Blast It!

1973 Datsun 240Z Resto-Mod

In a week I will be taking a week off of work to make a major push on getting the car ready to get painted. I had initially planned on having the car stripped professionally, but it’s looking like $4,000 when you factor in transportation and everything else, which is about double what I can swing. So I started snooping around the internet and found that it is possible to do a lot of that work one’s self in the garage / driveway.

The first thing I would need is something to strip the car. There are three major categories of options here: chemical stripping, abrasive blasting, or sanding. I’ll be doing all three. First, I bout a small abrasive blaster. Initially I had planned to use soda because it is gentle and environmentally friendly. The problem with soda, though, is that you have to do a ton of work to get the metal prepared to accept paint or you end up with several thousand dollars worth of labor and pain flaking off in a few months. So I ended up getting this little guy from Eastwood. It’s not the best one, but it isn’t bad and it isn’t expensive. I’ll be putting crushed glass in it, which is what I have found is the choice of several professional blasters whom I had considered hiring out for this job.

Next, I needed something to move the glass. The pros use compressors with 1″ nozzles and relatively low pressure with large CFM to prevent warping the body panels, but my little Eastwood blaster can’t handle either of those things (more on this later). To do that they have HUGE compressors with gigantic tanks (hundreds if not thousands of gallons of capacity). The best thing I could manage, given my available space, was a compressor less than 6′ tall and 36×36″ of floor space.

I settled on the North Star 60 gallon, 3 hp unit available at Northern Tool. This is supposedly one of the quietest compressors you can get at this size, and it turns out to be relatively mellow now that I have it working (more on this later, too.) I thought it was going to be really tough getting it off that pallet and into place, but it’s amazing what beer, some appliance moving straps sourced from a work friend and several friends can manage. Once in place I had to plumb and wire it in.

 

There were some difficulties getting this all done, like having to make a ton of trips back and forth to the hardware store to try to get all the tube lengths right, not having the right combination of fittings, and forgetting that my quick releases were 1/4″ and not 1/2″, but now it’s all set.

I have a 10′ x 20′ x 8′ wedding tent to do the blasting in my driveway, but that will probably only be for the card to get to spots. The body panels will be done with chemicals and sandpaper, but I’ll discuss that later. Right now I’m just super stoked to have a working air system in my shop (it’s not really a garage any more).

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