Blueprint to effective body maintenance

How to keep vehicles lasting longer and looking good

Paint booth recommendations

When it comes to purchasing a paint booth, the key consideration is size.

Often, a company is reluctant to give up shop space for a paint booth and ends up lamenting: “If I could do it over again I would have made my booth bigger,” says Troy Volbrecht, refinish sales manager with Global Finishing Solutions, the world’s leading manufacturer of paint booths and finishing systems.

“The size of a booth is critical to the successful performance to the finishers and the spray finishing equipment,” he says

A number of factors contribute to the selection of the proper paint booth for an organization’s needs. Volbrecht offers the following guidelines:
• Figure the width, height and depth necessary for the booth.
A. Width - Measure the width of the largest vehicle and add 5 feet to allow for access to the sides of the equipment.
B. Height - Measure the overall height of the largest vehicle and add two feet for clearance. Ample room should be allowed for the finisher to spray the top and bottom of the vehicle.
C. Depth - Working depth should be sufficient for the largest vehicle to be within the enclosure. Add 3 feet clearance at the rear of the booth.

• Understand the different types of booths which are defined by the type of airflow they use to collect overspray. The main types are downdraft, side downdraft, crossflow and semi-downdraft.
“The air flow in a paint booth is accomplished by creating a flow of air that envelopes the vehicle during booth operation,” explains Volbrecht. “This air flow, referred to as laminar air, is responsible for carrying away the paint overspray during the refinish process and air movement during the paint curing.”

• Be aware of the need for bright shadow-free light throughout the booth. Light fixtures in the proper quantity and correct locations create an environment that allows for color match and proper paint flow identification. Volbrecht says paint booths should maintain these light specs: a color rendering index of 85, light temperature between 5000 to 6500 Kelvin and foot candle power between 100 and 350 throughout the vehicle’s surface.

• Understand the benefits of a pressurized booth. The term pressurized refers to the amount of airinside the booth versus the amount of air outside the booth.
“The booth, when properly balanced, should be slightly positive - meaning the amount of air flowing into the booth is slightly greater than the amount of air that is allowed to leave,” he says. “The advantage is that the positive pressure keeps unwanted dirt and debris from entering the booth. Any leaks in the seals or joints are going out, not in, thus providing a cleaner paint environment.”

• Understand the benefits of a recirculating unit. These devices recirculate up to 80 percent of the heated air for an accelerated curing cycle. The ability to recirculate the heated air rather than heating ambient air provides energy cost savings during the cure mode, says Volbrecht.


Another element of good body maintenance is preventive maintenance of a vehicle’s lighting and electrical system. This takes on even greater importance as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) rolls out its Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010 - an initiative to improve large truck and bus safety and ultimately reduce commercial motor vehicle-related crashes, injuries and fatalities.

Under the program, CDL drivers will be ranked right along with the motor carrier they work for, based on safety information collected by FMCSA through the new Safety Measurement System. It evaluates the safety of individual motor carriers by considering all safety-based roadside inspection violations, not just out-of-service violations, as well as state-reported crashes.

Based upon U.S. DOT weighted guidelines, infractions such as inoperable lamps and defective lighting rank higher in importance than brakes, points out Page Large, national fleet manager for Grote Industries.

With electrical system maintenance, working with a modular system is the key, he says. “Without modularity, repairs often mean that you are forced to cut and splice wires. Simple wiring mistakes often lead to problems, but regardless of the craftsmanship, these types of splices and old junction boxes are prone to water intrusion and corrosion that will ultimately compromise the vehicle’s electrical system.”

In contrast, a modular power delivery and lighting system is designed to branch-off from a main trunk line, providing flexibility. “Modular systems are easy to expand and standardized connectors snap together and are designed with reservoirs that accommodate dielectric grease that resists moisture and corrosion,” explains Large. “Some systems even provide additional moisture barriers.”

New modular nose box technology is also integral to successful electrical system maintenance. New nose boxes feature consolidated, multi-pin connectors and water-resistant modular plugs, as well as mounting systems with gaskets that prevent the migration of moisture.

“Electrical system maintenance should start the day the vehicle is delivered,” Large counsels. “Grote recommends checking to make sure that the OEM has applied dielectric grease to the modular connections as soon as the fleet receives delivery of a vehicle.”

Large also suggests following a solid planned maintenance schedule which should include a thorough examination of the vehicles’ electrical system and lighting. Light fixtures, wires and cables should be inspected for cracks, corrosion, excessive ware and punctures and should be replaced immediately when problems are detected.

“Even the smallest hole in the exterior skin of a wire or cable will cause moisture to wick into the interior,” points out Large. “It’s simply a matter of hydrodynamics.”

Modular electrical systems are easier to troubleshoot and technicians should work from the outside in and from the back of the vehicle to the front. Because connectors can be easily unsnapped and checked for current, a simple process of elimination can be followed.

Connectors should be used exclusively for testing and probes should never be used to puncture cables during diagnostics, he says.

“A failing lamp may be a sign of a deeper problem and if diagnostics are not intelligently executed, technicians may send a vehicle back out, only to have the problem reoccur,” says Large. “If regular maintenance is correctly performed, a modular system, particularly used in conjunction with long-lasting LED lamps, should provide a vehicle with many years and thousands of miles of service.”

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