My first go with the $70 Harbor Freight sandblaster went pretty well; I got a lot of paint off my two spare windshield frames but it didn’t do much to the heavier rust that was present. Doing some research on blasting media, I read that glass bead is much better at cleaning metal than soda, and that it’s also re-usable. So I went back to the Harbor Freight for a 35 lb. bag of 80 grit media and the Lowe’s for two cheap 33 gallon clear tubs, and fashioned an inexpensive blasting cabinet on my workbench in the garage. My test subjects were two spare valve covers I’ve had sitting in my stash, one with a desirable long fill neck: International used this cover in its large trucks but not in Scouts because the brake booster was directly in the way in the Scout engine bay. When I switched to Hydroboost I gained a bunch of space back in the engine bay, and should be able to swap this one out.
Once I had two holes cut in the sides of the top tub and found a spare plastic bucket to prop the covers on, I gave the glass a try. It was kind of scary how fast the paint came off. This media is much more aggressive than the soda. I had to add a hole in the top of the tub for the hose, and if I do this over again I’ll cut holes in the front of the bottom tub to make access easier. After dialing in the settings on the blaster, it cleaned both covers off quickly and cleanly. I cleaned a bunch of the grease from the inside of the fill cover and cleaned the mounting edge of each, and actually blasted the inside of the passenger cover. The driver’s cover needs to be washed out before I blast it properly.
Then I cleaned the spare dogleg I’ve been slowly working on, exposing all of the edges to get them ready for drilling out the spot welds. There’s a fair bit of seam sealer on there that I have to clean off, and then maybe I can pry the three sections apart to save the dogleg.
When that was all done, I had to spend a bunch of time cleaning up the mess. Two clear plastic tubs don’t mate up very cleanly, and opening and closing them tends to let a lot of the excess media blow around a bit. My workbench was heavily dusted in glass bead by the time I was done. I swept up the big piles into the collection at the bottom of the bin, and used some spare windowscreen to sieve out large pieces of debris from the used media. After two cycles, the media was clean, and reloaded it into the sprayer to go over the parts that still needed attention.
What I finished with looks better than I’d hoped it might: two valve covers that are ready for some finish sanding, an acetone bath, and then some International Red paint, courtesy of Ace Hardware. Then I’ll install them on the engine, where they’ll look like a painted French whore in a landfill.