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By: Mark Gilger / WB0IQK

The following procedures can be used in repainting the typical black Drake radio cabinets, or any other cabinet with proper paint match. The results are excellent, with the end product being almost undetectable from the original. The final step includes procedures for adding a spackle finish.

  • Krylon #51317 Rubby Brown Primer

  • Krylon #51613 Satin Black paint

  • #600 grit Silicon Carbide waterproof sandpaper, often referred to as “Wet Sand”.

  • #1000 grit Silicon Carbide waterproof sandpaper.

  • #1500 grit Silicon Carbide waterproof sandpaper.

  • 3m sanding block.

  • #52, .063 inch drill bit.

  • “Post-it” brand #651 Correction & Cover-up Tape

  • Windex window cleaner or Denatured Alcohol. Do not substitute.

  • Compressed air spray can. Used for PC cleaning.
Surface Preparation:
  • Clean grime from surface area with Windex, or soap & water.
  • Put #600 grit sandpaper on the 3M sanding block and with a small amount of running water, start lightly sanding the entire surface. Be careful not to sand over any of the silk screen wording on the lower cabinet section.
  • Typical of an old cabinet are minor, or sometime major scratches and paint chips. No mater how small, you can not under prepare these area’s. If you fail to prepare correctly, you will have an otherwise nice paint job, but you will still be able to see the scratch
  • After the minor light sanding of the entire cabinet, now concentrate on the area’s with defects. You need to meet two goals. (1) you need to feather the area. Feathering the area simply means that you sand the defect area to around 4 – 5 times it’s original size making sure there is a gradual transition from painted area to bare metal. (2) When feeling the area with you finger, you should not be able to feel defects or the transition from painted area, to bare metal.
  • Once the cabinet has been sanded, spray the entire area with Windex or Denatured Alcohol. Do not substitute. Try and not touch the prepared surface with your bare hands. You don’t want any hand oils present on the prepared surface. If you do touch it, clean area with Windex and let dry.

Cabinet Silk Screen Letter Protection:

  • Cabinet silk screen lettering needs to be protected during sanding and painting.

  • During the sanding process, no preparation needs to be made other than making sure you do not sand over the silk screened area’s.

  • Before priming and painting, the effected silk screen lettering needs to be covered. I’ve found that the “Post-it” brand #651 Correction & Cover-up Tape works good. It can be obtained from just about any office supply office. It’s used to correct typing errors when using a typewriter. The tape is good for our purposes because it has a very light adhesive backing and pulls away easily from the silk screened area.

  • Trim the tape length and height to match the word being covered.

  • With the Krylon #51317 Rubby Brown Primer, prime the prepared surface with 3 or more light coats. Let the surface completely dry before applying the next coat. If you prefer, you can also prime the entire cabinet, but excellent results will be obtained by just doing the effected area’s.
  • Once the primer is completely dry, wet sand the entire cabinet with  #1000 grit sandpaper.
  • Once again, verify the surface is smooth and defects can no longer be detected by rubbing your bare fingers across the surface. If no defect can be felt, proceed to the next step, if defects are still detectable, redo preparation steps before proceeding.
  • Spray the front lip area with compressed air to blow out trapped water from the inside overhang lip.
  • Let cabinet dry for several hours in the direct sunlight.


  • With Windex, spray the cabinet to make sure the area is clean and let dry.
  • With a smooth back and forth motions, spray the cabinet with Krylon #51613 Satin Black paint. For best results, do not get any closer than 12 inches from the cabinet. Spray 3 or more coats, letting it completely dry between coats until the desired results are obtain.
  • Sand the entire cabinet again very lightly with #1500 wet dry sand paper using the 3M sanding block and plenty of water until no rough area’s are detectable.
Painting Spackling:
  • With the proper drill bit, ream out the spray button hole. The idea is to enlarge the spray hole to a point where the paint sprays out more in drops, instead of a fine mist. You might need to experiment with drill bit sizes until the desired results are obtained. I’ve found the #51 bit works best for the Drake cabinets.
  • With the can positioned about 2 feet from the cabinet, using smooth back and forth motions, spray a light coat across the entire cabinet surface until the desired spackling effect is obtained.
  • Remove the tape covering the silk screening.
  • In most cases, you can make an ultra light sanding with the #1500 sandpaper over the silk screened area to remove any paint ridges created by the tape.