Tuesday, February 6, 2018

New Year, New Tools

Over the course of the last 6 months or so, we've picked up some new skills and a couple new bigger shop tools to power them. Today's post goes over some.

Boo power washing back deck
About a year ago, Boo wanted to power-wash our concrete. You read that right: she wanted to. She was not asking me to do it nor solve for it; she wanted to be the person doing the washing. She looked at renting one, and they run around $300 per day. On a whim, she looked at the Bi-Mart mailer, and they were selling them for, get this, $295. So, she went and got it, got a 2-gallon of gasoline and power washed the rear deck, the back patio, the front side walk and some of the driveway. She has since used it on the back patio again, and I'll be washing the siding when the weather warms back up. I've thought about how I could use this tool on the cars, but figured it would probably do more damage than anything. I've read about folks using a power washer to strip paint. I may experiment with that when I re-paint the bumpers on Hapy.

Set for floor, I think
If you've been reading this blog, you know that over the Summer of 2017 (read: MGB - floor pans 1, 2, and 3), we played with a MIG. It all started when we discovered floor-rot in the MGB. To resolve, we borrowed a MIG from our good friend Travis. He is a welder by trade and has a few of them at his disposal. Truth-be-told, he'd rather have a TIG welder, but the MIG is so handy (or appropriate) for some jobs, that it will soon be back in his shop. We really had fun, and have used it on a few smaller things since the floors. While we don't expect to use it on the Z or again on the MGB, there's always a use for a welder. Once it goes back to Travis, I'll be adding it to my list of tools to add once i have space.

Soda Blaster
C wanted to get the paint off the Z. He started with a grinder. That's dirty, but dry. And loud. And slow. Then, he tried Airplane Paint Stripper. Still dirty, but wet. And nasty-stinky. But a little faster. We have watched videos and television shows on Velocity where the project car rolls in, gets taken apart and then "sent off to blasting". After the commercial, the car comes back completely stripped of paint and rust. Sometimes the body is in pretty good shape, but usually the blasting exposes all of the history: old dents which were "cave and paved", rust that ate through and interesting cheap body shop repairs. Seeing that magic, we figured we wanted to get some of that.

HF Soda Blaster
First, we looked at renting one. These run at $325US a day, and the only outfit around here is an hour across town. So, we could get up at 6:AM, pick it up at 7:AM, be home by 8:AM and then blast until 3:30 when we tear the machine down, pack it up and haul back over to the rental shop which closes promptly at 5:PM. Arriving after 5 means you pay an additional day. So for 7.5 hours, the rental runs at around $46.50 an hour, and that assumes you don't stop for lunch. AND, you need to buy your own soda (at $40US per 50# bag). Blasting an entire car would probably take 3 bags, so at this point, one fun day of soda blasting (plus 4 hours of combined travel time) is just under $450US.

When we bought the power washer, it was virtually the same thing as what we would have rented. Clearly, that was a good move. The soda blaster, however, is a little different. The fancy rental was almost 3 times what a Harbor Freight blaster cost ($135US), so we bought one, with a dead-man valve and some extra nozzles. And a 50# bag of large soda.

The nozzle on our blaster is really small, and while it does effectively remove paint or grime from metal, it is much slower than I expected. In doing research, I've learned that these are much slower than sand-blasting, and that's by design: the soda is much less harsh both on the environment and on the target material. We have decided that the soda blaster is probably best suited for sensitive areas where you can't get after the paint with a grinder. We may circle-back and try the power washer too, to see if we get better results in shorter time with that. One last concern is the need to properly treat the metal which was stripped by the soda. The soda changes the surface pH, which helps prevent rust, but also gets in the way of paint or primer adhering to it. There are a few different ways to solve for this, but first pressure wash the soda-blasted areas to get all of the residue off. Then, it is recommended to use something like HoldTight 102 to address the pH shift.

Capacity Reached
I've mentioned our limited space, and while it's a "first-world problem", it's still a problem. We are now leveraging a small garden shed for storing thing, like the power washer and the soda blaster. I think the acquisition of any new large tools will need to wait at least until we are down to one car in the garage. We may need to consider a larger shop somehow.

That's it for this week. Thanks as always for following along. I think I'll have made sufficient traction on one or more of the projects to be able to get back to posting on them.

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