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Old 03-18-2005, 10:10 AM
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Media Blasting- Viable Business?

After trying to find a few quotes for media blasting, I find my area is severely lacking this service. This spells OPPORTUNITY to me. I am contemplating opening a shop that would a.) sand blast, b.) plastic media blast, c.) soda blast and d.) Epoxy prime.

The body shop guys can help steer me here, but I am quessing that to strip the paint off a car would take about 48 shop hours. Considering the bodymans time and overhead, would cost $2,000.00 minimum shop's COST. (Not customer cost) I feel that I could media blast a car in 16 man hours.

The cost for soda is higher than other media, as it fractures, and it's a "one time use" product. Plastic media could be reused. Same with sand. So materials cost would have to factored in. The nice thing is the car could be sealed almost as soon as it's exposed.

I may be canvassing some of the shops to see how viable it is, but I don't want to get them thinking about starting it themselves. Hence my post here.

So , body shop owners, what would (or what are) you paying to get this done. Or have you considered doing it? I am trying to formulate a plan of attack, and seeing if this is even viable. I am well versed in running business and employee relations. Finding someone I can trust to blast or paint is easy enough for me. I know of a bunch of retired hotrodders and even moonlight painters. There's always someone looking to make a few bucks. Obviously, they will need training, so I wouldn't take that lightly. Especially with sandblast (Warpage).

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Old 03-19-2005, 08:32 AM
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Business opportunity

Well you have the business knowledge..

Assuming you have a suitable compresor..that can be a biggy..takes a big one to keep up with a blaster..

You have some space to do this..??

And someone who may like to do that job??

OK..why not..probably get your business from the restore guys...and guys off the street who need something cleaned and primed..probably not a lot from the collision repair shops..

Little history..I worked for a boat builder at one time and people would call and ask if we could make repairs and such..the boss would tell them to bring it on over we would look at it..That repair business turned into a nice regular deal repairing various kinds of fiberglass componets..

I rather imagine a media blasting deal could turn out to be a nice little add-on for your existing business from that experience that I had..

OMT
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Old 03-19-2005, 09:24 AM
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Many towns lack these services.
Here are some of the rates I see as I travel around and talking to body shops.
$400 to $700 for sandblasting, last week I was told in Augusta for a 55 Chev
outside of body and frame $825.
Media blasting on average 500-800 dollars. A month ago glass beads 69 Mach
outside body only $650.

Most important be set up for regular sand and a couple of different types of media's, the Mach wanted a media that would not remove any filler or rust and this is popular so you can see what is under the paint. I have used this on a few Restoration jobs, including when I first bought my wife her t-bird years ago. I wanted to know of any surface rust so I could handle the right way.

I'm warning you right now, don't spend the money for a soda setup. I'm in a lot of bodyshops and right now that soda deal is getting and has a bad rap and have cost a lot of bodyshops money for redo's. I guarantee you I run across one a month. At the request of a few shops I will be coming out in next tech manual with a warning page of what to do for proper prep and why you should avoid the job if the customer had it done and than wants you to paint it. A LOT of restorers will not even touch a soda blasted car at this point. Redo's are expensive.

Run right is would be a good business to start and from what I see the good ones are always busy.
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Old 03-19-2005, 09:34 AM
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A good friend of mine owns a blasting facility and does soda and sand. He blasts anything and everything from boats, cars, snowplows, and heavy equipment to log and brick homes with his mobile unit. There is a lot of demand for this work. I've had a few things soda blasted there but don't really care for the soda (salt) and wished he offered plastic or walnut shells. Another facility 50 miles from me does sandblasting and powdercoating, they are swamped with work, 20+ employees. The setup they have there uses a very fine grain of sand and they've done a few sheemetal pieces for me with no warpage. The powdercoating side of the business keeps them busy with work from a major heavy equipment manufacturer Pettibone and also a snow plow manufacturer. I wish I would have came up with the idea. Good luck! Bob
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Old 03-21-2005, 02:23 AM
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Stay away from soda blasting. also u can prolly get 3 or 4 cars stripped in 16 hours with a media blaster.. they work fast. i was quoted 4-5 hours to blast the outside of a 1966 gto.. its a big car and i think they got 150$ an hour for their service.
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Old 03-21-2005, 07:29 AM
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Air compressor is your biggest cost,you need one that can keep up with you, like one that you would run an jack hammer, protective gear, respirator, ect.and a place to do it ,you do it in your garage and you'll be finding sand for the next five years or so ,been there done that. Doc
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Old 03-21-2005, 10:27 AM
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Whats wrong with soda blasting? What causes the paint problems? Is it residual sodium (salt) or the way it would react to the paint chemicals (baking soda vs. vinegar)? Or is it the leftover (rogue) powder getting blown into the paint? How do you mitigate the problems? Tell me more !!


The compressor is no big deal. I see trailer mounted, gas engine, high volume compressors at reasonable prices at the auctions. (Used in contruction- jackhammers) PEEEE-LENTY of air !


Barry- the local prices are higher than what you have identified. And we are in a depressed local economy, so employee issues should be lessened. The local blast shops are backed up. Seems like a golden opportunity, so long as I don't use the soda. Plastic media sounds viable, as does Walnut. What are the pros and cons to plastic? After my limited research, seems that plastic may be better. Non corroding, non absorbing, less cleanup, reusable, lighter to stock, less PSI/volume required...There HAS to be a downside. More aggressive than soda? What line of work are you in. Sounds like manufacturing.


Jeff
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Old 03-21-2005, 11:22 AM
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As long as ou are going that far, consider adding a powder coating shop too. You should be surprised how many industrial applications there are for blasted/coated pumps, vessels, pipes, etc. And you would have a pretty steady hot rod clientele. Pretty logical adjunct business.
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Old 03-21-2005, 01:18 PM
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Hi Jeff-
We have a P/C shop about 10 miles from me. He's dirt cheap. He also sand blasts, but no media blast. Sounds good, but like anything, I couldn't go half way on P/C. The oven would be around $15K alone. It would HAVE to be big enough to do a frame. The local guy has one that deep. Its odd though, he doesn't do the temp coatings like the "Nitrous" coating or Moly coatings for pistons, nor the Ceramic coatings for headers. Another guy in town does that reasonably, but doesn't do the bigger stuff.
Anyways, I think I would have a long time recouping $15K for just the oven with 2 locals that are already established. Surely, I would need a smaller one for smaller parts as well, so the repay time gets longer.

Jeff
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Old 03-21-2005, 06:24 PM
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Jeff,

Sounds like a viable business possibility. Wish a media blasting business was close to Randy's. Would make cleaning those Willys fenders quicker. I believe we have too low an industrial and population base around here to make for a successful business.

Doug
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Old 03-21-2005, 07:26 PM
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[QUOTE=Beenaway2long]Whats wrong with soda blasting? What causes the paint problems? Is it residual sodium (salt) or the way it would react to the paint chemicals (baking soda vs. vinegar)? Or is it the leftover (rogue) powder getting blown into the paint? How do you mitigate the problems? Tell me more !!
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&& &&&

Soda leaves a residue and their selling point is, it protects the metal from rusting until you prime it.

How true! The problem comes in is the soda needs to be removed with soapy water and rinsed. Thats all fine but if you leave film on a spot, even if you come over it with an 80 grit DA. Adhesion is a problem. Many of shops have been burnt by this system. A lot of these shops were introduced to soda because the customer had it done and brought the car to them ready for the bodywork.
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Old 03-21-2005, 08:25 PM
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many people nuetralize the soda with a washing of 50/50 vinegar and water, but it's still a gamble IMO. Acid dipping is also a gamble IMO. Media blasting with plastic of walnut shells or corn cob would probably be the best way to go. Sand works excellent on corrosion if the operator has experience blasting sheemetal. A good friend of mine just had a 34 Ford Cabriolet sandblasted and the guy did an excellent job. I've also seen people ruin cars with a sandblaster.
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Old 03-22-2005, 05:56 AM
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Jeff, have you done any research on the clean up requirements of this business? Don't mean to be a kill joy but I suspect that since you could be removing lead based paints and such that the EPA and DHEC might have some costly guidelines that have to be adhered to regarding containment and disposal of your waste products. Just a thought...
Otherwise, it sounds like a viable business to me. Around here we have sandblasters but it's hard to find someone to strip a car with any other media.
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Old 08-02-2009, 11:50 PM
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Hi, I'm new around here but not new to blasting. I did it for a living for a while.
I know this is an OLD thread, but I feel I can add something that someone thinking about this might consider.


It was hands down the DIRTIEST job I've ever had!

The place had 3 rooms each big enough to hold a small dump truck, plastic, glass & al-oxide. The plastic & glass rooms were always pretty clean and not too nasty to work in. The smell of the plastic could get to you and burn your eyes but it wasn't unworkable. The oxide room was downright Hell. Hot as Hell and every bit as dirty. Part of the problem was that since oxide is the most aggressive media, it's used on the worst items. Cast iron fireplace inserts, sewage pumps, even a manure spreader! Add in the fact that oxide creates a LOT of dust in use on the tough jobs and even in a pressurized suit, I'd have tons of black crud in my sinuses when I blew my nose in the shower the next morning from work the previous day. You can turn a solid car into a taco in 30 seconds with oxide because of the heat it generates. Use the wrong media on the wrong surface and you'll be buying a lot of very expensive junk from your customers that you can only sell for recycling.

Don't let anyone tell you blasting is clean work - it ain't. The commercial type of blasting you'll probably find yourself doing as a business is going to be a lot of things that the average guy can't do in his garage with $200 worth of Harbor Freight catalog toys. There's serious money to be made if you don't make it an extension to your hotrodding hobby and you actually think of it like a real live business. Even if you hate motorcycles, the chopper and restoring guys are big fans of blasting. There are TONS of guys restoring old farm machinery and tractors. There are also restorers of trains and all kinds of oddball things you'd never think of. If you can add a few DIY cabinets to another room at your shop - even better. Rent a cab by the minute with a meter running as soon as it's turned on. You'll find guys using them all day for everything from clock parts to architectural supports.

You'll need at LEAST a 50HP screw drive compressor & delivery in the 130+ CFM range. If you can double that - bonus! Jackhammers use a lot of air but multiple blast rooms and cabs going at the same time eat air like there's no tomorrow. The place I worked at has 2 IR Industrial screws running most of the day. Each one is about 85HP IIRC. They had a 500 gallon air tank, plus aluminum manifold throughout the building (not just delivery but it counts as more air storage). I'd guess the delivery capacity of the place would be in the neighborhood of 200 to 250 CFM continuous at 175 PSI.

The equipment isn't cheap and neither is the electric bill between the hours of 9am & 9pm. If you can run the DIY cabs during the day and only one room, then add a graveyard shift for the big stuff, you'll save a ton in operating costs, but your insurance will be higher. Just something to consider besides the cool factor of stripping your own car at your own place and making some $$ on the side. It always seems like the businesses that grow out of hobbies seem to grow faster than the original intent. Sometimes they grow too fast and kill themselves on details like some of those I've mentioned. I've actually thought about doing this myself more than once & I've worked in the field before so I'm not a complete stranger to the business or the process.

Expect high turnover on the job. Like I said it's really dirty, hot, claustrophobic & often very heavy work. After some 21 year old kid gets his taste of the third rusty snowplow the county brings in the same day for the oxide room, he isn't going to look forward to tomorrow when your new Navy contract brings in a truck load of 8 foot long iron anchors covered in barnacles & rust. Even working on the cool stuff (I've stripped a Messerschmidt, AC Cobra, Sunbeam Tiger, Superbird & other COOL rides), it all turns into just another 2500 pound pile you have to clean after you jack it up and try to figure out how you're going to do the underside when the customer gives you a blank stare after you ask where the rotisserie is (they left it at home, of course).

Good luck!

Cheers,
- JJ

Last edited by BubbaKahuna; 08-02-2009 at 11:55 PM.
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Old 08-03-2009, 02:40 AM
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Here in Santa FE, we have one gy in the whole county that does soda blasting. He does it at the customer's house/business. I had my off road truck done and it ran me $600 two years ago. As far as lead in car paint that is a new one, I can't think of single automotive paint that has lead. He buys his media from a industrial supplier so its a lot less expensive than the food grade soda. His compressor is a diesel power unit that was used in road construction. I would go to some auctions to see if you can find such a unit.
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