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Sandblasting Metal Tubes

Sandblasting Metal Tubes

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Grant has another factory update for us, this time about some of the sandblasting that we have been doing here at the Ocean Builders factory in Panama. We are working with steel, and the thing about steel is that especially in humid climates as we have here, it will develop a layer of surface rust within a matter of days. The guys are hard at work getting these steel tubes ready to be turned into spars.

The surface rust does not damage the steel and doesn’t cause any structural weakening, it is basically like a layer of dead skin that we have to remove so that we can get down to the bare surface before we work with the material. In the video below, you can see some of that “exfoliation” process taking place.

Sandblasting is the process of taking specially selected sand and using compressed air to shoot it at the surface of the metal. The abrasive sand takes away that layer of oxidation and leaves us with a clean steel surface to work with. After we sandblast the steel, we have to apply a surface protectant to it not only to protect it from surface rust on land but also potentially structural rust that would happen in the salty sea water if we didn’t protect it.

We have set up a tarp system to capture some of the sand that has already been used. We can then run it through a sifting machine and recycle it for a couple more uses so that we can cut down on both costs and waste. It takes a few hours to sandblast the inside and outside of each tube so it will take us at least two days to finish prepping the eight tubes that we need to do. We will keep the work moving and continue to bring you more updates about the process in our blog so be sure to follow along with us.

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