Friday, August 31, 2012

Lightbridge 3: The Paintening

There are two key parts to a good paint job.

Surface prep and patience.  Professional obligations (work) is a fine substitute for patience and can make waiting for the paint to dry seem to go quicker.  Plus its hard to touch the fresh paint when you are sitting in the office. :-)

My sample piece got another wet sanding with 2000 grit sand paper and then I hit it with clear.

I wet sanded again with 2000 and did another coat of clear.

 I am VERY happy with the results.

 The color change from blue to purple/orange is very nice and I think the tube will look pretty spectacular on the scope field at my local star parties.

At this point I feel like its a little overkill, but some day I plan on putting a really nice piece of glass in this scope (*cough*Zambuto*cough*) but that's several years away.

I will probably get one of the GSO sets from JMI to replace the damaged primary.  GSO apparently is the OEM for Meade on the Lightbridges  Or I may just pull the trigger and go for the Zambuto right off.  Depends on how long it takes me to save up for it.

Regardless of what I end up doing with the mirror, I know that this scope will look nice sitting in the corner of the living room.

So now that I know the color I picked looks beautiful its time to get down to work on the bottom tube.

I initially started with with my air tools, but ultimately my compressor could not keep up.  Its not designed for constant running like what you get when you are using it as an angle grinder.  Not to mention it was SLOW going.

After 10 -15 minutes of work, I had made hardly any progress.

At this point I resigned myself to my original thought : goto my local home improvement store and buy the necessary equipment for my Hilti angle grinder.

I picked up a universal pad adapter and 3 sets of pads, 1 medium, 1 fine, and a set of polishing pads.  My intention is to use the polishing pads with some fine rubbing compound to put a final shine on the clearcoat but I fear that the angle grinder may put off too much heat since its an on or off thing with no built in speed control.

I have my test piece to experiment with so I haven't settled on a solution for that yet.

The angle grinder made quick work of stripping the white powdercoat from the bottom tube.

I considered just putting clear on the raw steel for a moment but decided that I would continue with the original plan since I think the blue and black will look really nice together.

As soon as the bottom tube was stripped, I washed it, and then gave it a good cleaning with mineral spirits.  I needed to get the first coat of primer on as fast as possible since I live in Seattle pretty close to the ocean , things rust pretty quickly and being Sunday there was no guarantee that I would have time to paint after work.

The first coat went on without a hitch.  One small run on the edge, no big deal since this is only the first of what will be at least two coats of primer with sanding in between, a coat or two of flat black inside and out, then the sparkle color and then clear enamel.

I may end up going with an epoxy clear I found for durability but I am still researching it.

The Automotive primer I chose can be wet sanded after 20 minutes which really cuts down on the time in between coats.

I started out with 600 grit at this level because I wanted to work the small run out  as well as take care of some blemishes that happened with a few gnats landed on the wet paint.  I guess that's what I get for painting on the lawn.

All in all it came out nice, you can see that there are still some minor surface imperfections where I sanded through the primer to bare metal.  I also wasn't careful and I scratched the primer in a few spots.

Nothing too serious since I plan on doing several more coats before I am done.

So I put a second coat of primer on the tube, hauled it into the garage to cure for a few days.  I will come back at it with the 600 grit, attack the inside with the 600 grit, and then do another coat of primer inside and out.

After that will be 1 to 2 coats of flat black, inside and out, followed by the metal flake.

I may or may not get to that before my first child enters the world, we'll have to see how things transpire.  With less than a week to go to the official due date, anything could happen.

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