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Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc. 

 

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 Post subject: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:26 am 
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Hey guys,

New to the forum, have stopped in a few times over the years to have a look around but hadn't stopped long enough to register and post previously.

I did a quick search and found there was little to no advice or infomation on automotive blasting on the forum, so I thought I would throw my hand up to offer any advice or answer any questions people may have. Where based in Newcastle, but happy to answer questions no mater where you are before you go to a local blaster to get anything done.

I own RestoPrep - Imperial Blasting at Beresfield (Newcastle). We do automotive ONLY blasting and restoration preparation. We've been around for about 5 years or so and have blasted over 400 cars and 1,000s of panels. We are one of the most experienced automotive only blasters in the country. We don't do any industrial blasting, no trailers, no outdoor furniture, etc. Just cars (and bikes and the occasional small alloy boat).

There is a lot of poor info and misconceptions about blasting floating around the net and also in various print and screen media. I can assure you I will give you the facts to any questions you ask and not blow smoke up your a** like soo many blasters do who think you wouldn't know anything and won't take the time to explain it to you.

As a quick guide we specialise in fine abrasive media blasting, however we also offer plastic media blasting as well.

A short overview of the various blast medias that different places use is below. If your getting a car or panel blasted, check with the place when you book it in as to what they plan to use. If you have any concerns your welcome to ask me here

A lot of blasters advertise with mis leading statements as well. So I've included descriptions of a few common terms below, so you will know what they mean and can check before getting something blasted that it's actually being done with what your told it's being done with.

"Non" abrasive medias. By saying it's non abrasive, that means not abrasive to steel, if it wasn't abrasive to anyting it wouldn't remove paint. If someone says they use "non abrasive" blasting to strip your car/panels, then it has to be one of this first list of blast medias, i.e if they say we use a non abrasive form of blasting and you ask what they use and the answer is garnet, ask them why they are lying to you. If they genuinely don't understand the difference, go elsewhere.

Soda blasting - In my quick search of the forum I could only find reference to soda blasting and people recommending it. Sorry folks soda is not for cars. It creates more work than it saves in most cases. Soda is commonly recommend as it's great for industrial blasters who don't know how to blast a car properly without warping the panels. Soda doesn't remove rust, takes longer to remove bog (some soda blasters will tell you it doesn't remove bog as they are too lazy). Soda also has to be cleaned from the panel so that the residue doesn't react with the paint and a panel that has been soda blasted needs to be hand sanded before priming to ensure paint adhesion. You will also find several major paint companies will NOT warrant their paint on a soda blasted vehicle. Also incase your thinking I'm bagging soda just because I don't use it, not the case. I personally have spent over $30,000 on soda blasting equipment, we've blasted cars with it and not had any problems, however with years or research and development we have found that it was not the best option for cars. So I sold the gear and concentrated on the best ways of preparing cars for restoration.

Plastic is just like soda, but without the negative residue. Making it good, but still not ideally suited to most restos as doesn't remove rust. If your panel beater is living under a rock and says you HAVE to get the car blasted but they don't want it done with an abrasive then use Plastic. It's expensive but the best of the "non" abrasive medias. Personally we use plastic, but only on things like Corvettes and fibreglass hot rods. Even then I often use our fine abrasive on most of that stuff, inc plastic bumpers.

Walnut shell - same as soda but the residue is wood shavings, so holds moisture. Not very common these days.

Dry ice - not a bad option, but again not very common these days and won't remove rust, etc.

Abrasive medias - The following medias will remove all paint, rust and body filler. However they vary in hardness so used incorrectly can cause damage, some quicker than others.

Garnet is commonly used by industrial blasters, however it is too hard for body steel and will work harden the panels, making it harder to remove dents. It also runs a higher risk of warping the panels. It comes in a range of particle sizes, the smallest of which leaves a nice profile on the panels, but again still risks the above problems. Garnet has to be re-used multiple times to be cost effective, so any grease or oil blasted out of your undercarriage or engine bay gets recycled and can be blasted back onto your exterior surfaces. So if you don't clean them properly before priming you can have adhesion issues, like fish eyes (silicon bubbles).

Illmenite is very dusty and not very common for car blasting, it leaves a lot of clean up work and covers the car in a very fine black dust that has to be washed/sanded off. Very fine profile, but too dirty to be worthwhile. Rarely used these days.

Staurolite is similar to garnet, but even less suitable for cars. The profile it leaves is too harsh and requires extra work in sanding the panels before priming. It is also quite hard and runs a high risk of panel warping. Commonly used by industrial blasters for trailers and steel beams, etc. Must be re-used to be cost effective.

Crushed glass, the ideal media for car bodies (this is what we use). it comes in a range of sizes, however only the finest is suitable for car bodies. The larger sizes are also used by industrial blasters but it is not as effective on heave rust as garnet. Fine glass leaves a very fine profile on the panels, suitable to prime as is. There is no nasty residue and when used correctly won't warp panels. Glass is only used once then thrown away. So the surface remains clean after blasting.


That covers the most commonly talked about blast medias, there are others and your welcome to ask me about any you have heard of. I can also explain in more detail the benefits or negatives of any of the ones I have listed here.

Another issue is pressure. Some blasters advertise as doing low presure blasting. In most cases they are lying as they think it makes them sound better than someone else.

As a guide most of the softer (non abrasive) medias are blasted at 80-100 psi, with the exception of plastic which is used at 25-40psi, a true low pressure blast. However even at 100psi plastic won't hurt your car, it's just used at lower pressure as it's only cost effective if it can be re-used 5-10 times. So the lower pressure stops it breaking down as quick. Soda and the other soft medias are used once only.

All the abrasive medias are blasted at 70-110 psi. Not low pressure, thats as much as any regular large air compressor can put out. They are all safe at that pressure if the operator knows what they are doing. The higher the pressure the more productive the blsating is, meaning most blasters who blast things other than just cars will be aiming to get thru the job as quick as possible, so higher pressure. Some places (like my business and a few others around the country) are happy to take our time and do the job right so the lower end of that range is often used.

Ok well there is a lot of other info but I'll just post a few pics (just 8, as I have literally 100s but don't want to make this a business ad, so the pics are just as a refernce to show I know what I'm talking about) and then leave it to anyone to ask a question as they have one. Happy to give quotes and so forth, we work on a fixed price scale, not at an hourly rate so I can quote most items without seeing them.

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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:45 am 
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hey mate love your work, ive always been interested in sand/ soda blasting cars, but never actually looked into it and how its done etc..
just wondering how much would you charge for lets just say an ef/el falcon for a full job like these pictures?
also just realised your in newcastle

 

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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:54 am 
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...so got to make myself one of those rotisseries!

Thanks for the information :). However I am more interesting in cleaning engine components...I'd assume soda blasting would be best for cleaning all things alloy? (that don't need painting).

Quote:
Garnet is commonly used by industrial blasters, however it is too hard for body steel and will work harden the panels, making it harder to remove dents


I'm also quite curious with this. Using it at high pressures (100psi...I assume you can't run higher?) on internal engine parts, such as rods/pistons...will it work the surface a little bit making it a little "harder". I'd assuming glass may do the same if run at higher pressures? I mean it ain't proper shot peening, but would leave the internals clean with possible minuscule strengthening.

 

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EL XR6 motor, EL ECU + J3 chip, WADE 1673 Camshaft, 3" S/S intake, Pacy 4480, 2.5" Hi flow cat, 2.5" Lukey exhaust.
Max Power = 144.6 rwkw (03/05/2008)

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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:32 am 
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bry40l wrote:
hey mate love your work, ive always been interested in sand/ soda blasting cars, but never actually looked into it and how its done etc..
just wondering how much would you charge for lets just say an ef/el falcon for a full job like these pictures?
also just realised your in newcastle


Hi mate. Full rotisserie job like the Mustang / XT and XB pictured is $1700. Doors $90ea, gaurds $70ea ($90ea for older falcons as they are a bit larger), bonnet $250, boot lid $200. That all includes a clear coating the same as on the cars in the pics.

Were just out at Beresfield industrial area, at the end of the freeway. We do all the blasting work for most of the resto and custom shops around like, Kranky Kustoms, Kingpins, etc.
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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:50 am 
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phongus wrote:
...so got to make myself one of those rotisseries!


Mate there is HEAPS of pics of our rotisserie on our website, your welcome to copy it. We can fit almost any vehicle to it and it works great. Most of the commercial rotisseries are over complicated, they work well but often add too much extra length to be able to use them in a standard garage, plus the cheap ones are a pain to move around with there 3 peice centre beams.

Quote:
Thanks for the information :). However I am more interesting in cleaning engine components...I'd assume soda blasting would be best for cleaning all things alloy? (that don't need painting).

Quote:
Garnet is commonly used by industrial blasters, however it is too hard for body steel and will work harden the panels, making it harder to remove dents


I'm also quite curious with this. Using it at high pressures (100psi...I assume you can't run higher?) on internal engine parts, such as rods/pistons...will it work the surface a little bit making it a little "harder". I'd assuming glass may do the same if run at higher pressures? I mean it ain't proper shot peening, but would leave the internals clean with possible minuscule strengthening.


Soda is good for cleaning engine parts as it's a degreaser as well. However we've found some alloy parts can be porous and oil can get into those pores and stain the alloy. Soda won't remove the staining. We use our fine crushed glass on alloy engines (inc bike and cars). and it works great. However ideally suited to engines that are being rebuilt as the particles are abrasive. Soda particles just break down which make it great on engines that need cleaning but not rebuilding. Though again we use glass on those too and just make sure the ports and other holes are sealed.

Shot peening is essentially blasting the parts with little steel balls at high pressure, though of course much harder than garnet/glass etc.

Abrasive blasting rods, etc will definitely clean them up well, though as you said I think the shot peening effect would be minimal, certainly nothing noticeable unfortunately. Blasting rods is ok, pistons I wouldn't recommend as it would profile the surface and shread your bores. Also if doing rods, I'd do them with the old bearings fitted and then fit new ones after, to avoid any profiling of the bearing faces.

We blast heads a fair bit, cleans them up great and to a small extent cleans up the ports. We don't usually blast the head face as you would usually need to deck them afterwards to smooth them out, which then would be the same as just decking them to start with.

We also use a fine glass bead which has a polishing effect, suitable for alloy parts that need that factory semi satin finish. We use this on bike engines all the time. Unfortunately our polishing cabinet isn't big enough for car heads (though looking to increase the size in the future).

Hope that helps.
Cheers
Cam
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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:35 pm 
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Cam351 wrote:
phongus wrote:
...so got to make myself one of those rotisseries!


Mate there is HEAPS of pics of our rotisserie on our website, your welcome to copy it. We can fit almost any vehicle to it and it works great. Most of the commercial rotisseries are over complicated, they work well but often add too much extra length to be able to use them in a standard garage, plus the cheap ones are a pain to move around with there 3 peice centre beams.

Quote:
Thanks for the information :). However I am more interesting in cleaning engine components...I'd assume soda blasting would be best for cleaning all things alloy? (that don't need painting).

Quote:
Garnet is commonly used by industrial blasters, however it is too hard for body steel and will work harden the panels, making it harder to remove dents


I'm also quite curious with this. Using it at high pressures (100psi...I assume you can't run higher?) on internal engine parts, such as rods/pistons...will it work the surface a little bit making it a little "harder". I'd assuming glass may do the same if run at higher pressures? I mean it ain't proper shot peening, but would leave the internals clean with possible minuscule strengthening.


Soda is good for cleaning engine parts as it's a degreaser as well. However we've found some alloy parts can be porous and oil can get into those pores and stain the alloy. Soda won't remove the staining. We use our fine crushed glass on alloy engines (inc bike and cars). and it works great. However ideally suited to engines that are being rebuilt as the particles are abrasive. Soda particles just break down which make it great on engines that need cleaning but not rebuilding. Though again we use glass on those too and just make sure the ports and other holes are sealed.

Shot peening is essentially blasting the parts with little steel balls at high pressure, though of course much harder than garnet/glass etc.

Abrasive blasting rods, etc will definitely clean them up well, though as you said I think the shot peening effect would be minimal, certainly nothing noticeable unfortunately. Blasting rods is ok, pistons I wouldn't recommend as it would profile the surface and shread your bores. Also if doing rods, I'd do them with the old bearings fitted and then fit new ones after, to avoid any profiling of the bearing faces.

We blast heads a fair bit, cleans them up great and to a small extent cleans up the ports. We don't usually blast the head face as you would usually need to deck them afterwards to smooth them out, which then would be the same as just decking them to start with.

We also use a fine glass bead which has a polishing effect, suitable for alloy parts that need that factory semi satin finish. We use this on bike engines all the time. Unfortunately our polishing cabinet isn't big enough for car heads (though looking to increase the size in the future).

Hope that helps.
Cheers
Cam


Thank you kindly for the information :). I was meaning to buy a soda/sand blaster cabinet for a home job...a small one will suit my motorcycling parts but not so much my car. Unfortunately the bigger one is way out of my price range :(.

 

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phongus = Post whore 2006
EL XR6 motor, EL ECU + J3 chip, WADE 1673 Camshaft, 3" S/S intake, Pacy 4480, 2.5" Hi flow cat, 2.5" Lukey exhaust.
Max Power = 144.6 rwkw (03/05/2008)

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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:52 pm 
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mate if your buying a small cabinet to use at home on alloy parts, get glass beads for it. Soda is useless in those little cabinets, not enough pressure and it's only usable once and expensive. glass beads will only be about $35-$40 a bag and will work great on alloy bike parts. Get yourself some 80 grit garnet for anything that is rusty, will work ok in a small cabinet. You'll have to empty each one out completely before using the other though otherwise you'll contaminate your media.

Cheers
Cam
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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:22 pm 
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Cam351 wrote:
mate if your buying a small cabinet to use at home on alloy parts, get glass beads for it. Soda is useless in those little cabinets, not enough pressure and it's only usable once and expensive. glass beads will only be about $35-$40 a bag and will work great on alloy bike parts. Get yourself some 80 grit garnet for anything that is rusty, will work ok in a small cabinet. You'll have to empty each one out completely before using the other though otherwise you'll contaminate your media.

Cheers
Cam


You stated glass is not reusable...but I assume you could if you only use glass in the cabinet?

 

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phongus = Post whore 2006
EL XR6 motor, EL ECU + J3 chip, WADE 1673 Camshaft, 3" S/S intake, Pacy 4480, 2.5" Hi flow cat, 2.5" Lukey exhaust.
Max Power = 144.6 rwkw (03/05/2008)

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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 2:53 pm 
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Almost everything (other than soda) is reusable in a cabinet, as the pressure is pretty low and the impact is minimal the particles don't break down as quickly as it does with a full size setup like we use on car bodies.

Glass beads will last you ages in a cabinet, like long enough to do a dozen bike motors I would think. Crushed glass would last a fair while as well, but like I said if you want to use it for removing small amounts of rust of parts I'd go with garnet in a cabinet, it will last for months in home use.

Also make sure you have good clean air, nothing ruins a blast cabinet like moisture in your air lines. Clogs up and really makes the whole process painful.
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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:43 pm 
Getting Side Ways
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Cam351 wrote:
That all includes a clear coating the same as on the cars in the pics.


This coat just seals the bare metal ?
rub back ready for paint (with repairs made of course) ?

Once the car has been blasted and painted, what are the chances of the rust returning to the affected area's ?
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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:27 am 
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Hey MMD,

Yep the clear is fine to paint over. Most areas don't even need sanding as its already profiled for good adhesion. Just make sure the surface is free of contaminets like dust etc.

The chance of rust coming back to an area where the rust has been blasted out of is subjective to a few things. Mainly why it rusted to begin with, how it is repaired after and how the car is looked after. Eg if we blast rust out of a sill and you just mig up the holes and paint over it. Then it's bound to come back. If we blast surface rust off a panel and it's repainted correctly then there should be no reason to expect the rust to come back. Cars often rust in areas that either didn't get enough paint from the factory, areas that accumulate dirt or between seams that either weren't seam sealed correctly or the sealer has worn off. If we blast those areas and you address the issue that caused the rust then the car should last a life time (as long as its treated well).
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 Post subject: Re: Automotive blasting, info about sand / soda blasting etc.
Posted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:38 pm 
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Just thought I would update my post from a couple of years ago. My RestoPrep brand has changed locations for the Newcastle - Central Coast - Sydney workshop. No longer at Beresfield.

We are now based at East Coast Master Blasters - 12 Ourimbah St, Ourimbah NSW 2258. 0450 308 454.

We also have 3 other workshop:

Pro Auto Blast in Perth (Wangara) 0420587589
A1 Automotive blasting (S.E QLD) 5/104 Hall St, Yamanto 07 3202 3346
Northcoast Customs (Mackay) - 07 4999 9250

Check out all the info on our website www.restoprep.com.au
or on facebook: www.facebook.com/RestoprepAU
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