ABC Powder Coating, Wicked Rods fills local need
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
MABANK-Many find the popular television show, “American Restoration,” fascinating – taking what is old, rusty and broken and restoring it to “better than new.”
The difference between TV and reality is; of course, quality restoration work takes a lot longer, but is definitely possible. A business in Mabank has been doing this type of work since 2008.
Operating as ABC Powder Coating and Wicked Rods, located at 920 W. Mason, toward the end of business 175 just past the Chevrolet dealership but on the opposite side of the street, is a well-kept secret.
The Monitor spoke with owner Charles Wells and discovered restoration can be accomplished on almost anything made of metal. He specializes in classic car restorations, but also enjoys restoring patio furniture, trailers, and farm and ranch equipment.
Many items are rejuvenated with a process called powder coating. “About 60 percent of things we touch today are powder-coated,” Wells said, and is much more durable than paint.
The process starts with sandblasting the surface free of rust, corrosion or any other coating. Then a fine powder, much like baby powder, is applied using a gun that sends a positive electric charge. The positive charge is then attracted to the item being coated, which is negatively charged.
“Anything that can carry an electric charge can be powder coated,” Wells explained.
After application, the item is rolled into a huge 20-foot oven, large enough for a car frame, where the powder is baked on at 400-degrees Fahrenheit.
Like the TV show, Wells has restored his fair share of antique iron beds, old gas pumps, well pumps, pedal cars and a very sentimental toy Tonka Truck. “A customer had played with the truck as a boy and wanted to be able to pass it down to his son and then his grandson.” Wells said.
Items don’t have to be restored to be powder coated. New ranch signs, letters that display a community entrance, even brand new patio furniture the customer wanted in a different color that matched her lake house and withstand the elements are all candidates for powder coating.
ABC Powder Coating also offers ceramic coating that can withstand 500-1,500 degrees Fahrenheit on a regular basis.
Auto parts, such as headers or exhausts, and even barbecue smokers can benefit for protection and durable wear, Wells said. Although the company is named ABC Powder Coating, the shop also offers traditional paint jobs.
Wells first became acquainted with powder coated surfaces when he owned a wholesale Western décor business in Mesquite. He built all the items himself and wanted a long lasting coating that met insurance requirements.
“Due to a very special person, my family was blessed with an opportunity to move to Mabank and the Cedar Creek area,” Wells said. The western decor business continued, but driving to the Dallas area for powder coating was too time consuming and not cost effective.
So Wells began the process of powder coating small items with a small oven and an inexpensive gun and with the help of a high school work program.
When the economy went downhill, “I had to find a new endeavor to support my family and even though I was impressed and intrigued by the powder coating process, it was not the business I set out to open.
“Initially, I started ABC Easy Box Portable Storage (which is still in operation) and wanted to build the storage units in house and powder coat the frames for durability,” Wells explained.
The size of the oven would have to be extremely large and he stumbled upon a deal he couldn’t refuse.
“When others found out I had the means to powder coat, requests for items became so frequent I decided to advance my knowledge of the process and ABC Powder Coating was born, with a little help from some very good people,” he explained.
Wicked Rods came about after orders for car parts grew and customers expressed the desire to be able to have everything done in one location.
Wicked Rods is an all-inclusive establishment offering custom paint and body work, airbrushing, fabrication, a newly opened upholstery shop, and of course, restoration.
“The ability to do this all in house was my goal. It enabled me to provide the service and convenience customers were asking for, and made the vehicle more personal since we worked on it start to finish,” he said. “When the customer is proud and happy with the final result, the Wicked Rods team is too!”
Just a few of the ongoing jobs in the Wicked Rods shop include a 1938 Chevy truck restoration, two roadster hotrods -1923 and 1927 models – that are being built from the ground up, and a 1970 Chevelle that is 99 percent complete.
One area resident is having Wicked Rods restore and customize a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle to be a fully specialized show car. Plans upon completion are to participate on the national car show circuit.
“Traveling the circuit can bring awards, but the real satisfaction comes from knowing the general public, as well as, classic car collectors and enthusiasts appreciate the hard work put into the vehicle,” he said. There is also a lot to be learned at each car show.
The casual devotee or hard core restoration aficionado, and those who own (and therefore buys) customized cars are represented.
“Seeing the reaction of attendees and that of the competition endorses what you have definitely done right, but also what you need to improve on in future restoration planning and execution,” Wells said.
Most of his custom car work is spread by word of mouth.
“Wicked Rod customers are putting a lot of faith and trust in me and my team turning out a great looking product that has been done right, inside and out. It’s all about exceptional quality – not speed,” Wells said.