Lotus Elan

Stripping Paint By Blasting

PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:24 am

A few years ago I read an article in one of the UK classic car mags about stripping paint off a fibreglass car using a low pressure blasting method rather than using chemicals or sanding. The item showed a Type 14 Elite having it?s layers of paint removed one by one by a gentle blasting process using crushed walnut shells. You could even drive the car to the facility, seal up the engine and mask the bits that you didn?t want stripping with plastic and gaffer tape, and 6 hours later the car was ready to roll stripped of 99% of it?s paint ready for hand finishing at the paint shop.

This sounds like a great way to do it, with no risk of chemical contamination (or worse) and no loss of profile.

I have 3 Elans to strip; I don?t trust chemicals of any sort and I don?t trust myself with an orbital sander! And I haven?t got arms like Popeye.

Does anyone have experience of this method of stripping? It seems popular in the US, judging from websites, where it?s used for boats and Corvettes (much the same really!)

Does anybody know of such a facility in the UK?

Mark
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PostPost by: purplepete » Fri Nov 11, 2005 12:57 pm

Hi,That sounds like an interesting alternative!but have you actually tried sanding it?-I'm doing a little bit at a time,and whilst its not what youd call theraputic,it is quite easy!
have you looked in yellow pages?-theres a company in bristol who advertise"low pressure multi-media blasting"quite surprising how many listings there are!look under "Blast cleaning services".
hope that helps!
Peter.
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Fri Nov 11, 2005 2:11 pm

Walnut shells are the media that is used to blast cast iron. What you want is someone that does "plastic media blasting". these are small plastic beads that are used, they get every where and get a static charge and are difficult to vacuum up. An experianced operator can take off one layer or many. Twelve years ago I had an elan done for $500 I think its gone up since then. A 100 sheets of 180 wet/dry is around $25 and a sanding block another $15, takes about 10 days on and off, 2 or 3 hours a day to sand a body only. boot, bonnet, doors, bumpers, headlight buckets take another week. Once you fix all the problems you should be pretty good at sanding.

Gary Anderson
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PostPost by: theelanman » Fri Nov 11, 2005 5:45 pm

when I had my +2 redone that was blasted.....they did a very good job but I'm glad I didnt see it...I was told by the guy who did the work that it looked sorry for its self after blasting.....anyway I would recomend them for at least a chat with but since then they have unfortunately ceased trading!
doh!
cheers
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PostPost by: elansprint » Fri Nov 11, 2005 6:14 pm

I believe Cottage Classics who specialise in Ginetta offer this service in suffolk though www.cottageclassics.co.uk or tel. 01728 724315
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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat Nov 12, 2005 10:28 am

Thanks Ian...just the ticket, and they even have a picture of them doing it! I have done quite a lot of hunting on the web and Yellow pages on line Peter...the vast majority are industrial, but I did find one (in Bristol) who said that the project sounded interesting and they would give it a go! I don't want somebody having a go on my car...it may just be terminal if they get it wrong! I'm after someone who does it for a living, and mainly on fibreglass cars.
And Gary, $500 for the equivalent of 50 hours work sounds like a bargain to me...even a few years ago. What you don't mention is getting into all those little corners, the bleeding finger tips and no finger prints for a couple of months. I've done the job a couple of times before and prefer not to again.
So, any more for any more?
Mark
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PostPost by: garyeanderson » Sat Nov 12, 2005 1:15 pm

My Elan had been abused, accidents, stress cracks, flooded. I did it to try it. I wouldn't do it again unless I had a clean fiberglass car with a bad coat of paint, two coats max and "no body problems". I just don't beleive its the right way to open a can of worms. Something with 5 coats of paint is probably better to use a sharp 1 inch wood chissel and a paint scraper that uses single edge razer blades. This is all body off with nothing left bolted to the body I am talking about, not drive in and roll out (blow and go, scuff and squirt). I think prices have probably doubled or trippled since I had my Elan done.

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PostPost by: Elanintheforest » Sat Nov 12, 2005 5:07 pm

You've got me worried now Gary. Does blasting 'blow open' any star or stress cracks? I know that they have to be repaired properly, but the potential for de-laminating the glassfibre seems present now I'm thinking about it. That could be a very uncontrolled process and even unseen until the microblisters start appearing a few months after the paint has dried. I was just starting to like my fingerprints!
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PostPost by: bvt » Thu Nov 17, 2005 9:46 pm

I'm all for chisels... and super sharp scrapers... 50 stanley blades will see any shell off, secret is too keep using sharp blades, I buy cheap chisels from anywhere and have a proper sharpener, but if you buy a good stanley blade holder they are excellent for large areas.

I can do a bonnet or boot lid in 1 hr a door in a little less than 2

a shell a couple of days...

Well worth it and keeps the profile, once you have an "Edge" the paint often flies off.
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PostPost by: Bruce Crowthorne » Mon Dec 05, 2005 10:46 am

I am in the middle of doing my first body strip.

Tried the chisel route, but I find it hard to get and keep a really sharp edge.

I have settled on a three stage process.

1 Use a single edged razor blade to scratch off most of the coats.
My car has been painted 6 times (so 12 coats) two of which are thick (maybe spray filler?)
I remove the first 10 layers using the scraper.
Nice bit about the razor blade route is the flexibility of the tip, it gets under the edge of the paint and chips it off nicely.
Had a problem getting a good comfortable holder - eventually found a kit in "Harbor Freight" (I was on holiday in the US) set of four holders for a few dollars - worth it's weight in gold.

2 I then use a sander (electric) to remove the next coat and a half.
At this point I can see 25% of the glass fibre.

3 Then I sand down to the GF by hand

It's not quick, but it's the best I have found so far.
I reckon a panel (wing, bonnet etc) takes maybe 8 hours, however I haven't got into the detail yet. How does evryone strip the bits like behind the lights, round the bumper recesses etc?

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