Bulb coloring

Stampeed Valkyrie

Senior Member
Silver Supporter
Ok, so I did some searching and there is some but not alot of any detail on how to successfully paint bulbs. Since I am doing some work for a build I figured I would add some info for those looking to follow in my footsteps.


What you will need... Newspaper, drop cloth, or anything you can spread out that you don't care about getting over spray on. Bulbs, in this example a Par36 GE 4416 bulb. Painters tape... Easy to pick up anywhere. A box, and lastly the paint you wish to use. And if you goof, turpentine or Paint Thinner/Cleaner.


In my example I am using Krylon stained glass spray paint. Comes in several colors... B,R,A,G... well Green is hard to find but you can get it.


Gonna use the K.I.S.S. Method so bear with me.


Step 1.


Get your box and cut a hole just big enough to allow the bulb sit face up and stable. Easiest way, is a + shaped incision and just press the corners in until you get a diamond shape.


Step 2.


Use the painters tape to mask the bulb to keep the spray from going around the back. Its actually pretty simple and you don't need to be perfect, just try to keep it level.


Step 3.


Clean the area of the bulb to be painted with mineral spirits or Isopropyl Alcohol, you might also want to lightly scuff the face of the bulb with real fine grit sandpaper. This will allow the paint to adhere easier (your call)


Step 4.


Place the masked and cleaned bulb face up in the hole you made in your box. Find a well ventilated area, or outdoors if not much wind, place your dropcloth and prepare to paint.


Step 5.


Recommend using gloves, mask, and safety glasses or googles. Paint the bulb.. sounds easy but there are a few tricks. Try a few practice passes on a scrap of cardboard or other disposable item to get a feel for the spray. When your ready, start to either the left or right of the bulb and spray back and forth in even and LIGHT coats. Always begin or end off of the bulb to allow an even coat. Do not try to give it a HEAVY coat, works much better with multiple light coats. Refer to your paint can instructions for details. Take your time and remember back and forth in even motions.


Step 6.


Apply additional coats if needed until you get the desired effect. Remember since light will be passing through this you may want to make it pretty dark.


Step 7.


Let dry.... seriously not kidding if the can says give it 24 hours then do it... You don't want dry to the touch you want totally dry. I screwed my last bulb up by ignoring this... lol


Step 8.


Test it out, and enjoy the job well done...


A couple of additional pointers and things to keep in mind.


I get asked questions about heat so here is my answer, I have used this in the past for a couple of restoration projects and the bulbs have held up, its worked well enough for me but YMMV.


Glass paint is not super durable, so treat a painted object with great care, it can and will chip.


You don't need to be Picasso and have the bulb perfect, I noticed some paint bubbles near the ends of the bulb and they had no effect on light throughput. Just make sure the color is even and your fine.


If you screw up, you didn't wreck the bulb use the mineral spirits, paint thinner.. etc to wipe the bulb off. clean any excess paint off and return to step 1. Practice, Practice, Practice.


I will post up some pictures once I start another bulb


Happy Painting.

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SeattleSAR

Senior Member
Any pics of the finished process?
 

CodeMan

Member
And a video of the finnished product lit up? :)
 
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Stampeed Valkyrie

Stampeed Valkyrie

Senior Member
Silver Supporter
Added a pic of a bulb currently drying/curing.


I am gonna give it 24+ hours before I attempt to fiddle with it. I am still playing around with this green paint as it seems to be abit more picky then the others.


Slight air bubbling on the side not facing the camera, probably because I added a coat too quickly between giving it set time.


The spray can goddess can be a fickle *****! even to me... lol
 

rond

Member
Thanks for the instructions as I am about to try this so the extra information was helpful. Thank you
 

chief1562

Silver Supporter
How long will the paint hold up to prolonged heat before it burns off?
 
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Stampeed Valkyrie

Stampeed Valkyrie

Senior Member
Silver Supporter
chief1565 said:
How long will the paint hold up to prolonged heat before it burns off?
Depending on the type of paint you choose to use and how many coats you apply this is a random variable.


If you half a$$ the paint process your results will vary.


I have done this for mostly parade and restoration projects. However I have used a method such as this in the past and the results held up pretty well.


If your really concerned I recommend using the par 36 filters I referenced from user "mkent"


Rob
 

chief1562

Silver Supporter
Stampeed Valkyrie said:
Depending on the type of paint you choose to use and how many coats you apply this is a random variable.

If you half a$$ the paint process your results will vary.


I have done this for mostly parade and restoration projects. However I have used a method such as this in the past and the results held up pretty well.


If your really concerned I recommend using the par 36 filters I referenced from user "mkent"


Rob
Not concerned just wondered how long the with the light being on before you notice it coming off.


Paint does tend to burn when it get hot.


Especially with it being directly on the bulb.


Would it let's say stand up to 8-12 hours if you were at a scene and the lights are going as they should be?


Some departments do still used sealed beam lights.
 
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Stampeed Valkyrie

Stampeed Valkyrie

Senior Member
Silver Supporter
chief1565 said:
Not concerned just wondered how long the with the light being on before you notice it coming off.
Paint does tend to burn when it get hot.


Especially with it being directly on the bulb.


Would it let's say stand up to 8-12 hours if you were at a scene and the lights are going as they should be?


Some departments do still used sealed beam lights.


It should be able to handle that pretty easily.


An example of this in use a local fire co is still using a sealed beam Mars 888 that I spray painted Red about 3-4 years ago. The last time I saw this light was 12/2013 and the bulb was still there and in use.


I think it also really depends on what type of bulb we are talking about.. 4416 bulbs (35 watt I think) get warm but not really hot, however 4464 bulbs (65 watt) do actually crank off some heat and may be more prone to this occuring.


And my standard disclaimer YMMV.
 

Jarred J.

Archive Expert
Silver Supporter
uhhhh he already did...
 

CrownVic97

Veteran Member
I used the box as a base for painting some green bulbs for a friend of mine last week. It works great! I usually just used painter's tape as shown in the pics, but made it so that the bulb stood on the tape. I like this method tons better! 
 

ryan

Premium Member
Gold Supporter
I used to do it this way but I found that the "stained glass paint" doesnt hold up to the temperatures the bulbs make. PPG made me transparent drying paint at a cost of $600 and it seems to work fine.
 

WS224

Senior Member
I don't think an 8 step process for painting anything qualifies under K.I.S.S.
 

Mars Light

Member
I found an other way to bring color on a sealed beam.

It is a small can (50ml) with bulb paint in red. Useable for 60W bulbs.

I have applied the color with a small brush.

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Stampeed Valkyrie

Stampeed Valkyrie

Senior Member
Silver Supporter
Wow I forgot I wrote this..
Seriously though.. I have moved on from this and am now using Colored par36 gel filters that are much easier to use and hold up well when I need color..
The only times I paint anymore are on lights or apparatus where the gel filter would not be feasible.
 

CrownVic97

Veteran Member
It should work on clear lenses, but how it holds up on an in-service piece of equipment is another ball game. If you are going to use it outside, then the proper clear coating to protect from the elements would have to be used.
 

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