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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Annoying Side of Sandblasting

Much apologies for the delayed and scattered blog posts of late. We are into the countdown race to next month's bills, and I am in very high gear trying to pull us out of the hole. Thus, lots of pipemaking but little internet time.

The act of sandblasting is loads of fun. I love the feel of the blaster and it brings back memories of everything that I enjoyed about airbrushing... but also all the annoyances that go with it. When we moved here in 2002, we purchased our Skatblast sandblasting cabinet and all of our hoses and accessories from Matthys. It has not been a pleasant experience in quality, compared to my previous system in the US. I used my original equipment hard, and it consistently delivered. This system, unfortunately, has been trouble from the story of its installation (See entries for October 15th, November 6th, and December 4th).

Through the course of four years of use, we have replaced the vacuum motor once, had the replacement fail, tossed the entire vacuum for a newer and supposedly improved replacement vacuum, replaced two sets of gloves due to them wearing through and developing holes (which never happened with my previous cabinet gloves), and we've done ongoing battle with the poor-quality air tubing that Matthys supplied. For the past six months, it became a regular occurence to hear a pop from the workshop, and find that a hole had blown in the tubing and compressed air was blowing around wildly.

Finally, after lots of wasted time cutting and patching the hose, we had to replace it. I do not plan to order anything from Matthys again, if I can help it, because of my bad experiences with their products, but this meant searching out replacement bits en français... which turned out to be no problem at all! A quick trip through the phone book turned up several local compressor shops, and a little bit of driving and asking questions led us to a wonderful professionals-only supply store in St. Nazaire, where we bought a much tougher replacement hose (Made in France, I must note, while the one that fell apart was made in the USA. Imagine my annoyance!). The last hour has consisted of me crawling around in scattered sandblasting media, tightening clamps and fiddling with the system from end-to-end in the eternal quest for the mythic land of No Leaks. It's so nice to be productive with my time....... :/

And did I mention the hole that opened in the cabinet's media tube, that I had to patch with duct tape?

I look forward to the day when I can boot this irritating cabinet out the door (and its little vacuum too!) and replace it with a better unit, possibly something from Cyclone. Oh yes, and did you notice the hammer in the photo above? It's there for the really delicate repairs....