® Abrasive Blasting

It was a mess. A workbench covered with oddly clean looking but slippery, gritty engine parts, and limp cardboard boxes underneath held more. I was starting my first day with a new shop, having quit the old, and this was my first project, a CX500 that the tech before me had not had time to complete. Very soon I held in my hand something I had never seen before, a glass bead encrusted aluminum piston. The engine's crankcases and cylinder heads were likewise contaminated. I remember it with a shudder. Many people seem to think that glass beading is a good way to clean engine parts, but it's not. That engine was assembled and somehow ran and stayed together, but as we never heard back from that customer it's anyone's guess as to how long. If there is one thing I have learned in my 40+ years in this industry, it's that glass bead cabinets are death! No matter how well you think you have cleaned those parts afterward, they are never clean enough. The glass adheres in the cracks and crevices of aluminum parts with almost an electrostatic tenacity, continuously shedding its insidious damage throughout the oil supply. There has been more harm done by glass beading machines than any other single piece of shop equipment I can think of.

I have seen cylinder heads that were painstakingly washed, heated, re-washed using straight Simple Green and flushed with high pressure water, still drop glass dust into their engines after being assembled. Other parts have been cleaned in all manner of ways and have never lost their gritty feel. A GSX-R750 where I worked wore out its piston rings in 1000 miles due to glass beads (Wiseco actually asks about glass beads when you call their customer service line). Countless oil pumps have seized, valve guides gotten trashed. There is plenty of reason soda blasting and dry ice blasting have emerged as superior choices in the abrasive blasting of engine parts. Take heed.

There are carburetor rebuilders who abrasive blast their projects. I am just as against blasting for carburetors as I am for cylinder heads, and maybe more so seeing as how I make my living today on carburetors. Nut shells is the most common media used, but occasionally you also find glass beading and even wire wheeling (!) Only someone who has not been in the trenches, as it were; who has not worked as a mechanic, could possibly think glass beading is a good idea.

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