Painters and dangerous finishes

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by 63dot, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. 63dot macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Location:
    norcal
    #1
    I have a question concerning using lead based boat paints for accurate wooden scale models and safety tips. My friend and I have made small scale models using the standard model paints but also some larger ones with actual real "bottom" red paint, which contains lead. How dangerous is this?

    Also, some now, non-US nitro finishes for vintage guitars contain both lead and a flammability level not acceptable in my country. What is the best way to use such a finish on a guitar? Fender Musical Instruments used this finish and the dangerous bakelite process for other parts in the old days. The factory had a huge fire/explosion in the '50s and that killed bakelite for them. Not long after at Fender, nitro finishes were replaced by poly finishes.

    It is my understanding, in both boats and guitars, that the lead paints/finishes is only dangerous if you sand it into fine air particles, right? The PbCO 3s and 4s that are used in most lead based finishes/paints that use lead doesn't call for a respirator, but is that a good idea? And what kind? Mostly I smell fumes from most paints, lead or not.
     
  2. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Location:
    norcal
    #2
    Here is a picture of an old lead nitro finish, these days discontinued in favor of lead-free nitro finish or a whole host of poly finishes.

    Also, this plastic pickguard is the real bakelite, now replaced these days with plastic.

    From a distance, a new Fender, or any butterscotch blonde guitar with a black pickguard, will look somewhat similar to the real thing. But us hobbyists, painters, varnishers, etc. will see and feel the difference right away. I understand the move away from lead and away from bakelite, but it's just too bad nobody makes guitars like this anymore.

    Also is a picture of a wooden boat model with genuine marine paint, which contains lead. I sure hope ten years of building these didn't poison my system.
     

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  3. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a

    jonbravo77

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    #3
    You should be fine. As long as you are not inhaling, eating or bathing in the paint you are not going to be harmed. If you are worried wear a respirator and some gloves when painting. But, working on a small scale like a boat or a guitar you are not going to get lead poisoning from it. Just make sure you wash any paint off in a timely manner (meaning, don't let it sit on your skin for days), and a vacuum with some sort of really good filter for when you sand and you get the paint particles all over.
     
  4. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
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    Location:
    norcal
    #4
    Thanks, that's what I was curious about.

    Lately, when working on my latest scale boat model, my friend and I have switched to lead free model paint, even though we have thousands worth of real marine paint. But the main reason we spent so much is that because you can't buy them in model builder's sizes and a quart is the smallest and they go for $30 dollars or more per color.

    When I remodel my house with my wife, we have stopped using all oil based paints and use "water-based" enamels in the bathroom and kitchen, and even though I was very skeptical at first, they have held up as good as the old oil based paints.

    I was thinking of finding a gloss finish for a guitar that was hand painted in acrylic. Right now, the acrylic is on bare wood and the guitar has a very resonant tone and sounds really good. As soon as I got the really thick poly finish, or lead free nitro finish, off of it, and replaced it with a thin layer of acrylic, the instrument really came to life. I just need to put the thinnest of coats, still protective, without losing resonance. In the old days, the lead based nitro could be sprayed/rubbed in thinner and get a more "oil" finished look. All non-lead nitros, or any polys look like a big thick sheet of saran wrap and this is how all guitars with gloss finishes look today (see picture below of reissue of old Fender guitar using modern lead free nitro - it's too thick and shiny as opposed to original) . I suspect the lead had something to do with the thinness and opaqueness that I want to capture.

    The old lead finishes of Fender and Gibson have that great vintage look.

    The only suppliers I know of who use the small lead content nitro finishes are ones who use industrial colors used on aircraft, but no clearcoat lead nitro. My only hope would be to find some lead nitro finish at a garage sale. Many an old TV and Radio were finished in the slightly opaque lead based nitro finishes.
     

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  5. sonictruth macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    #5
    I agree with jonbravo77. Lead paint is usually more of a problem as it ages (lead paint chips/dusts, soil along the exterior of an old home...) or if it is disturbed (kids chewing on window sills, sanding is one of the worst things). You might not want to heat that paint though or be anywhere nearby during a fire; lead fumes truly are bad. Just be smart (and you seem smart) - manage your dusts and wastes, and clean yourself well if you don't otherwise have some sort of protection (latex or nitrile gloves).
     
  6. 63dot thread starter macrumors 603

    63dot

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
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    norcal
    #6
    The lead on my models, boat recreations in 1:24 scale, are not touched once they are done, but I will wear gloves when I use the lead boat paint in the future.

    My friend just sent me a perfect example of a really vintage lead nitro finish on an old TV (below), the exact same age as the Fender 1953 Telecaster guitar I posted before. Fender Musicial Instruments used this color to emulate appliances among other things when getting this banned, never seen again finish.
     

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