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Sablage Hell

On Friday we hired the sandblaster for our second attempt at cleaning up the beams. The weather had been hot and dry for over a week so there shouldn’t be any problems with humidity. In fact it was the hottest day of the year so far at 31ºC, and there we were, Chris dressed up in his deep sea diving kit and me in my Taliban outfit! Hot and uncomfortable.

We were up at 6h30, at the hire place by 7h30 and were back home with the machine at 8h30, it took a further 40 minutes to set everything up and then we were off. Except we weren’t as we had the same problem as before, it worked for a few minutes and then it stopped. So for the next hour we checked and twiddled, emptied and refilled, swore and sulked. But nothing, the darn thing still was not working. So we reluctantly packed up and decided to take it back. Chris went whilst I made phone calls, he came back 40 minutes later bemused and with another machine. No one could explain why it was not working so they had given us another sand feeder in case the other was humid inside.

Again we tried, so 40 minutes of setting it up, putting on all the clobber and we were off. Alas no, still the same problem! So back to the shop it was however it was not 11h40 and we would not be able to get there before 12h and Sodime closes for lunch between 12h and 14h! So we had to wait until after lunch. It was a very silent and despondent lunch at Coustouge that day as we both toyed with our food whilst fuming in frustration with the bloody sableuse!

After lunch Chris went back to return the machine whilst I started the daunting task of cleaning up the beams by hand with a wire brush attached to the angle grinder. After 20 minutes of getting nowhere I started to do some surfing on the net and found a man in the Roussillon who would come and do it for us but for 22€ a m², which considering the size of our place would set us back around 2500€!! Just as I was doing the maths Chris returned with the machine again! He had sat down with the chief engineer at Sodime and had full instruction on how to use the machine and they had persuaded him to give it one more try.

So much like the story of the King and the spider, which king was it? We persevered and the blasted thing finally worked! We now have beautiful beams. The mess was horrific, sand absolutely everywhere. I tried to take a photos but it was very difficult as there was so much sand in the air I couldn’t see! The engineer had recommended that we laid the sand out in the sun before we used it to ensure that it was completely dry, sandbathing! So I had to take each bag of sand open it, lay it on a plastic sheet and then scoop it up in a bucket before pouring it into the sand feeder. Whilst being covered from head to toe in protective gear on the hottest day of the year!!

It took 4 hours to complete the beams, then a further 3 to sweep up. We finished that day at 21h30 exhausted. The next day it was my turn to dress up in the space suit and attack the radiators and doors. After 4 hours we had done 3 radiators and 2 1/2 doors! That blooming machine was playing up again. I am sure it is us, I just don’t know why, we have followed the insturctions to a tee. All I can say is that neither Chris nor I will be taking up a career in sandblasting and I will never rent one again. It cost us 400€ and 3 days and a hell of a lot of frustration. However we have the beams done and ready to treat and we shall just have to use a wire brush on the radiators and get the rest of the doors dipped.

Heh ho. Not many photos but here is an action shot of Chris blasting and of the sand bathing…

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