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The paint is called CARC, or chemical agent resistant coating. It's primary purpose is to give a highly durable, non-reflective finish which is easily decontaminated. It comes in all the usual mil-spec colors as this is the real stuff. Forget the spray cans and other "flat finish" paints out there at the surplus stores, they are nothing like real CARC.
Details: It is a two part mix which is extremely toxic, and care must be used when spraying not to breathe any. It comes in gallon size kits from the manufacturer, which is the paint and the activator. Spraying it can be a real ordeal due to the viscosity. Zinc chromate primer is a must for any exposed metal or painting over non-carc finishes. It can be thinned with MEK (methyl ethyl keytone), but I was told to use MAK (?) to slow the drying process to get a better finish (after mine was done of course) I'm going to try this MAK next week if possible as my hood needs re-spraying.
Temps should be above 65 degrees, but not over 80 for best results (ballpark from a local company that uses this paint for military contract). My truck was painted in 80-85 degree weather and they found the paint to set up quickly. The difficulty is that this stuff has to be applied in one shot, and most painters are spoiled by the ability to be able to buff out blemishes. Pick a real expert who likes you, because he'll almost hate you when he's done trying to get this stuff to look good. Take a look at any military vehicle, they ain't pretty paint jobs for the most part!
When it dries, it is extremely durable in the fact that normal off road use doesn't damage it, but leaves marks which cannot be removed. Normal paint finishes get gouged much more easily, but can normally be buffed out. My truck has the "jungle pinstripes", but has no scratches that go through to the metal. Some folks say it's ugly, others love the rough look. You can't buff it or polish it, so every adventure leaves marks. Don't use this paint if you're concerned with cosmetic beauty! Give up washing it, it looks the same dirty or clean.
Mine was originally done in CARC from AM General, but I've had a few things done that required some re-spraying. I would not recommend this finish for most people, unless it is being done on a military truck such as a HMMWV or a 2.5 ton.
The theory is to produce a coating that does not absorb chemical agents. This is accomplished by using a high quality epoxy primer covered by a very high quality polyurethane paint that does not permit chemical agents to penetrate. Expected life cycle is 5-7 years.
The Niles product is two part. This is the older stuff. I havent used it, but have used thier primer. The recommended primer for CARC is MIL-P-53022 spec (N-3850 A/B).
The CARC currently in use here is a new one part product from Hentzen Coatings in Milwaukee. Our paint shop guys love it. It does produce a smooth, uniform coat that is easy to handle. My guy was swearing up and down about some Aervoe stuff I had him spray. It dryed so quickly that the overspray was dust by the time it hit the equipment. He really likes the Hentzen stuff.
Bad JuJu; the reason for the mystic aura around CARC is the highly toxic VOC and waste products. Other than these, it is just paint, no magic. Your paint shop should already be qualified to handle these problems. The reason for the change to a one-part topcoat is the waste. The 2 part stuff, when mixed is terminal. It is a chemical reaction that will harden after its pot life. If you only have a small area to paint, you just wasted a gallon. The military was throwing alot of dried CARC out and thus the reputation for toxic waste. They are trying to have it supplied in smaller containers. The one-part somewhat reduces the waste problem in that it can be opened and resealed without drying the entire can. The air exposure begins the chemical reaction so if you reduce this exposure you can save some paint. As to the VOC, make sure you let it dry for a good while before hanging around the equipment.
Colors: The Aervoe Sand 30277 is a good looking color but is no longer used on military equipment. My paint shop guy said they ran out on the spin-up for desert storm. They are currently using Tan 686. The primer is white. I tinted it to gray so that scratches would be less noticable. My paint guy said any good quality epoxy primer will work. They did have some large area chipping which left white spots on some equipment. I havent seen this yet. The companies (Hentzen and Niles) will mix any color you want, but you need to purchase large quantities. Otherwise refer to Federal Standard Color Chart 595B.
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