Painting on Oil ... Rigs that is

Loadcraft switches to new paint system for drilling rigs.

When part-time oilman Terry McIver went to Brady, TX in 2004 to buy a used drilling rig, he was surprised to find the company he was visiting was going bankrupt. Brady left with the oil rig, but a few months later he went back and bought the company.


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When part-time oilman Terry McIver went to Brady, TX in 2004 to buy a used drilling rig, he was surprised to find the company he was visiting was going bankrupt and had just two employees left from over 200 it had a year earlier.
Brady left with the oil rig, but a few months later he went back and bought the company. Today, Loadcraft is booming as it designs and manufactures trailers and drilling rigs, some of which can cost $9 million.
But with a watchful eye on the economy and the mood swings of the oil industry, Loadcraft’s manufacturing department sought a better, more economical way to paint its trailers and rigs than what they had been doing.
“We wanted to get away from mixing everything by hand,” says Tim Perry, Loadcraft’s paint manager. “Let’s say there was a lot of human error involved.”
For example, they were using a zinc rich epoxy primer and a urethane topcoat on its mobile drilling rigs, but often saw much of the paint go to waste because of the hand mixing.
“It wasn’t efficient to mix six gallons and have two gallons left over that went to scrap,” Perry says. “We thought it would take that much, but you just never know.”
Loadcraft had been using an airless spray system, but after examining several different options settled on EXEL North America’s Cyclomix system that automatically mixes the paint and reduces excess waste.
EXEL rep Tom Dean at EAH Equipment (Austin, TX) helped install a system for two spray booths for the primer and topcoat, as well as a dual gun management system for a pair of spray guns in each booth.
Dean says the new set-up cuts down Loadcraft’s waste by more than 30%, and estimates the savings to the company at about $100,000 annually.
“Loadcraft had calculated their wa based on the mixed material that was left over from hand mixing,” he says. “They were also spraying with conventional and airless application equipment. We also have the ability now to record actual usage on A side, B side and solvent material being sprayed. We have no left over mixed material besides what is in the hoses to be flushed.”
EXEL’s Cyclomix Expert can manage up to 24 components (bases, catalysts, flushing solvents), and can handle mono, bi- or tri-component materials. The machine is programmed on a color screen with ratio/tolerance data assist management to monitor material consumptions.
By properly handling the mix, Loadcraft also reduced its VOC output, Dean says.
“We also reduced the solvent flush cycles,” he says. “They now use 50 feet of ¼-inch hose versus large high-pressure pumps and pressure pots that required a large amount of solvent.”
Loadcraft opted for automatic flush boxes which are located in the spraying area, close to the painter so that it enables the person to be hands free while system is flushing.
Perry says having the system programmed to run according to designated specifications is a time saver, as well as a money saver.
“To have it all tied back into a computer is really helpful,” he says. “We had to learn the little tips and tricks to get it set up right, but it went very smoothly.”
Loadcraft specializes in design and manufacturing of 250-2000 horsepower drilling and workover rigs, as well as trailers, dollies, beams, and multi-axle components to support the heavy haul and oilfield transportation industries.
Since McIver brought the company out of bankruptcy, the facilities have expanded to include everything from a machine shop, three weld production lines, an on-site testing area, a vast warehouse and an indoor assembly area.
The company’s equipment can be found anywhere from the San Juan Basin in New Mexico to the deserts of Oman. In the past several years, more than 130 rigs and close to 900 trailers have been shipped to Argentina, Columbia, Kuwait, Chad, Egypt, Turkey, Mexico, Libya, Venezuela, India, Ecuador, Russia, Turkmenistan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Iran.
That means the paint finish needs to last, especially in 130˚ heat in the Middle East.
“We’ve had good results with the finish so far,” Perry says.
Dean says he can see a better finish with his company’s Kremlin Airmix Atomization system than the old method Loadcraft was using with airless and conventional spray.
“With airless, the high pressure method would create a due overall finish due to the lower atomization characteristics of airless spray,” he says. “The Airmix Atomization delivers the material at a very low velocity of 2 ft/sec versus 4 ft/sec with airless and 30 ft/sec with conventional.”
Dean says the Airmix uses a specially designed aircap to provide a smooth and even finish.
“The aircap helps to evenly atomize the paint as it leaves the fluid tip,” he says. “The even atomization allows the paint to be broken down into smaller particles, which provides the best coat with minimal defects or orange peel.”
For more information on EXEL North America products, please call 800-573-5554 or visit exel-na.com.