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Project Barn Find AMX gets Blasted; Phase 7

Before you blast, prep and more prep.

Our Project Barn Find AMX has made another big leap forward in the last few days. Although we have continued to do little things to the car we recently had the entire exterior of the car Soda Blasted by a local company, Advanced Striping, who comes out to your site and does the work. The good part of this is you don’t need to send the car out or tow it off someplace. The bad news is, if you don’t live in a remote area you are going to have some very upset neighbors!

We should have done this blasting prior to doing the engine, engine compartment and underside of the AMX but that is what happens when you change direction in mid-project.

Baking soda is used as the blasting media and a large percentage of it turns into a extremely fine cloud the instant it it’s the car surface under high pressure. The preparation is considerably different than other more abrasive media. It was our first time using this process and it won’t be the last but we learned a lot on this project.

Here is one last look at where we started.

Baking soda will strip off the paint but will not damage soft surfaces like rubber nor will it damage glass, chrome or other unpainted trim. However, that does not mean you don’t have to protect areas and mask things off. Our Project Barn Find AMX is in driving condition and has a full interior still in it. That meant that we had to protect all of the painted surfaces under the hood and everything on the interior.

Strange but true the cowl vents are not removable so taping them up was a must. We actually had to take the plastic off as soon as we started and replace it with duct tape. Forget about plastic unless it is very thick.

When I say plug every hole and tape every seam I mean EVERY place twice. Use new masking tape or even duct tape in some places. If you are lucky the tape will hold up under the blasting and some paint will be left under it but the residual “white cloud” will not enter into as many nooks and crannies. You will never stop it all but try to stop as much as you can.

The inside of the car looked like it had snowed even with all of our prep.

The amount of blasting material required and the time it will take will depend to a great extent on the amount and type of paint on the car. Our Project Barn Find AMX had its original coat of AMC white lacquer with a coat of single stage red over that and then white tape stripes over the red. In some places the red paint came off extremely easy while in other areas it took a bit of work. The AMC white took much more work and the tape stripes were a real challenge. They actually should have been removed prior to the blasting. If I ever do this again to a car with tape stripes they will most certainly be removed prior to blasting.

For me it always hard to watch someone start to rip the paint off your car even if it isn’t the best paint ever.

As the process was nearing completion we were greatly relieved to verify that the body was just as sound as we had suspected. We discovered only one small area were a skim coat had been applied in the right rear quarter.

This entire process took a little over 5 hours. Some of that time was due to the tape stripes I had failed to remove. Soda Blasting is not the best or fastest way to remove tape.

Clean up was first done with a high pressure air hose to blow away as much of the powder as possible. This was done everywhere including inside the doors, engine compartment and anyplace with a hole or gap. This was followed by removing the tape from over the air vents in front of the windshield. On the AMX these are not removable as on most cars. We wanted to limit the amount of basting material entering the interior as possible. We left tape over the interior vents and blew the air into the exterior entry points. Once there was no more “white cloud” blowing back out the vents we moved on. Next, we went inside the car and did a shop vac clean up using the soft brush attachment and picked up most of the dust. We also did a quick wipe down and then started the heater blower and watched more dust come out. We ran this until it appeared most was gone. We followed up with another quick cleaning. Since we are going to replace 100% of the carpet and redo the seats we did not feel an extensive clean up was warranted at this time. We will likely use the heater blower many more times in an attempt to get all of the residue out of the ducts before the new interior is installed. Plus, Project Barn Find AMX still has to make a trip to the body shop for final prep and paint….read even more dust.

The finished project, cleaned up looks very straight and solid.

As for all that bare metal, the baking soda leaves a film on it that will prevent rust as long as the body is stored inside. Prior to paint the body must be cleaned carefully to remove this film or there will be paint issues in the future.

Recommendations:

My first recommendation…. Try not to soda blast a car in this condition. It can be successfully done but would be much easier earlier in the build. We chose early on not to take the paint off because we were originally not going to do a repaint immediately. We thought we would build it up and drive it for at least a year with the existing paint. Well, my pride and eagerness for a competed car got in the way of that idea so it will soon get a full repaint. If I had blasted the car when the engine was out I would have saved the cost of the prep on the engine compartment and the cost of doing some touch up work required as a result of some of the masking tape giving way to the baking soda and damaging the new paint!

The bondo in the right rear quarter is the only stuff in the entire body and it is a think skim coat.

I would also recommend using a putty type of material for smaller holes. I used masking tape on some emblem holes and windshield gasket material on others. Much of the small making tape coverings were simply blasted away but all of the windshield sealer tape stayed in place.

We put plastic bags over the tires and wheels. The tires really don’t need it and most wheels will not either unless they are painted or coated aluminum wheels etc. The plastic bags did not work at all. Something much more durable is required. Picking up some old spare tire covers out of the junkyard will work or even some old blankets might work. The powder will not hurt anything it is the direct force of the blasting you want to prevent.

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