Author Topic: Vapour Blasting!  (Read 1391 times)


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Vapour Blasting!
« on: March 14, 2021, 08:13:15 PM »
In cleaning up used aluminum intake manifolds, there are a few considerations that don't apply to cast iron or steel parts because aluminum is softer than ferrous metals. You can't blast them with sand or other more abrasive media because it will change the surface texture and can obliterate casting marks and part numbers. Sand blasting also leaves the surface more porous than before, making it more likely to retain dirt. When I first started to research ways to clean used aluminum manifolds, I found a lot of YouTube videos that described cleaning them with solvents and wire brushes. Most of these seemed to be less than completely effective, and still changed the surface. Eventually I came upon vapour blasting, which is blasting with compressed air, water or steam, and usually small glass beads. This was said to have the advantage of removing dirt and stains without damaging the substrate or removing casting marks. It also seals the surface and leaves it smooth - cast surfaces retain the original texture, and machined surfaces come out almost shiny.

I had an original 1972 455 HO intake manifold, and a 1971 service replacement unit, both of which had been used. The SE unit was in very good shape, and its aluminum surface was so consistent, at first I thought it had been painted. I also had an original Herb Adams VSE cast aluminum oil pan that I will be using that I wanted to clean up.

I found a local custom motor cycle shop that had a vapour blasting set-up. They charged $20.00 Canadian per 10-minutes of time spent in the vapour blaster. It ended up being 9 units, so 90 minutes, plus a $20.00 shop materials fee for the glass beads, and tax - $210.00 CDN all in. Below are a series of before and after pictures. I was really pleased  with how everything turned out. The manifolds look practically brand new, almost like they have been painted, but they swear they have not. The machined surfaces where it mounts to the heads and carb came out beautifully smooth. The oil pan as a little rougher casting, but it still came out very nice.

It's important, of course, to clean everything up after with soap and water and compressed air - tiny glass beads would not be a good thing to introduce to an engine either through the oil or through the intake system!





1978 WS6 - W72 4 Speed, Martinique Blue on Light Blue - Fire Am Restification Project
1972 Trans Am 455 HO 4 Speed (one of 458)

2000 WS6 6-Speed Trans Am, Black on Ebony (sold)
1976 455 4-Speed Trans Am, Goldenrod Yellow on Saddle (sold)
1976 455 4-Speed Trans Am, Firethorn Red on Firethorn Red (sold)


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Re: Vapour Blasting!
« Reply #1 on: March 14, 2021, 08:21:07 PM »
Unicorn parts right here.  Nice.  Glad you were able to get good results.


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Re: Vapour Blasting!
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2021, 12:06:41 AM »
Very nice results for aluminum parts. I assume it would work great one other parts as well. Thanks for posting the info!
1979 Trans Am- Heritage Brown -W72 (Pontiac 400) -4Speed-WS6
1972 LeMans Convertible
1977 Trans Am
1972 Firebird
1971 Firebird
1977 MGB  Roadster Convertible


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Re: Vapour Blasting!
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2021, 02:17:42 AM »
1987 T/A GTA L98
1979 T/A Y84 WS6
1979 F/A W72 WS6
1978 T/A L80 WS6
1978 Formula L80 W50
1971 Formula 400 4-Speed


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Re: Vapour Blasting!
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2021, 06:58:28 AM »
I first saw of vapor honing on another forum last fall. Seems like the way to go with cast parts. Those came out perfect. I understand a lot of motorcycle restoration guys use that process.
77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
79 TATA 4sp-Next Project?
79 TATA - Lost to Fire!
86 Grand Prix - Sold
85 T/A - Sold
85 Fiero - Sold
82 Firebird - Sold
'38-CZ 250
'39-BSA Gold Star
'49-Triumph 350
'52-Ariel Red Hunter
'66-BSA Lightning
'01-HD RoadKing

Re: Vapour Blasting!
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2021, 06:58:28 AM »


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Re: Vapour Blasting!
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2021, 08:47:47 AM »
Money well spent there! Those results are hard to argue with.

1976 Trans Am LS1, 6 speed, C5 Brakes, LS1 rear 12" brakes, and much more...SOLD
My Build:

New project: 1968 Camaro LS6, T56, Speedtech, Hotchkis, DSE, Z51 13.4" front brakes, LS1 rear disks, etc.


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Re: Vapour Blasting!
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2021, 03:07:38 PM »
Unicorn parts

Yep!  They came out great!
1978 Trans Am - Chesterfield Brown - current project
1978 Trans Am - Silver - SOLD!

Re: Vapour Blasting!
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2021, 03:07:38 PM »
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