It's been an expensive and somewhat frustrating trip making the transition from lead to lead free alloy since Massachusetts prohibited the use of lead weights and jigs under 1 oz. in 2012. However, a few months ago, introduced a new lead free alloy with a high enough melting temperature to permit a full cure of powder paint. I decided to go for it and gear up for powder painting. At this point I want to say, "Thank you!" to smalljaw, a valued contributor to, and YouTube, who offered advice, encouragement, and tipped me toward TJ's makes a fluid bed which sells for less than half the price of the two other online component suppliers I regularly use. Let's get started: An aquarium pump keeps the powder in the fluid bed fluffed up so you can get a thin, even coat in seconds - and by seconds, I mean two. Longer than that, you've applied too heavy a coat.    To the right of the fluid bed, see jumbo and regular paper clips and a #55 drill in a pin vise. the paper clips work fine to clear a hook eye filled with paint. Do this immediately, before going on to next jig in the batch. In the 84 jigs I painted (in two batches) I had to clear fewer than a dozen eyes. I had locking forceps on hand for the project and they worked great holding light and medium wire hooks. A home made jig container/rack left over from my vinyl painting days still serves well. A Wagner HT3500 Heat Tool works perfectly as a heat source. $39.00 from Home Depot. 2 oz. containers hold Pro-Tec powder paint, packaged by CS Coatings for TJ's who sells it at a better price than most outlets. Understand that I have no commercial interest in TJ's Tackle - just an entirely satisfactory first experience with their products. These instructions are posted with permission. Take the time to read them and refer to them if things aren't going right. In a photo, the powder paint looks like pimples on a ghost's face. Take my word for it, it's bubbling. The jig rack is easy enough to make if you've got a hacksaw and a brad point drill. You'll find Sterilite 4 Quart containers (12" X 7 1/4" X 4 1/4") at dollar stores and lengths of 10-24 threaded rod at hardware stores. Don't forget to buy a box of hex nuts. I heated the first batch of jigs at this setting and went to 750º for the second. Rotate the jig slowly and count: "One smallie . . . two smallies . . . three smallies . . ." You know because you've read the instructions that you have to experiment with heating time - for each size jig - to get it just right. Same for "swish" time. Don't forget to clear the eye if you took a too-long dip. After I got done with brown Brush Jig #6 I had a forehead-smacking realization - I had forgotten to block the fiber weed guard cavities with the teflon pin! I'll either glue in a thinner guard on the 6 or go without. When using a pin, pull it as soon as possible. If it lifts paint around the hole, reheat it and it will lay back down. Now it's time for the curing process. You do know that you can't use a toaster oven to broil burgers and cure powder paint, right? I decided on Eastwood's oven and bought it on sale, direct, for $89.99. Shipped from PA to western MA the cost jumped to $113.20. Internal dimensions are: 16"W X 14"D X 8"H. As you see, there are two racks. That's more than enough capacity for this hobbyist. I placed it on a table in the middle of the tackle room because the safety information stated that there should be "a minimum of 4' of adequate cooling space around top, rear and sides of oven." There was one hot spot in the back but this heat dissipated in a couple of inches. I'm guessing that Eastwood's lawyers wrote this instruction. Think I'll still use this arrangement because while the baits are baking I'll just swivel around and work at the bench you see in the reflection. Eastwood didn't have bismuth/tin jig molders in mind when they put temperature markings on their oven. I approximated 275º best I could and watched the thermometer in the oven. Clearly, something was off. The oven thermometer read 225º after 25 minutes. Testing this thermometer in the kitchen oven set at 295º it read 300º. Hmm. Two more tests had similar results.  Well, "It is what it is," as they say. I baked the jigs for a full hour. Now, time for a durability test. If I tossed a handful into a tub of Marshmallow Fluff I wouldn't be disappointed. There's nothing comparably fluffy in a smallie's habitat however, so I took the jigs to the loading dock at work. I tossed a handful up into the air and collected them where they had scattered on the concrete. Repeated this test three times. Hey, not bad. These results are acceptable. I tried to enlarge the chipped areas on the Pumpkin Brown and the Watermelon using a fingernail and could not. That tells me the adhesion is good. I was particularly pleased that the Crinkle Copper was hardly bruised at all because there was a label on that container that read "cure at 400º for 10 min." The heat was nowhere close to that. Trials on pewter come next . . . especially since the larger bismuth/tin jigs are very difficult to remove from a hot mold. Questions and suggestions are welcome.
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