Media Blasting on the Cheap
Media blasting is something everyone as a need for at one time or another. It may be your entire car or simply an alternator bracket. The problem is that buying all the equipment can get very expensive. One size does not fit all. If you are doing a car you need a heavy duty system, if you are doing small parts you need a blasting cabinet and depending on the size of the part, it may not fit into a small cabinet.
Then there is the air compressor. Units large enough to handle most blasting requirements will cost over five hundred dollars and possibly as much as several thousand. It is not just the maximum air pressure that you need to consider it is the amount of air that it can flow, CFS. Some blasting systems require more CFS than others. If you aren’t using a cabinet you also need protective gear for your hands and eyes at a minimum.
While shopping for a larger system I ran across a cheap portable system for some immediate needs. My brother-in-law said I could borrow his portable blaster that he picked up at a garage sale for almost nothing. It is an older Craftsman unit that is all self contained.
I had a surplus of wheels and wanted to mount a variety of tires on them to be able to quickly change from white letter tires to white walls on our 69 Ford Talladega. The “as from the factory” tire wheel combination included white wall tires but most people today prefer the whiter letter combination. My surplus wheels were not in great shape but just needed a blast and spray to do the job.
I took the wheels outside the shop, laid them on the ground, filled the blaster with media, hooked it up to my portable air compressor, put on the protective gear and blasted away. This particular blasting unit has a small spray pattern but does a good job of stripping the wheels of the old paint and rust.
The next step was a wipe down, primer and paint. I did a full set of wheels in less than a couple of hours and they were ready for tires.
Total investment was just a few dollars for paint and media. I have no idea what the blaster cost but it was most likely less than $25 at the garage sale. There are also newer versions of these kinds of blasters that can be purchased for under $100. I can’t speak for their quality or durability but for small jobs on a budget they should be fine. As for an air compressor, I assume you have at least a small portable unit and it should handle this type of blaster but if you are going out to purchase one make sure you check the CFS output before putting you money down.