RESTORATIONS – A labour of love

We are the best place to come to for the beginning stages of your restoration project. Restoring hotrods, vintage and classic cars or at least being a part of the process is something all the staff at Autoblast love.

Meticulous blasting

Most vehicles arrive to us completely stripped ready for blasting. Once here we do a thorough “walk around” with to discuss and understand your requirements exactly. All of this is noted down and communicated clearly with our expert blasters. The vehicle is then stripped back to bare metal using the abrasive blasting process leaving fresh white metal. This is absolutely the best process for preparing steel for painting. Although simple in theory, abrasive-blasting fragile metal is far from simple, and requires a skilled and patient, well-trained hand. At Autoblast, we patiently and meticulously handle each panel until the entire job is done.

Careful dusting

After blasting, the vehicle is dusted of all remaining residue using an industrial scale duster. This phase is almost as crucial as the blasting phase and also requires patience and diligence.

Once dusted, the next step is to apply the chosen coating system. Some of our commercial clients prefer to do their own priming and you are welcome to do so as well, however as far as possible, this needs to occur on the same day because oxidization starts occurring immediately after blasting.

Exceptional coating

In our opinion, the best coating system available is one that is properly applied to a galvanic metal spray metalization process. For clients that opt for this, the shell is metal-sprayed with a Zinc/Aluminium metal coating. This coating is 50% Zinc and 50% Aluminium, measured by volume. A car coated with this is now galvanised. One of the side benefits of galvanising a shell is a vastly improved coating adhesion: The first coat of paint soaks right into the metal spray coating.

We only use the highest quality 2K epoxy coating systems. We’re familiar with the best brands and unless you request a system we will specify a system that suit your requirements and matches your ongoing coating system.

“I’ve heard that abrasive blasting can warp panels. Is this true?”

This is true, however a skilled blaster knows how to protect panels from warping. Blasting delicate panels without warping is done by a combination of low pressure, acute angles and constant rotation of the working surface. To put it simply: apply expert technique and a large amount of patience. Understanding why a panel warps is key to avoiding damage. Many people state that a panel warps because it’s heated and while this is partially correct it’s generally not the reason, which has more to do with poor technique. A panel can warp under the blasting process when the top layer of metal is stretched. In this situation the panel warps towards the operator not away (because the top layer of metal is being stretched). Blasting with an acute angle of attack means the majority of the energy from the blasting process is spent on the coating, not on the panel.

“I’ve heard that soda blasting is safe from warping and is a better blasting process. It this true?”

This is not true. Soda blasting can still warp a panel for the same reasons discussed above. Additionally the soda blasting process won’t leave a mechanical key for the coating system to adhere to. Soda Blasting will also leave an alkaline coating on the steel which will neutralise the acids in epoxy etch primers nullifying their etching properties. Soda has its uses but not in blasting metal in preparation for painting. This is a fact the Soda blasting industry has only recently become painfully aware of. Soda blasting does have it’s uses though, and we do recommend it for some aluminum plastic and carbon fiber parts and panels.

“How should I prepare my car for blasting?”

For a full restoration we recommend that a vehicle is completely stripped of all glass, trim, seats, dash, engine etc. Some of the most vulnerable areas for rust can only be accessed when these are removed. For example a common rusty area is underneath windscreen rubbers and mouldings. Also around chassis rails near the battery and engine are common problems. However we have done many car restoration blasting jobs where the vehicle is partially stripped. This is fine but some time will need to be spent heavily masking areas that would be vulnerable to the abrasive blasting process. In brief we can blast a car in any state you like. The more a car is stripped the more that can be blasted – it’s really up to you. Call us now and discuss what your vision is for your project and we’ll point you in the right direction.

“How long can I leave my blasted shell in primer?”

When you book your car in with us we’ll discuss with you how long you would like to leave it in primer and will spec a paint system to suit. Some primers can last up to 10 years (a galvanised shell much longer) depending on the atmospheric conditions your car is exposed to. Some primers have shorter life spans when left uncovered but are easier to work with from a panel beater’s perspective. A common time frame supported by manufacturers is six to nine months. All epoxy primers are designed to be recoated, so it’s important to know what your restoration time frame looks like. A trick to extend the life-span of any coating is to store your vehicle in a stable temperature environment. A dry environment helps as well but an unstable temperature will suck any moisture out of the air and onto the car. It is best to store your project in an insulated garage. Our best advice? Once you’ve started restoring, don’t stop. If you need to leave a shell longer than expected you can always put another layer of paint on the primer.

Get a free quote and free advice about your options.

Don’t wait until its too late. A little now can save heaps.