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Powder coating the easy way


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126 replies to this topic

#1 Dolomite_supafly

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 03:20 AM

I edited this to say use Laquer thinner. It makes the process fool proof. It is amazing and the only variable is the amount of powder. I was able to use a lot less than when using acetone and with laquer thinner the coat was much nicer.

 

I decided to try the laquer thinner an it is fool proof. Add a little powder then swirl around to see if you have enough to coat the bullets. Then pour off the excess laquer thinner and pour the bullets out. Wait for them to dry then bake.

 

The powder coat powder does not stick to the plastic bucket and for some reason ONLY sticks to the bullets.

 

I am absolutely amazed at the results.

 

 

 

So I have been promising a write up with a few pictures.

Here are the items you will need
Powder coating powder
For the powder I have tried expensive powders and cheap powder. They all seem to work equally well. I initially used Harbor Freight red and it worked well so I order a few other colors from Powder by the Pound. They arrived quickly and they were cheap in 2oz sizes and it is a Tennessee company. I made sure to order the 400 degree powder from PBTP.
 
Acetone Laquer Thinner
The acetone laquer thinner is just like you find at any hardware store. Nothing special but I would caution against using nail polish removed that is acetone as they tend to have other ingredients that might affect adhesion.
 
Container
For the container I found some small buckets at Walmart for $2 each. They seem to work well with the size batches I am doing. I think any container will work providing the acetone doesn't eat it.


Screen
I used 1/4" hardware clothe that is available at most home improvement stores. I cut a piece just big enough to fit in the oven then I rolled the edges up to keep the bullets from rolling off. A word of caution. These are generally zinc plated and zinc is bad for you if it gets too hot. At 400 degrees there isn't any fumes but at 425 it was smoking.

Toaster oven 
I bought one at Big Lot for $30 which is about the price for anywhere else. It needs to go to at least 400 degrees to work. Be careful as I have seen some that only went to 300 degrees. I will also caution against buying them used as the thermostat is what generally goes and you end up with a stove you cannot control the temperature on.
 
Mask
You need to have a filtered mask. Not a dusk mask but a mask that is designed to filter out fumes. I picked mine up a Harbor Freight for less than $20 and it works great.
 
Eye protection
I wear glasses so this is not an issue but I will say after every time I have done this I have spots on my glasses. So without eye protection you will likely get something in your eye.
 
*******************************************************************************************
Now onto the instructions

First I start by preheating the oven.  I will put it on 400 degrees and set the timer for 15 minutes. It doesn't take 15 minutes to heat up that small oven.
 
I put on my mask and eyeprotection before opening either the acetone or the powder. The powder can be as harmful as the acetone until the powder is baked on so ALWAYS wear your mask.
 
Now I choose the color I want to use and add it to the bucket first. Here is how much powder I put in the bucket for ~100-150 bullets. You definitely want to add enough to coat the bullets. I normally add 2-3 scoops of powder using a 1.9 Lee dipper to measure. This is generally enough to do a batch of 100-150 bullets, depending on the size of the bullets.
S5000006_zpsc8c0af84.jpg

Next I add the acetone to the powder. This is generally how much acetone I use. There is no scientific measuring method for this but I will say you want too much rather than too little. If you have too much it adds a few minutes to the tumbling and evaporating time but if you add too little the bullets will come out blotchy and dull.
S5000007_zps37963cb5.jpg
At this point I begin to swirl the mixture around. If you have some clumps you can add 5-10 bullets to help break them up before adding the rest of the bullets.

After the mixture is nice and uniform I now I add the bullets and begin tumbling by hand.
S5000009_zps00e565b9.jpg

At this point I begin to lightly shake the mixture up. I generally do a back and forth motion with a swirl every 2-3 times around. I will also kind of flip the bullets end over end like you do when flipping a pancake.
 
You want to tumble them just vigorously enough to coat the bullets with the mixture. And you continue to shake, and shake and the bullets will not looked coated at all. They will have a light tinge of color but the silver is definitely shining through. Then finally the acetone begins evaporating and the amount of time is dependent on how much there is as well as the temperature. And it will not evaporate very quickly if you do not tumble. You can actually set the bucket down for 30-45 minutes and they will still need to be tumbled. But tumbling will evaporate the acetone enough within 5 minutes of constant tumbling. And as the acetone evaporates the bullets get more and more color.
 
And when the bullets seem to be holding on to the color this is a critical time. You want to dump the bullets while they are still wet, but not too wet, but definitely do it before they get too dry. If the acetone evaporates too much the bullets will not have a wet look and will actually have a dull, rough finish. It doesn't affect performance from testing but it does look like crap.

At this point the bullets should be uniformly covered with color AND still wet to the touch. There should be some of the mixture in the bottom of the bucket and on the bullets that is about the consistency of Testor's paint. It should still run from gravity and if the bulelts have color but the coating is still running in the bottom of the bucket then it is time to dump the bullets. Another big indicator for me is the sound of the tumbling bullets. The sound changes slightly as the bullets are trying to move agains the resistance of the thicker coating.

This is how they should look right before dumping them out onto the screen. Uniform in color, still wet to the touch and still shiny. (Sorry for the crappy picture).
S5000014_zpsc4df4d16.jpg

I do not have a picture but you dump them out onto the screen. Then I give them a quick shake to try to keep some from sitting on top of others. At this point the bullets will dry very quickly and I give them a quick shake every 30 seconds or so until dry. After about 2-3 minutes they will be dry to the touch and not be tacky. When they are I seperate the bullets as best as I can on the screen so none of them are touching while they bake.
 
Then I stick the bullets and screen into the toaster oven which is set to 400 degrees. I set the timer and let the bullets bake for 10-15 minutes depending on the size of the bullets and how they are looking. As they bake they will become a little more shiny than when they were dry. Once they are uniform in how shiny they all look I carefully remove them from the oven.
S5000018_zps3aeb740b.jpg
  
And this is how they will look coming straight out of the oven, shiny.
IMG_0002_zpsf5143082.jpg

I set them out to cool for 10 minutes or so. The powder coat will be tacky when they first come out and will remain tacky for 3-5 minutes until they have cooled enough to allow the powder coat to harden. After that you can touch the bullets but be careful because they will still be extremely hot. And if you touch them while they are still tacky they can stick to your finger, ask me how I figured that one out.

After that you can either shoot them as they are or size them down dependong on your application. Sizing them does not remove the finish at all. The coating seems to add about .002" to the size of the bullets. So if you have bullets that are the same size or .001" over the bore size as cast then they will not need to be sized after they are coated. If the bullets are any larger as cast then you might try sizing them down to .002" over the bore size.
 
I have personally pushed these to over 2,000 fps without any issues. As a matter of fact the bore seems a lot cleaner than with jacketed or cast and lubed. I have read of people pushing them to 2,800 fps without issue.
 
The advantages are that the bore never leads. It is also cleaner. And the biggest advantage is it encapsulates the lead to prevent exposure. This si something I will be doing with all my cast bullets. And I am not 100% positive they need to be baked.

Here is a bag on its way back to Caster:
IMG_0013_zps86445583.jpg


And finally, if you have ANY questions feel free to ask.


Edited by Dolomite_supafly, 02 July 2013 - 05:16 PM.


#2 Dolomite_supafly

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 03:26 AM

A few more things.
 

I am not sure if 400 degrees is enough but the bullets seem to have more of a metal sound to them as if they have been hardened. Not sure if they are but for what I am doing I don't care.

 

As far as accuracy goes I have shot the same exact load with and without coated bullets. The bullets using Lee Alox were .309" and the coated bullets were .311". The coated, but unsized, bullets shot groups that were noticeably smaller than those bullets that used Lee Alox.

 

All other variables were as close to identical as humanly possible. Both were shot from the same gun within 10 minutes of each other. The same rest was used for each. The same powder and charge. The same OAL. The same primers. The days was sunny at about 75 degrees with no wind. They were fired from a Savage Striker with a 16" barrel that is chambered in 300 Blackout. The velocity was ~1,050 fps at 10 feet from the muzzle.


Edited by Dolomite_supafly, 24 June 2014 - 04:10 PM.


#3 JWC

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 03:37 AM

Thanks for posting!!! I'm gonna spend an hour or two of my Father's Day in the garage trying this.

#4 jonathon1289

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 02:12 PM

Nice writeup! I do not cast at this time but plan on starting later this year or next spring and am keeping this bookmarked for later reference.

#5 RED333

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 02:33 PM

WOW, a lot easier than spraying and cooking.

Thanks for the post.



#6 Lester Weevils

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 02:56 PM

Is that kind of powder coat a "plastic based" finish, or what?



#7 Dolomite_supafly

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 03:07 PM

Yes, it is the same powder they use with a powder coating gun that uses static electricity to coat the parts.



#8 RED333

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 04:01 PM

From what I have read on Cast Boolits it works great at not leading the barrel and is accurate as well.

And with an endorsement from Dolomite on this proses, I just might be trying some myself.



#9 jaysouth

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 04:50 PM

Dolomite,

Thanks for a very informative post.

Quick question, what lead alloys are you using? Does hardness matter when powder coating?

Thanks

#10 mikegideon

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 05:11 PM

Nice going, G. My money says that you will always have to bake them. That's what turns the powder into a film. Cool stuff!



#11 JWC

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 07:15 PM

First shot with Harbor Freight Matte black didn't look so great.
7E83AE42-C6A6-42A4-8EE8-41A4F60A7B78-440

Redid them with some Protec gloss black and they look better but it isn't even and have some spots where it stuck to screen. Some of it is prob b/c i just did over the matte black.
FC9B46DB-E7B1-4EB8-A62C-82BC965F3387-440



Still working on it. Tumbling with my left hand as i type with my right.

#12 Dolomite_supafly

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 07:26 PM

I have found that black seems to be the hardest to get looking right. And I imagine flat black would be even harder.

 

I have coated some sure lead bullets and shot them. Normally they would smear all down the bore but not when coated. This opens up a world of versatility because pure lead will mushroom as well as any hollow point.



#13 Clod Stomper

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 08:38 PM

I have found that black seems to be the hardest to get looking right. And I imagine flat black would be even harder.

I have coated some sure lead bullets and shot them. Normally they would smear all down the bore but not when coated. This opens up a world of versatility because pure lead will mushroom as well as any hollow point.


Glad you mentioned that. I was just fixin' to ask. I have some pistol bullets that I accidentally cast waaay too soft.

Does the local Harbor Freight carry the powder? I may need to run up there tomorrow.

#14 Dolomite_supafly

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 09:03 PM

Yes, that is where I got the red I used initially.



#15 Lester Weevils

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 09:29 PM

The toaster oven thing is real neat, and interesting the finish works on bullets so well. Haven't studied powder coat except years ago admiring the powder coat finish on some electronic chassis we would get made up.

 

Another "well duh"-- Wonder if powder coat paint is "in the same ballpark" as laser toner? The laser toner is also incredibly fine round plastic beads, powder that will mess you up if you happen to breath much of it. And the principle works with static electricity to adhere the toner then a fuser roller to melt the powder into the paper.

 

Just thinking-- Laser toner even in bulk might be more expensive than powder coat paint, but mebbe you could coat bullets (or paint items) with laser toner? Or maybe you could even print with powder coat paint? Of course, even if you could paint with laser toner, you would have to either be happy with black, cyan, magenta or yellow, or maybe you could mix the powders for other colors.



#16 jonathon1289

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 11:16 PM

Has anyone tried powder coating purchased lead cast bullets, such as from Falcon? Buying supplies this weekend with my neighbor and thought about getting Falcon lead bullets instead of plated stuff I have been using.

If it would work, I know Falcon cast is .356, this post says the coat adds about .002 which means I would need to buy equipment and resize? Or would I need to slug my barrel and determine that for sure?

I can continue buying the plated bullets instead of going with lead now, cost savings is only about $2 per 100 until I have the equipment to cast my own.

#17 JWC

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 05:17 AM

if you buy them and jack em up you're gonna have to shoot them as is, toss em, or save em until you start casting. I don't think it's easy to get this stuff off after curing. I could probably shoot the black ones posted above but i wasn't 100% satisfied with my work so i just threw them in a pot of wheel weights waiting to be smelted. Nothing lost but time.

#18 jonathon1289

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 12:34 PM

if you buy them and jack em up you're gonna have to shoot them as is, toss em, or save em until you start casting. I don't think it's easy to get this stuff off after curing. I could probably shoot the black ones posted above but i wasn't 100% satisfied with my work so i just threw them in a pot of wheel weights waiting to be smelted. Nothing lost but time.


I may give it a try, worst case they don't work and I store them until I begin casting. I've never shot lead before, always bought plated bullets, but since the powder coating prevents leading I figured it worth a try.

I guess really my question should have been, does the hardness matter (I think not based on one of the above posts) and does it work with bullets that are shipped already lubed? I know some manufacturers lube and some don't.

#19 jaysouth

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 02:54 PM

After reading this thread, I dashed to Harbor Freight and bought a respirator, some leather gloves and powder paint.

I 'borrowed' a toaster oven out of the kitchen (I may have to buy mamma a new toaster oven) and started on my quest for powder coated bullets.

After a couple of rocky starts, I finally baked off some PC bullets.

Pictures and narrative of mis-steps to follow. This may save me from paper patching and/or buying a new RCBS lubricator/sizer.

Edited by jaysouth, 20 June 2013 - 02:56 PM.


#20 jonathon1289

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Posted 20 June 2013 - 03:06 PM

I'm planning on trying this soon. Just waiting to get all my supplies.
@jay, very interested to see your results and anything you learned for me to watch out for.