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I am meeting up with a new local shop doing "Vapor Honing" he calls it. From what I've seen and heard this is the way to go for making our English engines look real nice and stay that way. I'm wondering what you guys thinks of the process. Any suggestions as to what I should ask this shop so I have confidence the jobs going to be done correctly? He says he has done many motorcycle engines and that the process is by far superior to other methods.


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[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]
[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

Obviously not a Triumph engine but you should get an idea.

My head was sandblasted and it wasn't massively different, although vapor blasting is touted as being gentler on the surface. The surface was smoother on the vapor blasted surfaces.

It's still just glass bead that suspended in water, not some magic vapor.

I hope the pictures help.

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If you went over those with some #0000 steel wool and put a bit of shine on them, they would look just like new. Fresh castings aren't dull like that.
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I like the vapour blasting, it gets into places which normal cleaning alone doesn’t. Fresh looking finish and depending on who’s done it I’ve found it can look quite bright or dull.


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I especially like it for when you need to replace the valve guides. Cleaning the head, ports, and old guides BEFORE they are removed reduces the chance of scoring the valve guide holes with carbon. No searching for bits of media in every nook and cranny either.

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So if vapor blasting still uses glass beads, even if suspended in liquid, is it safer than simple dry bead blasting?

I use bead blasting but am becoming increasingly paranoid about the possibility of beads becoming stuck in some spot, a bolt hole, an oil passage, or even in a casting flaw, and wreaking havoc with our bearings, pistons, and rings.

Tom


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Originally Posted by JubeePrince
No searching for bits of media in every nook and cranny either.

From the web: "Wet blasting (vapor blasting) is a process for removing contaminants from a surface, or finishing a surface using pressurized water and abrasive blast media."


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You still have to clean the part after vapour blasting, media can get stuck in the bottom of holes with sticky gunge inside and in oilways. I have moved on to using ultrasonic cleaning, not as uniform a finish but a quick rub over with WD40 and a scouring pad cover that and always then wax the alloy outside surfaces.

This is a Unit Single case I only partially put in my Ultrasonic bath for 20 mins.

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

And here is a TLS Brakeplate after 2 hours, the solution has citric acid to cut into the oxide. I then polished the rim and added the stainless arms etc.

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

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I had my engine case hot washed before vapor blasting and after too. I have a machinist with a spray washer which is basically a giant industrial dishwasher. The parts are very hot when they come out.

[Linked Image from asedeals.com]

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The hotter they are, the quicker the moisture evaporates, and if the parts are iron or steel, the less chance of rust.

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Originally Posted by Hermit
Originally Posted by JubeePrince
No searching for bits of media in every nook and cranny either.

From the web: "Wet blasting (vapor blasting) is a process for removing contaminants from a surface, or finishing a surface using pressurized water and abrasive blast media."


Apparently a linguistics issue. When I see the term vapour blasting, I think of the process called "soda blasting", where the media is baking soda.


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Originally Posted by koncretekid
So if vapor blasting still uses glass beads, even if suspended in liquid, is it safer than simple dry bead blasting?

I use bead blasting but am becoming increasingly paranoid about the possibility of beads becoming stuck in some spot, a bolt hole, an oil passage, or even in a casting flaw, and wreaking havoc with our bearings, pistons, and rings.

Tom

Use baking soda for media. no beads, grit, etc.....

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They also blast with dry ice pellets (another vapour blasting) and it leaves no residue. Other places blast with walnut shell pieces for delicate jobs. All the blasting techniques have their advantages and disadvantages. It also depends on what the local shops offer.


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Another alternative is ball needling (correct name?). It is supposed to close up the pores of the aluminum so the part stays shiny longer.
[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]

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Maybe it's called shot peening? Can be done with iron pellets, aluminium, even plastic for some applications.
I'm interested in a wet blasting technique using baking soda and water. You make a slurry with it and a gravity fed LVHP gun. I have a siphon sprayer I'll likely try it with. Solves the dust problem with baking soda. Probably increases work time due to dulling of the crystals. Maybe I'll try something else that doesn't dissolve the soda, like mineral spirits. (I need to experiment to know if it doesn't dissolve soda) but it's just a suggestion. Maybe something else, like WD40 would work better.
That is VERY shiny, maybe too shiny. But, whatever, that shine won't last very long in use.

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Nothing comes close to a proper vapor honing job. This is my totally biased view, operating a small retirement business doing just this. I did NOT start with this to get rich, my prime motivation was to get to clean my own bits! The investment was about the same as buying a new big Triumph, hence the business idea.
A proper clean-up is vital, but I've been successful in that respect, cleaning everything the same way I do my dishes; lots of hot water and soap, and lots of pressurized air.
I have several engines running around without issues after treatment, but I do stress to my customers to be anal with cleaning.
Edit: I tell them to "clean everything until you're 100% sure it's clean. Then you do it all over again!"
The glass beads are so tiny that they'll pass through the tiniest jet in a carb for example, but I reckon the pilot mixing chamber in a Concentric could possibly trap an amount of beads. Removing the cover would be a smart move, though I chanced it on my Trident carbs. Several thousand miles later all is well.

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the local shop has a cabinet big enough to put the mocked up ( empty) TR7v engine in assembled-- I was thinking about doing it that way so I only have to mask a few places--and he can do the exteriors of primary, trans, timing covers, head with rocker covers also. Then I pop it apart and super clean everything before assembly. This motor is a orphan to be used in a custom application where if something exterior isn't perfect it really doesn't mater. I know the rougher castings will come out excellent but I wonder how the smoother covers will look after.


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Nice, Stein. You are, however, as we say around here, geographically problematic.
It's the best looking finish I've seen so far.
Cheers,
Bill


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Originally Posted by Bob Fletcher
the local shop has a cabinet big enough to put the mocked up ( empty) TR7v engine in assembled-- I was thinking about doing it that way so I only have to mask a few places--and he can do the exteriors of primary, trans, timing covers, head with rocker covers also. Then I pop it apart and super clean everything before assembly. This motor is a orphan to be used in a custom application where if something exterior isn't perfect it really doesn't mater. I know the rougher castings will come out excellent but I wonder how the smoother covers will look after.
Masking will, in most cases anyway, be counter productive as the beads WILL find a way in. Remember that vapor blasting/honing is so gentle you won't distort any surface treatment or bearing surfaces. I've even tried it on bearing shells, just to see, and no material was removed, and I couldn't detect any beads "shot" into the surface. That is what happens when blasting glass beads dry, they shatter and impregnate themselves into the surface of the substrate, only to dislodge at the most unfortunate moment. This just doesn't happen with vapor blasting. The beads won't break as easily, a ratio of 12:1 over dry blasting has been mentioned, and when they break, the shards are swept away by the water.
It's far easier to dismantle say a rocker box than to seal it, and the results are better. Don't worry, let your shop get the engine in separate pieces, but do make a job of cleaning afterwards. Oilways and threads are favorite hide-outs.
As I've said, I have engines running around which have been blasted by me (even a couple of BMW car race engines), and a quite few bike engines built by me, no troubles yet.

Go for it, you'll be happy! My customers are, and they do come back! beerchug

SR

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Originally Posted by HawaiianTiger
Nice, Stein. You are, however, as we say around here, geographically problematic.
It's the best looking finish I've seen so far.
Cheers,
Bill
Thanks Bill!
It’s a little laborious but immensely rewarding. All those years with wire brushes and scrubs, and half-assed results! This is fun. And the money is better than they ever were wrenching...
I won’t take on many bikes in the future, but concentrate on this.
And yes, situating oneself in the middle of the Pacific with me over here in the old world would make any transactions between us somewhat problematic laughing

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I restore a lot of old brass on these antique fans. I've used a variety of techniques. I would use vapor blasting if it was available. A typical technique some use is progressively finer sandpapers starting with something like 150 grit. Very time consuming. So I started using acid, because I really can't spend that much time at it and expect to make any money.
Here's a short video of my technique. This certainly isn't for everyone. The acid is horrendously dangerous stuff. But under the right conditions and precautions, it works very well.
[video:youtube]https://youtu.be/j4PVaYQjCCk[/video]
Cheers,
Bill

Last edited by HawaiianTiger; 06/26/20 9:18 pm.

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Nice Tee, always liked the Disney Tiger, or in this case, Hawaiian Tiger! thumbsup

Muriatic acid is a bit scary to handle, but the results you get may be better for yellow metals than than vapor honing, which leaves a silky, half shiny surface that needs buffing to sparkle. I do have Muriatic acid on the shelf, but I mistook it for thinner once, and started cleaning my hands with it... I detected it right away and rinsed my hands in running water, and no real harm done.

This boat engine carb is typical of the finish I get on brass and bronze. Not very shiny but the surface is smooth and repellant and the classic boat folks are happy with it. It doesn't take much to buff it up for those who wish to.

SR

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Muratic or Hydrochloric acid is not advisable for use on brass unless you are very careful and stop as soon as the surface corrosion is gone, once the surface crud is gone it then attacks the zinc part of the brass faster than the copper, hence why the brass takes on a pink hue after treatment. You then have to polish the brass to remove the high copper surface to take the pink hue away. Better to use an acid that will attack the zinc and copper equally, so citric acid is a better alternative. Acetic is not a good alternative as it goes for the copper over the zinc.

Another advantage of citric acid is it will create surface passivisation, which allows the surface of brass to resist staining by handling residues and atmospheric contaminants.

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Muriatic acid will dissolve alloy ...and give off hydrogen gas shocked so don't smoke! So be careful with your aluminum and magnesium casting with this stuff. Also on steel it can be very hard to neutralize before paint. I once dunked a small rear alloy hub in a 2 gal pail to remove rust from the brake liner. Not thinking... 30 min later the back of the shop was in a big white cloud, the hub mostly gone. Put on a paint respirator and I carefully opened shop doors to vent the gas outside. facepalm

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I have seen acetic acid (all be it used in a different way) eat away brass to almost its entirety.

I’ve also seen brass test cups Turn silver on the inside, not knowing what caused this and tried to clean it up with a scourer.... with no success.

What I do no cleans brass well is decon90 (aka micro90) at around 80 degrees in a sonic bath. The finish is similar to that of the above vapour blasting but a Matt’er finish. Decon isn’t very aluminium friendly though and turns it black if left for too long.


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