Classic Car Articles
Competition Coatings Queensland
I bet you thought it was just chrome? I certainly did when I first looked at the exhaust system on the speedway sprint car in Competition Coatings QLD website. Proprietor Peter Herriman was quick to tell me that if it was chrome, it would have discoloured within minutes of getting hot.
Competition Coatings QLD is run by husband and wife team Peter and Debbie Herriman who are ably assisted by son Dean and Sub-Contractor Colin. Peter has spent all his working life in the automotive industry, having started as an apprentice Engine Reconditioner back in 1975. Of course back then the science of thermal coatings was very much in its infancy. It was new to Peter as well, but as he increased his knowledge within the automotive trade he also became conversant on the importance of applying the correct coatings to both moving and non-moving engine components, especially if itís expected to perform in competition.
By the mid 1990s the name of Peter Herriman was synonymous with Ceramic Coatings and with a steady line of enthusiasts knocking at the door it just made sense to establish Competition Coatings QLD. However in doing so , Peter decided not to leave his roots behind and formed Competition Coatings QLD in conjunction with Swift Race Engines, established in 1983, specialising in race engines for Historic Touring Cars, Formula HQ's, especially the Holden six-cylinder red motor.
If youíre sitting there scratching your head about (Ceramic) Thermal Barrier Coatings, Peter says its job is to reduce radiated heat from a component. While these are mainly exhaust extractors and intake manifolds a coating can also be applied to internal components such as pistons. In fact Peter describes the piston as being the weakest link in any engine, so if there is any way to protect the humble piston against the stresses of heat and friction itís a good thing to do. The same can be applied to cylinder heads, because the coating of the combustion chamber while maintaining combustion temperatures actually reduces overall head temperature. This leads to two pluses as not only does it increase power output it also means less cooling is required.
As they say in the classics Ė ďBut wait thereís more!Ē Itís also a great idea to apply a coating to valve springs and to the engine valves themselves. The springs are coated to reduce friction and that in turn reduces heat. For the valves itís two different applications. While lubrication is paramount for valve stems, itís a thermal barrier coating thatís required for the head of the valve. Of course Competition Coatings QLD applies them both.
Interestingly Thermal Coatings are also applied to brake components, in particular calipers and rotors. There are two specific coatings for brakes that not only insulate but also assist is dispersing heat and therefore preventing brake fluid boiling and fade. A ceramic coating is applied to the inside of the caliper as well as the brake piston while a black heat emitter is applied to the caliper exterior, allowing friction heat to radiate faster.
If youíre interested in how all this works, itís quite an involved process to ensure that the coatings adhere permanently to the surface of the components. Proper cleaning is of course essential and at Competition Coatings QLD this is a 3 stage process. First each component is chemically cleaned, then pressure cleaned at 3000psi and lastly itís thermally cleaned in an oven. Once the process is started nothing is touched by human hands.
Next comes the surface preparation process of each component. This is when the surface is ready for coating and this is to both the outside and inside. How Competition Coatings QLD does this Peter was keeping close to his chest. Then itís back into the oven once again for curing. Once cooled it goes through a polishing process and again Peter is keeping mum on how the insides are polished. However if you visit Competition Coatings QLD donít expect to see polishing and buffing wheels as itís all done through a vibratory polisher using porcelain balls. Only when polished is the component touched by hand.
Competition Coatings QLD also Teflon coats suspension components, tappet covers and the like. Teflon leaves a finish not unlike satin black powder coating, but is very easy to keep clean and is chip resistant.
So what has all this work managed to achieve? More power of course and thatís very important if competition is on your mind, but also coating the surface increases the life of the component by 2 to 5 times. A significant long term effect in anyoneís language. Parts also have a greatly enhanced appearance.
If you want to know more give Peter Herriman a call or have a look at Competition Coatings QLD very useful website at www.competitioncoatings.com.au
All work is carried out ďIN HOUSEĒ
Competition Coatings QLD
Unit 1/14 Rodwell St.,
Ph: (07) 3277 9123
Fax: (07) 3277 9123
Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
After hours & Saturday mornings by appointment.
Words by Patrick Quinn