Anyone have experience w/Harbor Freight sandblasters?

Have a potential sandblasting job (removing peeled paint from below a steel & concrete staircase, fairly large area), and I suggested to my client that we might use either one of these Harbor Freight sandblasters with a rented compressor:*
http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber857 http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber972
Does anyone have experience with either of these, or with similar ones from this or other vendors? One's $15, the other $13, so when my client asked if these would do the job, I told him that they probably would, and even if we ended up buying two of these to finish the job, they're so cheap that they could be practically considered consumables.
(Replies that basically say "Harbor Freight sucks!" will be ingored, thank you very much.)
*For those who ask "Why not just rent a sandblaster?", an interesting tale therein: I did call my favorite rental place (Cresco), who told me that not only do they not rent sandblasters, but that nobody else does either. Asked why, they said that it's because of liability issues; apparently, someone renting one damaged nearby parked cars one too many times.
They do have all kinds of compressors available to rent, though.
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Why would the rental company be responsible for the damage? After all, doesn't the same risk apply to any tool that is rented? A jack hammer throwing a chip of rock or concrete, a de-thatching machine hurling a hunk-O-stone, a 30 foot ladder falling. It seems to me that the person causing the damage would be the responsible party.
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Having used a professional rig, and being inexperienced at the time, my guess is they're more concerned with damage to the people using it. Just flash that thing across your hand and watch the skin disappear

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RBM wrote:

That's a fact :-)
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Dave Bugg wrote:

gloves? don't people wear gloves when sandblasting?
just seems like a good idea, is all I'm sayin'.
nate
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Some years ago I bought one from HF to take the rust off a WW2 jeep frame. The one I got came with a tank about the size of a standard gas grill tank, in fact it probably was, and a hose, mask, etc. Best I can figure, if I used that rig to do the job, I'd probably still be working on it, twenty years later. Essentially the things are worthless for anything beyond light hobby work. I borrowed a rig from a buddy that sandblasts tombstones, and the job took about an hour. I can see why a rental place wouldn't have one. You can do a lot of damage in a heartbeat, if you're not careful
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On 5/15/2008 4:45 PM RBM spake thus:

>

Thanks. Any suggestions for sandblasters?
Is the problem that these cheap ones just don't blast hard enough? Not enough volume?
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Depending upon the compressor, you can get all the CFM you need, but the nozzle size and that little bag won't pass enough media to do anything. Think water pistol vs. fire hose
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Among other things...
You need a "pot" sandblaster for serious work, and if you're doing really serious work an air supplied hood with an air dryer. http://cgi.ebay.com/20-Gallon-Pressure-Tank-Air-Sand-Blaster-Sandblaster_W0QQitemZ260240178899QQihZ016QQcategoryZ43570QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem or http://tinyurl.com/4hnb4d -----
- gpsman
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Sandblasting is a function of air pressure and grit size and, to a lesser degree, how often you have to fill the reservoir.
HF sells only itty-bitty grit, suitable for jewelry making. You'll have to get the larger stuff at Graingers.
The sand-blaster itself should be ample. I got one to knock the rust off some steel garage doors. Tried their material, bah. Tried salt, also bah. Got some real abrasives and the job went double-quick. 'Course there's a pile of abrasive to vacuum up...
As for renting a compressor, you can probably buy one from HF for the price of a rental.
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The grit capacity of those units will limit you significantly. The actual power will be dependent on the PSI available from the compressor (at the cfm the blaster needs, or there will be lots of waiting) In my experience with a handheld blaster, 150psi is about the minimum to do anything significant.
My unit is like this http://cgi.ebay.com/AIR-SAND-BLASTING-KIT-SANDBLASTER-BLASTER-TOOLS_W0QQitemZ180242740665QQihZ008QQcategoryZ43570QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
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I have a Harbor Freight 20 lb Sandblaster. It's red, stands on 3 legs, comes with a long hose, nozzle, and I think it listed for about $100, but I got it for less on sale. I used it to take paint off a section of concrete patio. I am very happy with it. The only problem I had was I used it with an average portable compressor that I already had. It does about 8CFM at 50PSI, 6 at 90. So, I had to let the compressor get up to near max pressure, then go at it for about a min or so, then stop and let the compressor rebuild. The nozzle did clog occasionally, which was probably due to the pressure going to low, or it could have been that the sand was a bit damp. At that point, I had to remove the tip to get it to clear.
In any case, it wasn't as bad as it sounds. I got the job done relatively fast. Certainly a lot faster than any other method. If I had any sizable job to do, I'd rent a bigger compressor, or else hook up 2 like mine in parallel. The only other thing is the nozzle/hose they give you is hand held. To do the patio, I taped it to a broom handle and it worked OK that way.
Overall, I'm very happy with having bought it.
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If this is outdoors, try using high pressure water. That's what I used. If you don't already have a power washer you can probably borrow one from someone and avoid the rental fees too.
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On 5/16/2008 6:30 AM snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net spake thus:

Is it this one, or similar? (This one's a 40 lb. unit, same price): http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber4202
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this is the one i use on glass and knocking the rust off of metals. you can also get the grit necessary at HF. use AlO. don't use sand or silica. use a minimum of a p95 mask, unless you like silicosis and not being able to breath.
regards, charlie cave creek, az
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On 5/16/2008 3:01 PM charlie spake thus:

>

Your application sounds a lot lighter than mine. We need to get a lot of old paint and rust off the underside of some metal & concrete stairs. Would that grit be sufficient for that? Someone else in this thread didn't seem to think so.
And yes, I intend to wear a mask (I have a respirator).
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If you buy the abrasive at HF, it's going to get very expensive for any larger job. My conclusion was those abrasives were good for small jobs, or if you have a closed sandblasting system.

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well, i can blow holes in 1/2" glass pretty easily, especially if i use a large grit size. paint and rust are a lot softer than that. however i do all of my work in a blast cabinet, which is not something you're going to be able to do. you're going to need to recover grit in some fashion.
it would be better to hire this job out to someone who has the tools and know-how to use them onsite.
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Yes, looks very similar, but mine didn't come with the water trap and was 20lbs.

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