Going Bigger with Powder Coating
If you read the Bench Racing post I made last week titled, Powder Coating Advice, it's probably obvious that the larger the item(s) you want to powder coat, the more you're going to need to invest in equipment.
In that post, I outlined the entry-level powder coating setup I plan to purchase to dip my toe into the, er, powder. I also mentioned that the most significant limitation in the system was the oven size. If you start with that setup or you want to immediately go bigger, you're going to need to upgrade that in order to do larger parts.
As a starting point to help give you an idea of how much capacity you may need, the entry-level media blasting outfit I also referenced is capable of handling small-block valve covers and oil pans and such. I know, because the plastic Eastwood Bench Top Blast Cabinet I currently have can handle them and the B20 cabinet I featured in that post is roughly the same size.
So, what would you need to change in that setup to handle parts the size of valve covers and oil pans? While the oven is the primary concerns, there are a couple of others to consider. One is the mess. Powder coating the small parts to fit in the small Jegs Bench Top Powder Coating Oven is going to be messy, but, I imagine, the larger the parts get, the messier the process becomes and a way to corral the powder coating overspray is probably a good thing, but, if you don't mind being messy, you can forego a powder coating booth to save thousands and still increase capacity. Another consideration is parts hanging for the application of powder. The larger the parts, the more robust your hanging system needs to be, but the Eastwood Paint and Powder Coating Stand I pointed out last week should still work at this stage. As for the oven — as I briefly mentioned in Powder Coating Advice — I'd probably choose a standard electric kitchen oven with sufficient internal dimensions to hang the valve covers and oil pans I'm coating. You could set them down on the rack, sure, but I don't want to chance blemishes in the finish or have to powder coat the parts twice by doing first one side and then the other. And while large kitchen ovens aren't cheap, they're nowhere near the cost of larger capacity powder coating ovens that run in the thousands. Now, I'd like to think the following warning is obvious to everyone, but just to be on the safe side, please put the oven someplace where fumes won't bother people and don't attempt to use it to cook something after baking powder coating in it, the residues in the oven will contaminate your food and make it unsafe to eat — so, don't use the one in your house, either.
If you're like me, though, your ultimate goal is to clean, media blast, and powder coat rear end housings. Neither the media blasting setup, or the powder coating outfit I've outlined are capable of that and stepping up to that kind of work gets pricey really quick — to the tune of many thousands of dollars. I'm not trying to dissuade you if that's your goal, but you'll need to be prepared to implement that kind of setup including cost, space, power requirements, and more. As much as I'd like to be able to do that kind of work in the corner of my imagined shop, I've come to realize from my research, that kind of capability is going to take a small shop of its own to execute effectively.
Of course, that just adds to the cost of my future hobby, but, thankfully, that's in the future and it doesn't cost a lot to fantasize about, now — I'd like to say it doesn't cost anything, but the truth is research costs both time and money, so it hasn't exactly been free.
With that kind of capability in mind, there are quite a few companies out there that can help you get the powder coating equipment you'll need, but, Eastwood has recently expanded their HotCoat line to include the 4x4x6 120 Volt Powder Coating Booth and 4x4x6 240 Volt Powder Coating Oven that will handle rear ends, so, for convenience (and to keep this post short), you can get most everything you need right from them to both media blast and powder coat a rear end, if that's your aim — they don't, however, offer a wheeled rack that fits them, so you'll either need to find one or make one. They even offer a Large Full Top Opening Blast Cabinet with a 60"-wide internal capacity capable of accommodating some of the smaller rear ends like those in the 351, Mustang, Survivor, LX, and GT — I don't know for sure, but I think the one in the El Camino is just too wide. If that cabinet won't do for you, you can cruise on over to TP Tools for one capable of corralling even the widest Muscle Car rear end. I'm eyeing the USA 985 Wide Load Abrasive Blasting Cabinet for my own shop. If you want wider, they've got another enthusiast-oriented rig with a 92"-wide work area — the USA 992 Pro Shop XL Abrasive Blasting Cabinet — they even have a couple more capable commercial-grade units in that range.
I hope that helps steer you in the right direction to fill your media blasting and powder coating desires. If not, you may need to look into some serious commercial stuff — and that's a whole other level of cost and complication that exceeds even my considerable hobby aspirations.