Nicholas Fluhart

July 28, 2009

Project: Allis-Chalmers ACP80 Forklift (Part 2)

Filed under: Project: AC Forklift,Trucks & Equipment — Nicholas Fluhart @ 9:37 pm

 

Finished

Cosmetic Restoration

Now it’s on to cosmetics. I wanted the machine to look as good as it runs so I figured it was time to give it the liquid rebuild. From the factory, this forklift was construction yellow with black and orange decals. At some point in it’s life it was painted by a dealer white and black with new decals. Although they did an excellent job, it was now outlived and time for me to restore it. The overall quality of a finished product is directly impacted by the preparation.

It wasn’t my intention to produce a show-quality forklift but I also didn’t want a shade tree job. I planned to use the machine regularly and it would be out in the weather most of the time. With this in mind, I needed a good quality job that would hold up to the weather but not one that would require months of sanding, filling, and priming. I decided to stick with the white and black color scheme. I purchased a gallon of white industrial enamel and a quart of black. The great thing about industrial enamel is its ease of use. It thins with mineral spirits and can be applied with a sprayer or brush depending on the application. The surface doesn’t have to be perfect, but as with anything, the smoother the better.

Preparation

I started by pressure washing the metal to clean any grease or oil from the surface. I then began stripping the old layers of paint with a 4 inch cup brush on a grinder. The brush was coarse, but not so much that it would damage the metal surfaces. I stripped the sheet metal components, such as the engine compartment covers, down to bare metal. The solid steel surfaces, such as the counter weight and mast, received a smoothing over and removal of any rust or loose paint. The cup brush also served well to remove the old vinyl decals. Once the surfaces were appropriately stripped, I washed the unit again to remove the dust. I then primed all the bare metal areas and followed that up with wet sanding.

I don’t have detailed photos portraying each step of the process, but I did manage to snap a few shots of the project.

Beginning the Process

Beginning the Process

Using the Cup Brush to Strip Paint

Using the Cup Brush to Strip Paint

Paint and Decals

Now that I had it ready for paint I assembled my gravity feed spray gun. It’s a low cost paint gun I purchased at Harbor Freight out of curiosity. I found that it worked surprisingly well so I decided to use it on this project. I applied 3 coats of paint as evenly as I could across the machine while waiting the appropriate time between coats. A day or so after the paint was dry I began to apply the new decals. While it’s fairly easy to find decals for farm tractors, it is very difficult to find decals for construction/industrial equipment. I was able to find the long “Allis-Chalmers” decals seen along the side and rear on eBay. The rest of the decals were custom made. I took photos and measurements of the old decals and emailed them to a sign shop who was able to reproduce them. They worked perfectly.

Below are some “before” and “after” photos of the forklift.

Before

Before

After

After

Before

Before

After

After

Before

Before

After

After

Before

Before

After

After

Finished Product

Finished Product

See the Allis-Chalmers ACP80 Lift Truck page for the specs of this machine.

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7 Comments »

  1. Nice job. I worked as a design and test engineer at A/C industrial truck division when this truck was manufactured, and did a lot of the ANSI standards testing for this unit. I like the white paint job. Interesting red load backrest extension. I like your color scheme.
    I was really sad about what happened to A/C. While working at the industrial truck division in the early 80’s I saw the writing on the wall when we couldn’t afford to put our own A/C engine into the unit and went to the Continental engines, which are nice engines.

    Comment by Kevin — October 17, 2011 @ 4:42 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for your comments Kevin. I like the design of this machine. It’s well-built and has good looking lines. Although there is a lot of information available for the A/C tractors, it’s difficult to find information for A/C construction equipment, and even more difficult for the A/C industrial trucks made after the construction division was sold off. I have a copy of Norm Swinford’s book on A/C construction equipment and industrial machinery, but it stops short at the Fiat buyout, subsequently leaving out A/C’s Industrial Truck Division in the later years. I bet you are a wealth of knowledge on these things. I’d love to talk with you sometime.

    -Nicholas

    Comment by nfluhart — October 19, 2011 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  3. Nicholas, My name is Shane and I am from Dearborn, Michigan. My father owns a machinery moving company and were on track to painting all of our equipment to make everything look nice. My Dad has been stuck on rustoleum brand paint for the last 5 years or so and to me it just chips and scratches WAY to easily. With constantly having to tie our forklifts to the trailers, the chains have chipped the paint uncontrollably. I was wondering if you came across any kind of paint that was durable enough to hold up to some abuse of this kind. Were not much for glossy paints we go for semi gloss cat yellow and semi gloss black but i was thinking of a matte black for the carriage and mast and maybe the cylinders and undercarriage (if we even paint that). Appreciate your input. If youd like you can email me at 379blkpete@gmail.com

    Comment by Shane S — October 27, 2013 @ 7:25 pm | Reply

    • Hello Shane. I’ve used two types and about a half dozen different brands of paint on equipment. The two types I have used are acrylic enamel and industrial enamel. The industrial enamel (such as Rustoleum) is a solvent or oil base paint, and I use it the most because it is easier for me to handle and mix as I have a cheap source for mineral spirits (i.e. the type of thinner required for oil base paint, and the type of solvent required for cleanup). It is also less sensitive to oil contaminants on the painting surface as is commonly found on old equipment. They both have provided equally good results, for the most part, in terms of durability, but the critical element that is mandatory in making an industrial enamel paint job durable is adding a catalyst/hardener when mixing the thinner into the paint. Without it, the paint will only last about as long as a spray can job (I’ve learned this the hard way).

      Catalyst/hardener is essentially a urethane additive that makes the paint harder and more durable. It adds a level of protection from chemicals as well, so if you spill solvent or carb cleaner on your paint, it will usually wipe clean without removing the paint. Also, your paint job is much less likely to fade from sun exposure (this is very important on colors that fade easily, such as red). The catalyst/hardener comes in a half pint can and is generally sold alongside industrial enamel for about $15 to $20. Simply follow the mixing instructions on the paint can.

      As for *brands* of industrial enamel paint, some require primer and some do not. I have done it both ways but have had better results using primer. I have used Majic Town & Country which is a brand of tractor/implement paint sold at Crow-Burlingame part stores. An example can be seen at this link. A comparable brand to Majic I’ve used with a better price tag is Van Sickle which is sold by Atwoods, and I’ve used Ace Hardware brand, both were used on the truck shown at this link. On my Allis-Chalmers forklift shown here, I think I used Sherwin Williams industrial enamel. I’ve also used Rustoleum, seen at this link. I’m currently painting some headache racks and bumpers on a couple of my work trucks with Rustoleum semi gloss black and Van Sickle catalyst/hardener, both purchased at Atwoods.

      An example of an acrylic job I did can be seen at this link. It was Dupont Nason brand tractor/implement paint I purchased at O’Reilly Auto Parts, and it applied very well. I’m less familiar with this type of paint though, so you may want to talk with your paint supplier for tips on using it. I just followed the instructions on the can and it came out great. However, you cannot thin or clean this type of paint with mineral spirits or it will turn to thick epoxy.

      For the best durability in your color, you might check with a Caterpillar dealer. I know they sell a variety of the OEM Cat colors in various finishes. I do not know if those are industrial enamel or something closer to an automotive type paint. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s good stuff but likely to be a lot more expensive than the typical $30 to $60 per gallon industrial enamel.

      Anyway, hopefully my ramblings have been helpful to you in some way.

      -Nicholas

      Comment by nfluhart — October 29, 2013 @ 1:29 pm | Reply

  4. They have! I see now that the durability really comes from the hardner, which nor I or my father ever used which would explain the easy chipping and what not of the paint. Were in the process of painting a 30,000lb taylor forklift that were slowly rebuilding and we just painted the overhead tilt cylinders and with the slightest bump the paint almost acts like clay or a really thick resin. Almost like its to soft. So I will DEFINITELY be looking into some hardners for the paint and Im pretty sure ill be more pleased with the paint jobs from then on! I appreciate you getting back with me and taking the time to write back. Enjoy your day/night! Shane

    Comment by Shane S — November 1, 2013 @ 8:27 pm | Reply

  5. I have been wondering about the type of paint to use for these. Your experience and advice probably saved me from a couple of extra jobs repainting. Thanks!
    In addition to the 3 forklifts (Toyota, Clark, Hyster) I also have to paint 2 backhoes, a scissorlift and a crane. Going to be a regular paint shop around here later this winter.

    Comment by Mike — September 5, 2017 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

    • Thanks for the comments. Glad my ramblings were useful. Good luck with your winter projects.

      Comment by Nicholas Fluhart — September 20, 2017 @ 3:37 pm | Reply


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