Introduction: How to Powder Coat an Aluminum Landing Gear for a Radio Control Aircraft. I Made It at TechShop

Picture of How to Powder Coat an Aluminum Landing Gear for a Radio Control Aircraft.  I Made It at TechShop

This instructable will cover how to powder coat a generic aluminum landing gear that many radio control airplanes come with.  I did this to make the plane look a little better then the normal bare aluminum look that most planes have.  I did the powder coating at TechShop Detroit, in Allen Park, MI. 

I made it at TechShop
http://www.techshop.ws

Step 1: Take Off the Landing Gear

Picture of Take Off the Landing Gear

To start with take off the landing gear and remove everything from it including axles and any other fasteners.

To do the power coating, you need to get some TSP cleaner, acetone and nitrile rubber gloves in addition to somewhere you can powder coat.

Step 2: Sandblast the Part

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Before you start sand blasting you will want to turn the powder coat oven on.  Turn it on and set the temperature to 375F.  It takes a while to heat up so you'll want to get it started now.

To start with, you need to prepare the part in the sand blasting cabinet.  Put the part in the cabinet.  Be sure to go over all the edges of the part.  When you think your finished, check the part and clean up any places that were missed.  

Step 3: Clean the Part and Spray Powder On.

Picture of Clean the Part and Spray Powder On.

You want to scrub the part down with TSP (tri Sodium Phosphate) which is available at Lowes.  Put some water in a sink, add TSP to it and scrub the part down good.  Then rinse the part off.   Next wipe down the part with Acetone.  Use paper towels but just gently wipe it.  You don't want lint off the paper towel stuck to your part when the powder is applied.   

I used a piece of 2-56 rod, available at any hobby store for a hanger.  It bends easily.  I had a ton of it lying around from past airplane projects.  You need to use something metal that conducts electricity.

Take the part and hang it in the powder coat over to warm it and dry it off for 10 minutes.  This will get all the water off the part.  

After this hang the part up in the powder coat spray booth.  Hook the ground of the powder gun up the hanging rack and turn on the light and the fan.  I bought the powder to use from the TechShop retail shop.  The $4 bottle was just enough to coat this part, with a spill and some troubles with the powder gun.

The powder gun has a pastic dispersing knob on the end that can be adjusted.  I had to remove it to get the powder to blow straight.  I think the pressure was not set correctly in the room and was too high.  The powder was always fanning out from the gun and not blowing straight with the plastic fitting in place.  Once I removed it I could get the spray to come out normally.  

Spray powder onto the part so it has a nice and solid coating.  

Step 4: Bake the Part and Clean Up.

Picture of Bake the Part and Clean Up.

Put the part into the powder coating oven.  It should still be set at 375F.  For the small powder coat oven, this seemed to produce temperatures just over 350F every time I opened it.  I put the part into the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes.  It is supposed to take 20 to 25 minutes so I did 30 minutes just to be on the safe side and make sure the powder baked on properly.  

After the timer runs up, take the part out and hang it up somewhere to cool for a bit.  Turn off the powder coating oven at this point.

This is a good time to clean the powder gun.  I used the shop compressed air and sprayed it to remove any powder laying around.  After returning it to the DC I was informed I missed a few spots on the cable.  The powder is really messy stuff and hard to get off all the wires and cracks in the gun.  

The part cooled down to where it could be touched in about 5 minutes.  It produced a nice gloss finish.  At this point you can mount it back on your plane and it's ready to use.

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Bio: I am an auto safety engineer. In my spare time I like sailing and radio control airplanes and boats.
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