1/18/2004: Bead Blasting

Over lunch, I went out to New England Silica and bought a 50 lb bag of #10 glass beads for $24.00.

Glass bead is a relatively gentle media. It’s usually used for cleaning parts, but generally will not touch rust. It’s gentle enough to use on aluminum surfaces, leaving them clean, but not rough.

Here’s an example of what it does:

(in the first picture i’d started on the right-hand piece, in the second i’ve finished cleaning both)

It erases the corrosion, but doesn’t smooth out any scratches or surface imperfections that exist on the surface of the part. It’s interesting to see all the casting imperfections in these parts.

The parts are left with a slightly matte texture, but nothing objectionable. And of course it can be polished if that look is desired.

I’m currently trying to decide how to best protect these pieces from immediately re-corroding. I think i’ll try Eastwood’s Diamond Clear paint. Not sure yet though.

In the process of blasting, i started to have some problems with my blasting cabinet- it just wasn’t doing much. I took apart the blasting nozzle and found a piece of metal was wedged inside, partially blocking the flow of grit. Also the trigger valve was jamming up, so I oiled it to get it moving again. I also ordered a better quality replacement from TP Tools. Switching to their pickup tube made such a big improvement, i decided to go the rest of the way and switch over the blasting gun as well.