All About That Rust
We’ve all seen it: the red-orange crack and bubble and blister that “appears” on certain metals. That’s rust, the result of oxidation, a word that comes from the French: oxide – oxygen and acid.
What this means is that the metal has been exposed to oxygen and moisture over time. Left untreated, rust can completely overtake the metal and disintegrate it.
Just as we’ve seen that proper welding provides the strength and integrity of a yard ramp, preventing and minimizing rust is essential to its longevity.
That process begins during construction. And it’s all about the paint. It’s the metal that rusts, not the paint. The paint provides an all-important buffer of protection for the metal.
In our industry, and in many others, we measure paint by what’s called mil thickness. One mil is a thousandth of an inch (.001 inches). The industry standard for yard ramps is a 2 mil thickness. The thicker the paint, the better chance we have to prevent and slow down the rusting process.
Another factor is the paint’s application process. Through much of the United States, manufacturers spray the paint. It’s a fairly effective approach…with a key challenge.
For example: to push the spray through the applicator’s small hole, you need to thin out the paint with water or thinner. Which tends to dilute the paint. Which requires multiple coats of paint, waiting for a period of time for the previous coat to dry before the next application.
By necessity and by innovation, Medlin Equipment, one of our main manufacturers, rolls the paint on its new yard ramps. By necessity: Medlin is based in California, where the CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) regulations are the strictest in the nation, which means that spraying paint in industrial manufacturing is virtually nonexistent throughout the state.
Medlin employs a process called powder coating, which applies the paint from a special roller onto the metal. Because it’s not traveling through a hose or spray nozzle, the paint doesn’t need to be diluted.
The result is a finish that is stronger than conventional approaches—and has a 7 mil thickness.
“We know that sun, scratch, wear and tear invite rust,” says Mark Medlin, CEO at Medlin. “Our method creates a hardened shell. The paint looks cool and better protects to prevent moisture buildup.”
Still, yard ramps will rust. Time—and moisture and humidity and large temperature swings—will work away at any metal, especially where the friction is. As in: where a forklift’s tires travel up and down the yard ramp.
In the most literal way, an ounce—or mil—of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
To our man McCoy Fields: we were going to ask about your rusted-out ’91 Nova, but your wife Maggie said it might be a sore subject for you. So, um, we won’t mention that.