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Heathkit paint

Discussion in '"Boat Anchor" & Classic Equipment' started by N2WJW, Apr 6, 2012.

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  1. N2WJW

    N2WJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    What have you guys used to re-paint Heathkit HW and SB series cases?
  2. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    There were no less than 5 different colors used by Heath for the SB-Line cases. There was no rhyme or reason as to when cabinets of these various colors were provided. It was possible to purchase, at the same time, kits that came with each of the cabinet colors. For example, one could purchase an SB-301, SB-401, SB-200, SB-630, and an SB-600 and get all 5 colors!

    In addition, Heath used 3 different shades of green for the front panels (4 if you include the wattmeters). It was possible to get all 3 of these front panel colors on units ordered at the same time!

    The shade of green used only on the SB-104 and which is present in cabinets for the other SB-Line equipment is basically a light gray with just a "hint" of green is, in my opinion, the best looking of all of the cabinet colors. This is the color that I have repainted all of my SB-Line units. I can't really do anything about the various panel colors, but, at least all of my cabinets are the same color.

    I get the paints that I use when restoring "boat anchor" radios computer matched at Sherwin-Williams. The formulas for the various paints that I have had matched are in the article at

    Any decent paint store can use these formulas to produce the proper color. Please note that all of the formulas EXCEPT for the Collins S-Line cabinet paint are for 1-quart. That formula is for 1 gallon. However, the 1 gallon formula can be reduced to produce just 1-quart.

    Glen, K9STH
  3. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    One of the cool things about the latest 3d printer technology is that you can reproduce a physical pigment mix using a digital color sample. Some paint stores are actually using this technology.
  4. N2WJW

    N2WJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm wondering if any of the big home improvement stores have anything that is a close match for either the SB or HW lines?
  5. KB4QAA

    KB4QAA XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    No, or hams would be raving about it here on Zed.

    They do have color matching scanner machines. Take in the case and they can match it. Then your agonizing decision is Texture and Application....popcorn, textured, brush-on, roller, or spray. :)
  6. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    There used to be a couple of shades that were not an "exact" match but didn't look bad on the cabinets. Unfortunately, those were discontinued several years ago.

    Glen, K9STH
  7. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some feel black is better than the "ugly" Heathkit green colors. Some, like myself actually LIKE those colors.
    My homebrew amplifier in an old SB-220 case, to match my existing SB-220, will start out life with the Heathkit green color.
  8. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I just restored my 301 and 401. I found Krylon Sage Green to be a near perfect match. I very lightly sanded the original paint and lightly sprayed the cabinet. I could not believe how close the match was to the original. Best thing of all, the can of paint cost $4. I found the paint at Wal-mart.

    Don't order that stuff off ebay. I ordered a can for my kenwood restoration. I could have bought the $1 can and done just as good as that garbage. I had $24 tied up in that can:'(

    Can help on the front panel color, I was lucky and the front panels on mine were mint.

  9. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've seen a few heathkit amps painted black. To each his own, but I wonder why would some one do that. Looks like crap.

  10. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    The various Krylon "Sage" green paints were discontinued for some time. Those were the shades that I recommended when the person did not want to go the actual computer matched route. However, Krylon stopped making them several years ago. If they are again producing those colors, then that is a good thing.


    Of course, each of the 5-different colors used on the SB-Line cabinets has its proponents. I definitely prefer the light gray with just a "hint" of green and keep that paint in stock.

    Glen, K9STH
  11. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks Glen,
    Some bozo who owned my SB-220 before me painted the outer case icky brown. [​IMG] Somehow, I never got around to fixing that. The SB-220 outer case I bought for my homebrew 160m amplifier (I call it my "SB-160") is nearly pristine, but I'll be starting with bare 1/8" aluminum sheet for a front panel. So, I need BOTH colors. Thanks for the info. :)
  12. N2WJW

    N2WJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Glen, did you do the mix on your own?
  13. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don't mix my own paint, I get it computer matched at my local Sherwin-Williams store. So far, every paint that I have had matched has been "perfect".

    Back when I owned the Motorola reconditioned equipment center for the south-central United States, there was one cabinet color, a certain shade of green, that was used on a certain mobile telephone product that I did actually mix the paint. However, that paint was stored in 5-gallon "paint pots" and the formula was very easy, just 4-gallons of one standard color and 1-gallon of another.

    My eldest daughter, the commercial artist and now nationally recognized fine arts artist, has what I call "perfect color". She can mix paint that exactly matches any color around. Rebecca can "look at" a color, which might appear just a plain green to me, and say that it has blue, red, magenta, black, and several other colors in it and, obviously, it is not "really" green!

    Glen, K9STH
  14. N2WJW

    N2WJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks. Do you spray it on with your own sprayer? It would be great if somehow they would put it in a spray can for you.
  15. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    There are a relatively few paint stores that can "load" spray cans. However, you can do a MUCH better job of painting using a "real" spray rig (paint gun, compressor, etc.). It takes a lot of skill to get a really good paint job using spray cans. I do use spray cans for primer because primer is very cheap, at least the primer that I use, in spray cans, and can do a good job (having a LOT of practice). But, for well over 95-percent of the painting that I do, I use a compressor and paint gun.

    My main spray rig cost me less than $10! My across the alley neighbor put out a compressor, paint gun, and an almost brand new air hose for the trashmen. I just happened to see it and retrieved it before the trashmen came. Basically, the neighbor had not properly cleaned the paint gun and the air filter for the compressor was solid with paint. The compressor was made by DeVilbis and is "tankless" in that the compressor puts out high pressure without using a storage tank. It took about a half-gallon of acetone to get the paint gun cleaned up. I found some foam exactly the correct size for the air filter at Big Lots for a package of 4 for $1.00!

    Since then, I have acquired a couple of different paint guns to supplement the one that was salvaged.

    There are a few companies that make a fairly cheap system (around $20) that allow you to use whatever paint and canned air, hand pump, etc. Harbor Freight used to have these but they are no longer listed.

    Glen, K9STH
  16. KQ6EA

    KQ6EA Subscriber QRZ Page

    Glen, what do you do the get the crinkle finish? I had been stripping the cabinets, priming them, spraying them with grey crinkle, and then overspraying with your Heathkit color formula, but it seems that grey crinkle is no longer made.
    I've read dozens of articles about what to add to your paint to make it crinkle, but I haven't tried any of them.
    Or do you just repaint them with a semi-gloss/satin finish, and pass on the crinkle finish?
    73, Jim
  17. KB4MNG

    KB4MNG Ham Member QRZ Page

    Evidently krylon put the sage back in production. Wal mart had a shelf full about 2 weeks ago when I purchased a can.
  18. N0CGF

    N0CGF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Just my experience,, when I have repaired the Heathkit SB/HW series radio's when paint was needed for the cabinet or front panel touch up of chips I have just taken the cabinet or front panel to Wal Mart or Menards and matched it up with the spray paints they had on hand. When the cabinet was painted or touched up the unit looked like new,,, could not tell it was repainted,,, Owner was Very Happy,,, Good Luck N0CGF dennis,,,,
  19. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    A number of runs of the Heath cabinets did not use "wrinkle" paint. Instead, they have what is called "orange peel". There are different methods of getting "orange peel" including adding a second coat of paint before the first coat has dried. Another is "splattering" the paint as it goes on.

    I have not had good luck with "modern" wrinkle paint including "PlastiKote". The results have just been too "spotty". Sometimes the result is fine, other times it is not. I make reproduction crystal doors for the Heath DX-35 and DX-40. These are painted 9 at a time on a board that holds 3 X 3. As such, all the doors are painted at the same time. Usually, I get like 3 or 4 doors that are fine and the rest are unusable! I have tried heat, baking, and so forth, but nothing really helps.

    For a wrinkle finish I usually use Valspar "Stone", Manhattan Mist #11444. This is the gray color. Valspar makes several different colors in this "Stone" line but the #11444 does the best job. It does take a little practice to get the finish "just right". Do this by practicing on a piece of cardboard, etc. After the paint has dried, over-spray with the desired color.

    Years ago, there were several very good wrinkle paints available in spray cans and in a number of colors. Unfortunately, between OSHA and the EPA, the chemicals in those paints are no longer allowed to be used. As such, getting a decent wrinkle finish is MUCH harder.

    Glen, K9STH
  20. KQ6EA

    KQ6EA Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thanks, Glen.
    I'll get some of that and experiment a bit.
    I remember when I used to wrinkle-paint a lot of my hot rod parts, like valve covers. Put them out in the summer sun to heat them up, spray a couple of good, thick coats, and watch it wrinkle before your eyes!
    I don't remember who made the paint, just that it was very easy to find at the local speed shops and automotive stores.
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