Project: Clean Air Booth – Act 3

Now it’s time to pick up where Act 2 left off.

Since this project has spanned many moths, let’s recap. We started with a wide open shop and built a drywall ceiling and wall. Next, plastic drop-cloth walls were hung along with the construction of a proper air intake system. Compressed air supply was plumbed with filtration and a desiccant drier, along with and a small filtered exhaust setup to evacuate overspray. To repeat myself, I was very pleased with the quality of air provided by this setup, but I’ve never been one to leave well enough alone…

DCIM100GOPROIn the refinishing industry, cleanliness is efficiency and painters go to great lengths to obtain a quality spray environment. One booth addition that has intrigued me for the last couple of years was the use of a low pile, mold resistant carpet. To me, the idea has always seemed taboo, as the general thinking is: the less fibrous material inside the booth, the better. However, the trick is to wet down the carpet during the refinishing process. Maintaining a wet carpet inside the booth not only prevents the rapid buildup of clearcoat on top, but aids the dispersion of static electricity and in turn, the carpet acts as additional filtration for particles that would otherwise be blown back into the airflow path by the atomizing air of the spray gun.

imageFinding mixed reviews on this setup, I had to try it myself. My preconception was that the filtration properties would be successful, but I wasn’t convinced that the fibers would stay on the floor and not in my product; furthermore I was certain that the carpet would dry to a crisp, becoming a source of clearcoat flakes to be introduced to the next job. All concerns aside, I setup for a test shoot and what I found really astounded me. As for the fibers, I was surprised to see that not one piece of the poly/olefin blend went airborne, not even during it’s initial use. After the first job had left and the carpet fully dried, it was still as soft as when I installed it, without any clear flaking off. My best guess is that the wet carpet allows the overspray to flow down to the base of the fiber.

Having found a combination that provided a very acceptable spray environment, there was only one thing to do…imageRip it all out and start over, of course!

imageYes, it’s in pen and drafted on notebook paper, but it is to scale. Tangible proof that I transferred from engineering into The College of Business! Anyway, this was the idea: widen the booth two feet, push it back three feet to provide an entrance way, and build a mix room that doubles as a interim for the booth entrance near the exhaust.

At the end of Act 1 I mentioned a “very cool” exhaust setup. Well, it’s been around 110 degrees here in Texas and about 120 inside the shop, so that was sort of a lie; however, the booth exhaust is definitely one of a kind.

imageFile cabinets, huh?

image18″ tubeaxial fan, hmm..

imageBehold, the most economical rectangular ducting and wet exhaust craigslist has to offer!

imageAs luck would have it, having added some width to booth made the overall dimension exactly the same as three legal-size filing cabinets laid on their side, and wouldn’t you know it, the inside height is exactly the length of two of the cabinets stacked atop each other.

imageFurthermore, when one cabinet is placed on top of one that is upside down…

image…a matching flange is ready for sealant and sheetmetal screws.

imageThis was the idea behind the entire system, with only the tops needing to be cut in order to make the 90 degree turns on each side.

imageThis fan almost killed me getting it up here…

imageEverything that was sourced was then modified to work in a wet paint environment. This double pane glass was re-purposed as an observation window, it was first sealed with urethane and then housed in an aluminum frame built from 3/4″ channel and 1/2″ angle. This provided offset mounting, allowing a flush fitment to eliminate shelve areas that are havens for overspray accumulation.

imageMany trips like these later…

image..and something very similar to this began to emerge. The exhaust setup pulls from the forward ceiling mounted pressurized intake, across the booth and two the lower “drawers” of the cabinets.

Stack Stack StackThis is accomplished by drilling a pattern into the side of and partitioning the lower drawer opening, allowing the exhaust to pull to the very front of the booth while drawing the pressurized air down. Note the close proximity of the booth entrance to the exhaust, which provides a cleanest possible entrance/exit. Sock style filters inside the stacks, accessed by a hinged door, maintain clean fan blades and clean exhaust air. 

imageAs usual, progress has been held up by process… Even without my nifty carpet or wall coatings, the new setup is a vast improvement over many of the enclosures I’ve sprayed in.

20140316-200326.jpgAround back, the mix room awaits construction. Plans for a separate exhaust system will allow ventilation of the enclosed area and prevent debris from entering the booth. 

So there it is. The new RetroFIX booth setup is fully operational!

But just like the cars we work on, it’s never quite done, and there are many small additions needed to bring it up to snuff. See ya in Act 4 … don’t miss it!


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