View Full Version : Media blaster or a variable speed sander buffer?
06-19-2006, 08:36 PM
Help! I have three project cars that I will be painting (one at a time of course). They are all classic muscle cars that will need stripped to the metal. I am trying to decide if I should purchase a Brut media blaster or use a variable speed sander buffer as described in a previous thread. I like the versitility of a media blaster for use on floor/trunk pans and subframe if I take it that far. In addition the 69 chevelle has substantial surface rust where the paint faded away and the vinyl top was removed.
--Will a Brut media blaster perform well or will it disappoint?
--Is a media blaster better that sanding when it comes to surface rust?
--As an amateur will the media blaster be too difficult to master?
--Because I have 3 cars will the investment pay off?
Thanks in advance for your ideas and experience.
06-19-2006, 10:36 PM
I'll try to some up my experience (and answer some of your questions).
I've found a Variable Speed Polisher/Sander with the right abrasives (disk or wheel) to be alot faster at removing paint than sand blasting and perfer that method for doing so.
I've also found using a sand blaster to be more effective and quicker at removing rust when used correctly.
Media blasting will require lots of air (a 60 gallon tank may do) but if your talking about doing an entire car or several then I'd be looking at 80 gallons. Don't even try it a cheapie 25/30 gallon model, it's an excercise in fustration. SPot blasting is less taxing on the compressor however.
There is also always the risk of warpping the panel(s) when blasting so one has to take care.
I've never used a Brut Pot Blaster but have used others and it if you don't have a good one, with clean dry sand, you will be spending more time fighting to get the damn thing to spray then actually doing any work.
Media blasting is dangerous physically, should you manage to aim the nozzle at yourself and you do not want to breath the dust (and brother there will be plenty).
Media blasting is also extermely messy. The sand and resulting dust go every where and it becomes like a cloud if you don't have good ventilation where your working.
Lastly media blasting is very uncomfortable. Because of all the health hazards I just mentioned, you need a kit (which includes a respirator, full hood and mask which covers you down to about your chest, some heavy work golves, and some type of overalls). Hopefully it will be cool where you intend to work if not you will be sweating and fogging up the mask while getting covered in girt.
Those then are the reason's I'd prefer to keep blasting to minimum and just use the polisher/sander. Could you get the hang of it? I don't see why not.
The media blaster will only be a good investment if you intend to use it past these projects or if you feel you can strip the paint/rust from the current projects faster then with the sander/polisher.
06-20-2006, 12:16 PM
It answered a question I had too.
06-20-2006, 09:12 PM
Glad I could help. As a aside, most production shops up my way don't media blast entire body's/or frames themselves. They farm the work out to companies that do nothing else.
Stan (in NC)
06-22-2006, 07:43 PM
Sand blasting large flat panels or even fenders is not a recommended way to strip them. It creates heat and warps the panels and also work hardens the metal. Media blasting is another thing(different type of media used). If it were me and I had a place to farm it out to, and could afford it I would go with media blasting (walnut shell, baking soda,or plastic media). I don't have these around here (place or money) so I strip with a disc, spot blast small rusted areas and cut out and replace large badly rusted areas. I have a sand blaster that I do use in small areas and floors ect. but as Roch_Greg said the sand goes everywhere and will come out when you least expect it to or need it to, and I have a fresh air breathing system for sand blasting.
06-24-2006, 04:11 PM
Greg and Stan thanks for responding I really appreciate your feedback. However, I still can't make up my mind. Maybe if I ask more questions it will help.
--Stan, I would only blast with the appropriate media. Why can't I duplicate what a local media blaster will do for $700?. I certainly don't want to look back 7 years from now and say wow I have spent $3,000 on media blasting I should have just invested in a blaster.
--Would you agree the the media blaster will be usefull for the subframe and floor pans? How about the tight spots on the body where you can't get a sander?
--Is there anyone reading these threads that is sorry they own a media blaster? I am interested in knowing if anyone has been successful at this and what equipment do they have?
--Why does the autobody store sell media blasters if they are not worthwhile?
--As I read my own response it seems like I have already decided to purchase a blaster but I am looking for feedback from someone who has had success. This is not wrecks to riches and I do not have a $40,000 budget so I would prefer not to spend $700-$1000 to media blast a car I purchased for $2,500. Yet I want a 5 star restoration.
Stan (in NC)
06-24-2006, 08:22 PM
I have a 40 lb pressure sand blaster that I use. It would be no problem using it on floor pans and subframes. I use a cheap $15 suction blaster that I got at Home depot for those small tight areas that you cant get to. Remember in those small areas you are still going to have to get it there with some sand paper sooner or later. I have a 2 stage compressor with 80 gal tank and 23 cfm of air at 90# and the sand blaster makes it run continuously. The only drawback I see about the media other than sand is the cost of it. It uses a lot of product fast. If you had an area where you could recover it for re-use it would keep your expense down substantially. Another thing to consider is you have to have absoloutely dry air for blasting. I'm NOT saying don't buy one, just trying to give you some information on it. Even if you farm out your major stripping, the sand blaster is still a handy thing to have. Another thing to consider is your breathing apparatus. I think I mentioned it before. I have tried the face respirator in the past and it was clogging up on me even with the sand blasting hood on. I now use a Hobby Air II supplied air system and have a dedicated hood just for sand blasting.
I own and use two different sandblasters. One is a 100# and the other bigger one we use for more commercial type stuff is around 400#. We sandblast virtually every thing that comes in our shop needing paint. I have done frames, fender and numerous body parts with the 100# machine and have never warped anything yet. You do have to be carefull with your choice of media and the pressure you run your blaster at. I have two 5 hp compressors, for the smaller blaster but the 2nd compressor virtually never runs. The nice part about sandblasting is getting in tight places and taking out old paint and rust and doing a good job. If that's the route you take just be carefull and watch what your doing, but I think you'll be happy with the results.
06-25-2006, 12:16 AM
My post to your thread was to outline some of the pitfalls of using a media blaster (we will say the media is sand for the moment) on body panels.
However they are well known (as others have pointed out) and if you feel comfortable with that and can overcome them then go for it.
Stores sell them cause they are popular and when used properly in the right environment with the right protections they are a very effective tool at removing rust and paint. Clean the panels up with a metal treatment of choice and your ready to lay some primer (not withstanding any body work).
Lastly I want to try an help you with the fence your on. I love working on cars (autobody, mechanical, etc) and have plenty of tools I've brought that cost a arm and a leg yet I've used them only once or on a certian project I was working on.
The deciding factor for me is whether or not that tool is what I need to get that particular task/job at hand done right with the least amount of struggle.
After that I don't care how long it sits in the shed/garage/closet un-used. It served it's purpose and therefore worth the price of admission.
I have my limits though. I won't pay $1,000 or several thousand for something I know damn well I never use again and I can pay someone who already has the tools to do it for less.
Just my .02 Cents
I was called to estimate a 65 Mustang restoration project and when I went to the owner's garage he had sandblasted to remove the paint. It took about 10 seconds to determine that the car was warped so bad that the cost of repair was far beyond what the owner wanted to spend. He thought that he was saving himself time and money by blasting off the old paint but he ended up selling the car because he couldn't find anyone to do the body work at a price he could afford.
Blasting is a good alternative when the right person using the right media and the right equipment is doing the job. We were taking our stripping to a blaster in PA where they were plastic media blasted but after we started using our Makita with the Norton disks we found that we could do them in-house for a fraction of the cost. We still use a small blaster to get into tight spots or we may use a little chemical stripper if we don't want sand all over the place but the Makita can do almost all of the job.
Check out the Strip and Repaint page below, it's the way we now do almost all of our stripping.
Strip and Repaint Link (http://www.autobodystore.com/strip_&_paint.htm)
06-27-2006, 08:15 PM
Hey everyone thanks for all the input. Greg, I don't know if you intended the "Pitfall" reference but I thought it was great! I have decided to use the variable speed buffer/sander method. I have a 69 Chevelle that I bought from the second owner and the paint has never been touched. After I strip it, I will report back on how long it took a novice with this method.
Len I love this website!!
06-27-2006, 11:56 PM
Good Luck and I'm sure you'll find it easier than you thought it would be (get the norton disks or similar).
Don't forget the proper eye protection.
06-28-2006, 01:15 AM
I used a combination of paint stripper, DA sander, and sand blasting to strip my '59 El Camino. It had a LOT of paint on it, so my DA was taking too long. Using the paint stripper got the bulk of it off, then I cleaned it up with the DA. All the jambs and nooks and areas that would be tough to clean otherwise, I used the sand blaster. You can see by the pic that I did it outside in my driveway. There was no major dust problem. I scooped up the sand (silica play sand from the hardware store) and filtered it through a spaghetti strainer to get the crud out so I could keep re-using it. No need to have 200 pounds of sand out in the driveway! I don't know what this blaster cost, as I borrowed it, but I can't imagine it was too expensive.
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