Classic car owners will have access to new car standard corrosion protection after Surface Processing Limited (SPL) announced it would be reintroducing electrophoretic or ‘e-coating’ rust prevention service. The chemical cleaning specialists previously offered e-coating, a durable finish that is used by 90 percent of the world’s car makers to inhibit rust, but the factory SPL used closed a year ago. Now, it has exclusive access to a more modern, military-grade facility flexible enough to take anything from individual body panels to a full body shell. The plant is the only type of its kind in the UK.
“E-coating is applied to the majority of the world’s new cars and is specifically designed to provide front line defence against mild steel corrosion” says SPL’s managing director Adrian McMurray. “Coupled with our fully immersive chemical cleaning process, that removes the majority of corrosion before the e-coating treatment, it is an excellent solution for ensuring the longevity of a steel-bodied car that may not have received the treatment first time around.”
E-coating, known as KTL in Germany, involves fully immersing the bodyshell in a range of cleaning and phosphating solutions before passing into the 55,000 litre paint tank kept at a controlled 33°C. Once submerged a current of around 400 Volts is passed through the tank causing the paint to uniformly bond to all areas of the shell. Using its years of experience and knowledge from coating over 3000 shells, SPL has developed a highly effective method of ensuring excellent coating coverage throughout the various complex shapes and areas found within a car body and its parts. “The knowledge we have gained from protecting everything from Isettas to Ferraris means we are able to successfully coat even the most complicated project ” adds McMurray. “This is something that cannot be achieved without experience and a fully immersive process. Other processes rely heavily on the ability to clean and coat these areas by hand, with something as complex as a shell such access is simply not possible. It’s why owners who really cherish their cars come to us.”
The classic market is the natural customer base, however SPL have increasing numbers of motorsport customers using the e-coating after they have chemically cleaned their bodyshells with SPL. “Race and rally teams have historically used the cleaning process to reduce unnecessary weight and improve welding yet they rarely considered corrosion protection,” suggests McMurray. “Treating the shell to an e-coat puts very little weight back (around 2Kg) yet will help minimise corrosion and improve the future value of the car. It’s not unusual to see modern competition cars with rust coming here for cleaning and it’s easily preventable.”
The 11 stage e-coating process takes a day to complete and is always preceded by a full chemical clean and rinse to optimise rust inhibition. After e-coating, the car is rinsed with a low molecular resin solution and oven cured at 185°C driving out moisture to protect the car before waxes, seals and final paint is applied.