about "capabilities". Meaning, we don't necessarily say we want to buy "widget A", instead we try to frame things as we want a widget capable of doing "task A" and then look at different solutions and explore the trade space.
What that means for me, personally, is a bit of a shift in thinking. Instead of buying a tool, I think about buying capabilities and all the things I can do with said capability. With that in mind, I had some work I needed done, I reached out to some providers and got some quotes I found unsatisfactory, so I made the call to buy a new capability.
Some of you mentioned in this thread that I spent $170 and a bunch of time to not spend $250. Well be here's the tale of how I spent $400 to not spend $400! With that in mind, lets talk about...
That's right, I'm doing my own powder coating now. For $250 I got a dual voltage gun (important) from Eastwood, along with a "starter kit" that included a stand, high temp tape, silicone plugs (don't google that... or do. I don't kink shame), and 1/2 lb of plain black powder. So I used that as my starting point, and decided I needed a test article before I did my first real job.
I had this crappy old vice that's like half a step below Harbor Freight quality. It worked fine as a vise, but the finish was garbage. So I stripped it down and coated it with that "free" black powder.
What I learned is that, like a good paint job, a good powder coating job is 90% prep work. Lots of time spent taking the old finish off, busting rust, cleaning, taping and masking. But it's hard to argue with results.
The main article I wanted to powder coat was a set of Brembo brake calipers off a Volvo S60R that I am going to swap onto my 240. I bought a set on eBay that turned out to be junk. Seriously, I'm pretty sure the car they came off of caught on fire. So I used them as a core to get some rebuilt units that are... adequate. I'm not 100% happy about the quality of them, but they are way better than what I had, but didn't come coated.
I looked around online, and most people have said they got calipers done for ~$50 each. I called several local places and the best quote I got was $400 for all 4, with me doing all the disassembly and reassembly. I knew Hobo Freight had powder coating guns for $100, and down the rabbit hole I went. From what I've seen it's not bad, but the Eastwood gun is better for not too much more money, and with the Christmas deal with the starter kit, it was a no brainer.
Beyond that, I needed a place to spray powder, so I dropped ~$50 on some PVC pipe and plastic sheets and built a little spray booth in my garage. This was the first phase, I am going to trim some things and make it slightly smaller (easier to manage) and them tape up all the plastic sheets into one sheet. But it was great for a first article.
Then I needed an over. You don't want to bake powder coating in an over you're going to cook food in, so I went on FB Marketplace and got a double oven for $100!
The thought here was I can cut the divider between the 2 and have 1 big oven. In reality, it's probably not much more effort to build a new over that, with the same footprint, gives me even more space. But I can at least make sure of the heaters and controller from this oven. I didn't even use the lower oven this time around, so it's still food safe and there's no reason I couldn't make a roast, or delicious chocolate chip cookies in it while I'm powder coating!
Anyways, fat boy desires aside, I did my calipers and I'm rather satisfied with the results. Here are the fronts completed.
Excuse the dings on the right one, as I said I wasn't 100% happy with the remans and I probably should have sent it back, but it's also 100% better than what I had to work it. Speaking of, here's a comparison of color.
The left is the OEM color, and it's lighter, more of a blue-gray, while the Eastwood color I used is more of a brown-gray. I still like it, but now I need to add R logos. I'll just use vinyls, there's a shop in PA that makes them, so I just need to decide on a color.
So now I have the capability to powdercoat anything I want (that fits in my oven). It's a bit of work, lots of prep required, but the end results are hard to argue with.
So what does Oppo think? How did it turn out? What color R graphics should I go for on the Rally Gray?
ETA: I said dual voltage is important and didn't really mention why. The Hobo Freight setup is single voltage @ 12 kV. The Eastwood set can do 10 kV or 25 kV. The higher the voltage, the stronger the attractant force between the powder and test article. So you'd think you want the highest voltage you can get, all the time. But, there's a catch (isn't there always?) High voltages can create eddy currents in tight areas which actually repels the powder. It seems a bit counter-intuitive, but the best way I found to coat was to hose the parts off at higher voltage to lay down max powder on the main surfaces, then switch to the lower voltage and focus on the tighter areas to get better coverage.