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  • Blasting

    Not a machining question per se, but I thought I would find some good suggestions here. I'm restoring a '60s car, and have hundreds of small parts - nuts, bolts, washers, etc. -- to clean before painting or plating. I have a nice blast cabinet, but the gloves are thick and a little too large for me. This makes it almost impossible to pick up and manipulate small parts. Struggling to pick up a smallish bolt and dropping it twelve times, knowing that there are fifty more bolts to go makes me think evil thoughts.

    Is there a solution?

  • #2
    I would tumble that sort of part.... That's what tumble polishers are made for. Vibratory ones also. Both available even from HF, although their tumblers I have seen seem to suck bigtime, they are tiny.

    Assuming you do not have and do not want one of them........Lay the parts in a tray made of hardware cloth?

    Lets the "sand" go through, and you can shake the tray to get new surfaces to work on, if the blast foes not turn them over.
    1601

    Keep eye on ball.
    Hashim Khan

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    • #3
      I typically use fine glass beads for this,wanting to clean,but not risk pitting threaded fasteners.My solution is to do them in batches in one of these-

      https://www.ebay.com/i/273670228046?...SABEgLdv_D_BwE

      Blast a bit,stir them around,blast somemore,wash,rinse,repeat until you're happy.The parts stay contained and the glass beads fall through.

      Forgot to mention,if the parts are steel,stainless or brass and are also covered in dirt,grime,grease and or paint.The first step for me is a boil in degreaser.I have a couple electric single burner hotplates and some stainless 2 gallon stock pots.A gallon or so of water and a half gallon of Purple power or Zep degreaser followed by a hour or so boil takes care of all the dirt and grime and most forms of paint.

      This is best done outside,fumes and vater vapor etc.The heat makes them dry quickly after a rinse,then it's off to blasting.
      Last edited by wierdscience; 07-04-2019, 11:34 AM.
      I just need one more tool,just one!

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      • #4
        I would try a soak in degreaser, a bath in rust remover than a long tumble. If you want to blast, tap a length of something you can screw a bunch into to act as a handle
        in Toronto Ontario - where are you?

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        • #5
          A couple of things come to mind. A trick used to paint bolt heads is to punch holes in a piece of cardboard and stick the bolts through so that the heads are exposed. This might work for blasting as well, but I doubt the cardboard would last very long. A thin wooden sheet like 1/4" plywood might work better for blasting.

          Depending on the size of the bolts, J Tiers hardware cloth suggestion might work the same if you stuck the bolts through the holes in the cloth.

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          • #6
            Mashed the wrong button
            I just need one more tool,just one!

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            • #7
              I have this basket that worked well. I can't remember where I got it but something like it should work OK. I bought a motorized tumbler $$$ to install in the cabinet with its own air supply but still never got around to it. One could be made pretty easily.



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              • #8
                Same as Ridgerunner this old canning colander works great just shake it around while blasting Items.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by wierdscience View Post
                  Mashed the wrong button
                  JT's hardware cloth tray sounds good, but make the sides high. Sifting through the sand in the hopper for that irreplaceable small part can waste a lot of time.

                  I use a coffee can with both ends removed and circle of heavy gauge bronze window screen in the bottom for cleaning small parts. Something similar with a coarser mesh might work well for blasting.

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                  • #10
                    Thanks for your suggestions. I'll try boiling in degreaser instead of just soaking. Don't know why I didn't think of that.

                    I have both a rotary tumbler and a vibratory tumbler and have been disappointed with the results. I let some screws run all night in the rotary tumbler, and the next morning they were sort of clean, but not as clean as blasted. The vibratory tumbler makes too much noise to let it run all day/night, but after 3 or 4 hours, same result - not as clean as blasting. Am I doing something wrong? I'm using the Harbor Freight little green pyramids for abrasive material. Should I run them dry, or with water, or soapy water, or with something else? Or maybe a different abrasive? If the tumblers can get the parts really clean in a reasonable amount of time, that would be the easiest solution, but so far I'm not impressed with the results.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by alsinaj View Post
                      ...nuts... ...washers...
                      Anything with a hole in it, thread onto a piece of wire.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by alsinaj View Post
                        Thanks for your suggestions. I'll try boiling in degreaser instead of just soaking. Don't know why I didn't think of that.

                        I have both a rotary tumbler and a vibratory tumbler and have been disappointed with the results. I let some screws run all night in the rotary tumbler, and the next morning they were sort of clean, but not as clean as blasted. The vibratory tumbler makes too much noise to let it run all day/night, but after 3 or 4 hours, same result - not as clean as blasting. Am I doing something wrong? I'm using the Harbor Freight little green pyramids for abrasive material. Should I run them dry, or with water, or soapy water, or with something else? Or maybe a different abrasive? If the tumblers can get the parts really clean in a reasonable amount of time, that would be the easiest solution, but so far I'm not impressed with the results.
                        I have both HF bowl units,the little one is near about useless.The big one is much better IME,just for the fact that some liquid can be used.I'll add some black beauty blast media and Arm and Hammer laundry powder to the pyramids and add water to level.That works pretty well on larger bolts and nuts 3/8" and up,but smaller stuff it just diesn't do well.

                        I don't use it anymore for cleaning parts,I keep it soley for deburring/surface conditioning parts now,for that it works well.I find it easier and quicker to degrease and then blast for nuts and bolts.
                        I just need one more tool,just one!

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                        • #13
                          I have a food strainer, the kind that is wire mesh and a handle, I put the small parts in it and just shake it around as I blast it, works for bolts and other smalls all the time, very effective. Garage sale find for .25 cents ea. I've got 2 sizes for small and larger pieces.
                          Maybe we need to start a design for a DIY tumbler that works for this type of stuff? Anyone have one all made up to share?

                          TX
                          Mr fixit for the family
                          Chris

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                          • #14
                            Mr Fixit: How about this? Take a magnetic strainer like the one suggested by Weirdscience. Make a stand that fits inside the blast cabinet that has a free turning axle inclined at, say 45 degrees from horizontal. Stick the magnetic strainer on the end of the axle. It should be angled so that when the strainer is rotated with one hand, the parts in the strainer tumble, but don't fall out of the strainer. Using the other hand, aim the blaster gun at the parts. The media should fall through the strainer and recirculate.

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                            • #15
                              I used to Parkerize firearms, I glass-bead blasted every part before parking. For small screws, pins and bolts (up to about 1/4 in) I would drill suitable size holes in a thin (3/8" thick) piece of oak or maple. I was only interested in the head since that was the only part that showed. If the screw was a through one I could blast the other side sticking thru the wood. Odd shaped small parts (extracters and the like) would get wrapped into a piece of bailing wire fastened into a thru hole in the wood piece. The loose fit of the part in the wire wrap would ensure all parts of the piece were blasted, and I held onto the wood to hold the part.

                              Steve

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