Blasting in Calgary

I just spent a 30 minutes doing something that was hugely satisfying in a weird kind of way – sand blasting !

The background is that I I needed to clean up some parts for my Suzuki GT750 project (the ‘home’ site for the GT750 rebuild project is here) for welding and painting, and with all the nooks and crannies it was taking far too long to sand the parts down. I have an air compressor, and actually tried out a cheap sand blasting unit from Princess Auto, but several things gave me pause:

  • you really need a lot of air for it to work well
  • the mess made by all the sand flying about is amazing
  • it is not good for the lungs – actually if you want to do this sort of thing, you need either a fully enclosed cabinet for smaller items, or a full head cover with external air feed to pressurize the hood to ensure you aren’t breathing silica dust and paint chips when blasting larger items

Bottom line – not recommended mainly due to safety concerns unless you are willing (and able) to invest the money in the right safety and compressor equipment.

One of the fellows in the RMS branch of the CVMG had mentioned to me, that there was a local outfit here in Calgary offering do-it-yourself sand blasting by the hour so I thought I’d give them a try. Consolidated Compressor is in the east industrial area of Calgary and the rates are quite reasonable. They have about 8 stations, and on any given day you will find several people happily blasting away as per the photo to the right. As I was new to this, one of the folks there stepped me through the ‘how tos’ before I got started. It isn’t a difficult process – basically just point and shoot, taking care not to get parts of your own body in the way ! They supply instructions, gloves and ear plugs, a fully enclosed helmet with external air supply, work areas where you can clamp your work, and all the compressed air and sand you need. Long sleeves and long trousers are a must, and as well it is also a good idea to not park your car too close, just in case you point things in the wrong direction ! The process is fast – paint, rust, etc., just flew off the work pieces I had, and the resultant bare metal finish is ready to go for paint or additional metal working as required.

I have to assume the same sort of service is available in other cities, and if not then that’s a shame because its a great idea !

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