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Good idea / bad idea? - Sandblasting business question...

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by CJ Steak, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. CJ Steak
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,377

    CJ Steak
    from Texas

    Hey guys... I've got an idea and want to know what you think of it. Good advice, bad advice and general HAMB smartass replies are more than welcome. If you think it's a shit idea, be sure to tell me why though! lol...

    Ok so I own a sandblasting business right now and have been doing it for some years now. Well i'm still a pretty young guy, but am working on having a back (spine) like a beat up 65 year old from just being a one man operation and doing all the heavy lifting. I've temporarily stopped doing business as I have a primary job, and this was always more of a weekend business. I'm also stopping to continue working out and strengthening up my back.

    I just tuned up my equipment and it's just sitting here. I was looking at it and don't really WANT to sell it... because I know it'll be handy when I start on my wife's Rambler soon... and I don't want it to set and not get used.

    Would you guys be interested at all, in a do-it-yourself sandblasting setup? I mean you come out, use all of my equipment, sand and diesel fuel, for an hourly rate.

    Using general numbers, let's say the shop rate is $100/hr for me to do the work. $75/hr for someone else to come in and do their own work. They come in with dirty parts, all equipment is ready to use, i'm on site and supervising the whole time incase the equipment craps out and they walk out with clean parts. I do all the prep and clean work on the shop/equipment. Of course i'd offer a HAMB discount... $65/hr let's say.

    What can you get done in an hour with my equipment? A set of 4-5 crusty steel wheels... pair of inner and outer fenders if there's not a foot of bondo over the whole thing... two huge John Deere rear rims... the 5 foot tall ones. Mind you that is preparing for powdercoat quality blasting... the quality of blast would be up to you at that point. My quality is powdercoat ready. Everything comes out of my place like that. No shortcuts, no rust or grease anywhere.

    I know i'd have to hire a bonafide bloodsucker to advise on the legal issues and right up a release of reliability etc etc...


    Is this something that would interest you guys?

    It's kind alike the "paint booth for rent" type deal... except I provide everything. You just bring the parts.


  2. mikeco
    Joined: Nov 3, 2008
    Posts: 393

    from virginia

    Sounds like a win win situation to me. Hope it works out for ya!
  3. sounds like a cool idea. i could use this service in my area. be careful tho some people will be hard on your equipment.
  4. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,354


    Sounds like a neat idea, but insurance would be the big issue....definitely talk to the lawyer early in the process

    They used to have a do-it-yourself garage in Tucson 30 yrs ago, I sandblasted some stuff there for an hourly rate. I don't remember what it cost but it must have been real affordable for me to have used it, I was a broke college student. $65 or 75/hr for DIY sounds kind of steep. although I sure understand why you'd want to charge that much.
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  5. arkiehotrods
    Joined: Mar 9, 2006
    Posts: 5,843


    Most guys don't have the money for that kind of equipment, nor do they have room to store it, but they like to do their own work on their cars whenever possible. And everybody likes to save money with some sweat equity. If there was a place around here where I could do that and save 35%, I'd be all over it when I needed that kind of work done.
  6. MedicCustoms
    Joined: Nov 24, 2008
    Posts: 1,094


    Sounds cool I have thought about doing something like this as well,If you do let me know how it works out for you Good luck
  7. 440shawn
    Joined: Sep 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,716


    Hi, sounds like a good idea to me. I have my own cabinet blaster but I would use something like yours for a frame or bigger items. Shawn
  8. Bugsy
    Joined: Dec 27, 2008
    Posts: 1,281

    from Kansas

    I think that would be a great idea. I know I'd use it for sure. Most car people like to do as much work on their own as they can but don't have the equipment for jobs like that. Go for it!! You already own the equipment, have the shop and the knowledge so I don't see where you'd be out much at all if for some reason it didn't work out. You can always go back to business as usual.

    Yeah...check with the insurance/lawyer side of things. If some simpleton blasts his sack off, you don't want his family taking you to the cleaners. Maybe as simple as a waiver that the customer signs. Check with a local equipment retal place to see how they handle that. Not exactly the same type of service but it would give you a place to start anyway...GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!!!
  9. i'll go against the grain here and say i probably wouldn't use such a service... i like to just drop the stuff off at the blasters , discuss what needs to be done and then he can call me for pickup when it's done. in the meantime i can be working on something else
  10. striper
    Joined: Mar 22, 2005
    Posts: 4,482


    You'd need to write in a clause something like, "If you stuff up your part, that's your problem". A bit far for me to travel though. Good luck.

  11. Old61
    Joined: Sep 20, 2008
    Posts: 268

    from PA

    I think you need to find out how many in a reasonable distance from your shop would be willing to do it themselves. Here on the HAMB you have a captive audience of plenty of DIYers but they're not gunna make the trip.
    I also think the rate would need to be less than $50 hr.
  12. 19Fordy
    Joined: May 17, 2003
    Posts: 6,859


    Great idea. But get all the legal issues squared away first. Will you take cash only or credit cards?
  13. CJ Steak
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,377

    CJ Steak
    from Texas

    Thanks for the comments and ideas guys. I have to admit that this is going better than I thought it would lol...

    36- 3window - There's absolutely nothing wrong with you wanting someone to still do the work for you. That a good angle you present there. I WILL still continue sandblasting for those who either aren't capable, not willing, or in 3window's case... could be doing something better with their time (hahaha). My goal is to just do less of the heavy lifting so "if" I do become an old man my back will still be worth a damn. :D My family has a history of bad backs from working their asses off and not being smart about it...

    I guess I can present my idea better with a list pros/cons...

    Pros for the DIY'er:

    - Substantially cheaper rate
    - Do it "your" way
    - No clean up
    - No prep time
    - You control quality
    - No maintenance on equipment
    - No rental contracts with time limits or crazy stipulations
    - You're using professional equipment. To buy everything I have new would put you in the hole $20K+.
    - You're using OSHA approved safety equipment with fresh air fed into a full hood/ helmet with tear-offs.
    - You don't have to drive around town picking up sand
    - You don't have to refill the diesel tank on my air compressor
    - I teach you how to use equipment
    - I stay with you in case of equipment failure and give you pointers along the way. I'm not leaving anyone alone.


    - It is hard work
    - You CAN damage your project
    - Sandbags are 100LBS and awkward
    - You will get very dirty
    - There is a slight hazard with silica sand. It takes a lot of breathing this stuff in and out (typically YEARS without protection) directly before you actually get silicosis... but it needs to be mentioned. Some people's tolerances could be significantly lower than the average person.
    - You could hurt yourself. I've been hit with the sandblaster at point blank range. Have someone slap you on the back or on the thigh really hard. That's what it feels like. Just a bad sting... maybe a drop of blood, but nothing crazy.

    I'm sure there are other pros and cons i'm missing, so feel free to add some if you can think of them.
  14. fisher_man_matt
    Joined: Jul 22, 2006
    Posts: 147


    Sounds like a good idea and I'd use the service if it were nearby if I needed blasting done. One thing to think about your liability if some idiot (not that there are any on the HAMB :D) hurts themselves using your equipment.
  15. ryno
    Joined: Oct 6, 2005
    Posts: 3,471


    why not hire someone to be your helper?
    make them do all the shity work, and still get your 100hr wage, while only paying the helper 10-12hr. they can lift the heavy shit and do the dirty work.
  16. theglassman
    Joined: Dec 23, 2007
    Posts: 43


    50 an hour sounds more doable...........
    not sure if you could do it but have an hour meter on the blaster so if im there blasting and i take a break im not wasting time....might cut down on the possible injuries from some one tryin to hurry up.

    im in cleburne a short drive north of you......

    do i get a discount for my inlaws being the founders of your little town....:D
  17. CJ Steak
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,377

    CJ Steak
    from Texas

    I totally understand the under $50 hr. idea. I'll just have to tally up what it actually costs me to run this business per hour and see if it's even worth it for me to do it this cheap.

    I have to take into consideration the price of sand, the fuel consumption of my diesel powered air compressor per hour, and just the general overhead for the shop i'd build to do this in.

    To cut costs, I could find some way to re-use the sand, but I honestly don't want to run used sand through my equipment. It'll just wear everything out faster and creates other problems... and do you really want to shoot your fenders with the same sand some guy just blasted a greasy frame with? lol. The sand I use isn't cheap either. It's Blast 4 silica sand specially formulated for blasting. It leaves a great finish. Once it comes out of the hose, it gets tossed though.

    In way of pricing... I can toss out some really general numbers. Mind you, they'll either be cheap, the same, or over priced for the area you're in. From being in the business in Austin area... I see that the average price for a bare truck frame with considerable grease build up, dirt and rust on the dry parts is about 350 to blast if it's going to be powdercoated. A truck frame takes me approximately 3-4 hours to do. With that being said... you're you're a HAMBr and can do it for $65ish an hour... you're looking at $195-260 to do it yourself.

    Mind you, those are general numbers just used to illustrate the amount of savings you can earn doing it yourself in that particular scenario. Next question... is saving roughly $155 on a frame worth it?
  18. one37tudor
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 146


    I am in Austin and I would use the service for that price.

  19. theglassman
    Joined: Dec 23, 2007
    Posts: 43


    i used to work for a fitness reman. company and i was the blast monkey ....

    im with you on the working your ass off thing...people would be shocked at how much work it really is to blast a frame.....

    65 bucks is really a steal.....

    have you ever tried walnut shells or peacon(sp) shells

    another idea might be to have a duel perpose shop set up....

    we had 2 "booths" next to each other......
    1 for greesy parts that resicles the sand
    2nd for more delicate parts....used new media every time.....
  20. CJ Steak
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,377

    CJ Steak
    from Texas

    Yeah the liability thing is what i'm going to have to be most careful about. Anyone can have a great bullet proof "release of liability" form... but if someone hurts themselves and wants to sue your ass... they have that right. You STILL have to go to court and defend yourself... and the fees and lawyers will add up quicker than anything. AND if I did win... i'd have to counter sue that person (who was probably just trying to make a buck) for all the lawyer fees and court costs... and I doubt I'd get anything out of a sue happy person like that.

    Pretty much if anything crazy happens i'm genuinely screwed. To afford insurance to cover me in that case would probably cost me more than i'd ever make...
  21. CJ Steak
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,377

    CJ Steak
    from Texas

    Have your inlaws get me outta this damn speeding ticket I got in my '67 MGB GT and i'll let you use my equipment for free!! LOL Were your in-laws here when the circus came through town on the railroad track... the Hippo escaped, was never found, and that's why our Hutto cheerleaders are called the "Hutto Hippos"???

    My beastly Ingersoll Rand 185 actually has a Hobbs meter on it! :D I'm all about being fair too... I could get a second clock to start at the same time as the compressor and whichever is lower (if the hobbs meter is inaccurate, which I doubt) is the price the customer would pay. I'm not out to become a millionaire and i've made a ton of friends through this business... no enemies. I'd like to keep it that way. :)

    I was also thinking about having a huge digital timer on the wall, so people blasting could glance up and know how far along they are time/price wise.
  22. Jordster
    Joined: Oct 25, 2009
    Posts: 145


    How do you handle the guy (or gal) that insists on doing it themselves for the cost benefit, but just doesn't get the swing of it or can't maneuver the supplies or the equipment?

    I think it's a great to try and make some money for the equipment investment, but being prepared for the worst customer EVER could help you think out the legal and physical implications of both setting up the work area for do-it-yourself'rs and feeling the need to say, 'it's not working out, you'll have to let me do it', even if for simple safety reasons.

    I know I'd LOVE to try something like that, but the 100lb bags would be beyond me. I don't think I'd make too bad a mess of the blasting itself after being shown, and if I DID I certainly wouldn't blame you, but others might not be so quick to take the responsibility of their actions.
  23. Retro Jim
    Joined: May 27, 2007
    Posts: 3,860

    Retro Jim

    First off sorry about your back , I am in the same damn boat ! 3 bad disc , sucks !

    DON'T sell your equipment !
    Not a bad idea but there is way too much legal hassles that would be involved . In this day of time I wouldn't do it . If you do I would bet you won't make it past a month before some SOB would have a lawyer suing you for something ! It's not worth the BS . Better to do it yourself .
    If it was a good care buddy or someone like that , I would consider it . There is just way too many legal hassles to protect yourself from being sued for one thing or the other .

  24. CJ Steak
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,377

    CJ Steak
    from Texas

    Right now, my business only accepts personal checks and cash. If my clients would prefer credit cards, or that becomes an issue, it would only take me a day or two to get setup for it. No big deal.

    The biggest thing I want to inquire about is if I have to charge sales tax on people "renting" my equipment by the hour. Would you believe that in Texas, I have to charge sales tax on sandblasting, even though i'm not selling anything?

    I've ran this past multiple CPA's and have talked to the state and they won't budge on it. I just hate explaining that to customers. I will jump for joy if I can get out of charging sales tax...
  25. Shoot I'd charge people $100 an hour to blast their parts and bring them over to your place. If I was in the area.
  26. CJ Steak
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,377

    CJ Steak
    from Texas

    Man, you hit the nail on the head. This has been going through my mind over and over and over. I mean what if I get some limp wrist in there that thinks he can handle 100lb sacks and a sandblast hose that puts out 140PSI constantly? Or a small framed lady that just knows she can do it... or some elderly person that is stronger minded than he is able bodied? I'm one of the nicest people you'd ever meet. I'd hate to tell someone "no, I don't think you could hack it". Sandblasters don't get all the credit their due sometimes... until you've done it with professional grade heavy equipment... you don't really know how hard it is to stand there hunched over and blast for hours at a time... and the only break you get is when you bend over to pick up 100lb sacks off the floor to refill the machine.

    It would be kinda awkward to tell someone... hey... I don't think you can do it... or not say anything and the guy gets a sandy vagina and I get a call from his lawyer.

    I think the idea and the theory is good... but the DEVIL IS in the details on this one. Talk about walking on eggshells...
  27. sawzall
    Joined: Jul 15, 2002
    Posts: 4,697


    there a few things I really dislike..

    and sandblasting is one of them...

    so I have to agree with 36 - 3 window.. I want to just drop off, chat, and pickup.. I wouldn't be interested..

    however from a business standpoint..

    You'd need to figure your
    material costs/ (sand etc etc)
    upkeep costs compressor replacement tooling replacement etc

    and your hourly rate (because you would be there as a supervisor)

    and then add any profit to the margin..

    I think (although it sounds like a lot to some) 75 an hour would be too cheap..
  28. CJ Steak
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 1,377

    CJ Steak
    from Texas

    Man, i've toyed with this idea since day # 2 of being in this business. There's been a few things preventing me from doing this... but the biggest one is I want to be responsible for whatever happens to my customers projects. Sandblasters already have a horrible reputation for warping sheetmetal by using the wrong media, wrong technique, or wrong settings on the machine. I just can't trust someone else with my reputation. I know it's hard headed... but i've sandblasted some fairly expensive stuff like Jag XKE roadster bodies, even some rare Ferrari components. Look up what the replacement value is on and XKE hood LOL... I can't afford it.

    The other thing is I work 4x10 hour days at my secure job... and I was doing this on my 3 days off. I didn't always have work piled up to make it worth having someone come in for the day. On some days i'd be upside down if I paid by the hour they were physically there, as opposed to the Hobbs hour on the machine.

    Compound that with me not wanting to give up my secure job to pursue this full time... and i'm pretty much stuck doing this alone. :)
  29. I've been to a place that charges 50.00/hr and had cabinets with different blast materials in them, but they are slow, so therefore expensive, but you were clean when you went home.
    Started going to an oudoor blaster for 50.00/hr, with a heavy duty set up, it was very good and a lot faster, but I was dirty as hell after it was over. They supplied dust masks to wear, and I did every thing else. I used them quite a few times.
  30. Algon
    Joined: Mar 12, 2007
    Posts: 1,215


    Cheaper would be nice if it is possible for you, but for the $65plus an hour with a constant 140psi to use would be well worth it to me. I don't care how dirty the work is, the concept of if you want done right do it yourself holds true. I really like the idea and would be very interested if you were local.

    Something to consider and I'm sure you have, are other media options.

    Every time I think I have found a blaster I trust and I feel he knows his shit, he warps something badly... A near mint 61 Ventura body came back as rough as 36 grit paper and as wavy as grandma's under arm after years of good service. Same with the last guy, he did a 56 hardtop missed everything that was important but hammered the quarters and the stuff marked to be cut out...
    On something this nice or important doing it yourself or sending a trusted worker to a DIY place like this would be a nice option in many cases.

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