Monday, May 1, 2017

Fence Paint Methods


Thank you for checking out Lexington Paint and Supply.  We would like to start this blog by answering some very frequently asked questions
Question 1 – What is the best way to apply Fence Paint to my fence?
The answer to this question varies with each fence paint job, but all jobs are either hand applied or sprayed.  Both of these methods can be used effectively.  The primary variables that determine which method is best on any particular job includes –
Job size
Equipment availability
Labor availability
Personal preference
First it is important to realize that both methods are acceptable and you should see virtually identical material performance either way.  The one very obvious exception to this is new fence (previously unpainted) with facial boards.  It is very difficult to paint behind these boards without the use of a sprayer.   A good rule of thumb is, one person should be able to paint 800 feet of fence (both sides) in one 8 hour day.  This breaks down to 100 feet/hour.  I am asked about equipment almost every day.  The first question I ask is “how big is your job”.  The time, effort and money needed to set up a sprayer is often greater than what it would take to complete the job by hand applying.  Don't get caught in the trap of spending three days to set up for a job that only takes two days to complete by hand.  This is very easy to do.  I talk to a great number of individuals that just love equipment.  With these people it is not about efficiency, but it is about the equipment.  If you love equipment that’s fine.  We can help you pick out the right machine (look for the next blog to cover equipment).  If you simply want your fence painted the most cost effective way, don’t overlook hand applying the material.  This method is often the most efficient way, especially on smaller jobs (less than 7500 ft).
On larger jobs, spraying is often the most efficient method.  I will break down spraying into two sub categories, self-spray and contractor spray.  Let’s start with contractors.  The first thing to consider is job location.  If your property is located in the Lexington KY or Ocala FL area, it will be very difficult to spray your fence yourself any cheaper than you can hire a contractor.  The fence spraying business is ultra-competitive in these areas and if you consider the true cost of paint application, I don’t think you can beat contractors with any job size.  If your property is located outside of this type of area, you may be able to save some money by applying the material yourself.  Feel free to call us and even though we don’t do any application ourselves, we can give you a good idea what a contractor may want for your job size in your area.  You should consider both local contractors and out of town contractors.  The contractors located in highly fenced areas are extremely efficient and can often times complete jobs cheaper even with the added cost of travel. 
If you choose to self-apply your fence paint job, don’t just consider the cost of the sprayer.  You will also need a transportation method.  If you have an old wagon and tractor, that you don’t mind getting very dirty, this cost may be very low.  If on the other hand you don’t have an old tractor, you need to consider you could damage a nicer vehicle with stray paint.  Here are some guidelines you need to consider in your planning.  Another rule of thumb – a one gallon per minute sprayer that is manned by one person and is adequately transported should be able to paint about 2000 feet of fence (both sides) per 8 hour day.  If the sprayer size or transportation method are reduced, the output will drop accordingly.  If you like math, you have already figured out that spraying (with good setup) has 2 ½ times the output of hand applying.  That is not a huge number especially considering the cost of equipment and transportation method.
Your particular circumstances may be entirely different than what I’ve talked about.  If you have farm help with extra time in the afternoons, hand applying may make great sense on a huge job.  If you have ready access to a sprayer, your choice could be made easy.  If you need the job done fast, you may need to use a contractor.  Whatever your circumstances are, please feel free to call and discuss them with us.  We have been doing this for 32 years and there aren’t many situation we haven’t already seen.  We are here to help.          

Fence Paint Equipment


I’m very often asked about fence paint equipment.  I will try and break down the different types and classes of machines and where they may help in ag painting.  Below I have listed the major different types of paint machines.  Below the list I will cover the advantages and disadvantages of each variation 
Electric versus gasoline powered
Diaphragm versus piston fluid unit
Clutched versus Hydraulic
Fast versus slow stroking machines
The first choice that will need to be made is whether the fence paint machine needs to be gasoline powered or will electric work on your job.  Electric is a significant cost savings, however you will be tied to either extension cords or generators.  Many customers comment that they already own a generator so that is not a consideration to them.  That’s great but remember painting fence is a very dirty job and there will be stray paint.  Don’t fall in the trap of saving on the electric paint sprayer only to destroy your very nice generator.  The other deterrent to electric is output.  Almost all electric machines are meant to be plugged into the standard wall socket.  These sockets are normally protected with 15 or 20 amp breakers.  This is the limiting factor for painting output.   Electric machines can work on fence paint jobs, however they will almost always be somewhat under powered. 
The reason that electric machines are cheaper is obviously the cost of a gas engine is greater than an electric motor.  This is magnified by the fact that electric motors can be controlled be relatively cheap electronics while a gasoline engine needs either a clutching mechanism or hydraulics.  The reason is very simply, an electric motor can be turned off when the fluid pressure reaches the desired level.  Gasoline motors must run the entire time, therefore the motor must be disengaged by a clutching mechanism or hydraulic must allow for the hydraulic fluid to bypass the painting portion of the machine.  There are electric machine that use clutching mechanisms (the titan power twin series is an example), however most of the less costly electric machines do not have clutches.
The paint pumping portion of the machine (often called the fluid section) will be one of two primary types.  Diaphragm type pumps use an off centered rotating shaft to move a diaphragm in and out.  This pumping action along with two one way check valves produces the fluid movement.  The other type is a positive displacement piston type pump.  This type of pump also uses two one way check valves but the pumping action is accomplished by the up and down movement of a piston within a cylinder.  Piston type pumps are much more desirable for painting fence.  This comes along with a significant cost increase.  The reason pistons are more desirable than diaphragms is durability and output.  The diaphragms must be made out of a flexible rubber like material in order to continually flex back and forth.  This soft rubberlike material is prone to breaking.  Theses diaphragms can be replaced but they are relatively expensive and are messy to replace.  You also simply don’t see large machines that use diaphragms.  My opinion is that diaphragm type machines can be used on fence paint jobs but can tend to be undersized and much less reliable than piston type pumps.  You might want to consider this a one paint job use type pump.  It is a significant cost upgrade to go to a piston type pump but I would recommend you make the additional investment if either you have a large job or want the same machine to paint your fence multiple times.  Going forward in this blog, all the pump types we consider will be of the piston and gasoline type.
The next major step up in terms of quality and price is moving from a clutching type pump to a hydraulic machine.  I have included the specification pages out of the titan brochure, for reference, at the bottom of the blog.  The clutching type pumps would run from the advantage GPX33 to the advantage GPX220.  The only difference in these machines is output (gallons per minute).  The hydraulic pumps would run from the power twin 4900 plus to the power twin 12000DI plus.  There is a slight difference in the pressure of these pumps (insignificant for fence painting) and again the main difference is output in gallons per minute.  The last three pumps are the hydra series.  These pumps are what we refer to as slow strokers.  The advantage of a slow stroker is the wear factor.  A good rule of thumb is wear is proportional to the operating speed squared.  This means that if you double the speed of the pump, you will quadruple the wear factor.  This particular brochure does not list a specification called CPG or cycles per gallon.  The hydra pro IV’s CPG is 20 while the power twin 8900’s CPG is 40.  Put simply, the hydra pro IV will just purr along while the power twin 8900 is pumping hard.  If you look closely you will see both pumps are rated at 2.5 gallons per minute.   This CPG becomes very important to commercial contractors but is relatively insignificant to almost all individuals.  There is no need for any farm, no matter the size, to move to a slow stroking machine.  Slow stroking machines should only be considered by individuals who intend to do commercial contracting and even then many commercial contractors use fast stroking machines.
The practical difference between a clutching machine and a hydraulic machine is durability and reliability.  The pumping portion of these machines are identical.  Hydraulic machines will be more durable and reliable.  There is a price difference between these two classes of machines but it is not nearly as significant as the others we have discussed.  I personally prefer the hydraulic machine due to the reliability factor.
Output (gallons per minute, GPM) is critical in fence painting.  Pump output will determine if one or two painting guns can be operated simultaneously and how fast the job can be completed.  Larger GPM means bigger tips and the potential to use two guns.  Pump output will determine what tip size any particular pump can handle.  Larger tips mean faster painting speed and fewer potential tip clogs.  I will cover tips in more depth in a future blog.  It is absolutely critical that tips are sized correctly for the pump being used.  If a tip is sized too small for a particular pump it will slow the job down which is not ideal, but is not overly detrimental.  If on the other hand a tip is sized too large a condition I refer to as gapping will occur.  Gapping is when more paint can pass through the tip than the pump can pump.  When this condition occurs you get a significant drop in system pressure when the piston is reversing directions.  If this happens while you are painting you will notice the paint will spray hard then soft as the pump passes through its painting cycle.  When the job is completed, it may very well look just fine, but as the paint wears, you will increasingly notice the difference in paint thickness (your fence will begin to look like a zebra).  If you notice gapping, immediately go to a smaller tip size.
Here are some rules for pump output.  For a single gun setup, I would not want to drop below .5 GPM and I would really like to be at or above .75 GPM.  For a strong gun with good tip sizes I would want 1.0 GPM.  For commercial contractors, I would prefer over 1.25 GPM.  If you are considering a diaphragm, electric type pump, you can drop slightly below these levels but I don’t think you will be very happy and can have total failure. 
The decision to set up for one gun or two guns will revolve around everyone’s own personal situation.  Remember that these pumps will paint fence fast, even if one gun is used.  I would think that a one gun setup would be enough for all but the largest farms.  I would figure that a single person could paint about ½ mile of fence in an 8 hour day with a single gun.  I would also assume that two people could paint a mile of fence in 8 hours.  If a third person is added to the two gun setup, you will see an increase to over a mile per 8 hours.  Most commercial contractors want the ability to use two guns even if they do so only occasionally. 
We typically recommend the power twin 4900 for single gun operation, the 8900 for two gun operation and the hydra pro IV when a slow stroker is needed.  We see very little advantage to the 6900, 12,000 or hydra m 4000. 

Good Luck.

Fence Paint Tips


Tips are vital for a good paint job.  Here are some guidelines for them.

Don’t think that tips don’t wear out.  As your tips have paint pass through them and they begin to wear, the pattern will go from a long rectangular shape to a round shape.  The paint will not be nearly as evenly applied to the fence, but maybe more importantly, you will see an increase in paint usage.  This is normally not an issue for individual farms, but is a huge concern for commercial contractors.  We do have some contractors (especially ones who price jobs with paint included) who change tips after only 10-20 drums have been sprayed.  I don’t think its necessary to change tips this often, but they think it keeps their paint usage to a minimum and thus increases their earnings.

Tip choice, like many things in life, is a simple trade off.  Bigger tips mean faster speeds and fewer tip clogs while smaller tips mean slower speeds, and less paint wastage in the form of overspray.  There are some limitations to this rule.  The tips must not be too big for the equipment being used (see fence paint equipment blog) or you will get what we call gapping.  If the tips are too small you will see too many clogs which slows the process and leads to more paint wastage.  Each different product has its own minimum tip size.  Check the recommendation for the product you plan to use before purchasing tips.

There is a standard terminology used by most, if not all, tip manufacturers.  Tips have a three numbers associated with them.  These numbers will normally be clearly marked on any packaging material and will also be stamped somewhere on the actual tip.  On dirty tips these numbers may be hard to find but will be somewhere.  These three numbers ARE NOT RANDOM.  Let’s use the tip size 325 and look at what each number represents.  The first number (3 in our case) is an indication of the spray pattern size.  Double this number (6 in our case) and this means the spray pattern will be 6 inches wide one foot away from the tip.  This is the most common spray pattern used with fence paint.  The normal fence board is 6 inches wide.  If you use a smaller tip pattern, the entire board will be hard to cover without holding the tip too far from the fence.  A larger size will lead to more overspray and paint usage.  Larger size tips, 4, 5 or 6 have 8, 10 or 12 inch patterns.  These would be more favorable on barns and barn roofs.  The second and the third number represent the orifice size in thousandths of an inch (.025 inches in our case).  The orifice size determines how much paint will pass through the tip at a given pressure.  This number should be chosen with several factors in mind.  There is a minimum size for each individual product.  Make sure you are larger than this number or you may have clogging problems.  As you get larger than the minimum size, painting speeds will increase pretty fast.  Consider the experience of the person using the tip.  Less experienced painters may find smaller tip and slower painting speeds easier to keep up with.  Larger tip sizes also tend to lead to more overspray and paint wastage.  Again, it’s a tradeoff.  Do you want speed or is paint efficiency more important?

There are two primary types of tips. I would always STRONGLY recommend reversible type tips.  These tips are designed so the user can spin the tip to a position where paint passes through in the opposite direction from the spraying position.  This allows clogs to be blown out backwards and the tip returned to the normal spray position.  The vast majority (all that I know of) of reversible tips are a universal size.  Graco tips can be used in titan housings etc.  The other type of tips are commonly referred to as flat tips.  There is no easy, safe way to clean these tips.  I say safe because common paint spraying equipment is capable of high enough pressures to inject paint into and through the skin.  This is a very dangerous situation.  If this ever happens to you or anyone working with you, immediately drop the job and head to medical attention (THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS).  Reversible tips have a guard to reduce to possibility of paint injection, but flat tips do not. 
  

Fence and Barn Paint Freight


Shipping Fence Paint


Some of the more frequently asked questions we receive here at Lexington Paint & Supply involve the process of shipping our fence and barn paints to our customers. In this blog I will cover many of the questions and concerns that we get involving the shipping process. The question we hear the most when it comes to shipping our fence and barn paint is obviously “How much will it cost?” The cost of shipping is determined by the weight of the shipment, as well as the destination. The more the shipment weighs and the further the shipment has to travel will obviously effect the cost of shipping. There is always a minimum freight charge. For example, a 500 lb shipment is normally going to be the same as a 100 lb shipment. As your shipment increases in weight, the price of the shipment will increase. It often times makes sense to purchase more material in order to take advantage of effectively free freight. This avoids the potential for a second minimum if more material is needed. We are always happy to identify the exact number of pails that can be shipped at the minimum charge or the exact quantity of material in order to get to the next freight break.

Another common question that we hear a lot involving our shipping is “How long will it take the shipment to arrive?” We are located near Lexington, KY and generally speaking, shipments that are going to states that border Kentucky are going to be a next day point to the delivering terminal. States that don’t border Kentucky are generally going to be a 2 day point such as Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, etc. States that are in the northeast like New York or Vermont and states in the mid-west like Kansas or Nebraska will generally be a 3 day point. This is a very general rule and may vary slightly. Freight companies sell their service with shipment times. We are always happy to look up the exact shipment time required.

Another question our customers have about the shipping process is “Can I have this shipment sent to my address, or do I have to pick it up at a terminal?” You can absolutely pick your shipment up at a terminal if that would be easier, or if it’s more convenient we can send the Fence and Barn paint directly to your address. When we ship freight to your address there are a few things you need to be mindful of, the most important being whether or not a tractor trailer will be able to get in AND out of your property. If a tractor trailer can’t get in and out of your property then you can either pick the shipment up at a terminal or you can meet the driver. When delivering to the home address the delivery time may add a day. So if it is a next day point to the delivering terminal the delivery will most likely deliver next day or whenever the appointment is scheduled. The next thing to consider is if you have a way to get the shipment off of the trailer. A good rule for drums is 500 pounds each. This will vary with the exact product but equipment is generally needed to unload these. Our 5 gallon pails can generally be unloaded by hand without equipment. Our shipments come on standard wooden pallets that can be unloaded with standard equipment. If you don’t have access to this when the truck arrives, we can make sure the freight company uses a truck with a lift gate to easily drop your shipment on site. We ship our Fence and Barn paint on a daily basis here at Lexington Paint & Supply, and will work with you and the freight companies to seamlessly ship your paint wherever you need it. 

Fence and Barn Painting Equipment


I’m very often asked about fence paint equipment.  I will try and break down the different types and classes of machines and where they may help in ag painting.  Below I have listed the major different types of paint machines.  Below the list I will cover the advantages and disadvantages of each variation 

Electric versus gasoline powered

Diaphragm versus piston fluid unit

Clutched versus Hydraulic

Fast versus slow stroking machines

The first choice that will need to be made is whether the fence paint machine needs to be gasoline powered or will electric work on your job.  Electric is a significant cost savings, however you will be tied to either extension cords or generators.  Many customers comment that they already own a generator so that is not a consideration to them.  That’s great but remember painting fence is a very dirty job and there will be stray paint.  Don’t fall in the trap of saving on the electric paint sprayer only to destroy your very nice generator.  The other deterrent to electric is output.  Almost all electric machines are meant to be plugged into the standard wall socket.  These sockets are normally protected with 15 or 20 amp breakers.  This is the limiting factor for painting output.   Electric machines can work on fence paint jobs, however they will almost always be somewhat under powered. 

The reason that electric machines are cheaper is obviously the cost of a gas engine is greater than an electric motor.  This is magnified by the fact that electric motors can be controlled be relatively cheap electronics while a gasoline engine needs either a clutching mechanism or hydraulics.  The reason is very simply, an electric motor can be turned off when the fluid pressure reaches the desired level.  Gasoline motors must run the entire time, therefore the motor must be disengaged by a clutching mechanism or hydraulic must allow for the hydraulic fluid to bypass the painting portion of the machine.  There are electric machine that use clutching mechanisms (the titan power twin series is an example), however most of the less costly electric machines do not have clutches.

The paint pumping portion of the machine (often called the fluid section) will be one of two primary types.  Diaphragm type pumps use an off centered rotating shaft to move a diaphragm in and out.  This pumping action along with two one way check valves produces the fluid movement.  The other type is a positive displacement piston type pump.  This type of pump also uses two one way check valves but the pumping action is accomplished by the up and down movement of a piston within a cylinder.  Piston type pumps are much more desirable for painting fence.  This comes along with a significant cost increase.  The reason pistons are more desirable than diaphragms is durability and output.  The diaphragms must be made out of a flexible rubber like material in order to continually flex back and forth.  This soft rubberlike material is prone to breaking.  Theses diaphragms can be replaced but they are relatively expensive and are messy to replace.  You also simply don’t see large machines that use diaphragms.  My opinion is that diaphragm type machines can be used on fence paint jobs but can tend to be undersized and much less reliable than piston type pumps.  You might want to consider this a one paint job use type pump.  It is a significant cost upgrade to go to a piston type pump but I would recommend you make the additional investment if either you have a large job or want the same machine to paint your fence multiple times.  Going forward in this blog, all the pump types we consider will be of the piston and gasoline type.

The next major step up in terms of quality and price is moving from a clutching type pump to a hydraulic machine.  I have included the specification pages out of the titan brochure, for reference, at the bottom of the blog.  The clutching type pumps would run from the advantage GPX33 to the advantage GPX220.  The only difference in these machines is output (gallons per minute).  The hydraulic pumps would run from the power twin 4900 plus to the power twin 12000DI plus.  There is a slight difference in the pressure of these pumps (insignificant for fence painting) and again the main difference is output in gallons per minute.  The last three pumps are the hydra series.  These pumps are what we refer to as slow strokers.  The advantage of a slow stroker is the wear factor.  A good rule of thumb is wear is proportional to the operating speed squared.  This means that if you double the speed of the pump, you will quadruple the wear factor.  This particular brochure does not list a specification called CPG or cycles per gallon.  The hydra pro IV’s CPG is 20 while the power twin 8900’s CPG is 40.  Put simply, the hydra pro IV will just purr along while the power twin 8900 is pumping hard.  If you look closely you will see both pumps are rated at 2.5 gallons per minute.   This CPG becomes very important to commercial contractors but is relatively insignificant to almost all individuals.  There is no need for any farm, no matter the size, to move to a slow stroking machine.  Slow stroking machines should only be considered by individuals who intend to do commercial contracting and even then many commercial contractors use fast stroking machines.

The practical difference between a clutching machine and a hydraulic machine is durability and reliability.  The pumping portion of these machines are identical.  Hydraulic machines will be more durable and reliable.  There is a price difference between these two classes of machines but it is not nearly as significant as the others we have discussed.  I personally prefer the hydraulic machine due to the reliability factor.

Output (gallons per minute, GPM) is critical in fence painting.  Pump output will determine if one or two painting guns can be operated simultaneously and how fast the job can be completed.  Larger GPM means bigger tips and the potential to use two guns.  Pump output will determine what tip size any particular pump can handle.  Larger tips mean faster painting speed and fewer potential tip clogs.  I will cover tips in more depth in a future blog.  It is absolutely critical that tips are sized correctly for the pump being used.  If a tip is sized too small for a particular pump it will slow the job down which is not ideal, but is not overly detrimental.  If on the other hand a tip is sized too large a condition I refer to as gapping will occur.  Gapping is when more paint can pass through the tip than the pump can pump.  When this condition occurs you get a significant drop in system pressure when the piston is reversing directions.  If this happens while you are painting you will notice the paint will spray hard then soft as the pump passes through its painting cycle.  When the job is completed, it may very well look just fine, but as the paint wears, you will increasingly notice the difference in paint thickness (your fence will begin to look like a zebra).  If you notice gapping, immediately go to a smaller tip size.

Here are some rules for pump output.  For a single gun setup, I would not want to drop below .5 GPM and I would really like to be at or above .75 GPM.  For a strong gun with good tip sizes I would want 1.0 GPM.  For commercial contractors, I would prefer over 1.25 GPM.  If you are considering a diaphragm, electric type pump, you can drop slightly below these levels but I don’t think you will be very happy and can have total failure. 


The decision to set up for one gun or two guns will revolve around everyone’s own personal situation.  Remember that these pumps will paint fence fast, even if one gun is used.  I would think that a one gun setup would be enough for all but the largest farms.  I would figure that a single person could paint about ½ mile of fence in an 8 hour day with a single gun.  I would also assume that two people could paint a mile of fence in 8 hours.  If a third person is added to the two gun setup, you will see an increase to over a mile per 8 hours.  Most commercial contractors want the ability to use two guns even if they do so only occasionally. 

We typically recommend the power twin 4900 for single gun operation, the 8900 for two gun operation and the hydra pro IV when a slow stroker is needed.  We see very little advantage to the 6900, 12,000 or hydra m 4000. 

Good Luck.

Diagnosing Common Fence Paint Spray Equipment Problems


Diagnosing Common Fence Paint Spray Equipment Problems

With our combined 100+ years of paint spray equipment knowledge we are constantly contacted and asked to help diagnose fence paint spray equipment problems.  We are happy to help in any way we can but think it may help to have a written flow chart to help in the fixing of equipment.  We hope this helps.
We must first make a few assumptions.  

 The vast majority of equipment we see are piston type sprayers.  This post assumes you have a piston type and not a diaphragm type sprayer.

We are also assuming the piston is moving up and down.  If the piston is not moving up and down the problems is either in the hydraulics, motor or the clutching mechanism.  This blog is not meant to cover these problems, please feel free to call if your piston is not moving.

The above two assumptions means you have a problem in what we refer to as the lower unit.  This is the actual paint pumping portion of your machine and where we see the majority of problems.
In order to perform the majority of these tests, it is necessary that the pump is operational and has not deteriorated past this point.  Most of the time you will notice a reduction in efficiency prior to the pump becoming totally in operational.  This is the best time to diagnose what may be wrong.  These test will still aid in diagnosing after this point, but will become more difficult.

In order to understand this blog it is important to understand the very basic operation of your machine.  Please refer to the simple drawing of a lower unit below in the following explanation. Also included are example pictures of Titan Hydra Pro IV parts mentioned in the diagnosis. The basic parts are the same for other piston pumps, however they will vary in size and shape. 




 On the upward stroke of the machine, paint is moved in two isolated and separate ways.  The paint in the upper paint area (as labeled in drawing) is forced out of the outlet and into the paint hose and subsequently through your tip at very high pressure.  This is accomplished by the upper ball seating on the piston valve (with no leakage) and the lower packings preventing any back flow into the lower paint area.  This is a pretty easy concept and not too difficult for most people to comprehend.

Simultaneous to this, the lower ball is forced off the foot valve allowing paint to fill the lower paint area.  Likewise this is pretty simple to envision.

The downward stroke is more difficult for most people to understand.

On the downward stroke, the upper ball is unseated and the upper paint area and the lower paint area reach the same pressure.  There is free fluid movement between these two areas.

Simultaneous to this, the lower ball is seated onto the foot valve preventing back-flow (with no leakage).
As the shaft moves downward into the cylinder, the volume of the upper paint area plus the volume of the lower paint area is reduced by the volume of the shaft that is entering the cylinder.  Picture a very full glass of water as you lower your finger into it.  The glass will overflow by the volume of the finger entering the glass.

An amount of paint equal to the volume of the shaft, as it is lowered, is forced out the outlet and into the hose and subsequently through your tip at a very high pressure.

Repeat over and over.

Now let’s start finding your problem.

With two exceptions, internal paint leakage is the problem with virtually all lower unit problems and there is only three places this can occur.  

Paint can leak around the lower packings on the up stroke.
Paint can leak through the piston valve on the up stroke.
Paint can leak through the foot valve on the down stroke.

The first of the two exceptions is paint can also leak through the upper packings.  This is not internal leakage.  This paint will exit to the ground and it is obvious what is occurring. Paint will be leaking from the top of the cylinder around the piston.

We used to paint so we understand that disassembling the machine is very messy and time consuming.  We like to perform several very quick, simple and clean tests before any tools come into play.

The first diagnostic test we recommend is to see in which direction we can get the shaft to come to a complete stop (and hold there).  If you can get your shaft to come to a complete stop on the down stroke, you know the foot valve and lower ball are seating without leakage.  If there is leakage, even with no paint exiting through the tip, you have paint leaving the pump and returning back into the drum or pail and the shaft will not stop. If you can get the shaft to come to a complete stop on the up stroke, you know there is no leakage around either the lower packings or around the piston valve and upper ball.  If paint leakage occurs in either of these two areas, paint moves from the upper paint area and into the lower paint area and the shaft cannot come to a complete stop on the up stroke.

If the pump will stop on the up stroke and not on the down stroke there is another test to confirm a leaking foot valve.  If possible, depending on your exact setup, find a way to see the exact spot paint enters into your system.  If you are using a drum tube this would be the end of the tube.  If you are using a pail tube this would be the end of the pail tube.  If you are inserting the lower unit into a 5 gallon pail, this would be the lower unit inlet.  Now isolate this point to just under the surface of the paint (hold your drum tube or pail tube just under the surface of the paint where you can see it).  On a properly operating machine you will see paint move to enter the tube on the up stroke (this is easier to see than it sounds).  On the down stroke the movement will stop and paint will not enter or exit the tube.  If paint exits the tube and moves back into the drum or pail, you absolutely know you have a leaking foot valve/lower ball.  Again this is fairly easy to see on most pumps (try it, don’t be intimidated).  A leaking valve does not always require a new valve.  Sometime it can be as simple as a small piece of debris under the ball.  

Again we have an easy test but it does require taking the foot valve off. If you have paint reentering your pail or drum your foot valve is leaking and it WILL need to be taken off so go ahead and remove it. Foot valves are threaded and usually tight meaning they can require a pipe wrench to remove. Simply clean the valve and ball and place the ball into the foot valve.  Fill the foot valve with water and check for leakage.  Remember the pump is operating at a very high pressure, a simple drip under only gravity will turn into free flow at high pressure.  If even a small amount of water leaks, the valve and or ball will need to be replaced.  You can try the same test with a new ball but we seldom find the ball to be bad and the foot valve good.  We always recommend replacing the ball also if I replace the valve.  A slightly out of round ball will cause undo wear on the new foot valve. If the ball and valve pass the drip test, you may have had something caught under the ball and only need to remove it.  If you don’t visually find the foreign object, we have no test.  You must return the foot valve to the machine and retest the down stroke, sorry.

If the pump stops on the down stroke and not the up stroke, the fix is more difficult.  The pump must come apart.  After the pump is apart, the same drip test can be performed on the piston valve.  This test is more difficult however because on most pumps there is no way to simply place the ball in the valve and fill with water.  There are too many different designs to go into detail but it often works to turn the valve upside down and place it on the ball and fill the valve from the backside.  If it holds in one direction, it will normally hold in the other.  
 
Now remember we wrote about two exceptions.  The second exception is a restricted suction hose.  If the hose will not allow enough paint to enter the pump, it will also not work properly.  Keep in mind that a suction hose may look fine on the outside but have delaminated on the inside and be completely constricted.  The test for this condition is even simpler than those for the pumps.  Take the suction hose off the lower unit and place the lower unit directly in a pail of paint, making sure to completely cover the inlet.  If the hose is constricted, the constriction is now removed and the pump will return to normal operation.  You can either try and repair the hose or replace it.  Sometimes with a constricted suction hose you will see your pump move normally through the up stroke and then quickly “jump” down before completing the remainder of the down stroke in a more normal fashion.  In this case, the lower paint area has not filled completely with paint and the pump is not moving any material on the initial portion of the down stroke.

How to make your pump stop on UP and DOWN strokes:

The primary starting point for these tests is getting your pump shaft to stop and hold on the up and or down strokes.  The best and most efficient way to perform this test is simple.  Pump out of and back into the same container.  This can be messy, so think through what you are doing before you do it.  Some people choose to pump the paint onto a fence or even the base of a post.  This removes much of the potential for making a mess but wastes the material.  This is a personal choice.  Whichever route you choose, start your pump and be sure to remove all the air from the system.  You need to position yourself where you can see the lower unit operation.  Use your painting gun to produce very short paint bursts with time enough between them to let the shaft come to a complete stop.  This sound difficult but is actually very easy.  Let’s consider the example of a bad foot valve.  When the shaft is on the upward stroke, each short paint burst will result in the shaft moving upward a short distance and then coming to a complete stop.  When the shaft reverses and starts down, it will proceed all the way down and start back up with no more bursts from the paint gun.  The shaft may not stop immediately on the way up due to the reduction in pressure of the entire system during the down stroke.  In extreme cases, the shaft may cycle and not stop on the entire up stroke.  In this situation it is slightly more difficult but you can normally tell in which direction the pump is working well and in which direction it is not working.  Of course all of these tests assume your pump has not deteriorated to the point it will not even pump up and hold any pressure.  If this is the case you can still perform these test but will have to watch what is going on very carefully.  Good luck.      



We have been long winded but we hope it helps. If you are still stuck, call us and we will be more than happy to help.
      




Titan Hydra Pro IV Cylinder also known as the Sleeve


Titan Hydra Pro IV  Foot Valve with Ball


Titan Hydra Pro IV Rod also known as the Shaft or Piston


Titan Hydra Pro IV Packing also known as Seals


Titan Hydra Pro IV Foot Valve and Ball with water for leak test


Titan Hydra Pro IV Piston Valve and Ball, screws onto Rod with Lower Packings