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How To Paint A Bobcat
This guide on how to paint a Bobcat will provide a list of materials and paint codes you will need for your Bobcat project.
The project was on a 753 Bobcat however the same principles will apply just to about any piece of heavy equipment. However, the colors and codes that are provided, are for Bobcat only.
This "How To Paint a Bobcat" will go over the basics of painting a Bobcat 753. Although the steps and processes will vary as not all Bobcats are the same. It will depend on the year and model you have.
You will be provided the steps to clean and prep the machine for sanding and painting. How to get paint in places that are not actually seen. I used an automotive acrylic enamel with a hardener due to cost and longevity.
Purchasing paint from a Bobcat dealership is very expensive plus it is a slow drying basic enamel. Using an activated automotive acrylic enamel is not only cheaper, you get a better look. Because of the hardener, it makes it far more oil, grease and fuel resistant.
The Before Shot
This 753 may look all too familiar with all of its surface rust and grease and oil coverage. Although, this shot was taken after de-greasing and pressure washing so the oil grime is mostly gone. However you can see all the rust, fading and scratches. Now on to learning How To Paint a Bobcat...
One of the dreaded parts of learning how to paint a Bobcat is the first stage, cleaning the machine. First is scraping grease globs and peeling decals with a scraper and putty knife. Then raise the cab, open the engine compartment and remove the radiator cover to fully remove all the debris properly. You may also have to raise and lower the boom to clean not only under the arms of the boom but the area the boom rest when all the way down. ZEP Industrial De-greaser Cleaner was used in a pressure spray pump. I let it set for about 10 minutes on the surface and refreshed the coverage before washing. Then pressure washed it with a 2200 PSI electric Pressure Washer.
For the best results in cleaning heavy equipment is to use a Hotsy Pressure Washer. They usually have better results from combined pressure with steaming hot water. Using a pressure washer, I had to go over some areas afterwards with a putty knife and scraper to remove the heavy packed up grease around pivot points and the hydraulics. You will find this may be a rinse and repeat process until the machine is flake, oil and grease free.
This is a lengthy process due to having to operate the machine to get in and behind hydraulics, cab, forks, engine compartment and so on. I did not remove the wheels on this job but you will get a better job if you do. You can pressure wash out from behind them better and it will make cleaning and painting the wheel and the wheel well far easier.
Let It Dry
I let the machine set a whole day in the sun to dry all the water. You would then want to take an air hose and blow other areas that may trap water. This will require raising and lowering the cab and forks, plus opening up the engine compartment door.
For Decal removal, I used rags soaked with enamel reducer on them. I held the rags over the decals for a few minutes to loosen and soften the glue. Then used a heat gun to peel the decals off. Using enamel reducer and rags, finished wiping off the remaining glue. If you try and sand or wire brush the glue off, all it will do is just smear it around and you will have fish-eye issues in the paints and primers. Your decals may be in good shape, if that is the case, I would recommend just to mask them off.
Paint Prep 1 - Wire Brushing & Sanding
For the areas with surface rust, I used a wire brush on an electric grinder. Wire cups and wire wheel type brushes were used. I also wire brushed everywhere that the old paint was flaking off. Using a Rust Remover, I scrubbed all rusted areas that I wire brushed with a hand held steel bristle brush. The rust remover and rust residue were wiped off using a dry cloth. To ensure I removed all residuals, I wiped again with enamel reducer, let dry and started sanding.
Using a 6 inch electric dual action sander, I first started sanding the surface areas that were rusted and with flaky paint with 40 grit paper. Once those areas were smoother and somewhat level, I proceeded with 80 grit paper. The goal is not to sand everything back down to fresh cut metal unless you just like working that hard. You have to remember this is a machine, not a car, you are not trying to get a glass slick finish out of it. The goal is wanting to get rid of all rust, grease and debris that will stop the new paint from adhering to the surface. Just sand it to where it is smooth and level. Feather edge out thick areas of paint.
Don't Be Afraid to Remove Parts to Get In Tight Places
I had to remove the Radiator grill in order to remove all the rust and sand it. Plus it made sanding easier where where the grill mounted. I had to raise and lower the cab and the boom to get all areas sanded. On this job, I replaced the seat with a new one, so I removed the seat to paint the inside of the cab. This made sanding and painting the inside area much easier. To make a note, I probably used about 15 sheets of 40 grit DA paper and approximately 30 sheet of 80 grit DA paper to give you an idea how much 6 inch sandpaper you may need. Of course you can get an idea of seeing how ruff this machine is and base an approximation for your project.
I used an electric 1/4 inch die grinder with a variety of wire brushes to clean up the wheels. 80 and 100 grit hand sandpaper was used to sand the wheels as a sander just wouldn't fit too well. Again, the goal wasn't to try and sand it down to the metal but to remove any surface rust or flaky paint. All you need is to sand it till it is smooth and level.
Paint Prep 2 - Wipe Down And Primer As Needed
Using an air hose, I blew all the sanding debris off the machine while wiping with a clean dry rag. Then I went all over the machine and wheels, wiping it down with enamel reducer to help remove any oils or grease that might have lingered. This also helps wiping off any sanding debris. Using an automotive wax and grease cleaner. I wiped the entire machine down.
Once the cleaners dried, I used an aerosol rust converter on all the areas that had rust. I did this to ensure that the rust wouldn't come back. That had to dry for about an hour then spayed a rust inhibitor gray primer on all the previous rusted areas. Two coats were applied on each area. I let that dry about two hours then used a scuffy pad to rough up the primed surfaces. Then wiped all the scuffed primed surfaces a the wax and grease remover. Now the machine is ready to mask and paint
Masking And Paint
The one thing I have pointed out, this isn't like painting a car. Masking doesn't have to be so meticulous that you are spending a lot of hours into the process. Plus you will be painting three different colors so painting this machine will be in stages. I used Nason Single Stage Enamel with a Hardener.
All the orange parts were chosen first, which being the wheels and engine cover. It took one quart of the orange to cover these items. However, it never hurts to purchase extra just in case. Nason Single Stage mixes 4:1, four parts color to one part reducer.
Mask off the tires by using "general use" masking tape and paper. If you are painting the wheel on the machine, you will find it easier to paint the center hub white first. Then mask off the white hub after it dries to paint the wheel orange. If you are painting the wheel off the machine, you will want to paint the lug nuts separately. You may want to touch them up after you put the wheel back on. For the engine cover, mask some paper around the areas that go white to avoid spraying orange on it. Open engine cover to paint it thoroughly, you may want to paper off the engine to avoid over-spray getting on it.
The cab and radiator cover would be next, due to the radiator grill is easiest to paint off the machine. That way you can paint both sides of the girll efficiently. Recommend painting the backside first, once dry, flip it over and paint the front side. Mask off all the areas surrounding the cab with paper to avoid getting the semi-gloss black or charcoal over-spray on the areas that go white.
Plan on raising and lowering the cab, as well as the boom, to ensure getting all areas covered. It worked best for me to get inside the cab and mask off the back glass. Once masked, I painted all of the inside of the cab. Then I masked off the back glass on the outside and then painted all of the outside of the cab. I used approximately 3 quarts of semi-gloss black on this job, recommend buying a gallon. You can use Semi-Gloss Black or the Bobcat Charcoal, that would be to your desire.
Letting Sections Dry Before Painting Others
After letting the two colors dry for about 2 hours, I sprayed the white in all the areas under the cab with the cab pulled open. While the cab was up, I sprayed the inside of the boom arms and the hydraulic cylinders. The boom had to be raised, so I could spray the underside of the arms. That had to dry for about an hour before lowering the boom and the cab.
Once in the resting position, I then masked it off the cab using paper, plastic drop cloth and green masking tape. I used paper to mask off the engine cover. If painting with wheels on, then use plastic drop cloths to cover wheels. However, you will want to paint as much of the wheel-well behind the wheels before masking the wheels off.
Be sure to mask off all the hydraulic rods. Do not paint them as the dried paint can eat up the seals when rods are run in and out. Once the machine is all masked off, and you are certain you have gotten all the areas of white painted. Mix up the white and paint the rest of the machine. I recommend purchasing a gallon of white. This is pretty much how to paint a Bobcat...
Applying The Decals
The decals have a backing that peels off. I normally peel off about an inch of the backing and position the label where it will go. Then stick the one inch exposed part to the machine. While holding down the label, peel the backside at the same time. Use a label squeegee to flow out air bubbles. If you are afraid of not getting the labels on correctly, they make a kit for applying decals. It allows you to move the decal around until you get it where you want it before it sticks permanently.
How To Video
Part of knowing how to paint a Bobcat is knowing the correct paint to use. Find an automotive paint store in your area that sells Nason brand paint. O'Reilly Auto Parts sells Nason brands but any automotive paint store of any brand should be able to take this information and cross it over to something they can mix. Although, you do not have to buy Nason, they are about one of the few manufacturers that are still making single stage enamel paints. Most manufacturers only make base-coat clear-coat and that is way to expensive and too much time to put into painting a machine.
Also do not let a paint store talk you into buying a single stage urethane paint. Granted it is more durable than an enamel with a hardener, it is also way more expensive due to the paint additives that go along with it. Remember, the paints they sell for farm equipment or even the paint from the dealerships, are a slow drying synthetic enamels or oil based paints.
These paints are take forever to dry and will wash off or stain with fuels, grease's or oils. Not to mention the prices of these inferior paints are as much if not more than acrylic enamels with a hardener like Nason. If you can't find a Nason supplier in your area or an automotive single stage acrylic enamel , you can contact me and I can get it mixed for you. You do not have to use a Nason brand hardener, any generic will work just fine.
Car Paint Code
1992 Ford Mustang