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Old 03-14-2011
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Definitely check with the marina you are pulling at. My home marina ONLY allows sanding with a vacuum connected to it. In the port regs, NO sand, soda or equal blasting, ONLY grinder style sanders with vacuum attached!

BUT, from a few others local, ie puget sound that have done this at other marina's/workyards, clean up/prep etc is better than doing it via sanding. cost is about the same too.

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Old 03-17-2011
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We blast outside and it has never been a concern. theres not much to clean up when it's done.

Just a thought, Like I said "take it witha grain of salt"
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Old 03-24-2011
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I had this done to my boat. It was fine. Left an even but rough surface almost like worn out sand paper - 180 grit. I disc sanded it before epoxying. I would only do it before epoxying the surface. However the hull above the water line needs lots of masking. The "Pro" that did mine did a terrible job taping and soda bounced above the tape and took the shine off the hull. He went through the water line paint in one spot. He also damaged the water line above the bottom paint (I think by blasting right through the tape). Lesson learned. Be there when it is done. I had to go home.
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Old 03-24-2011
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I'm gonna post here what I posted in another thread because I would like some input...
I recently contacted a reputable firm to soda blast the bottom of my hull. The guy came by and gave me an estimate, but said that he does not soda blast any more. He now uses "recycled glass."

Soda blasting, he says, requires that the hull be sanded with 60 grit in order to give some tooth for the paint. This is not required for glass blasting. He also said that if he used soda that the hull would need to be "neutralized" to get the PH right before painting. I understand that soda is mildly caustic, but would a hull that was soda blasted require neutralization before painting?

His estimate came in at exactly the price that I expected for soda blasting. I realize that "recycled glass" is really silica, aka SAND... My suspicion is that it is cheaper (for him, not necessarily me).

Which is preferable??

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Old 03-24-2011
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I've read in a book never to sand blast. I don't know the exact reason but just keep in mind and do some research.
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Old 03-24-2011
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After soda blasting, I washed the bottom of the boat with lots of water and waited a couple days before putting interlux epoxy on. The soda is definitely less abrasive than recycled glass. I have seen blister jobs that use sand blasting and it left a very uneven surface. But that was below the gel coat where there are different densities of materials. It is common practice to epoxy over a soda blasting but mine was a little rough and I sanded it with 80 grit on a random disk sander. between that and the water, it was clean. Perfectly white with no more paint residue. It did make a rougher surface on the fairing putty on the keel.

Special note. stuff a rag in all closed sea-cocks. And the exhaust. it will fill your boat with powder if you leave a drain open. The guy that did mine blasted inside the Marlon through hulls and they looked clean but it abraded the part of the ball that faces outward. I wish I had protected that.

I think other softer media materials like walnuts could do a good job too. It has to be completely tented as it will cover the marina with white powder if not.
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Old 03-27-2011
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In 2003, we had the 20 year old 34 foot Citation we bought the year before soda blasted after talking to folks for advice. We decided sand blasting is best for barges or tug boats, not fiberglass. I think soda was still a relatively new concept at the time. The guy told us he could take it down just to to the barrier coat after I asked him about it. Soda blasting allows more precision than sand I think. He took off all the bottom paint and it turns out there wasn't any barrier paint (but no blisters, either) but he did leave the gelcoat intact. A guy who does sand blasting came over while I was working on it the next day and said it was too smooth to hold barrier paint. It was an unsolicited expert opinion. I don't think I sanded it with 80 or 60 grit paper, but I'm sure I washed the bottom before applying about 5 or 6 coats of 2000E barrier coat. We've hauled every other year ('05, '07, '09, and will again in a couple of months). Haven't had any problems. The soda blaster did a great taping and tenting the project. Don't know how loud a sand blaster is but the soda blaster was very loud. The place I haul out now doesn't allow blasting because of the noise due houses and condos going up in the last 7 years.
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