Our 6 Most Bizarre Blast Cleaning Projects of 2018

Like many businesses who are passionate about what they do, we love a challenge. We jump at the chance to help any client with projects that range from slightly unusual, historically interesting, or outright bizarre.

When we look back at all of the awesome projects we helped make a reality in 2018, we can’t help but realise that it was a bumper year for odd requests.

So, let’s take a look at 6 projects that stuck out to us during 2018.

The Hearse Trailer

The proud owner of a classic split screen Volkswagen Camper Van needed some extra storage space whilst out on their travels, but it’s hard to find a trailer that matches the timeless look of a VW camper[1] . Enter the 1963 Volkswagen Westfalia Funeral Trailer.

Now, we can’t find online whether “funeral trailers” were definitively used for carrying around earthly remains, but the size and shape seemed to fit the bill. The sheer implication made it one of the creepier things we’ve ever been called on to clean.

But what we can find online is just how well the VW Camper and the Westfalia Funeral Trailer look together – the trailer follows on from the van’s two-tone panelled look and definitely doesn’t look as sombre as it sounds. Just look at this beautiful specimen on Pinterest!

The trailer itself had a lot of rust that needed clearing away, so we used our most abrasive cleaning method – glass blasting. We also paint primed the trailer so it was ready for the client to paint and get back on the road.

Westfalia funeral trailer
1963 Westfalia Funeral Trailer

A Swift Half

This particular restorer took a slightly different approach to the issue of needing a matching trailer. Understandably, it can be a challenge to find trailers that suit the look and feel of older, classic cars, and this particular client didn’t have the luxury of a complementing trailer from the same manufacturer.

Our client had already restored a beautiful green Renault 17 and was having trouble finding a trailer that suited the look and feel of the car. So how do you solve this conundrum? Well, you buy another Renault 17 and chop it in half, of course! Yes, it sounds crazy – but we think it’s a particularly genius solution to the “matching trailer” problem.

Again, this soon-to-be-trailer needed a lot of stubborn rust cleaning away, so we opted for glass blasting here too. The client apparently painted the trailer a matching green colour – because you can’t go to all that trouble and have it not match!

A Gyrocopter Engine

Gyrocopters are currently the in-thing in flying circles (but hopefully not for flying in circles). They’re like a small helicopter, and some share features with light aircraft. You don’t come across gyrocopters very often – they’re still on the fringes of flying fandom, maybe because their small size may leave some pilots and passengers feeling a little exposed!

Our client builds Gyrocopters – or “Gyros” as some call them – over at Sleap Airport and needed an engine cleaning. We cleaned the whole engine using soda blasting; the owner plugged any holes beforehand so that any spent soda crystals wouldn’t escape inside the engine’s delicate components. However, if any spent soda were to make it inside an engine, it’s water soluble so it doesn’t run the same risk of damaging internal components like glass media might.

Tickets Please

During 2018, we were approached by the National Tramway Museum in Derbyshire to assist in restoring an original 1930 London tram. They needed a way of cleaning the rust off the steel parts of the “tip over” seat frames without damaging the aluminium castings. With this in mind, we used soda blasting to clean the frames, and are looking forward to working further with the museum in 2019.

The Humbrette

We certainly don’t get many of these through our doors! The Humbrette is an elegant light car manufactured in the 1900s-1910s by Coventry-based Humber Limited, who operated between 1887 to 1967.

We’d worked with this particular client before when he restored a 1978 MGB Roadster. He since found a listing for a 1914 Humbrette on eBay and the rest is history! We blast cleaned all of the metal bodywork that needed painting using glass blasting to get rid of the substantial rust that had built up over the years. The car had had multiple previous owners who had gone to some lengths to restore it, but rust never truly goes away, does it?

If you’re interested, you can check out our client’s own write up and updates about the restoration over on the Antique Automobile Club of America forums!

1914 Humbrette
1914 Humbrette – completely stripped and ready to primer

A Bizarre 50th Birthday Surprise

What would you get for your significant other on their 50th birthday? A spa day? Concert tickets? Jewellery perhaps? Well if you’re our next client, you’ll want to surprise them with something a little more unusual.

Our client needed two specific pieces to complete her husband’s pride and joy – their garden. She intended to surprise him with two “finishing touches” ahead of his 50th birthday garden party: a large, ornamental stone urn (that was as tall as our MD, Dave) and a lamppost.

Our client had looked high and low for the exact items to complete their garden, knowing he’d be overjoyed that they’d finally been sourced.

We’ve worked on lampposts before and they’re never usually too difficult to clean. The urn however was really quite tricky – it was large and heavy, and the inside needed cleaning too. The coating was far too thick to use anything other than glass blasting.

Top section of garden urn
The top section of the garden urn

By all accounts, our client’s husband was surprised and over the moon with the new additions to his garden.

And we’ll be honest – we’d have been surprised too.

So regardless of what you need cleaning, chances are the team here at Soda Blasting Ltd can handle it! We aim to always be approachable, reliable, and efficient; and treat your items with the utmost care. We’re a family run business with years of experience in abrasive cleaning and we’re trusted by countless motoring restoration enthusiasts throughout the UK. So, call us today on 0800 774 7632 for a friendly chat about how we can make your next project a reality.