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Old 09-27-2012, 07:22 AM   #1
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metal preparation


I am getting ready to repaint my shop air compressor, and have everything degreased, etc., so the final step before painting is to wipe everything down, and spray it. Typically, for the final wiping, I would use prep-sol or lacquer thinner, but realized the other night that I have a lot more mineral spirits than either of the other, so wondered if anyone has an opinion on using mineral spirits for this. I have always been of the opinion that mineral spirits, being paraffin based, I believe, may leave an undesirable residue on metal, but, again, that's only my opinion that I formed at some point in time, and I don't know if there is any substance to it. Obviously, it won't take that much of whatever I use, but was thinking about it, so decided to ask.

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Old 09-27-2012, 08:50 AM   #2
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metal preparation


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Originally Posted by DexterII View Post
I am getting ready to repaint my shop air compressor, and have everything degreased, etc., so the final step before painting is to wipe everything down, and spray it. Typically, for the final wiping, I would use prep-sol or lacquer thinner, but realized the other night that I have a lot more mineral spirits than either of the other, so wondered if anyone has an opinion on using mineral spirits for this. I have always been of the opinion that mineral spirits, being paraffin based, I believe, may leave an undesirable residue on metal, but, again, that's only my opinion that I formed at some point in time, and I don't know if there is any substance to it. Obviously, it won't take that much of whatever I use, but was thinking about it, so decided to ask.
Hiya Dex,

Paraffin based is probably not the most accurate description of mineral spirits as, theoretically, there should be no traces of mineral oil (paraffin) in a clean version of this particular distillate - but using that same "if-then" logic, a portion of lacquer thinners contain petro-distillates, which seemingly would then also contain the same paraffin residue...toluene, xylene, benzene (not to be confused with benzine), benzine (not to be confused with benzene) - even gasoline (or at least those distillates that, when combined, create the basis of gasoline) should all then leave a paraffin residue - which they don't.

Obviously, the lower flash solvents probably are faster when cutting oil and grease from a surface (and in most cases will dry faster), but as long as you're using "100% Pure" Mineral Spirits*, you won't leave any significant residue that'd inhibit the adhesion of new prime or finish coats of coatings.

* Although they could mean the exact same thing, a distinction should be made between Paint Thinner and 100% Pure Mineral Spirits...Several years ago, not all paint thinner was considered "pure" - Many of your cheaper versions of paint thinner were not regarded as "odorless" and actually contained traces of many of the solvents listed above - plus there was actually an "oily" feel to many of these paint thinners (which is the issue you were concerned about). On top of that (during the late 70's & 80's especially), reclaimed solvents were being sold as utility paint thinners, which were supposed to mean "clean-up" only - but may have contained not only any (or all) of the above listed solvents and mineral oil, but many un-identified oils and solvents as well. Who knew what residue you may be leaving on a surface, or in the bristles of your brush - or what contaminants you may be introducing into your paint if these products were used to actually thin with.

So, back in the 80's, and partially due to the advancement of alkyd resin technologies, new EPA dictates and right-to-know legislation, many of the cheaper utility and reclaimed thinners kind of disappeared from the marketplace. Because of the changes in resin technologies, many manufacturers did not want the headache of dealing with contaminants of unknown origin possibly affecting the performance of their coatings, began the practice of specifically naming the type of solvent to be used if thinning was necessary - either by general designation (e.g. 100% Pure Mineral Spirits) or by a solvent brand of their own manufacture.

(sigh)...I've done it again. A simple yes or no is probably all you wanted to hear - I can't do it, sorry. Mineral Spirits will be fine. Good luck to you.

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Old 09-27-2012, 09:09 AM   #3
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metal preparation


Thank you, Rick. Yes, you're right, a yes or no would have sufficed, but I am guilty of the same thing, so found your explanation as amusing as it was educational. And, it is after all, as I mentioned, my shop compressor, and I'm not looking for a "show" finish, so will use the mineral spirits to dust her off. The pump is cast iron, and almost 50 years old, so I'm sure that anything will work on it, but the reason that it's apart is that I decided to replace the 20 some year old tank, just as a matter of good sense, so that is the main thing that I was thinking of. Good deal; we'll get her painted this week, and have it back up and running, hopefully some time next week. Thank you again.
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