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  1. #1
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    Default Hot Rodding the Harbor Freight Blasting Cabinet

    The cabinet: https://www.harborfreight.com/40-lb-...net-68893.html

    If you don't have one of these in your shop, you'll like it. This is a really good tool for a good price, but it is almost unusable in its stock form. There's going to be a lot of blasting and powder coating on the harley project and I will be using the cabinet a lot. It seemed like a good time to correct the problems with it.

    The first problem is loading it - The end opens and dumps media everywhere. to replace the viewing glass protector requires literally laying shoulder down in the machine and sticking it on from the bottom. With some 1/4" plywood to frame the glass, foam seals and a strip hinge, it becomes a front loader. Much easier, cleaner, and you can change the glass protector with ease. Those protectors don't fit the glass well, so use some electrical tape to cover the naked edges to avoid frosting your viewing glass.

    There is no good way to avoid dumping media when using the end door to load very large projects. I bought some L shaped aluminum to tig together and make a tray to go there, so the media lands in the tray and can easily be scooped back into the machine.

    The next problem - It is too short. You are always leaning down to work it. I'm 6'3 and it gets tiring very quickly. A couple of 2x6 and some cheap castors from Harbor Freight make it a mobile workstation. It even has a shelf underneath now for your extra glass protectors, shop vac or whatever you need to put there, and you can roll it out to use it and roll it back into a corner when you are done. It rolls like a king if you use 3" castors or better.

    The next problem is the lighting. It comes with some sort of small, proprietary, drop light looking thing and it gets frosted and becomes unusable very quickly. You just can't see anything and there's no good replacement available. Replacing this with an junction box with some bulb adapters on the end lets you use cheap, clear, plastic LED lights from WalMart or the hardware store in it. Huge improvement! When they get frosted? Just replace them with anything you want. Seal the junction box slugs with silicone before you install it so it won't get sand inside. Use some duct tape to make a thick gasket for the inside of the cover and seal it up.

    There's a giant issue with venting also. It is designed to vent on the left and a port is provided for that, but if you hook a vac to it, it just sucks all your media out. I put a little chimney there to keep the media in and used what is supposed to be the exhaust port on the rear, right as the vac connection because it is baffled inside and helps draw dust out, while leaving heavier media alone. A few wraps of duct tape on some 3" PVC connections makes it fit perfectly. Use a 3" to 1.5" adapter at the end and a shim made of a few wraps of cardboard to attach the VAC as an adjustment. By making it seal better or worse, you can adjust the suction to get the pulverized media dust out, while leaving the heavier, healthy, media alone. A few bends helps with this too, as in the picture.

    It happily and regularly shocks you with static electricity, so grounding everything and adding some dedicated wiring stops that. If you wrap all the neutrals and jump the hot to a switch and outlet, you can control the vacuum and light from one spot, with one switch, which is handy. (MC Cable works well for the wiring) By adding a short piece of cable and a male extension cord adapter to your junction box and power switch, you are now freed from the restriction of the power cord length.. Allowing you to roll it wherever you need it and then just plug an extension cord into it to do your work.

    Lastly, the grate inside is pretty large. I've got some hard, stainless screen wire to bend into an L shape to put inside, so there's a place to put fasteners and smaller things for blasting. You don't want to hold them in your hand because it will wear the gloves out prematurely. And a square of larger screen wire to lay on the grate for larger items you don't want to fall through.

    There will be a few unused holes from removing the light and such. Tape over them from the outside to keep it from leaking media.

    This is a really good tool and the price is good. It is a great addition to your shop if you just change a couple of things.

    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails blaster1.jpg   blaster2.jpg   blaster3 (2).jpg   blaster3.jpg   blaster4.jpg  

    Last edited by confab; 01-16-2020 at 11:21 AM.

  2. #2
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    Can you take some more pics of the exhaust rigging. I have a smaller version and would love to solve the "quick media evacuation" issue.

    Nice write up!

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    Thanks..

    Yeah, I used the large hole in the back for the vac attachment because it is baffled inside, and put some 3" PVC bends in it to make a more torturous path for the air to follow, giving the heavier media a chance to drop out and be recycled.

    The vac hose connects there on the left (the little black thing at the end) and rolled up some cardboard to use as an adapter to connect it to the PVC.. Which is handy, because it is also an adjustment.. Make it seal tighter and better for more vacuum, or the opposite for less..

    The smaller, 1.5" pvc on the other side of the case in the first pics is just a chimney of sorts, to keep from blowing media out because it is unbaffled.. It is now the air intake.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails blaster5.jpg  

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    This is like reading about the trials and tribulations of a Super Vee owner trying to get the motor to run right ! LOL !!!
    " It's a great motor if....you re- engineer the whole thing."

    I get it , it's a cheap cabinet that you are sharing info on so people can know what their getting into or to make it actually work properly before they destroy it with a hammer first.
    Thanks .

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    Yeah..

    One of the things that impressed me with it is (unlike a lot of Chicommie stuff) the quality is actually very high on the cabinet. It is a good piece. It is made very well.

    The steel is heavy. It is formed well. the fit and finish is very good. The hardware is good. The seams are gasketed and don't leak. This thing is an exceptionally good value for something from HF.. But, (as you say) the engineering sucks.

    Unlike a lot of stuff that is so poorly made, you can't do anything with it even if you wanted to.. This thing is a pretty good deal, even with the problems.

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    I have one of these that works pretty good, I initially got it for carbs. I shortened it so I can sit in front of it, hooked a shop vac to it to help with dust and modded the pick up. I might put wheels on it though. I recently found some vids on youtube of guys turning it into a vapor blaster.

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    Cool mods. I put anything I can on casters because it's insanely convenient.

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    Quote Originally Posted by farmall View Post
    I put anything I can on casters because it's insanely convenient.
    Your dog hates his.

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    I've got one of those also. Lots of good tips here.
    Haven't used it much but did get one of these to go on the collector bucket:

    I guess it separates out the heavy stuff before it hits your vacuum.
    Also hooked the vac up to a potentiometer to vary the speed. Your simpler method sounds good too.
    Last edited by Nanonevol; 4 Weeks Ago at 5:48 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hillcat View Post
    Your dog hates his.
    I shouldn't have used self-tapping screws, but live and learn!

  11. #11

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    +1 on the Dust Deputy.

    I replaced the bolts/nuts holding in the glass with threaded rivets, and ditched the shitty plastic sheets you tape to the glass with...actual glass. I kept the original thick glass window, but go to Lowe's and have them cut me thinner pieces the same dimensions and use them as the sacrificial layer. The plastic sheets are trash within an hour, but the sacrificial glass lasts months and cost about $6/each.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nanonevol View Post
    I've got one of those also. Lots of good tips here.
    Haven't used it much but did get one of these to go on the collector bucket:

    I guess it separates out the heavy stuff before it hits your vacuum.
    Also hooked the vac up to a potentiometer to vary the speed. Your simpler method sounds good too.
    My bro got a generic and uses it to to separate machining chips. Works great! I have one but I've been too lazy to set it up.

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    I agree the H.F. blast cabinets are a good bargain, despite their flaws. I bought
    one a few years ago on sale plus I had a 20% off coupon so got it cheap. & a buddy
    of mine that was with me bought their floor model for $50.

    I swapped out the Gun the stock one was garbage.
    I added a vacuum & made a roller stand.

    I still need to do something about the light, the stock one is useless, it is so
    bad I have gotten into the habit of doing all my blasting after sundown.

    Also, When I assembled it I didn't use any sealant on the joints & it definitely
    leaks media. The fine particles get past the joints, I would advise anyone who buys one of these cabinets to seal the joints
    when assembling the unit.

    Also...... I only use mine outdoors because when using, my shop will get a fine dust
    cloud if I use it inside, And breathing that crap will ruin your lungs, and coat everything inside the shop with fine abrasive particles.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Revelator; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:32 AM.

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    What do ya all like for blasting guns?

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    I'm still using the one that came with it. It works fine and the nozzles are of good quality too. (Think it came with 3 spares)

    All the seams are gasketed on the one I have, so I wonder if HF made some changes on this thing?

    I think mine is 4 or 5 years old?

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    Quote Originally Posted by confab View Post
    I'm still using the one that came with it. It works fine and the nozzles are of good quality too. (Think it came with 3 spares)

    All the seams are gasketed on the one I have, so I wonder if HF made some changes on this thing?

    I think mine is 4 or 5 years old?
    my cabinet (in my previous post) was purchased around 8 years ago and had NO Gaskets

    I completely forget where I got my replacement gun but it was a definite improvement . maybe the HF Gun on mine was defective, It would spit and sputter like a super E carb most of the time

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    Don't happen to have a brand name for the gun, do you? Mine works, but it does chug like you say.


    And the fine dust issue has appeared here too. I noticed it the other day.

    In my case it seems to be pulverized material leaking past the vac filter. I'll roll that sucker over by the door next time and put the vaccum itself outside and see if that eliminates it.
    Last edited by confab; 3 Weeks Ago at 1:45 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by confab View Post
    Don't happen to have a brand name for the gun, do you? Mine works, but it does chug like you say.


    And the fine dust issue has appeared here too. I noticed it the other day.

    In my case it seems to be pulverized material leaking past the vac filter. I'll roll that sucker over by the door next time and put the vaccum itself outside and see if that eliminates it.
    I've been thinking about getting one of these for my cabinet, I've read it eliminates the chugging.https://www.googleadservices.com/pag...gQIDBBA&adurl=

    I just found this.https://youtu.be/9N7HvyJNzdE
    Last edited by metalheart28; 3 Weeks Ago at 11:40 AM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by confab View Post
    The cabinet: https://www.harborfreight.com/40-lb-...net-68893.html

    If you don't have one of these in your shop, you'll like it. This is a really good tool for a good price, but it is almost unusable in its stock form. There's going to be a lot of blasting and powder coating on the harley project and I will be using the cabinet a lot. It seemed like a good time to correct the problems with it.

    The first problem is loading it - The end opens and dumps media everywhere. to replace the viewing glass protector requires literally laying shoulder down in the machine and sticking it on from the bottom. With some 1/4" plywood to frame the glass, foam seals and a strip hinge, it becomes a front loader. Much easier, cleaner, and you can change the glass protector with ease. Those protectors don't fit the glass well, so use some electrical tape to cover the naked edges to avoid frosting your viewing glass.

    There is no good way to avoid dumping media when using the end door to load very large projects. I bought some L shaped aluminum to tig together and make a tray to go there, so the media lands in the tray and can easily be scooped back into the machine.

    The next problem - It is too short. You are always leaning down to work it. I'm 6'3 and it gets tiring very quickly. A couple of 2x6 and some cheap castors from Harbor Freight make it a mobile workstation. It even has a shelf underneath now for your extra glass protectors, shop vac or whatever you need to put there, and you can roll it out to use it and roll it back into a corner when you are done. It rolls like a king if you use 3" castors or better.

    The next problem is the lighting. It comes with some sort of small, proprietary, drop light looking thing and it gets frosted and becomes unusable very quickly. You just can't see anything and there's no good replacement available. Replacing this with an junction box with some bulb adapters on the end lets you use cheap, clear, plastic LED lights from WalMart or the hardware store in it. Huge improvement! When they get frosted? Just replace them with anything you want. Seal the junction box slugs with silicone before you install it so it won't get sand inside. Use some duct tape to make a thick gasket for the inside of the cover and seal it up.

    There's a giant issue with venting also. It is designed to vent on the left and a port is provided for that, but if you hook a vac to it, it just sucks all your media out. I put a little chimney there to keep the media in and used what is supposed to be the exhaust port on the rear, right as the vac connection because it is baffled inside and helps draw dust out, while leaving heavier media alone. A few wraps of duct tape on some 3" PVC connections makes it fit perfectly. Use a 3" to 1.5" adapter at the end and a shim made of a few wraps of cardboard to attach the VAC as an adjustment. By making it seal better or worse, you can adjust the suction to get the pulverized media dust out, while leaving the heavier, healthy, media alone. A few bends helps with this too, as in the picture.

    It happily and regularly shocks you with static electricity, so grounding everything and adding some dedicated wiring stops that. If you wrap all the neutrals and jump the hot to a switch and outlet, you can control the vacuum and light from one spot, with one switch, which is handy. (MC Cable works well for the wiring) By adding a short piece of cable and a male extension cord adapter to your junction box and power switch, you are now freed from the restriction of the power cord length.. Allowing you to roll it wherever you need it and then just plug an extension cord into it to do your work.

    Lastly, the grate inside is pretty large. I've got some hard, stainless screen wire to bend into an L shape to put inside, so there's a place to put fasteners and smaller things for blasting. You don't want to hold them in your hand because it will wear the gloves out prematurely. And a square of larger screen wire to lay on the grate for larger items you don't want to fall through.

    There will be a few unused holes from removing the light and such. Tape over them from the outside to keep it from leaking media.

    This is a really good tool and the price is good. It is a great addition to your shop if you just change a couple of things.

    What do you powder coat with? I have a harbor freight unit that works decent and I made an oven out of a metal trash can. I put a bbq temp gauge in the lid, an electric element in the bottom and put a rack from a smoker in it. You can use the rack or hang things from the bottom of the lid. The biggest parts I've done in it were both side engine covers for an xs650 and they turned out real good!

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