Hey Prairie Dawg: “What’s Involved in painting older equipment?”

by Tim Holmberg, DEMI Equipment

As you sit in your warm office these colder winter months you may be staring out the window seeing equipment just sitting there, looking all ragged and a little bent under that soothing blanket of snow. Maybe this is the year you want to improve your hard working tool’s image and instill a little pride back into the fleet — as well as the operating crew.

Is it true that if the equipment looks better or is better kept it may actually operate and produce better — or is this just a myth? I believe it’s a visible daily reminder that often improves attitudes that may have become somewhat apathetic or even negligent of taking responsibility to go that extra mile in upkeep. I’ve found it amazing how a vibrant updated paint job can inspire a whole new sense of housekeeping initiatives throughout the entire organization. For a minimal investment, it is worth its weight in gold. Also as a great lead-in for suggesting other overdue changes; improving your operational upkeep as well as the public’s overall view of your offering — quite possibly the competition’s too.

How much will this new look cost? Let’s take a deeper look. To start with, figure what overall branding image or color scheme your company may already have in place. Does that scheme still fit with the newer generation of associates? I recommend asking within for opinions and ideas — it is amazing the pool of talented individuals you may already have within or what connections they may have.

Next question is where to get the work accomplished — after all, this equipment isn’t your typical hot rod sized item. Consider the tedious yet valuable time needed for preparing the subject piece — overrun with 20-plus years of gravel and rock chips, bent metal panels and sharp torched edges. Maybe even ten pounds of sticky gooey grease that is baked on or bonded so well that quality hot pressurized jet spray won’t quite get it removed. Using a combination of elbow grease, cutting and welding, manual scraping and even some brake cleaner; over time it will start to take shape.

Sandblasting: is it cost effective and will it be regretted if not considered? The answer is yes and if you have a local provider to do it, it is worth every penny especially if you are planning on keeping the equipment for an extended period of time. Sand blasting is actually rather reasonable — and surprisingly, depending on the consumable being used — is actually environmentally safe.

However, if the machine is 40 or more years old, you should test for lead-based paint beforehand. There are simple tester kits on the market that can easily be done without any special equipment.

Once all the surface prep work is complete, be sure to tape over, remove or cap items such as hoses, tires, and v-belts; after all who wants an auction-looking, used car lot result. Next — decide where and how to get this giant sized machine into a space where the wind and weather isn’t wreaking havoc. Remember, primer and paint have specified temperature and time in order to cure. There are actually air-assisted blow up paint booth systems for the do it yourselfers out there — or you simply may have to find a facility nearby that can accomplish the final (more educated) process of painting. Having product knowledge and vocational training is extremely valuable for the best possible finish — highlighting all your preparation efforts.

This is the part of the project you really don’t want to skimp on, as both the application process and choice of product used will make the entire investment shine like the desired finish.

I always say when consulting with customers that the best possible way to keep from being penalized or regularly targeted by the stringent laws and codes that MSHA enforces, is to start with the appearance of the equipment. Keeping the machine free of rocks and dirt everywhere, excess grease wiped clean, cutting and welding repairs touched up with spare paint, and all the guarding properly contrasted or safety yellowed and being positioned properly into place makes it obvious that the item is highly regarded — a valued tool, working within a safety-conscious environment.

However, I’m not implying that your inspector is easily fooled; I’m simply stating again that if the equipment is maintained outwardly in its physical appearance — usually the inner workings and safety aspects of the operation are also maintained to the utmost. Best housekeeping practices breed great maintenance and productivity throughout an operation — as everyone involved makes it a team effort leading to success — and look great doing it.

Please, if you enjoy these random aggregate and quarrying equipment based subjects, tune back in for more topics to come. Send me a subject or topic you would like brought to light and any associated questions you would like to have discussed and I will gladly provide my best answer based upon my specific point of view and personal experience.
Questions or Comments? Tim Holmberg prairiedawg@pdpractical.com.

Or simply write me a letter and we will send you a T-Shirt or Ball Cap: Tim Holmberg / 2915 Idea Ave. / Aberdeen, SD 57401

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