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Friday, July 21, 2006

Fixed!

The sandblasting cabinet is fixed!

And not just fixed (though the repairs are still temporary), it's quite a bit improved. But let's start from the beginning....

I posted a pretty harsh assessment of our struggles with our sandblaster here some time back. I also wrote a displeased email to the European distributor, Matthys (The actual equipment is US-made by SkatBlast). I must admit that I really did not expect to receive any reply back, so I was dumbstruck to learn that not only had my blog posting really rattled the EU distrib, but it had also gone all the way back to the US and right up the ranks of the SkatBlast company. The Matthys folks wrote me a long and involved letter, and we ended up on the phone for some deep discussions of sandblasting juju. To my delighted surprise, SkatBlast and Matthys together agreed to "make it right", and to that end they sent me a crate-load of replacement parts, as seen in the photo above.

The total list of broken bits came to two vac motors, one feed tube, hoses, two vac bags, two new HEPA filters, new gloves, and a new floor pedal valve. All of which was replaced at no charge, despite the setup being out of warranty. I take back everything negative I said about SkatBlast and Matthys - I was really both surprised and taken aback that they were so willing to do all this. Alas, we didn't get any pay for the solid day it cost us to do all this rebuilding, but one can't have everything. I took the opportunity to do my compressor maintenance and change my window shield while I was at it, and in the end I practically have a whole new system.

This joins with my new media to produce a much-improved sandblasting experience. I just finished and posted two new bulldog blasts, and both of them were an absolute joy to finish - clear view, constant pressure, no media clogging... It was just a real blast, pardon my pun, to be able to have fun sandblasting again. For too long it has been a chore, driving me to finish more damned smooths than I really wanted to (I have nothing against smooths, but I do prefer blasts both for making and for smoking - more fun to finish, more fun to hold, IMO at least).

Although, sticking my arms in long, heavy rubber sleeves is such a joy in 94 degree weather.....

The downside of all this is that my discussions with Matthys turned up one frustrating fact - these cabinets just aren't made to work well with my previous choice of media. Even the stuff I'm using now is really too fine for the filter system, and it is very likely that eventually I will once again be looking at another vac motor failure. In the meantime, I hope to be able to save up enough cash to invest in another cabinet entirely, one better-designed for super-fine media, and use this one solely for heavy grit preliminary blasts.