1956 Chevrolet BelAir Restoration Project — Part 15
By Steve Nicholson
The body was installed on a rotisserie so that it could be sand blasted. You can see all of the new floor panels and braces that were welded in. To prepare the body for the blaster we scraped off all of the grease, tar and old seam sealer. It makes the blasters' job a lot easier and also helps to insure that all of the areas get blasted.
We used a mobile sandblaster to blast the body. He had a lot of experience with car bodies and car parts with thin metal. It's important that they know what they are doing. A car body can be easily warped from the friction of the sand and ruined. You especially have to watch out for the outer skins, such as door, fenders and long quarter panels. They can easily warp and cause all kinds of extra work to repair.
On this project we opted to sand the outer panels with air sanders so we wouldn't have to worry about blasting them. We had the underside floors, the firewall and jambs blasted as well as the insides of the floors and firewall.
It's also important to know the safety hazards of sandblasting. Breathing silica is hazardous to the lungs and can cause silicosis. That is why wearing a fresh air supplied respirator is a good idea.
This is the inside floor of the car after the blasting was finished.
As soon as the blasting was finished we started cleaning out all of the sand. It takes quite a while and is a lot of work. We use air blowers and a vacuum. It seems like it will never end. Once the body is full rid of all the sand we immediately applied a coat of epoxy primer to prevent it from rusting.
The wheelhouses will get a coat of Zero-Rust coating to protect them. You will also notice that before the blasting was done we installed a new set of splash panels and rubber gaskets in each wheelhouse.
An easy way to prevent the VIN tags from getting destroyed during the blasting is to cover them up with some old windshield butyl. The sand just bounces off of it. It works a lot better than duct tape.