What Is LINE-X?
An exclusive look at LINE-X coating, as it is applied to “Project Big White,” our 1995 Ford F-350 dualie’s bed.
"Who was Jack the Ripper?" "Where is Jimmy Hoffa buried?" "Is there really a city of Atlantis?" These are just three of the thousands of questions with answers that are of unknown, or not known by many, which historians and anybody keeping score call "the world's greatest mysteries." While the examples are random, when it comes to pickup trucks—diesel, gas, etc.—one curiosity is spot-on specific: "What is LINE-X?"
Not surprisingly, for many enthusiasts, getting to the bottom of what the LINE-X brand of bed coating is all about—thoroughly and accurately—is the truck scene's equivalent of conquering a very difficult puzzle. Is LINE-X just a substance? Is it a procedure? Unfortunately, the process has become generalized—a synonym of sorts—the same way that the masses say "bulletproof" to describe fortifying a 2003 to 2007 6.0L Ford Power Stroke engine's top half. The problem is, when they execute the procedure, they're doing so without using BulletProof Diesel's patented system (oil cooler, EGR cooler, head studs, gaskets, water pump, and FICM). And, of course, there's always the "Xerox" example for copiers and copying documents. The same thing's the same thing.
We have heard the inaccuracies many times: "I'm going to get the bed line-x'd. My buddy is doing it for me in his driveway." While that friend may very well be coating the truck's bed, if he isn't a LINE-X technician and/or using the company's proprietary materials and equipment, it's not the real deal. In a nutshell, the bed is being coated. Period. That's how it should be phrased.
Coating the bed with LINE-X is an item on the task list for our project truck, the 1995 Ford F-350 dualie that we call "Big White." After a few months' hiatus, the truck's exterior makeover is resurrected and now in full swing, with the end goal being a dramatic color change from the factory's Ultra White to a Metallic Blue/Gun Metal Grey/Black combination that will come by way of Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions' vinyl. Yes, the rig is getting wrapped. But coating the bed before that happens is how we must proceed.
As part of this effort, we're learning all of the facts about LINE-X and solving the longtime mystery by going inside the prep and application process, through an exclusive opportunity for us to observe Nat Beckett and Jorge De La Riva of LINE-X of Huntington Beach, California, as they rejuvenate Big White's bed. The company's Premium coating (abrasion and impact protection, coupled with a UV-blocking sealant that keeps the treatment looking like new) replaces plywood panels that served, albeit fairly well for several years, as a liner of sorts (detailed in our last report). With the sale, purchase, and restoration of older trucks becoming more prevalent now, LINE-X coating is a great addition to an older rig's cargo area.
In our text, photos, and exclusive video, Nat and Jorge take us through the entire LINE-X experience, from start to finish. Follow it to the end, and learn the facts about what LINE-X really is.
So, What IS LINE-X?
Before we get into LINE-X the process, let's look at the chemical itself first. For clarity, we spoke with Terry Pe (pronounced "Pay"), senior vice president of product development for LINE-X Corporation, who provided insights about the substance. "LINE-X is a coating system based on a proprietary two-component spray elastomer," says Terry.
It's neither paint, plastic, nor rubber. The A and B properties are isocyanate, which is a hardener (stored in yellow drums) and resin (that actually comprises 12 different components)/polyurea in white barrels. "Unlike other bed-lining products, there are NO volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the LINE-X chemical. There are only solids, no solvents, which means the substance reacts instantly. It's solid within four seconds after it is applied to a surface—something that just cannot be duplicated with canned DIY coating products. Because of this quick reaction, applying LINE-X truly is an art," Terry says.
As we explained in our last installment, prep is critical for any type of automotive refinishing effort. So, while our project truck's bed was initially cleaned by Gear Driven Automotive and editor KJ Jones, additional decontaminating is required before coating is applied. Nat and Jorge use denatured alcohol to wipe down all of the areas being treated. After that (and the technicians' detailed inspection), additional holes are patched, and all surfaces being LINE-X treated are isolated using wired tape (to confirm straight lines along the bed rails), standard masking tape, heavy blocking paper, and 3M masking film. Finally, the bed and tailgate are sanded to remove any imperfections, using dual-action sanders and medium-grit paper. After a final blowout with compressed air, and wipe-down using a proprietary acetone and Bonderite pre-treatment wipes, Big White's bed is ready for the procedure.
How LINE-X Is Applied
A Graco Reactor E-XP2 is the device that executes an "impingement mixing" process, where Components A and B are heated to approximately 165 degrees Fahrenheit and collide under 2,100 psi of pressure at the tip of a Fusion Air-Purge gun. The strong coating that is blasted into the bed is the result of this reaction.
Jorge is a master LINE-X installer, with 13 years of experience. After starting the reactor, he immediately begins spraying the bed, moving quickly with side-to-side sweeps and using his own "counting [the number of passes over an area]" technique to gauge the consistency of the application. Immediately after this process, Jorge uses a separate machine and gun to add the Premium coating's UV protection. You can see Jorge in action in the video that accompanies this report.
Bold, Durable Finish
With the spraying completed, Nat and Jorge finish the job by removing the masking materials, reinstalling the tailgate, and validating the job through thorough inspection and with a digital thickness gauge. The LINE-X treatment is typically 1/8 inch thick. While Black is the standard pigment for the coating, LINE-X of Huntington Beach can blend body-color and custom hues for detailed applications such as vehicles displayed at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
We are extremely pleased with the final product. The LINE-X coating immediately brings "newness" to our old rig, and, more important, it adds protection for the bed floor, sides, and rails against dents and damage caused by payloads that Big White carries (typically, heavy engine/drivetrain pieces, home-improvement materials, etc. ). It's a great precursor to the pending vinyl wrap and definitely worth considering for trucks of any vintage.
Our sincere thanks go to Nat and Jorge of LINE-X of Huntington Beach, California. Thanks to the all-access authority we were given and their great assistance, the "What is LINE-X?" mystery has been solved!
Avery Dennison Graphics Solutions
Gear Driven Automotive
LINE-X of Huntington Beach