Dustless Blasting with a 2012 GMC Sierra
All-in-One Office, Tow Vehicle, and Crew Transport
Most folks in the trucking community know firsthand about the unmatched versatility of their rides. So much more than transportation, slammed trucks can fill the bed with trophies at an auto show while lifted trucks can cruise over daunting terrain with ease. Use your ride to haul a pallet of bricks for that new barbecue or slide yer old couch in the back for some nostalgic, open-air comfort at the drive-in. The combination of utility and transportation come together best, however, when the truck helps you bring home a paycheck. It becomes an air-conditioned mobile office that can get you and several members of the crew to the job site while carrying all the supplies in the bed and maybe even pulling a trailer on the hitch. Having a truck creates business opportunities and the freedom of being self-employed. This is exactly the scenario Steve Stewart found himself in with his ’12 GMC Sierra Crew Cab shortbed.
Steve has been in construction management for most of his career but always yearned to be self-employed. When he came upon the Dustless Blasting display at this year’s Daytona Turkey Run, he realized it was time to make the move. The company made the process easy, selling the machine, providing training, and offering several publicity options. Born in northern Florida, Steve made good use of his networking skills, utilizing family and friends to spread the word about his new endeavor while also maintaining an active presence on social media. Within just a few short months, he built up a solid list of clients and has been staying very busy. While sandblasting a vintage car is one of his favorites, he spends lots of time at the local shipyard, returning rusted hulks to seaworthy condition.
Naturally, the Sierra is a big part of the business success. Outfitted with graphics to match the pumping trailer, the truck creates business opportunities and attracts customers when it’s on the road as well as when it’s parked in front of the local restaurant at lunch. The 5.3L V-8 tows the rig with no problem, and the trailer itself is balanced so that bags of blast media (recycled bottle glass) can be carried on the back and, if necessary, a water supply carried in the tank up front.
We met up with Steve and his dustless blasting rig as he began the stripping process on a ’39 LaSalle owned by Brian Wirz, a member of the Ancient City Auto Club in St. Augustine. Brian already had the LaSalle on a rotisserie, and Steve backed the Sierra and trailer down the narrow driveway, close to the vintage car. It was the perfect alternative to laborious hand sanding or using caustic chemicals. Steve’s setup uses nontoxic, environmentally inert media that is tough on paint, grease, and mold while gentle on the sheetmetal. It was also an easy cleanup in Brian’s yard. The recycled bottle glass is available in four different levels of abrasiveness, from fine to coarse. Dealing with the vintage sheetmetal on the LaSalle, Steve used a grit just slightly stronger than the finest grade—a perfect choice for quick rust removal without damaging the surface. Mixed with water, the media gets the job done without any heat or warping of body sheetmetal, and there is no huge dust plume (one of the biggest disadvantages of earlier forms of sandblasting.) Steve even added a rust preventative to the stream to prevent flash rust prior to painting. The four-cylinder diesel Kubota motor on the trailer runs the pump that creates both water and air pressure to move the media, providing a consistent pattern that makes blasting easy and accurate. The unit runs between 80 and 90 pounds of pressure, and much of the level of cleaning can be adjusted simply by moving the pressure wand closer or further away from the vehicle.
The vintage LaSalle was done in a single day. All the nooks and crannies of individual pieces like the fenders, doors, and trunk—as well as the body shell, inside and out—were blasted with ease. The stripping operation is a job that could take weeks using sandpaper or chemicals. As each piece was blasted, Brian sprayed a primer to protect it from rust.
Steve has only been in business for a few months but is already well established, using the Sierra to tow his equipment to multiple job sites near his home. In addition to making quick work of the rust and paint on vehicles like the old LaSalle, Steve can just as easily put a new face on a graffiti-covered building, whether it’s stone, tile, marble, or granite. With just a simple change of medium, he can strip vintage wooden boats, rejuvenate modern fiberglass hulls, and blast the barnacles off oceangoing, steel-hulled yachts. The Sierra gets the rig and crew to the job site and makes it all possible, creating a new career for its owner. Steve’s added a second truck that has expanded his business opportunities even more. His flatbed Ford F-450 has become the perfect delivery vehicle for media supplies to other media blasters in Florida. Trucks are way more than just transportation!