Aluminum cleats- repaint black or leave shiny? - SailNet Community

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  #1  
Old 04-19-2008
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Aluminum cleats- repaint black or leave shiny?

I have finished using a wire-wheel to clean all old paint off of my aluminum cleats, and other hardware. As I have read that aluminum is hard to paint (requires special primer, etc) I am considering just leaving them as is.

Question: How long will they stay shiny in the salt water environment? I don't mind cleaning / polishing them a bit, every couple of years. However, if the oxidization / dull look sets in very quickly, and is hard to ward off, I will probably paint them again -
If I do paint them, I will likely not bother with caustic primers, etc, realizing touch ups will be needed every few years, where ropes wear paint off, etc.

Advice?
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aluminum shiny or not

Hi
To answer your question. You do not want your aluminum shiny. That dull grey appearance is the hard oxidized aluminum that will protect the rest of your aluminum. Unlike iron oxide which falls off and is soft. Aluminum oxide is very hard and does not fall off. So every time you scape off that dull aluminum oxide you are wearing away your cleats much faster then you need too. The only real danger to your cleats long term ( aside from your scraping the oxide layer off) is electrical current and since your cleats are not likely to encounter such current.

Additional information. Aluminum is know as an amphoteric material. This means it is an acid or base depending on what it is reacting with. Eg. if you wash it with acid it will behave as a base and if you wash it with base it will behave as and acid.

So
leave your cleats alone

Whitebear
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My guess is that they were originally anodized. Even with the special primer, paint doesn't adhere terribly well to aluminum. I'd be inclined to leave them alone; they'll get a dull grey in fairly short order, or replace them with stainless.
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If you really want them to be painted, get them powder coated.
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Have them anodized black (it will cost almost as much as new ones) but make sure it is hard anodizing or it wont stand up long.
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Powder coating or black anodization are the best ideas... However, I'd recommend switching to stainless steel or bronze cleats. Aluminum is far more prone to corrosion, has galvanic issues with stainless steel fasteners and is subject to fatigue and failing without much warning.

Stainless steel or bronze cleats would probably cost just a bit more than getting the existing cleats powder coated or anodized, and reduce future maintenance problems.
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Old 04-20-2008
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I'll second the motion to move to stainless. If you want to keep the Al. find a place that does anodizing near you. Here (Indiana) I use "Remote Control" to do my andozing, Have them strip and hard coat (Black only). They are a favorite son as I use then for my work as well.... Govt. jobs are great...
Link to their site " www . rci - products . com " Note had to add spaces because I don't have enough posts to add links.
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