Humorous, Scary and Practical Advice

Question: I just finished reading your August 2004 column in Products Finishing.


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I just finished reading your August 2004 column in Products Finishing. I was amused by the contractor who is painting a concrete building and who doesn’t seem to know how to do the job, yet he did bid for the job. This article reminded me of a question I was asked many years ago at my first pretreatment job at my company. An architect called up and wanted to know if we had a pretreatment for gravel that we could recommend. After I stopped laughing (internally, not out loud) I asked him why he wanted to pretreat gravel? It seems that when they used this gravel on flat roofs, they would find rust streaks on the sides of the building after it rained. He figured that if he applied a zinc phosphate to the gravel that it would keep it from rusting. I told him that even if we could apply a zinc phosphate coating to the gravel (plus a rust preventative oil) that it would eventually rust anyway. I have to give this architect credit for “thinking out of the box.”

I found the question from the guy who wanted to paint his SS rudder and decided to etch it with HF—a bit scary. A lot of these people have no idea about the chemicals that they are using. I hope that no other reader decides to use HF to etch SS even if he does do this at work. I am constantly amazed at what people can purchase over the counter at a hardware store. They can buy chemicals that we in the industry are not allowed to use or that are highly regulated for us.

As always, I enjoyed reading your column. You give good practical advice and give it with a tongue in cheek flair. N. F.

An swer:

Sometimes we take our jobs and ourselves too seriously. I do, on rare occasions, try to introduce some levity into the Painting Clinic. I guess there are a million funny stories out there in Industry Land. For example, the engineering manager from one of our plants wanted me to recommend a coating to protect a concrete structure from a high pressure water jet, which could bore a hole in the concrete in three minutes. On the other hand, in cases like the Questioner who wanted to use HF on his SS boat rudder, perhaps I should be using more caveats. I think that something like “Don’t try this at home kids” would have been appropriate. By the way, that isn’t my tongue in my cheek; it’s a jaw breaker bubble gum ball. I’m still a kid at heart.


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