A unique chemical immersion process that easily removes all paint, grease, oil, underseal, adhesives and sound deadening material offers motorsport preparation companies a simpler and safer method for stripping and cleaning bodyshells. By removing up to 35kg of unnecessary weight from a typical four door shell, the process developed by Surface Processing (SPL), also offers preparation companies a legal weight reduction service without affecting the existing vehicle strength.
SPL's process also claims to improve the working environment for engineers; by removing paint, adhesive and underseal, any further preparation work such as welding is done on clean metal, avoiding the release of noxious fumes and lowering the fire risk.
Unlike traditional preparation methods such as media blasting or thermal stripping, SPL's process does not damage or distort the material, or leave the surface in a rapidly oxidizing state. Furthermore SPL's process reaches inaccessible areas leaving them residue free and avoiding trapped media that increases moisture retention and weight. Compared to thermal or paint stripping, SPL's chemical process is considerably faster and protects the user from harmful chemicals such as Methylene Chloride.
"Our process is fully legal and is trusted by leading WRC and Touring Car preparation companies such as Prodrive as a cost-effective and safer method to prepare a standard production shell before fabrication work," says SPL's managing director Adrian McMurray. "We provide a weight reduction without damaging metal structure and avoid the detrimental effects of 'acid dipped' shells used in NASCAR and saloon cars in the 60's and 70's. We achieved a 31kg reduction with a BMW bodyshell project, with no affect on metal thickness thanks to our inhibitor that ensures we only break down rust."
Though renowned in the classic car sector for its process and ability to quickly ready a bodyshell for restoration, the motorsport market is only just realising the potential SPL can offer. "We have recently completed programmes for WRC, Group N, WTCC and S2000 bodyshells as well as an increasing number of individual cars for national competitors," adds McMurray. "A desire to control costs is seeing a shift back to production based shells that carry coatings and materials not needed for the track. These can quickly be optimised for motorsport with our process."
Stage One for mild steel components and shells involves removing heavy organic coatings such as sealants and NVH material. Stage Two removes paint, grease, oils and carbon through an immersion in an alkaline hydrocarbon solution. Corrosion, where present, is removed in Stage Three, an immersion in acid with inhibitors. Stage Four is an advanced agitated alkaline neutralisation and passivation immersion to offer maximum protection leaving a dry and stable finish.
Once fabrication work is complete, SPL recommends electrophoretic coating. Highly durable, offering over 1000 hours salt spray resistance, the immersion process delivers excellent penetration and uniform coverage of between 22-28µm ensuring a longer life and improving the vehicle's value.
The process is cost and time effective compared to competitor technologies. Prices start from £745 for the stripping process with a further £845 for the electrophoretic coating. To satisfy motorsport's requirements for a rapid turnaround, SPL is now offering, for a small premium, an even faster processing service that can turnaround a shell for stripping within five days or less.
The process is applicable to other motorsport components such as engine blocks, transmission cases, calipers and subframes too. A separate procedure is already available for aluminium and the firm is actively developing solutions for a range of plastics that offer potential to a raft of new markets