VapourBLASTing FAQs

What is Vapour Blasting ?
Vapour Blasting is a non-aggressive process which only removes the dirt, contamination and corrosion without harming or removing any of the parent material from the part being processed.  Please see the “What is Vapour Blasting” page for more detailed info.
The word ‘Vapour’ is used as the water based  slurry is atomised into a ‘vapour’ in the blasting nozzle and accelerated at the part to be cleaned with a large volume of relatively low pressure air.

What types of metals benefit from Vapour Blasting?
All metals can be process by Vapour Blasted with excellent results.  Aluminium castings in particular look “better than new” after this process.

What items can be Vapour Blasted?
Most alloy and aluminium mechanical components.  For example: cylinder heads, intake manifolds, turbochargers compressor housings, EFI throttle bodies, carburetors, motorcycle engine cases, cylinders and rocker covers, swing arms/suspension control arms, brake calipers and motorcycle hubs,  all benefit beautifully from the vapour blasting process.   Magnesium components are also able to be vapour blasted, but this material will not have the same attractive lustre as aluminium alloy based parts.  See our gallery for more examples.

How should I prepare my parts to reduce the cost AND get the best outcome?
Any factors that add to the time to process your parts will of course increase the cost.
Some preparation you can do to help reduce the cost before having your parts Vapour blasted include:
#1 Remove any paint.  Chemical stripper is my preferred method.
#2 Clean off any heavy buildup of grease or oil sludge.
#3  For best results, all components should be fully disassembled.
#4  Remove old gaskets
#5  Remove any silicon/RTV sealants.    Paint thinners work quite well.
#6 Some customers like me to also blast the fasteners that hold their parts together.  This adds no time (and hence no cost) at all if you screw the nuts/bolts back into the castings where they came from.  The added benefit is that blind tapped holes don’t fill with blast media 🙂

Do parts need to be degreased before Vapour Blasting ?
Yes!  Oil, grease and sludge must be removed prior to Vapour Blasting.
I cannot accept really filthy parts as they will contaminate my machine and have a negative effect on the quality of the work I do.

Does Vapour Blasting remove paint ?
Generally speaking, painted and powder coated parts must be stripped prior to Vapour Blasting.
Inexpensive rattle can paints are sometimes removed without too much difficulty.
Powder coat and 2-pack urethane paints are extremely tough coatings that the relatively gentle vapour blast process will not remove.
These paints must be removed prior to vapour blasting.  Some of my customers chemically strip their own parts.
Alternatively, I can sandblast some smaller painted parts prior to processing in the Vapour Blasting machine.
Please contact me for advice if you are unsure about the paint on your parts.

Why is Vapour Blasting better than the more common types of media blasting (i.e. Sand Blasting, Soda Blasting, Glass Bead Blasting) ?
Conventional blasting methods can embed abrasives into the metal and can create porosity on the surface.  This condition attracts and holds dirt and grease, making it nearly impossible to clean once soiled.  Aggressive dry blasting may also damage or erode the base metal.
Vapour Blasting eliminates media impingment, providing a peening effect to the surface so parts surfaces stay cleaner longer.  This picture illustrates the superior finish created by vapour blasting (right hand carb), compared to soda/sand or glass bead blasting (middle carb).

vs_dry_small

What appearance do different materials have after Vapour Blasting?
Different materials produce different results. Sand cast aluminium alloy parts look ‘better than new’, with an attractive, brilliant silver satin lustre or sheen.
Die cast parts usually have a matt silver finish, dependent on the quality of the casting and actual material used.
Stainless steel has a matt satin silver finish.
Brass, copper and bronze have a lovely bright finish in their natural colours.
The action of Vapour Blasting gently peens the surface of the metal, resulting in closing of the surface pores.  This has the effect of making the part easier to clean and resistant to staining by oil and dirt.  I have had customers tell me they are still amazed when they wipe a part clean that was blasted many years prior.

What is the blast media?
I use a fine grade, high quality sperical glass bead in slurry of water, with a very small amount of inhibitor added. The rapid flow of the water-based slurry cleans the part and ensures the media does not impregnate and contaminate the surface of the part as some dry blasting methods can.
Critical tolerances, surface finish, texture and machining marks are maintained as NO material is removed or stripped from the part.

Do you also offer traditional sand blasting service?
Yes, we can sand blast small parts, making them ready for you to paint.

Can you blast whole/assembled engines?
I prefer not to, but this is something I have, and will agree to do on a case by case basis on the understanding that the motor is to be disassembled and rebuilt afterwards.  Internal contamination with blast media is almost impossible to avoid, and will destroy the motor if it is run without disassembly and inspection (at a minimum!).   Please call or drop in to discuss this with me.

So what about steel and cast iron pieces?
Vapour Blasting will remove surface rust and restore cast iron to it’s original dark grey ‘as cast’ appearance. Exhaust manifolds, OEM intakes and conrods can be successfully restored to their original appearance.  We can also sand blast your small parts, brackets, nuts and bolts.

Will iron and steel parts rust after vapour blasting?
The vapour blasting media contains a flash rust inhibitor that will prevent flash rust on steel and cast iron parts.  For some parts I also aply a WD type spray to prolong the protection against rusting if the customer requests it.

What equipment is used for Vapour Blasting?
A specialised (and expensive) blast cabinet and a large capacity air compressor.  See HERE for more specific info.

What are some of its applications ?
Vapour Blasting can be used to remove carbon, contamination, grease/oils,  scale and rust etc.
Surface Preparation for bonding, polishing, welding, or coating.
It is a gentle process and it is therefore not effective at removing heavy duty paint products such as 2-pack urethanes or powder-coating.

Will it erode metal and affect dimensions or tolerances ?
No, one of the benefits of Vapour Blasting is that all critical surfaces and dimensions of components remain unchanged.

 

How should parts be packaged ?
In a word, well!  If your parts arrive damaged, I can’t be held responsible.   I will return parts received by mail in the same packaging you sent them in.
Click for Mail Order Instructions

What is the turn around time ?
Typically, most parts will be processed and be ready to return in 1 or 2 days.
Obviously parts received and returned via the post will take longer.
I will notify you when parts are received, processed and posted.
If you are sending your parts via post, I will send pics and ask for payment once they have been processed.

 

Must I disassemble assembled parts e.g. carburetors?
For the best outcome, yes, it is preferred.   After blasting an assembled carb, it will have to be disassembled and rebuilt to remove contamination and blast media anyhow.   So for the best outcome and more thorough cleaning it it best to disassemble it beforehand.
If you have a carburetor you wish to have processed, I prefer that you disassemble it, and only send me the parts you would like to have cleaned.  Generally this is just the larger castings from the carb.  Please keep the jets, diaphragms and springs etc. so I don’t lose them!

Will my parts be returned ready for reassembly?
I do my best to remove blast media from every part I process, however there is always the risk that some media residue may remain.  It is the customer’s responsibility to check that no traces of media remain, and that the cleaned parts are suitably clean and decontaminated prior to re-assembly after blasting.
I also ultrasonically clean parts with small passages after blasting to assist with media removal and to clean those areas that are beyond the capabilities of vapour blasting, such as carburetor idle circuits and accelerator pump nozzles.

What methods of payment are accepted?
Cash, EFT via internet banking and paypal.   If you are collecting your parts in person, I can only accept cash at this time.

What does your Vapour Blasting Service cost ?
The cost depends on the condition, level of contamination, shape and size of the parts you wish to have cleaned.
Air cooled motorcycle parts for example will take longer than a typical V8 intake manifold due to all the cooling fins.  I have large capacity machine which works quite quickly, so my fee is likely to be lower than any competitor who works to a similar hourly rate.
As an alternative to aluminium polishing, Vapour Blasting is a much less expensive process,
Please feel free to email pictures of your parts to me for a quote

 

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