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Soda Blaster Adventure

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by Higgy, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. Higgy

    Higgy XS650 Addict

    Well it wasn't an adventure, per se, but I had some fun using my new 15lb Harbor Freight Soda Blaster and I'd like to report about it to folks who may be thinking about getting one.

    First of all, I regret not getting some pics. This thread is entirely spur of the moment, and I didnt think about pics at all because I was using the blaster on the Peerless transmission out of my John Deere tractor. :doh: I will seek atonement and do a nice pictorial when I finally get to blasting stuff on my XS650. :thumbsup:

    Now I have had a huge blast cabinet for years. I've used it primarily for knifemaking duties, and other stuff. I have run anything from 120 mesh aluminum oxide, to glass bead, and it has performed flawlessly inside my shop. I use a big shop-vac with a drywall bag inside it to suck the dust out and keep it so that I can see what I am doing inside.

    The soda blaster is a little different. I've never had a pressurized blaster before, and I needed a spot to use it, because I suspected (correctly) that it would raise quite a bit of mess and dust. I didn't want to refit it to my blast cab, so I decided to find a way to use it outside.

    I bought a 2mil plastic tarp, 9x12, and laid it out on my driveway. I've heard that soda will kill your grass. I didn't want that for sure! After a summer of feeding, weeding, seeding, and pampering, the last thing I want is dead grass!

    So I put a heavy weight on each corner of the tarp, and set the tranny cases in the middle. I then taped a few 3x4 foot corrugated cardboard pieces together to form a windbreak, and a place for the soda to stay contained somewhat. I backed the vehicles down the driveway a 100 feet or so, and set up the blaster and went to town on the cases.

    It took a couple minutes to get the right media flow rate, but the blaster did a great job on the cases. When the job was done, I simply folded the sides of the tarp in on itself and threw it all in the trash. Done! But no...

    On the pavement was a white area all around the imprint of where the tarp lay. So I took my shop vac and vacuumed it as best I could. Then I took my leaf blower and blew down the driveway after that. I encountered very little dust after the vacuuming, so I felt that I did a good job on cleanup.

    After the area was cleaned up, I hosed out the tranny cases with a couple cans of Chemtool. Expensive, yes, but I don't use a parts washer in my shop (I'm scared of possible fire, and I'm very mindful of my shop solvents and chemicals). Besides, the chemtool cleans real good and no residue! :thumbsup:

    What did I learn?

    1. Soda blasting works great to remove paint, varnish, light oxidation. It will return your metal back to a raw look.

    2. Soda blasting is messy. You have to take precautions to keep it contained, because...

    3. Soda can be toxic to grass and vegetation.

    4. I also learned that the soda media itself isnt exactly cheap. A 50lb bag ran me about $38 USD.

    So here is what I will do. I'm going to either buy or build another blast cab specifically for the use of soda. I anticipate using it for carbs and cylinders and heads and thats about it. The cabinet itself really doesnt have to be bigger than 3'x3'x4', and that would be pretty huge. Again, a big shop vac with a drywall bag will handle the dust.

    Here's the blaster I got:


    Apologies for my verbosity, and thanks for reading! :)
  2. Higgy

    Higgy XS650 Addict

    Also, for what its worth, I just saw this cabinet while I was out on the HF site.


    I have one that is almost identical to this one, except I got it from grizzly about 20 years ago. What I may do is to buy this cab for my abrasive media, and convert my old cabinet to soda. Woot!

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