John Baker opens doors to dedicated spray booth training center
Englewood, Colo.—John Baker knows first hand how bad paint booth airflow can negatively impact a job and diminish a shop’s efficiency. That’s because he has been diagnosing and solving airflow problems with paint booths in Michigan and Colorado for more than 26 years. During that time, he recognized the industry need for a dedicated spray booth training facility.
With the goal of providing the collision repair industry with a non-brand specific training center, Baker, owner of John Baker Sales LLC, a Garmat and Mattei distributor, opened a second company in April, JBS Training Center LLC.
The two businesses are located next two each other in a business building complex at 96 Inverness Drive East.
The new JBS Training Center can accommodate up to 18 students in a classroom-style setting, he said, and instructors can give presentations on a 65-inch monitor. In an enclosed area in the rear of the training center is a Garmat 3000 paint booth with a full pit outfitted with three Accele-Cure fans, the latest control panel, and mixing room.
It is Baker’s intent to make the facility available to paint manufacturers’ field personnel, PBE jobbers, collision repair shop painters, and service technicians from their network that are working on paint booths.
The facility can be rented by the day, week or month.
Locked storage facilities are available for customers who want to keep paint and materials on-site. SATA spray guns are also available for use, he added.
“Their job is to know how to fix cars, not equipment,” Baker said of collision repair personnel, emphasizing the need for equipment specific training.
Baker plans to teach a course on how to properly maintain a paint booth’s airflow. The course will demonstrate how air should properly flow over a vehicle using a fog machine, and how to achieve that level of quality consistently.
“Many spray booths do not move enough fresh air during the bake cycle,” Baker said. If a shop is experiencing a dirty paint job, more airflow at the car is one remedy, he said, stressing that keeping shop dirt out of the booth is another.
Airflow in a downdraft spray booth is intended to “envelope” the part or the car that is being painted, Baker explains in a video posted on his website. “All of the air that enters the spray booth should be directed to surround what is being painted,” he said. “If doors leak, either because of improper latching or worn door seals, then some of the air will be pushed out of the booth through these areas instead of down around the car and out through the exhaust tunnel.”
If a booth’s operating pressure is too high, he said it will cause turbulence of the airflow and move dust around, leaving some in the paint job. Conversely, low airflow will not allow for the “envelope” of air to move fast enough around the vehicle or part, he said, and this will not prevent dust from getting through to the painted part.
Baker said he’s developed several remedies over the years to solve those problems, making even cross-draft booths more efficient.
Paint booth preventive maintenance has to go beyond changing filters and power washing the interior, Baker said, adding that burner controls must be tuned and the right type of filter needs to be installed.
A poorly functioning paint booth prolongs the drying process, introduces contaminants into the paint, and increases the cost of sundries and labor in order to correct problems, such as sanding and polishing. “It’s just a very inefficient process,” he said.
Most body shop owners use fiberglass floor filters, changing them out by the calendar, not their effective life span, Baker said.
“Fiberglass eventually breaks off and blends with paint overspray,” he said. “This creates a ‘cement-like’ substance that fuses to the blades of the blowers from the heated air and heat from the friction of the high RPM blower.”
Even though no filter will trap 100 percent of paint and still allow air to pass through, polyester filters catch more and afford longer intervals between blower cleanings, he said, making the cleanup work much quicker with less downtime. The installation of a Magnehelic gauge can help shop owners ascertain when their filters need to be changed based on airflow, not time, and the gauge measures air resistance at the filter.