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Media Blaster

I was looking at my growing stack of boxes of parts that need to be cleaned and painted: A arms, banana arms, engine tin... I realized I either had to source a media blasting business or get the capability. So, I bought a Harbor Freight 20 lbs media blaster.



I've spent hundreds of hours doing sand and walnut media blasting so I know a bit about the process and the equipment. The little unit seemed fine for as much as I'll use it. So, I got it set up and...


You can imagine what the "before" picture looked like: partly black but mostly rusty.


The little unit exceeded my expectations. Other than having to refill the hopper more often, it performed as well as bigger units. The first thing needed is to change the two cheapo brass ball valves in the abrasive path with stainless. H.F. has a dead-man valve that's a good option for under $20.

Always use a respirator when using quartz or sand!! Anything silica based poses severe health risks if you breath the dust.

You can source inexpensive media at your local cement business. They normally use huge amounts media blasting to keep equipment clean so will have some to sell.
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Old 03-20-2013, 09:42 AM
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Good review of a HF product... Nice to know it'll work well!

Would soda do an equally good job for what you are doing or is sand really the best media to use? I'm eventually going to get some sort of blasting set up and am still learning about the pros and cons etc....

These guys are also doing a ton of advertising and apparently are selling a bunch of their blasters: Dustless Blasting They use glass media...

When it comes to blasting bigger parts - body panels and even tubs, I've read many stories of NEVER being able to get all the media out of the little voids and crevices... I'm assuming this would be true with both sand and glass media. Would soda a better option for that because you could just hose it out?

Just trying to educate myself!

Thanks,
Tom
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Old 03-20-2013, 01:15 PM
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Soda does wonders removing paint but won't remove rust. So you would end up blasting twice, the second with more aggressive media to hit the rusty bits. Soda is also susceptible to moisture (it clumps) so clogging issues may arise. Walnut shell will remove rust but it's expensive. Sand, aluminum oxide, and cinder based abrasives are great for rust but may tend to warp panels. Also, any silica based media will develop dust that's hazardous.

The little unit I bought can do walnut and soda blasting with the following kit: Soda Blast Conversion Kit 60618

The dead man nozzle is 60491

I guess it's all in preparation. As I have to go in small bites, any blasting I do on the chassis/tub will be taped off,towels shoved in holes, blankets to keep sand from migrating where it's not wanted. That's the plan anyway. I really only need the sand to clean up behind my wire brush. I'm manually removing the majority of the paint/rust/rockguard.

I actually looked at that Dustless site. They inject water into the stream to capture and wash away what's removed by the media. Cool idea! I doubt there is anything like that within 120 miles of where I live. Then again, that may make it a business opportunity for me...hmmm.
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Old 03-20-2013, 01:55 PM
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Was the Kobalt compressor in the background your only source of air? How long did you continuously blast? Would a 20 gal oil lubed compressor rated at 5.5 SCFM at 90 psi "be enough" for this blaster?
Old 03-21-2013, 06:29 AM
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Also what was the time frame for this particular piece. How long would you estimate for a single panel. Thinking about this option
Old 03-21-2013, 06:42 AM
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No, that Kobalt would never keep up and is actually kaput. I have a Porter Cable 220v 135 PSI 60 Gallon Vertical in the pic just to the right. I think it's rated about 10cfm@90. Even at that, I have to take a break after about 5 minutes of blasting. I connected the 22 gal tank to get a little more volume to delay the pump starting.

I had used a flapper wheel to knock most of the crap off the piece. I maybe had another 15 minutes and of blasting to make it spotless...so maybe an hour total?

Honestly, from what I've read about panels warping from sand blasting, I plan to do the same to the sheet metal: mechanicaly remove paint/grime/undercoating then come back with the sand blaster to get the rust I can't reach by other means. But, on solid pieces, I plan on less grinding and more blasting.
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Last edited by tharbert; 03-21-2013 at 06:58 AM..
Old 03-21-2013, 06:53 AM
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blasting uses a lot of cfm.

I bought a harbor fright blasting cabinet and it works well, except, it requires about 10 cfm and my construction compressor only puts out 5 cfm, so there is a lot of blast/wair/blast/wait, which can be tiresome.

Great for small parts.

If used indoors, (garage), it will need a shop vac hooked up to keep some of the dust from decorating your shop.

One of the Big Plusses of the cabinet is that it recycles the media, so that you are not constantly hoseing the yard with sand. My buddy has a blaster very similar to yours and we used two or three 100 pound bags to clean up two a arms and a batch of smaller parts.

Ten CFM is a fair sized compressor.

hth,
chris

Last edited by chrismorse; 04-20-2013 at 08:22 AM..
Old 04-20-2013, 08:19 AM
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I've had one of those (see in background) for a couple years now. As I started pulling parts off the car like banana and A arms, the cabinet simply wasn't large enough.

I use the garnet abrasive in the cabinet. Yes, notice the vacuum right next to it. A niffty port for the vacuum hose resides in the back of the cabinet. Unfortunately, I wasn't as careful as needed to keep the plexiglass from getting scratched. Have to replace soon:

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Old 05-02-2013, 10:58 AM
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I fought with the HF blaster for a while then tossed it. Bought one of these

Texas Blaster.

it's a great investment if you plan on doing a bit of this, the folks that own ithe company blast for a living and are great about explaining and helping with use and setup. I can do soda with this blaster, I just. Have a small motor on the tank to vibrate it preventing "domeing" that happens with the fine powders and media. BTW I only use soda more to polish or clean, black diamond fine for paint and rust. If you do it like you're spraying paint you won't have a problem with warping.
Old 05-04-2013, 10:17 AM
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I'm in the middle of a bare metal restoration on my Alfa GTV but outsourced the body shell blasting. Like you I'm starting to realize how much time rust & paint removal take, especially with geometrically complex parts. I've also been cleaning up my daily driver (87 Carrera) and could have used a gentle blaster to strip my fuchs more efficiently.

This might be a dumb question but with the HF blaster and all non-cabinet blasters, do you do anything to contain the blasting media or just let it fly? How messy does the surrounding area get? I'm presuming you're blasting outdoors?
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:31 AM
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i the back of my body shop we set up 4 of the auto shelter tent things for blasting .
they work out great for blasting large things . we also layed down plywood on top of pallets/skids that are justsitting on the ground to make the flooring .
the reason we have different tents is for the different blasting media we use .

when your blasting cabnet glass is getting blasted too from the inside what we do is cover it with clear contact paper that way it save the glass from getting blasted and needing to be replaced all the time . with comtact paper it will just hit the paper and save the glass so you only will need to replace the glass a 1/4 as much .
also you can some times (using a buffing pad) buff out the old glass on the cabnet .
Old 05-23-2013, 10:06 AM
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Try dry-ice blasting?

there is a guy out here in So cali that makes dry-ice blasting machines anyone try it yet? no mess
Old 06-27-2013, 02:04 AM
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yes we had a demo done with it . it's ok just another way to remove a finish .
the sales rep did state that it will not build heat the way most blasting media does . we did a aluminum body car with it . it removed the finsh no better that the soda blasting system we use for soft metals and glass body cars now . so for me it is not worht the money to buy the equipment when soda is working just fine .
the good is that the clean up is next to nothing as the dryice melts .
would i soda blast or dryice blast a steel body car NO !
sand or plastic media works better for that because it will remove the rust also .
i would tend to use dryice in things like valve covers were if you don't clean every bit of other blasting media out and it get into the motor it will do damage . but for parts like that we use walnut shell media in the blasting cabnet .
Old 06-27-2013, 09:28 AM
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