Has anyone used Cerakote?

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12notes

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I'm not planning on painting my Hummelbird when it's finished, however, I would like to paint the cowling so it's not reflective. I've been looking at Cerakote, specifically this air-cured variant:

https://www.cerakote.com/finishes/?tab=coatings&cat=CSERIES

They have a few matte colors I'm thinking of, if you click on one there are links to application guides, data sheets, etc.

A layer of this is .001" thick, so it shouldn't add much weight. It is quite pricey, but I would only need it for that one panel, so I could get by with their smallest size (4 oz. - $35), and have some left for interior trim pieces.

Anyone have any experience with it? Any reason not to use it?
 

FritzW

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The gun guys love it. But for your application Duracoat might be a better option since it's much easier to use and it's cheaper. Duracoat has a crazy 2 part spray can. You hit a valve on the bottom of the can, the two parts mix and your ready to go.
 

ScaleBirdsScott

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The C-series is pretty easy going if you have a spray gun to use with it and don't mind breaking that out. For your intended purpose Cerakote seems overkill, though not terribly so I guess. I mostly use their H-series because I have an old oven and do a lot of gun-sized parts and I love that I can bake it for 2 hours and that finish is done, no waiting a week to mess with it. I can finish a part the night before I need to use it and it's a solid finish. The C-series doesn't have those benefits but it does blow the pants off commercial grade rattle-can results.

But in my experience, the real sticking point that Cerakote seems to stress is that you need to properly media-blast and prep the underlying part. They want full coverage with 120-grit alumina oxide blast to give the material the proper tooth. Now, C-series might not require that to the level H does, It's been some time since I've read those instructions. But I know for sure I blast anything that will get Cerakote, completely rinse with acetone, and then try not to breathe or look at the part between that and the actual application to avoid contamination.

Meanwhile, if you just want a gun-durable and matte-black finish that's easy going on, Aluma-Hyde II in a spray can from Brownells is what I've used. It's good stuff, and not terribly expensive at $13/can. No mixing or special process, no primer, just get the part warm (they recommend 90F but that's not a hard and fast rule) shake the can and spray it on. The results are quite good in my book.

And it works on different stuff than just aluminum. I've had a grey polymer H&K SL8 receiver painted with black Aluma-Hyde and I could not tell it was painted. It looked factory. That's what first got me to start buying it for other stuff.
 

FritzW

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I just started finish machining my own 80% AR lowers, I'm going to try my hand at "garage" anodizing. If it doesn't work out there's always Ceracoat/Duracoat/Alumahyde.
 

Little Scrapper

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I just started finish machining my own 80% AR lowers, I'm going to try my hand at "garage" anodizing. If it doesn't work out there's always Ceracoat/Duracoat/Alumahyde.
Anodized finished haven't worked for me in the past. Ceracoat is unbelievable, much much tougher than Duracoat.
 

ScaleBirdsScott

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I've heard that unless you get a very good and actually quite high end setup, homebrew anodizing is juat not nearly as tough against wear and tear as a proper H-series Cerakote. And I believe it. Like Brady Haran, the stuff is hard as nails.

Of course if you're starting from nothing it's not exactly cheap to getginto Cerakote. You need to get a decent blast cabinet, a few pounds of alumina oxide, a good air compressor, proper regulators and inline filters and water traps, the right style HVLP gun, an oven you won't use for food, respirators for the very very noxious mixtures, beakers and syringes and measuring cups, gallons of acetone, etc.

If you already have most of that, Cerakote - H series is an amazing option. Until you get one drip or run or miss one spot on your part, and then have to completely cure then re-strip the entire coating and re-spray.

So, maybe like many things, I love the results but hate the process.
 

FritzW

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Same discussion on the AR groups: (lol)

If your anodizing isn't lasting muuuch longer than Cerakoat your doing your anodizing wrong. ...that's why all military weapons are (type III) anodized. Weather or not YOU can achieve true type III anodizing at home is another question. And the myth "you can't achieve type III at home without high end equipment" is just a myth started by people who tried once or twice with a bag of ice and a Home Depot bucket and failed.

Even type II anodizing, done correctly, will out last Cerakote. Just because the "black" is wearing off doesn't mean your anodizing is wearing off. A bad dye job doesn't mean you had a bad anodizing job. In fact the opposite is true, the harder the anodizing (smaller oxcide cells) the harder it is dye.

But that probably has nothing to to do with cowlings on Hummelbirds. Keeping things in perspective... 12notes is talking about taking the shine off a piece of sheet metal. Is the expense and hassle of Cerakote vs. Duracoat really worth it?
 

ScaleBirdsScott

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To be fair, I was basing the anodizing thing more on people who have gone and invested in the proper equipment to get repeatable and professional results, estimating many hundreds if not some thousands of dollars in equipment. But their work, really speaks towards the quality that can be gotten with the right tools, so I tend to go off what they think is useful in the process. But like so many things (Especially this CNC business) Is there a middle-of-the-road "gets it done, with some trial and error, but perfectly good for a homegamer" approach? Probably. It's also probably still about $800+ in parts last I looked, starting from nothing and buying everything off the shelf for purpose. (Not scavenging for old electronics or what-not) I'd love to get into it myself and try for the nice proper hard coats as I could use it on many parts. But I've looked at what is involved a few times and always decided there's just too much new stuff to figure out for right now. But someday it'll happen.

And yeah none of it helps put anti-glare on the top of a Hummel.

Truth be told, for our plane we're just used matte black 3M exterior vinyl. That's what we did on our Avenger when adding the radial and it worked great. Went to the local sign shop, asked if they had some matte black vinyl, they had a remnant they sold us for 10 bucks which covered the area as a glare killer, as well as adding checkerboard patterns to the front nose ring, and left us with enough extra to black out some other areas if we wanted. Downside with the vinyl is that it could get a bubble or two if you don't apply it cleanly, and being matte and all, it does show fingerprints and spots pretty well, can't just wipe all that away. But I like it, and it goes on quick and there's no masking or spraying, you can usually tweak the material ever so slightly as you lay it down, so really it's just so much easier.

 
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12notes

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I looked at the Duracoat and AlumaHyde II, and, although my plane will never be a show plane, I just like the colors that Cerakote has a lot better. I own or have access to the equipment needed for the air cure Cerakote. I'd use far less than the smallest size available, so the extra $20 is worth it to me for a better color. I also have access to a vinyl cutter, but, as Scott pointed out, keeping that looking good is a pain, especially as it would be around the filler cap for the header tank.

Is this (or one of the other coatings mentioned) acceptable for the landing gear and/or engine mount, or would powder coat be a better choice? I should have plenty left over from the cowling.
 
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cluttonfred

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For this purpose is their really anything wrong with rattle can self-etching primer and matte black paint or even one of the 2-in-1 primer/paint combos?
 

12notes

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For this purpose is their really anything wrong with rattle can self-etching primer and matte black paint or even one of the 2-in-1 primer/paint combos?
Nothing is wrong with that, but I'd like to go a different route. I just think it looks better, and although this is a budget build and will never be a show plane, it would still be worth the extra $25 over a couple rattle cans to me.
 

Little Scrapper

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Sometimes itsi just fun to do something different. Like being a explorer but in a tiny fun cheap manageable way. :)
 

Little Scrapper

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Sometimes itsi just fun to do something different. Like being a explorer but in a tiny fun cheap manageable way. :)
 

ToddK

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Me and a few guys did it to the inside of a Champ. Looks great, and seems tough.
 

ToddK

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You Cerakoted an entire Champ frame? Or used rattle can self-etch?
Just the interior panels. Not sure how he did it, I was out of town. I phrased my response incorrectly. I should have written "one of my partners in a Champ we are fixing up, cerakoted the interior panels." Sorry about that.
 

Vigilant1

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Is this (or one of the other coatings mentioned) acceptable for the landing gear and/or engine mount, or would powder coat be a better choice?
Is there a consensus on "best practices" regarding the coatings on engine mounts, landing gear, landing gear attach fittings, etc? Obviously, being able to detect a crack early would be best, and I know that for this reason some people prefer a thin coat of paint instead of thicker powder coatings, etc that (they claim) will allow a crack to exist and grow under the coating without being detected.
 

cluttonfred

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I see crack detection as a good reason to go with light colors for struts, fittings, engine mounts, etc. but I doubt very much that paint vs. powder coating makes a big difference in that regard. A quick search tells me that one coat of industrial primer is about 1 mil (25 microns) and one coat of enamel is 2 mils (50 microns), so plain old paint is probably about 3-5 mils (75-125 microns) depending on whether you use one coat of color or two. Powder coating can vary a lot, but it looks like 2-6 mils (50-150 microns) is about normal.
 
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