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  • Writer's pictureTrung

Caliper Refinishing

Brake Calipers, one of the most important components that makes up the braking system. Like a Clamp on a rotor. Inside the 'clamp ' sits the brake pad. When stepping on the brake the 'clamp' forces the brake pad against the rotor thats spinning with the wheel causing it to come to a halt through friction and massive heat upto 600 degrees Celcius is generated depending on how hard your thrashing the vehicle.

Customizing them with a coat of paint can add a very nice touch to the overall look of the vehicle but have you ever wondered why there's shops charging 1000 per caliper and down the road some dudes charging 200 PER SET. What sets them apart if the end results is the desired colour of choice on the caliper when looking at it from 50 metres away. Allow me to explain..

Theres two ways to do it, on or off the vehicle, the two main factors contributing to the final cost and then other theres things like how its prepared, what paints used, choice of colours and pigments (some pigments are harder and more time consuming to produce) , the designs and if its stickers or stencils which all can affect the durability, longivity, and the final finish.

On the car involves masking up areas where you dont want the paint to land and having the main surface areas showing painted, some may call it the bodgey way but I call it the more economical way for clients on a bugdet but still want that add some uniqueness to their vehicle. Have worked in bodyshops in the past with dealership contracts. Dealership offering special packages on brand new vehicles and we do it like this.

The other way is off the car. My prefered way, For the true car enthusiasts that wants to go that extra step ensuring the calipers are painted in and out whether you see the surface or its hidden inside. Properly dismantled off the rotor by someone with mechanical background and knowledge, prepared, hanged up away from the floor and dust then being able to move around freely without restrictions, watching the paint atomise and land in all the gaps and crevices from different angles. And for the fonts and texts, have never been a fan of painting over stickers. It just doesnt feel right, its understandable why manufactering companies do it, it significantly cuts down production costs with the amount they do but for me I like stencilling the words on, takes a bit more time and effort but the end results for me.. its Art.

Over the years I have narrowed it down to what I believe works best whether your doing it on or off the vehicle, for the backyarders with air compressor and cheap gun, invest in a decent moisture trap and particle filter because clean spraying air plays a vital role the finished product and the life of your air tools. For a Budget air filter combo for under 300, I recommend the Motorguard M30 particle filter going into the Devilbiss Dessicant Snake and out your gun. Cant go wrong if your drainning the compressor tank after each spraying session.

Back to the process, Car rolls in, let it cool down for a bit then give the wheels and braking system a good squirt with some IRON fallout, while all the chemicals are breaking down the Iron particles, I give the car a rinse and full proper wash, rinse the IRONfall out off and spray the whole inside wheel house, wheels and brakes with a degreaser to get break down all the grease oils, tar and what not. Agitating it all with a wheel brush and hosing everything down thoroughly making sure theres no traces of the IRON FALLOUT because the Thioglycolic Acid in it smells like shit,

Dry everything off ready to Jack the vehicle up, once its Jacked up you want to label each wheel so you know which one goes back where to ensure the same ride quality prior.

buzz it with some 320 grit to flatten out any uneveness on the surface then with 500 on a soft interface pad to smooth out the curves, do all the dry sanding together Then finish them all with a scotchbrite, some scuffing paste and a water based degreaser instead of water to go in all the hard to reach places and rinse. ( TIP: if your doing it on the car inside the shop put a CONTAINER underneath the rotor to catch the water for when your scotching it up and fill up a paintgun up with water to pressure wash it off. A paint gun and a air hose is easier and cleaner then a gerny, a water hose and electrical lead) after rinse move your container and wet prep the next.

Once thats all done, dry it all off, a thinners wipedown and begin the masking up if its on the car. The masking tape should stick hard to the clean surfaces.

Once its ready to paint, I start with a coat of 2k DTM (direct to metal) wet on wet primer, if your primers not made for bare metal then a dust coat of self etching primer to help anchor paint for maximum adhesion. Also thinning out the primer with reducer 10-20% more then recommended to help it penetrate further into the surface, again helping it anchor.

Why Wet on wet primer ?

- They typically contain an adhesion promoting additive to further promote the bite and less chance of delamination

- Depending on colour, tinting the wet on wet helps with coverage, meaning less unnecessary coats of colour resulting in thinner paint thickness on substrates, less chances of clear pinching when cured also allowing the calipers to cool down faster while in use so less chance of cooked paint,

-Levels the surface for a more glass like flatter finish

If your going for a 2k Direct gloss then one coat is sufficient for coverage after the wet on wet.

Forget 1K Acrylic spraycans. Acrylic paint doesnt cure hard, always stays soft and any acids or even some degreaser will cleaners destroy the overall finish over time.

Once cured, unmask or fit up whatevers needed wheels on, a smear of tyre shine on the fresh cleaned tyres you cleaned and degreased already at the start. The one I use and would highly recommend is Meguiars Endurance Tyre Gel. Protects the rubbers from UV and lasts for weeks giving it a ultra deep and slick gloss. Just load up your mums dish washing scourer with the built in detergent compartment handle with the tyre gel and it makes life much easier. then SEND IT !

Just a thought for those thinking of customizing their calipers... burnt orange ground coat, retroreflective glass beads midcoat and cleared. Going through an intersection at night with car headlamps pointing at it will cause some attention. Hopefully you dont get pulled over !

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