Finally, Time to Paint

posted Mar 11, 2013, 4:20 PM by Andrew Stock
Hello! Just wanted to post a quick update on what I've been working on! It's been a busy few days, unfortunately not all of it modding... but I did finally have a nice enough day outside to get started on painting this past weekend!

The dogs agree! 

First, I prepared some of my parts with wet sanding to get rid of all the oxidization, giving a nice clean surface for the primer to bond to. Some pieces were worse off than others... my bottom plate was made out of scrap aluminum that seems like it had been sitting in the desert for a few years... but after a bit of elbow grease (and P400 wet sandpaper) it was looking good as new (you can see the cleaned half on the left, the unclean on the right):

I also continued preparation on my mid-plate. If you'll recall, I set about to clean up some of the welding spots on the bottom. I tried grinding it down with a Dremel stone, but that proved only to coat my stone in aluminum... not so much grinding action happened there.  I then went and picked up some Bondo body repair aluminum bonding filler. That stuff was scary! The warnings and such on the side basically said to go to the hospital no matter what. Touches your skin? Go to the hospital. Breathe it in? Hospital trip.  Needless to say I was extremely careful... fortunately, I got the welds covered and didn't make any trips to the hospital as a result 

I'll spare you the in-depth process I went through after that to get it ready for painting... trust me, it took forever and was not very exciting/pretty to look at. Instead, I'll summarize: After letting that stuff dry for a few days, I went at it with my new mouse sander and ground it smooth. After that, I used some regular bondo to fill in the smaller crevices and such, and sanded it once more. After that, I wet-sanded it to get a nice smooth surface using some P400, washed it off with some water, washed it again with some denatured alcohol to remove any oil, and I was finally ready to primer it!

Here you can see it all propped up on some quick 'painting feet' I cut out of a spare 2x4, sitting in my painting booth, ready to roll. The results after the first coat, just lightly dusting horizontally, making sure to continue spraying all the way off the edge before stopping:

Two minutes later, the second coat, same process but vertical passes this time:

And finally the third coat, all primed up. I let this one dry for about 30 minutes before taking it out to wet sand it:

I wet sanded with P1500 using a sanding block, tap water, and just a dab of dish soap to break any surface tension in the water. I'd say I made about 10 passes over every location, letting the block glide and not pushing down hardly at all... enough to get rid of some of the overspray and 'noise' but not so much as to clear primer off back to the base layer. Now they're hanging in my super expensive drying rack in my garage. Also known as a nail with a piece of coat hanger wrapped around it. 

In the meantime, I followed the procedure with other pieces:

Here's the bottom half of the case all primed and ready. For comparison you can see the top half next to it that is about to be primed as well:

I actually managed to get everything all primed and wet sanded in one day! It was a lot of slow deliberate work... 7 pieces in all, coated three times, wet sanded and curing. It took about 4 cans of primer, which I don't think was too bad considering how much surface area I had to cover. 

While those pieces were on the rack drying, I moved on to some other preparation work. I filled all of the extra holes in my motherboard tray with some bondo, then sanded it down using the mouse sander. This way, when painted, it should be nice and clean. I know no one will be able to see most of it... but I'll know it's there. 

I also set about to sand down the backside of the motherboard tray. While the hole fillings were drying, the bondo actually formed small stalactites (or are they stalagmites? ) because of excess bondo running through the holes and meeting a sheet of aluminum foil I had as a preparation surface. I wanted to clean that up since this area might actually be visible through the left hand window of my case. Almost by accident, I discovered that if I gave the mouse sander a little pressure, I could actually sand the threadings that were poking out the back of the motherboard tray completely flat!  I'll call it a happy accident in this case, since I intended to make them disappear anyway... so now it should be a really nice clean surface to look at! You can see the sanded-down threads on the right, and some threads with bondo sticking out of them still on the left. I went through and sanded every one of them flat:

I wet-sanded and cleaned this piece, and primed it as well. After that, I did one last thing with my day, and that was to take apart my radiator core and prepare the radiators for painting!

I carefully put masking tape on the fins to protect them from damage and paint, and I also cut out some covers for the threads to keep any debris from getting inside the radiators. You may have seen in some of the other photos, but the paint on these was really cheap, or really poorly done... it scraped and chipped off with barely any effort. I figured it would be a piece of cake to remove it if that were the case, no?  I could not be more wrong. 

The picture below is after an hour or two of effort. The left one was sanded down using my mouse sander and about 3 P120 grit sanding pads (which aren't cheap, by the way!). The one on the right was done using some mineral spirits and a scraping knife. Both took a ton of effort and are nowhere near done. I have a feeling I went about this all wrong... so I went down to the local hardware store and picked up some paint remover meant specifically for aluminum, along with some brushes and scrapers. I haven't tackled this again yet, but I have a feeling it will work much better this time... 

Anyway, that's all for now! I'm still in the midst of painting and such, and will post some pictures when I get something presentable! See you then!