A monumental powder coat #fail for Cora :(

It was a tragic mistake that ended in disaster… and the irony is that it was really not my fault. If only people would LISTEN to me and do as they were TOLD not as they think they should do, I would not be in this mess….

I experienced a massive powder coat #fail on Cora’s top panel last week. I am still reeling from the incident to be honest and it’s taken me this long to even be able to discuss what happened and why. I consider myself reasonably smart but you can never be smart enough to be able to completely account for and foresee the STUPIDITY OF OTHERS.

(Deep breath)… ok so I was working on Cora’s main top panel. Specifically, I was working around the area where the DCB plate is. Cora is an early Jupiter, without the DCB port on the rear or the expansion board inside. The DCB expansion “kits” were sold for early Jupiter’s such as mine by Roland originally, I’ve tried tracking them down but they are long-gone. I wanted to turn this empty plate into a place where the MIDI ports would reside. Others have done this in the past and it looks neat and effective. But I was going to do things differently …I was not going to use those ugly silver “aftermarket” looking plugs that the MIDI kits supply. They would be mounted from behind in a professional manner like in other Roland synths with factory MIDI such as the JD800. The actual gap in the rear of a Jupiter where the DCB port pokes through the metal panel is ever so slightly too narrow for a midi plug silver ring to fit through. There needs to be some degree of filing and cutting. So as I was nearing the design phase of the rear plate for the MIDI ports I went to work opening up the DCB port gap a little with some files and my Dremel cutter. I ended up with a really nice wider opening which could still be covered by the new plate but also allowed for nice access with the plugs. Here is how the slot looked originally behind the plate :

I marked it up nicely and then did some fine and careful cutting with the Dremel to make the slot wider in all the right places:

And then some fine finishing off with a file to clean and even out the lines:

(The full new MiDI plate Front Panel Express design file and pics will feature in an upcoming post).

You need to be very careful as the Dremel head can get away from your hands very quickly if you’re not holding tight and fly off in a sideways direction if it grips the steel. Then you get these tyre-mark type skid lines across your powder coat. The file is the same, don’t let it get too close to the end of the file or it comes out of the slot and then you get the equivalent to a vinyl record needle scratch sound and damage (Whoops!). The whole Roland panel metal is only 1mm thick, and the thin side of the slot has a tendency to bend and deform under pressure so you need to go gently.

Inevitably I had made a few scratches and marks here in there whilst doing this procedure so I wanted to get just this small area powder coated, also so that the raw metal could be sealed that I had exposed to avoid rust in the future. Sounds simple enough. For such a small job I figured I didn’t need to drive across town back to the master expert Clive (who did the amazing powder coat job on the whole panel). I could use someone closer around the corner just for this small area. I found a workshop that had the same powder coat color nearby.

Its funny how every supposed “expert” Tradesman seems to have an opinion about the work of others and it’s always a critical one. This guy commented on Cora’s powder coat and pointed out some apparent flaws in the work (that I couldn’t even see), as if to suggest that if he had done the job that it would have turned out better and that he knew more than whomever did this work. You get this all the time when you present something at a workshop that someone else has previously worked on. I can only guess that this is one of the chapters in the Tradesmen handbook on How to Demonstrate Apparent Credibility in the Eyes of the Customer.. “Criticize everyone else’s work to make yourself appear as the only true Expert”. Well this guy must have just finished a refresher course, because he served it up in spades. A real smart-ass. At any rate, I just nodded and dealt with it, after all this guy was doing such a small and insignificant job that I didn’t really need to listen too his sales pitch much. I just nodded my head and played along and said “yep, yep, ok just do this little area for me as discussed… cheers.” I waited a few weeks and received the call to pick it up.

What I discovered when I arrived at the workshop was a horrific sight.

Now here is where I don’t quite understand exactly what the HELL happened. Clearly my instructions were not followed to the letter. I’m not sure whether it was because he screwed up the job and then secretly tried to fix it without telling me, or whether he just thought he would be much more “cleverer” than Clive who did it originally and felt like he needed to prove something to himself or me and wanted to try and “improve” the paint job. But this moron had COMPLETELY STRIPPED Cora’s whole panel by SAND BLASTING the whole bloody thing!!!! Without asking me!!! What the hell!!! He had unknowingly thereby removed all of the Roland silver that had covered the welds in the process, as well as my detailed and intricate own filling work that took me weeks. And then he had proceeded to powder coat the whole panel yet again… BOTH SIDES. I took one look at her panel and my heart sank. She was a total mess. There were welts and weld marks and crators everywhere showing clearly through. She looked like a pimple-faced teenager who had gorged on a block of dark chocolate the night before. There had been no sanding between coats. The previous coats were gone after all and she now just had this new foreign one. Worst of all this IDIOT was not even aware that there had been a Zinc undercoat to avoid rust. And because he never called me or told me what he was doing, that was missing too. Incredible. So this coat that he had put on was completely useless and she would have to be stripped to bare metal… AGAIN! Just to get the Zinc coat back on underneath.

All my hard work and time spent and $$ has been… Erased.

Basically i had to start from the very beginning. Actually, back before that even. Because of this smart-ass fool. And he had damaged the panel in the process.

There is nothing worse than a bad Tradesman who is told exactly what to do, but then inevitably strays into the margins and attempts to Grow a Brain.

Because all of Roland’s silver filler had been blown away by the damn sandblasting process (a definite NO NO for a Jupiter 8 panel as i explained in my powder coating post), it left significant new holes that were not even there originally. Plus sandblasting weakens and stresses the metal, making it thinner and creates new pits as well in 35 year old metal. I was even originally warned it might likely buckle the panel (but one saving grace is that it was not the case here it seems). For him to have gone and just done this without consultation was Criminal. He tried to tell me that it’s “normal” for metal to look like this with an “uneven surface” once it’s powder coated (or some crap like that) and tried to tell me it looks better than it did before.

I wanted to punch the guy square in his smug face.

Instead I collected my poor girls’ damaged body gently up into my arms and carried her outa there. She had been interfered with and abused by a monster. I was so sorry that I had somehow let it happen to her. I felt so guilty. I put her battered shell in the boot and sat in my car across the road and slapped around the steering wheel like it was this guy’s head…screaming at the top of my voice “Fuuuuuuukkk!” I pounded on the dashboard with my fist to get it out. And then shortly after that took a breath, and then proceeded to cry like a baby. Real tears. Sobs of anguish and frustration…and regret.

A few days later after processing it all I summoned the strength to take a closer look at the damage:

As you can see, everywhere you turn to look you discover weld crators and sand-blasted pits. It’s a sad, sad scene.

And I’m at a crossroads now. Do I work on re-filling and sanding and cleaning this original panel AGAIN, that’s been weakened and damaged already, and spend the $250 on the Zinc rust coat plus two layers of powder coat, or do i cut my losses and start again by getting a whole brand new panel laser cut, bent and powder coated for double this price, with brand new steel, for $500 as I’ve been quoted. I would need to make up the laser dwg file for this price (it would be over $1000 if I just handed them the panel). But I feel I could successfully make the dwg file as I learned from doing Cora’s aluminum side cheeks successfully about the process and the tricks in Coral Draw. No-one in history has ever made a brand new Jupiter 8 panel laser cut from scratch. I’m heading into uncharted waters for sure. There’s lots of new potential pitfalls there as well (eg one slight measurement mistake and a slider won’t make it thru the panel!). But this is where things seem to be going. Maybe if I did it first and provided the laser file then as a personal bonus I might find that others want to follow my lead and do It as well, making it worth the time spent on re-creating Rolands’ original design. I doubt even Roland’s head offices would even have such a file. Or do I try one more time with Cora’s original panel, and spend $250, only to find that it didn’t work out again and it still looks like the surface of the moon. And then need to go and make the new panel, totaling $750. Losing more money, and time.

A crossroads for sure. I still need time to think about this one.

Today I took a big step forward and started to strip the ole girl yet again back to bare metal, to survey the damage and extent of the job ahead …she looks very different to last time without the Roland silver and filler, but instead a rough sandblasted raw face. I apologized over and over to her as i worked. I’m sorry Cora for what this asshole did to you. But I won’t ever give up on you. I promise.

There’s only one way to move … forward …but the road has just become that much longer. 😦