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jddryheat

Gun oven and finishing suggestions

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Paint Oven

This started life as a smoker that I purchased second-hand on Craig’s list.  I used it for a while in its intended purpose, but as I was trying to figure a way to make an over for curing the firearms paint, I noticed this setting in the corner of my garage and the rest is history.  I think I got this for about $75 and when I just did a quick check on CL, that's about what they're running now.

 

First, clean it out - really, really good.  You don't want some of Bubba's finest being baked into your firearm paint.  I degreased mine several times, washed it with dawn, and finished up by wiping the interior and heating coils with alcohol.  Yeah, okay, the interior of my oven is officially sterile now.  The idea being, as with prepping anything you're going to paint, when you think it's clean, clean it again.

 

Now to make it taller. Unless you get lucky and happen upon a really tall smoker, I think most of these are around 30", just not tall enough unless you only refinish short barreled firearms and pistols. 

 

First step was to drill out the rivets holding on the top.  After doing this take some measurements on the thickness of your walls and length of your sides and door.  Figure out how much taller you want to make it and make a trip to your local hardware store and pick up some square tubing and light-gauge metal (maybe 18ga). You'll also need some self-tapping sheet metal screws of the appropriate length to attach the sheet metal to your frame.

 

Cut your tube steel and make a frame for the walls. Check and double check for square, then tack weld the pieces.  Check it again, then finish welding the pieces into your frame. 

 

Now you take the sheet metal and bend your right angles at the appropriate lengths to make the 3 sides.  Most likely you'll have an inside and outside skin, but I was surprised to find that my smoker had no insulation in the walls.  I used self-tapping sheet metal screws to attach the sheet metal, then followed up with tack welds.  In truth, the screws alone would be fine.

 

For the door I used additions bracing for the frame.  In hind sight it's probably not needed, but I figured the door would have extra stress.  Again in hind sight, I know I over-built this project.

 

With the sides and door extended, I reinstalled the original top. 

 

Next step was to move the latch up so the pressure would be more in the center of the newly-lengthened door.  This had to be welded because the oven had reinforcements for the latch screws in the original location and the thin sheet metal simply wouldn't allow screws to hold without some type of reinforcement.  As an option you could add a second latch, but again in hind sight and after use, I really feel the original location probably would be ok.

 

I originally intended to add a 4th hinge, but the door (my extension to the door actually) seemed plenty stiff without the addition of another hinge.

 

I raised the rack holders and modified the racks themselves by removing a square area out of one of the racks.  This allows me to hang all my small parts on multiple racks, while also having an area to hand long pieces (receiver and barrel).

 

Last step is to add some type of seal at the door.  Smokers, by their design, allow airflow into the oven. Mine had a hole in the back, a drain in the bottom, and a door that just sort-kinda sealed.  I closed up the holes and added a cheap heat-resistant seal to the door.

 

My smoker has a temperature control on the heating element and a thermometer in the door.  I wanted to make sure a) that it would hold the temps I needed to cure the paint (it did no problem) and B) that the thermometer in the door was accurate.  I used my electronic grilling thermometer to double check temps and the door thermometer was right on.

 

Refinishing.

Norrell's Moly is the way to go.  If you're inexperienced this stuff is way easier than Cerakote and seems to be equal or better in durability.  If you're an experience painter, this stuff is still easier and faster to use.  No downside, unless you have your heart set on a hot pink AK - their color selections are a bit limited. 

 

I initially purchased an inexpensive airbrush kit from Harbor Freight.  The airbrush is ok, but I got it mostly for the compressor.  Most airbrushes are designed for detail work and put out a very small amount of paint, and do so with a limited (small) pattern.  The exception I've found is the airbrush I now use, the Badger 175.  This airbrush is physically larger than most others and simply puts out the paint.  The control and finish of this airbrush are the equal of anything else I've tried, it just puts out a larger pattern, much more suited to refinishing firearms than painting model airplanes.  I got this on Ebay for about $60.

 

There's really no reason to be afraid to try finishing your own firearms, especially if using the Norrell's.  Get an airbrush, practice on cardboard until you're comfortable, and then go at it.  If you enjoy the satisfaction of working on your own guns, it'll be multiplied by doing your own refinishing.  The way the Norrell's dries upon hitting your heated parts, the possibility of runs is almost nonexistent.  That combined with the fact that most firearms are a flat color really provides a very forgiving environment.  If you screw up, just blast the part again and do it over.

 

There's a lot of good information on-line insofar as actual finishing procedures and the steps, so I won't reiterate that here.  If everything else fails you, just remember 1 word "prep". Cleaning and proper preparation is 80% of the finished quality.

 

For more information on airbrushes, I've found this website to be invaluable:

https://sites.google.com/site/donsairbrushtips/

 

When it comes to supporting the individual pieces while painting, I've got a system that is cheap, simple, and works well. 

 

I support a long-ish piece of 1" PVC from my ceiling (or between two step ladders), attach a piece of wire to the PVC for each piece you'll be painting. I use re-bar tie wire because it's plentiful, cheap, and strong. 

At the end of each piece of wire I form a hook.  I then take a much shorter piece of wire and form a hook on both ends.  This piece literally just needs to be long enough to form the two hooks (it will look like and "S").  One end of this short piece will hold the piece to be painted, while the other end hooks on the long wire attached to the PVC.  Adjust your long wire to allow your pieces to be at a comfortable height to paint. 

 

After painting the pieces, grab the short "S" hook, unhook this from the long wire connected to the PVC and move it into the oven.  In the oven you then attach this "S" hook onto one of the racks.  In this way you never have to touch the painted piece. 

 

One final note on hanging your pieces; I absolutely hate the idea of having a section of my pieces not painted because the wire is in the way.  What I do is take a section of 14 gauge stranded electrical wire, about a foot long, and strip off the insulation.  I then separate the strands and use this to attach my pieces to the "S" hook.  The individual strands of 14 gauge wire are almost as thin as a human hair, but very strong. The only piece I don't use this wire to support is the receiver/barrel section due to the weight. 

 

Sorry for the long post covering multiple topics.  I'm sure I skipped over some information so feel free to ask for clarification or more pictures.

 

Here's a few pics:

http://s569.photobucket.com/user/jddryheat/slideshow/Gun%20oven

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Sorry for the screw up on the password protected photos.  I made the same mistake on another post I did at the same time.  Password is removed now so the pics should be viewable.

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