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Soda Blasting; The Ultimate Treatment to Clean and Degrease Delicate Things

Got a big, dirty job on a delicate or rare project? Whether it’s a classic car, aircraft, boat, or building, soda blasting is probably the answer.

By combining super soft particles and skilled application, soda blasting can remove years of rust, grime, pollutants, grease, and non-authentic finishes. Most importantly, it removes everything gently without damaging the substrate underneath.

The Statue of Liberty

In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was closed for renovation. Multiple layers of coal tar and paint needed to be stripped back from the inside of her copper skin. She needed repairs, but her 3mm thick copper surface was too soft for sandblasting and too big for manual sanding methods.

The reason soda blasting worked so well for this project had a lot to do with physics. While sandblasting is an abrasive process, soda explodes (gently) on impact with the surface it is being blasted on. This means that it’s not the hardness of the soda that abrades but the fracture of the smaller pieces that result in the cleaning.

Avro Lancaster Bomber VII NX664 and NX611

The legendary Lancaster bomber was first flown in January 1941 and started in combat in April 1942. This warcraft had a huge capacity to carry bombs and was the workhorse of the war. It has been attributed as ‘the plane that broke the Reich’ and is part of the rich history of vintage warbirds.

In East Kirkby, Lincolnshire, England, ‘Just Jane’ Lancaster Bomber is being restored with the aim of sending her back into the air. She’s being restored with a range of parts from two other Lancaster bombers, KB976 and NX664. Everything is being stripped back, cleaned, repaired, and painstakingly put back together again.

Soda blasting is used on the wing ribs, spar webs, bolts, studs, and some skins from NX664 to be attached to Just Jane. Tonnes of soda media have been used to remove corrosion gently, with only some minor finishing detail requiring Roloc discs. This has saved the project hundreds of man hours and resulted in a superior finish.

Boats and Ships; The Zetland Lifeboat

Unlike traditional sandblasting, soda blasting removes anti-fouling paint, blisters, rust, and build-up from a ship’s hull with no damage to the gel coat, fibreglass laminate, timber, or any other substrate. It’s also fast; stripping the surface and the preparing it for a new finish all happens in one operation.

Traditional blister repair takes huge amounts of time, with manual grinding and sandblasting required- and it always runs the risk of severe damage to the hull. This is why some boats end up with layer upon layer of paint on the hull, adding weight and fuel costs.

The Zetland Lifeboat was built in 1802, a clinker-built, double-ended rowing boat that is almost 10m long. In its years, it saved over 500 lives. It was retired in 1864 and eventually stored in a boathouse. In 2018, the huge job of restoring it back to its former glory was started. Soda blasting was used in the interior to bring the oak timber back to life with no damage to the beautiful timber.

Classic Car: 1968 Camaro SS

When a top automotive painter wants to update his classic 1968 Camaro SS as a rolling billboard for his business, only the very best will do. This car had multiple paint jobs and graphics over the years, with a paint thickness of 8 to 9 mls. Modern cars have a paint thickness of three to five mls, showing just how much paint has been applied over the years.

The process of soda blasting the car took a day, followed by using compressed air to blow off any residue, then washed with soap and water. This provided the perfect substrate for the primer. The final finish (after 320 grit sanding, a two part epoxy primer, 600 grit sanding, spot putty for imperfections, 2000 grit sanding, a wax and grease remover, four layers of paint, two clear coats, 2000 grit wet sand and 3000 grit wet sand and buffing) is flawless.

Historical Building Cleaning or Fire Damage Removal

Historical buildings need special care, especially in NZ, where many of our older buildings include Rimu (a notoriously soft timber) and limestone ‘Oamaru stone’ blocks, which are soft, absorbent, and reactive to acid cleaning. Soda blasting is ideal for spot treatments to remove tagging, non-authentic paintwork or varnish, mould and moss, or as part of a restoration to remove the general build-up of years of graceful aging.

Timber can also be restored with the gentle power of soda blasting, and no worries about water damage or pitting from too-hard blast material.

Fire damage to a historical building or modern one is another great use of soda blasting. It removes soot, and the soda helps to absorb the smell, making the building habitable much faster.

Soda Blasting for a Gentle but Strong Clean

If you have a special cleaning project that needs extra care and attention, contact us to find out more about our soda blasting services. Across Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Nelson Marlborough, we can help you with your project, big or small.

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