Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Playing in the sand

Today since we had sunny weather the minion and I did monument engravings. When someone has already bought their monument naturally the date of death is not put on. I recently bought the equipment to do my own engraving and we have been having fun with our new toy.
First you need a good size air compressor. Since cemeteries usually dont have electricity, you need an air compressor that has a gas engine. This bad boy has a 11 HP Kohler Electric Start Engine. We mounted it on an old Starcraft camping trailer that I tore apart. The hose reel has 100 ft of air hose. You want the compressor at least 20-30 ft away so sand doesn't get in the engine. Sometimes the monument you are engraving is far from the road also.The air compressor is hooked up the the sandblaster. This is the minion. He's getting ready to man the blaster. He covers his head with a towel while I blast because the sand will literally go everywhere.

This is what the stencil looks like when we are ready to blast it. We mask off the surrounding area with heavy duct tape. Its called Gorilla Tape and you can get it most anywhere. The "sand we use isn't really sand. Its called Black Beauty and its actually what they call coal slag. Real sand is silica based and is a definite respiratory hazard. Black Beauty doesn't create any dust.
The secret to blasting is to keep moving the nozzle over the stencil. If you hold it in one place, it will "burn" through the stencil, which is similar to vinyl. It takes around 5-8 pounds of sand to do four characters.
When you are done blasting but BEFORE you remove the stencil, you spray it with a little black paint. Then remove the stencil and VOILA! This stone has been at the cemetery for around 5 years already so by next spring the new numbers will have weathered to the point they will look the same as the rest.

Now go home, hop in the shower and watch all that nasty sand go down the drain.

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