Have a blast!





I have always said that it is a blast to restore these old cars, especially a LaSalle or Cadillac. Of course, one of the main jobs in restoring is the cleaning up and rebuilding parts or components that you canít replace for love or money.


It is often said that in todayís modern iron shops they donít really have mechanics; they have professional parts replacers. Therefore, they donít really have to clean up the old parts. That doesnít work in restoration. You have to clean them up good, first of all, for a good inspection, then do your work and probably paint or resurface.


To do this cleaning, you need the obvious things such as wire brushes, steel wool, sandpaper, maybe paint remover, wire wheel, buffer, etc. One of the best aids you can get is a sandblaster. These come in a variety of sizes, from a small benchtop model to a large freestanding unit in which you can put a whole fender. If you really want to go all out, you can set up a whole enclosed room, complete with exhaust fan and rubber suit.


Of course, a lot of people get a small portable bucket type that you can use on the driveway or back yard. This type uses a lot of sand that isnít reusable. No matter what kind you get, it is going to take a lot of compressed air, and unless you have a good-sized compressor, you will spend a lot of time resting, waiting for your air to build back up. For most of you, a medium-sized benchtop unit will take care of a good share of your work.


Letís talk about using your sandblaster to get the maximum efficiency from it. First of all, clean the part up good with a scraper for the big chunks, then clean off the grease and dirt with a good parts cleaning solvent. If you use your wire wheel to partially clean the parts that are easy to get to, you will have less work for your sandblaster to do.


You do want to make sure that after the part is clean to your satisfaction, be sure to clean out all the sand by using air, solvent or even the garden hose. If you are going to paint the part, wipe it clean with lacquer thinner and let it dry. The surface from the sandblaster, if you did a good job, will make a very good paint surface with a real good finish. If you are not going to paint the part, you should spray or dip it in odorless mineral spirits and blow dry it with compressed air and/or heat gun to retard rust.


Most metals will show up a dull silver or the metalís natural color. If you want a darker color, you might go to a nearby sporting goods store or gun shop and get some gun bluing. Be sure you read the instructions carefully.


You can also use your sandblaster to etch glass and other surfaces by clever use of masking tape and leaving only the parts you want etched uncovered. The masking tape is soft and the sand will not touch the surface through the tape.


A word of caution: There are some soft surfaces you have to be very careful with as you can actually wear them away. Also, never use a sandblaster on any tempered metal, such as springs, as you can easily take the temper out.


If you already have a fairly good air compressor, you can get into a benchtop blaster for under a hundred bucks. Sand is usually available at your lumberyard; just be sure the bag says it is suitable for sandblasting.


The more you use your ďblaster,Ē the more of a blast you will have. The only way you will have a bigger blast is with the Fourth of July or a plate of beans.


See ya next month.