Stripping Your Frame

Stripping Your Frame

It's a regular (sand) blast!

When restoring an older car, you may find the frame has a nasty coating of rust and peeling paint. Sandblasting can strip bare corroded metal for less than the cost of chemical dipping, and with less complications. Another advantage of sandblasting is that it cleans off the surface so thoroughly, a more accurate assessment of frame condition can be made.


There are other ways to do the job. In hot tanking the frame is lowered into a tank of caustic acid that eats away paint and corrosion. This works well on unibody cars where it is difficult to get a sandblaster into crevices and panels. Dipped items have to be cleaned with a neutralizing solution to prevent any remaining acid from attacking the new paint. Tubular frames are not ideal for this procedure, though, because they must have holes drilled in them to allow for hosing out the inside, in case acid has seeped in through porous welds.

Media blasting, which uses less aggressive blasting material than sandblasting, is ideal for aluminum or fiberglass panels that the harsher sand could eat through or damage. However, the softer media does not do a good job of rust removal. Old-fashioned sandblasting is still the procedure of choice for rusty metal.

Air pollution regulations have pushed most sandblasting operations to rural areas, and many now operate indoors to better control sand particles and to allow blasting in all types of weather.

Shop Around

Get several estimates and find a blaster who is comfortable with working on a collector-car chassis. Many sandblasters are car guys and work hard to do a quality job.

Most sandblasters also redo trailers and industrial equipment, and have added various types of coatings as an option. You can often get your chassis primed with epoxy for less than it would cost you to buy the paint and shoot it yourself (and catalyzed epoxy is dangerous to breathe). They will also shoot epoxy paint.

You can also have a frame powder-coated for a reasonable fee, which stands up to chemicals (such as brake fluid) better than epoxy. The cost is comparable to paint, and you can also get a wide variety of attractive colors. Some companies have large ovens for "cooking" the powder coating onto your chassis. Click on the list of photos in the accompanying box to see what's involved in blasting a chassis.

Stripping Your Frame
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