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Unsolicited Testimonials from Awesome Customers
I received the head and carbs yesterday... they look amazing. Its hard to believe they looked any better when the bike rolled off the show room floor 38 years ago.
Thanks again for blasting these and turning them around so quickly.
I am sure I will be reaching out to you in the future for additional jobs.
Jordan M. - Watsontown, PA
"Got it today and I have to tell you, it looks amazing!!! Like a brand new head. Thanks a lot Brad! If there is anyone who asks where I got it done I will not hesitate to send the business your way. Outstanding and your customer service is better than I could have ever asked for. Great job and thanks again!
Eric H. - Birmingham, MI
Gill - Columbus, OH
Got the stuff yesterday. Opened it up today and was blown away how beautiful everything looks."
Locke H. -San Mateo, CA
Fantastic work!!!! The parts are better than I expected - and I
expected a lot!"
Michael G. -NY
Go to forums.sohc4.net to check out Michael's CB550 project, view comments, and see his vapor blasted cases.
Just wanted to let you know i got the head back yesterday and it looks absolutely amazing! I was completely floored by the difference.
Thanks so much. I will definitely be sending you more parts."
Jeff W. -Washington DC
The Bultaco cover below illustrates the difference between an original weathered finish, dry media blasting and a vapor blasted finish. Click on the photo for a full size image.
1. Vapor blasting: What it is and is not.
First, let me begin by saying that vapor blasting is a finishing process, and not a cleaning process. However, I do offer cleaning and hot tanking at my shop. I can remove greasy dirt, oil, baked on oil, grime, gaskets, and paint. Removing silicone and 2 stroke case sealant is a challenge, but can be done. Additional per hour charges apply for cleaning. Removal of carbon and dried dirt is included in the cost of vapor blasting.
Vapor blasting is like metal polishing, anodizing, or plating, in that it is a finishing process. Due to the nature of the process, cleaning does occur, but that is not the objective of vapor blasting. Just as with other finishing processes, preparation is key to a quality vapor blasted finish.
Vapor blasting is a process that was developed during the second world war. It was initially used in industry to create surface tension in parts to strengthen them. Rolls Royce used it to strengthen turbine blades before assembly into jet engines. It is also referred to as liquid honing, or wet blasting. The British spelling is vapour blasting, and it is quite popular there for bike restoration. The process uses water, micro beads, mild cleaning agents, and air. These components are mixed into a slurry and propelled at high speed toward the surface of a metal part, such as aluminum, brass, as well as mild steel. It seals the surface, resulting in cosmetic enhancement and imparts a micro finish that helps it resist further staining and oxidation. The water component of the slurry provides a hydraulic cushioning effect to soften the microbead's impact on the metal's surface. Working together, they provide a gentle, and somewhat time consuming process that peens the metal surface and leaves a bright lustrous satin finish. Finishes vary from alloy to alloy and manufacturer to manufacturer, but all are good. Aluminum castings in particular are well suited to this. See the vapor blasting photo gallery to view some of the work I have done.
2. Deoxidizing, and Vapor Blasting at Arnold's Design
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3. Vapor blasting process and Bead blasting vs vapor blasting:
I take a lot of pride in my finishes. It took a good deal of time and effort to refine this process to the point where I felt it was good enough for my customer's parts. I want to maintain a good reputation, plus I'm a bit of a perfectionist. I have tried my best to emulate the spectacular finishes that I have have read about and seen by accomplished English craftsmen. If you have ever seen the works of R.D. Cox and Sons, or TSR Vapour Blasting Services out of England, you will see what I mean. A three step process is necessary to make my finishes look the best they can. First of all, everything has to be painstakingly prepped, i.e, any light cleaning, deoxidizing. Here is an example of how a cylinder might look like when it comes into my shop. This part came to me clean to begin with, which was greatly appreciated, as it was bead blasted by someone else. As you can see, bead blasting leaves a somewhat satin finish. However, it simply does not come anywhere close to the finish that is achieved during vapor blasting.
The second step in the process involves deoxidizing the part. This is critical. Old aluminum parts become encased in aluminum oxide over time, especially parts exposed to weather which can accumulate a substantial layer. Aluminum oxide rates a 9 on Mohs scale of hardness. With talcum being at 1 and diamond at 10 on this scale, you can imagine just how stubborn this can be to remove. Glass beads are 5.5 on Mohs scale; not quite hard enough to break through thick oxide layers for effective finishing. That being said, glass beads do still remove light oxides due to a process called erosion, but it is very slow, and largely inneffective on heavy layers of aluminum oxides, which tends to be the case on castings that have weathered decades of environmental exposure.
The next photo shows the same part after masking and deoxidizing.
Lastly is the actual vapor blasting stage. This is where the parts are proofed. Sometimes it is necessary for me to repeat the previous step if I don't think the finish is good enough due to some lingering oxides. Only when the part is bright and velvety do I do the final rinse and dry them off. After that I do an inspection of all the surface geometries to check for finish uniformity. If I see an inconsistency, I mark it, and it goes back into the vapor blaster to be redone. This last step can take a lot of time, but it is worth it in the end, don't you think?
4. Soda Blasting Doesn't Cut It . . . Literally
A while back, I read on a forum where someone recommended soda blasting in place of vapor blasting to get the same finish. This is incorrect. Don't get me wrong, soda blasting is a great medium for cleaning. It is very good for thin parts too, because it doesn't build up heat and warp the part. Though it can remove some oxides, it simply doesn't have the physical characteristics and hardness necessary to cut through heavy oxide layers and leave a satin finish like you get with vapor blasting. If you want to have your parts soda blasted before I get them, that's fine. I actually encourage it, because they will be nice and clean when they arrive here, but I most likely will still need to remove oxides.
5. How much does it cost?
I make every attempt to be as upfront with customers as I can. My shop rate is comparable to what you might expect from a sand blasting or soda blasting shop. Bear in mind, my process uses three steps: Cleaning, abrasive pre-blasting, and vapor blasting, so I have to charge for each step. If you can have any of the first two steps done before parts are sent to me, it will reduce your expenses somewhat. How much will depend on the quality of the prep work. There is no way to determine that until the customer's parts arrive here. Pre-blasting needs to be done properly, preferably with 180 mesh or higher, aluminum oxide, or fine crushed glass. It has to have a consistent finish with no spots or other evidence of corrossion. Otherwise, I will have to go over it again when I get it, and charge accordingly. Because of the variability in what I receive, I have to quote high sometimes. Email me for a quote. B.email@example.com
My prices are a reflection of how much time it takes me to do a high quality job. To me, your parts aren't about getting production quotas. It's about getting your parts to look the best they can, so your bike, car, or antique treasures will stand out from the rest. Putting my prices online will allow competitors to undercut my prices, so I have gone to a request for quote format based on my shop rate. Before you go to a rock bottom priced competitor, ask yourself how they can do a job so cheaply. Look at their finishes. Just because a guy buys a vapor blaster, doesn't mean they know how to use it properly, anymore than buying a welder makes you a good welder. Blasting, like tumbling, is an umbrella term that includes many pressures, media sizes, nozzle sizes and additives and not all finishes are the same.
My guarantee: I conduct business by the golden rule. I treat you as I would want to be treated myself, and pledge to do my best work on your parts, and am always trying to improve my process. If ever you are not satisfied with the finish I provide, let me know within 30 days, and I will return your money and shipping expenses, or do the job over, including shipping. It has never been an issue, but I would rather hear from a customer personally, rather than find out on an internet forum that I let someone down.
6. How do I get my parts vapor blasted?
- Get all the parts together you want vapor blasted. Make sure the parts will fit through my cabinet door. See Figure 1 at the bottom of this page for dimensions.
- If your parts need cleaning, let me know so I can put it in the quote.
- Payment can be done several ways. Paypal, check or money order.
- Ship your parts to me. Be sure to package the parts well, with cushioning on all sides with crumpled kraft paper, cellulose wadding, peanuts, bubble wrap, shredded paper, etc. If you shake the box and can hear things moving and bumping around, then there isn't enough cushioning. Pack it tight. Tip: Keep the box as small as possible and as light as safely possible. It will reduce your shipping fees. Send your parts to:
5360 Montmorenci Rd.
Ridgway, PA 15853
Please, no hand deliveries at this time, or vapor blasting while you wait.
Due to increased demand during the last year especially, I've had to implement a couple new guidelines for my restoration business.
1. I don't have the option of being able to vapor blast a customer's parts while they wait. This is due to most orders taking more than a day to process. If you have an order that needs to be turned around more quickly than my average time, let me know and I will do my best to accomodate you. Additional fees for rush service may apply, depending on job size.
2. At this time I have to ask that customers send in parts instead of dropping them off. I work by myself and spend most of the day vapor blasting. Because I wear ear protection, it's almost impossible to know when customers arrive. Even when I know someone is here, in most cases I can not walk away from a part during vapor blasting to attend to them. There's a high risk of surface discoloration when parts are left wet in the cabinet, and I have to start the part over again. On large parts, this could take an hour or more. Thank you for understanding.
7. Important! Before you send your Parts:
Parts should be disassembled. Only the things you want vapor blasted should be sent. All moving parts, such as seals, bolts, gears, shafts, valves, rockers, ball/roller bearings, keepers, floats, jets, etc, should be removed. I can't vapor blast engine parts until they are removed. Abrasive hides behind these items and causes problems during processing, and reassembly. Sleeve bearing are ok. Only the castings should be sent. I prefer cylinder studs removed, but if they can't be removed, I can work around them. They will add to your shipping costs in many cases because of the extra volume. To avoid additional cleaning fees, please have parts at least reasonably clean when they arrive, i.e. free of grease, and grime. I can take care of light oil, and carbon. If you do need me to do heavy cleaning, I charge by the hour.
To avoid additional cleaning costs, remove silicone and case sealant before sending if you need them removed. This is especially true for 2 stroke case sealant. Vapor blasting will not remove it. It requires manual removal, and can add a lot of time to the process. Methylene chloride based paint strippers will soften it, but it still requires hand work. If you don't mind having interior sealant remaining afterward, let me know, and I will blast over and around it. It won't be seen after assembly.
If the part is corroded to the point where it is badly pitted, keep in mind that these pits will not disappear during vapor blasting. In fact, it will most likely make them more prominent, especially on a large smooth surface. On a rough surface with a lot of facets or intersections, though, you can probably get away with it.
8. How to further protect your vapor blasted investment
I get asked a lot by customers how long a vapor blasted finish lasts. Like a lot of things, there is no simple answer. It depends on the environment the part is going to be subjected to. A vapor blasted finish is very durable, and I have examples of my work sitting inside a marginally heated non climate controlled shop since 2008 that look like the day I blasted them. If you have a bike or car that is mostly for show, or will be ridden in mostly decent weather, then the finish will last for many years. If you think the parts will be subjected to harsher conditions, like humid long term outdoor storage, road salt, salty air, or muddy off roading, you might want to consider an additional coating. Two coatings that I highly recommend are:
ACF-50. Also recommended by Brit vapor blasting shops, it is a spray-on ultra thin anti corrosion lubricant compound developed by Lear Aircraft that offers 24 month corrosion protection, and is also used to protect aircraft structures from deteriorating.
The other product is ProtectaClear, which is more of a harder type coating. It doesn't yellow like laquer does, can withstand a fair amount of heat, and is also recommended for automotive clear coating.
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