Originally Posted by johnnymoha
I've read bad things about the clear powder coat by itself. I was hoping that would be the solution to keeping the bare steel look but everything I read says that rust still forms under it relatively quickly.
Clear powder coat is completely fine by its self I do it all the time for people looking to protect a polished or chrome surface. I suppose if the coater had no idea what he was doing or did nothing in prep, under/over cured it and was pretty much just horrible at his job it would be bad.
Otherwise clear by its self is 100% fine
Originally Posted by myillwillinc
look for a cerokote applicator near you. they make a clear ceramic coating that is tougher then powdercoat. i powdercoated my tubefenders and put it over it and its still shiney with no scratches
This is a false statement. Powder coat is much stronger than a clear cerakote. Clear cerakote is an air cure formula that does not chemically bond to the part leaving just a weak physical bond like paint. However it is stronger than paint. Powder coat chemically and physically bonds to the part. Not only that but it is a polyester, urethane, or an epoxy based thermoplastic coating (clears are polyester based), meaning it will conform an bend with the metal should it get dented. It will not flake off like paint or cerakote.
Cerakote is also extremely thin, it is applied at a one mil thickness (.001") meaning there is not much there to protect your parts should you hit stuff. Powder coat is applied anywhere from 3-5mils on a single coat application, to upwards of 15-20mils for extreme wear situations.
If you are worried about protecting them but having them look like raw steel have them powder coated with a clear. An acrylic clear will give you the best clarity but with a raw steel a normal gloss, satin, or flat clear will be fine and is applied a little thicker. Make sure someone reputable does it, that was its washed down well with acetone first. It will have the best adhesion if it was blasted or at least brushed first, but if you want it to be just a plain raw steel it will be ok.