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[TowerTalk] painting aluminum summary

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Subject: [TowerTalk] painting aluminum summary
From: (
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 07:08:05 -0400 (EDT)
Thanks to all for your suggestions on how to best paint aluminum. Below is a
summary of the responses:

1)  Do not use latex paint on the aluminum! It will not stick. It will peel
off. You may want to look into paints made for painting aluminum siding.
Another system that would work is to use a primer made for aluminum
(alcohol based wash primer or zinc chromate) and then a top coat of an oil
based paint. Your local paint store personnel should be able to help you
select the right paints. It would also be a good idea to abrade the
aluminum with a Scotch type brown or green pad prior to painting to help
the paint adhere. By the way, I have no idea what effect painting the
antenna will have on it's performance.

2)  This time I'm going to coat the aluminum
with white vinegar first.  This will supposedly etch the surface
slightly (5% acedic acid in the vinegar) and help the paint stick. 

3)  I think if you use a light grey primer, you will do fine. I've painted
my Height's that way.

4) I stopped at the primer. "Flat Krylon". That was in 1989. Still looks like
I painted it last week..

5) take a very fine grit (220) 
sandpaper and lightly sand the metal before you apply anything to it.  
This should make sure that any oxidation of the aluminum is removed 
prior to painting.  That helps keep the paint from flaking off later.  
NO matter what anyone tells you, I would make sure to find a good primer 
to put on as an undercoat and make sure that the brand of paint you 
choose is compatible with it.  

6)  The fastest method is to use a mit. This is like a car wash mit. You put
a latex glove first, then the mit. Dip it in the paint, grab the element and 
s-l-i-d-e. Real easy. After it drys, I hit it with a darker shade to break 
up the solid color. Just be sure the tubing is clean. Have used a variety of 
cleaners and most work fine, including alcohol. Try a small area first!

Have used fast dry enamel mostly, matte finish. Colors used on elements have 
been gray, blue, green, black, white. The most effective are gray (light 
base, dark accents) and, when in foliage areas, green (medium base, darker 
accents). The  blue always seems like a good idea, but the sky rarely 
matches! Black is a fair all around choice. White (i.e. off-white) stands 
out in almost all sky conditions. Have also camo-painted to match bare 
California (dry grass colored) hillsides using a tan-yellow base and brown 

Have also painted towers to match the surrounding trees and leaves. Masts 
are usually not too bad, as the coloring is usually matte-looking anyways.

The most important is to not have a solid color, as the eye likes to follow 
a line. Our elements are of 6061-T6 and the individual sections are in 
varying shades of matte-gray, so they tend to disappear without painting, 
but I do paint them for folks. The neighbors recognize that you are going 
out of your way to help.

The only time there has been any electrical difficulty was when we painted 
over an outer fiberglass insulator on a linear loaded antenna with some 
special camo paint. It turned out to be somewhat conductive - oops!

7)  I agonized over painting the towers and antennas I am planning on

I will be using a dull light grey cold galvanizing paint,

DAP Derusto, Galv-a-grip, galvanized metal coating, G-33 gray

I have thought about painting the antenna boom and elements, but that is
a LOT of work and nature will takes its course in reducing the shine.

I am considering using a hydro-phobic spray paint on the antenna to
reduce water
build up and icing... only drawback is a reapplication is suggested
every 3 years to
maintain water repellancy...

Tnx agn all es 73  de  K3FXBeammeup  Scotty

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