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Author Topic: How to Stabilize Delicate "Cadillac Ranch" Fordite?  (Read 481 times)

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dpn

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How to Stabilize Delicate "Cadillac Ranch" Fordite?
« on: September 16, 2020, 03:51:37 PM »

Hello everyone,

I apologize if I've posted this question in the wrong forum. I posted in the "What Equipment to Buy ..." forum as it seems like the best fit ...

My Fordite watch dial project is proceeding well. I've made a lot of progress, and I hope to share my first run soon.

The "normal" Fordite I've been using is quite easy to work with: It's pretty robust, it cuts and polishes easily, and I think it looks great. This makes sense, as it's made up of hundreds of layers of repeatedly heat-cured automotive paint overspray.

I took a risk and bought some "Cadillac Ranch" fordite to see if it might be suitable for my purposes too. It has a very interesting history: Rather than being made up of overspray from an automotive assembly line, the "Cadillac Ranch" Fordite is made up of thousands of layers of "paint" applied to the Cadillac cars in the Cadillac Ranch art installation. Unsurprisingly, the paint that makes up this Fordite variety is of varying quality and thickness, and it certainly hasn't been subjected to the repeated heat curing like automotive line Fordite. I will say that the wild colors make for really visually interesting material, so it could be worth finding a way to work with this stuff. I expected that it would be softer to work with than normal Fordite, but I didn't expect that it'd facture, flake, and separate into layers while I was cutting cores out of it.

I've first researched methods used to stabilize turquoise, which to me seem to boil down to soaking a porous stone in acetone-thinned Epoxy Part A (sometimes under vacuum), before exposing it to Epoxy Part B. This sounds like a great method to me: It's pretty easy, it's inexpensive, and if one uses a high-quality epoxy (like "water clear" Epoxy 330), then the color of one's stabilized stone shouldn't change over time.

Here's where I'm a little stuck: How should I use a similar method with the Cadillac Ranch fordite? Soaking it in acetone sounds like a recipe for disaster, so I'm thinking that the trick will be to stabilize in epoxy only. The approach I'm thinking of trying is using Epoxy 330 in a vacuum chamber: First, I'd submerge the material in the epoxy part A, let it sit for some time (how long?) in the vacuum chamber to allow the material to soak up as much of the epoxy Part A as possible (and get rid of any air bubbles). Following that, I'd somehow submerge the Part A-saturated Fordite in Part B and let it soak/harden, maybe under vacuum. The downside I would expect is that, rather than a material impregnated with hardened epoxy, I'll have a material impregnated with epoxy stuck in a large solid block of epoxy. Of course I can cut the excess hardened epoxy off, but I'd like to minimize this to the extent possible.

Am I on the right track? Does anyone have other suggestions? I want to be sure I'm doing the right thing before I spend money on a vacuum chamber and pump. Is a vacuum even necessary? I've sunk almost $200 into this Cadillac Ranch Fordite, so I'd like to find a way to use it. If I've got to spend another few hundred dollars in order to use it, then, well, I might be in the land of the sunk cost fallacy and I should reconsider whether it's worth trying to make it work.

Thanks a ton for any advice,

Dan

(Relevant photo attached: An example of polished Cadillac Ranch Fordite, showing atypical colors and wilder patterns than "normal" Fordite.)

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irockhound

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Re: How to Stabilize Delicate "Cadillac Ranch" Fordite?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2020, 04:00:42 PM »

It seems to me that 330 wopuld be way to think and not have enough capilary action to penetrate the way you want unless you diluted the 330 with a soluble like acetone. 

I would investigate using either something like Hxtal or even an Opticon like material that is made to heal fractures.  If it were me I would try Hxtal first, let it cure for a week under low heat as usual and it needed you can do the Vacuum or pressure pot prior to heating.
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catmandewe

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Re: How to Stabilize Delicate "Cadillac Ranch" Fordite?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2020, 05:59:49 PM »

I wouid look into "Cactus Juice", its made to be used in a vacuum chamber for softer turquoise.
I think the acetone methods would destroy your material as most paint will "melt" or dissolve in acetone.
I havent personally used the cactus juice but I have friends who prefer it over other methods so check into it before sinking a bunch of cash into it.

You may just be better off to just coat your stuff with superglue or a good epoxy to help it hold together kind of like the rainbow calsilica.

Tony
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dpn

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Re: How to Stabilize Delicate "Cadillac Ranch" Fordite?
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 06:59:56 PM »

Cool, thank you both for your insight. I don't have the 330 in hand yet, and didn't know it would be too thick to use without thinning. So that's out.

I have some Hxtal already on its way, so that's an option. I think a better option would be the Cactus Juice process -- the heating required shouldn't damage the material.

It sounds like I'll need to procure a vacuum chamber for either of these methods to work well. I'll continue researching this, but that's enough for me to pause for now, finish my first production run with the "regular" Fordite, and then look into whether this I can justify this cost.

Thanks again,

Dan
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catmandewe

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Re: How to Stabilize Delicate "Cadillac Ranch" Fordite?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2020, 09:02:54 PM »

You can make a makeshift vacuum chamber with a food saver vacuum sealer and use the jar attachment to turn a mason jar into a vacuum chamber.
You can also make one with a vacuum tool for bleeding brakes that you can pick up at your napa auto parts store and a little bit of engineering.

Good Luck
Tony
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Felicia

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Re: How to Stabilize Delicate "Cadillac Ranch" Fordite?
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2020, 11:16:22 AM »

Not familiar with the paints used by Cadillac ranch, (though they are quite pretty), but will they dissolve in acetone? A lot of things do. Good luck with this, the colors and visual textures are great!
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