Shields at Maximum

Update by Scott Lear to the Mini Cooper S Club Racer project car
May 19, 2009

We picked up our MINI from Tom Beroth of Bethania Garage at Roebling Road; hopefully next time the MINI visits a track it’ll be there to race.
Bethania Garage/Hard Dog Fabrication didn’t hold back in the creation of the cage for our MINI Cooper S, although before the final welding took place, we decided against the diagonal bar that was going to cut through the passenger area.
Hard Dog powder coated the individual cage components before welding them into place, but we snagged the car back from them before they were able to paint the freshly welded joining sections.
With so many small sections, a proper masking job demanded the bulk of the painting work. We went through a couple of thin plastic drop sheets, a few local newspapers, and a roll of 3M Scotch-Blue Painter’s Tape.
We could have simply painted the entire cage and saved some time on masking, but that would have been redundant on the powder coated sections, more costly more thanks to added paint supplies, and demand extra time with the rattle can.
The powder coat was scuffed at this joint, so we masked it off accordingly so the paint would cover the scuffs.
Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer was the first step, and a quality respirator kept us conscious during the entire painting process.
Satin black was the match for the existing powder coat; don’t confuse semi-gloss with satin, as they’re quite different.
With apologies to the Rolling Stones, we see a roll cage and we want to paint it bla-a-ack.
These two bolt holes were begging to be tied in to the halo of the cage, so Hard Dog welded on a couple of tabs and made the most of the opportunity.
The powder coat and bare metal resulted in some minor elevation changes, but they only show up in sharp lighting conditions and certainly won’t be visible at 50 mph from 50 feet away.
A quality cage trumps a warm fuzzy blanket for security any day.

The newly installed Hard Dog cage was a serious piece of work.

Bethania Garage finished installing one of their Hard Dog roll cages in our MINI Cooper S, and recently we drove up to meet company owner Tom Beroth and pick up the car. Our timing was good, as we had to head north anyway for an April SVRA event at Roebling Road in Georgia—the midway point saved us both gas and time.

At a glance, we could tell that the newly installed Hard Dog cage was a serious piece of work. Tom and his crew had tied the cage into the MINI at several clever points, including the upper sill over the doors and rear seat posts that were just jutting out following the removal of the interior.

The majority of the tubing was powder coated, but the joints were welded in afterward—just before we were set to pick up the car. That meant we needed a coat of satin black to match the powder coating, and with so many small sections, the process of masking off the car was going to be a bear.

Armed with several old newspapers, a couple of cheap plastic drop sheets, and a fat roll of blue painters tape, we set to work protecting anything that we didn’t want covered in primer and paint. Some of the nooks and crannies around the dashboard and toward the roof of the car required delicate application of masking tape, while other areas could be covered in coarse swaths with newspaper and a quick strip of the sticky stuff.

Since we were dealing with fairly fresh bare metal, we opted to prime the paint with Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer. In addition to being the proper primer for the conditions, it had the added benefit of high contrast; the white paint would make it pretty obvious where we needed more black topcoat when the time came.

Our first coat of paint was black semi-gloss, and that turned out to be the wrong choice; there’s a big surface difference between semi-gloss and satin, and the powder coating was satin black. Realizing our error, it was a simple matter to grab a can of satin black and use it for the second coat. We let the first coat dry overnight and then finished it off with the satin black.

Once the second coat had dried for a few hours, we removed the masking supplies and touched up any hard-to-get areas that still showed primer. Now we’re ready to start tackling the rest of the safety gear. (Don’t forget to click on the photos at right for the photo captions and larger versions.)

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