Q & A

Who is Vapor Blast Solutions, LLC ?

I have been riding, racing, restoring and repairing motorcycles since 1969. The most laborious and least enjoyable part of restoration activities for me has always been cleaning of parts that have decades of burnt on grease, tarnish and oxidation, especially to aluminum parts. Expending time and effort scrubbing parts in pans of gas and other nasty chemicals was never enjoyable nor produced good results similar to when the bike was new.

After reading about Vapor Blasting in several Classic British motorcycle magazines, I was convinced that this system would be the ultimate solution to providing a professional restoration finish. I purchased a Vapor Blast system to enhance my motorcycle restoration hobby, and now offer Vapor Blast services to others.

Vapor Blast Solutions, LLC is owned and operated by Dan and Kari Vitaletti ,  located at 4350 Center Drive, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

What is Vapor Blasting?

Vapor Blasting is a process also known as wet blasting, or aquablast cleaning. The Vapor Blast process involves 3 basic components, a slurry consisting of glass beads and water with compressed air providing the motive force.  No hazardous or toxic chemicals are used.   The process takes place inside of a purpose built blasting cabinet which utilizes a recirculation pump to maintain the slurry in suspension.

Located inside the blast cabinet is a  hand held spray nozzle which receives a continuous supply of the slurry.  This nozzle is the mixing point where the slurry and compressed air come together, exiting in a high velocity vapor.  It is this vapor that performs the cleaning action, resulting in a “like new” surface finish.

The process cleans metal surfaces without damaging, eroding or abrading the underlying base metal, making it safe for maintaining bearing fits or critical dimensions.  Machined engine surfaces such as cylinder bores, milled head surfaces, or valve seats will not be affected by vapor blasting. The combination of the water and glass bead slurry provides a hydraulic cushioning effect to lessen the glass beads impact on the metal’s surface. Working together, they provide a peening/honing action that cleans the metal surface, resulting in a finish that minimizes further staining and oxidation.

What are the Vapor Blast advantages over conventional dry blasting?

Grit and Glass Bead blasting are dry, aggressive methods, they remove dirt and contamination with an impacting, erosion process which may remove or damage the base metal.  They tend to leave a rough, porous surface, which becomes dirty quickly and is difficult to clean.  Engine destroying abrasive particles may be embedded into the parts, only to mix with the oil, if not thoroughly removed.

The wet vapor flows into areas of parts that Soda or Walnut Shell blasting may not reach.  The contaminates are carried away with the slurry.

What types of metals are suitable for this cleaning process?

Vapor Blasting provides best results on Aluminum, Brass, Bronze, Copper, Mild and Stainless Steel.

Cast iron cylinders/heads and steel frame parts are not a candidate for vapor blasting.

What type of finish is produced?

The surface will be cleaned of contamination, staining, oxidation, grease and residues. Depending on the type of metal and method used, presents variations of finishes results.

Die cast parts finish will be a clean dull satin finish, whereas, sand cast parts have a brilliant, high luster surface finish, appearing as if they were just cast.  Surface details showing mold marks and sand grains are now obvious. This resulting condition gives clear indications of any surface flaws, cracks, corrosion pitting or defects that may have been hidden.

It is an ideal preliminary condition which will allow for additional treatment such as polishing, plating, painting or weld repair, if required. Polished aluminum parts will be converted to a clean satin finish, requiring re-polishing, if desired.

View the Photos page to get an idea of what surface finishes can be accomplished.

Is Vapor Blasting process new?  Why have I never heard of it before?

No it is not new. The process has been around about 60 years and has been mostly used for industrial applications. It’s popularity has caught on with motorcycle restoration community.

Specialized equipment is required for Vapor Blasting, consisting of a blast cabinet that incorporates a heavy duty recirculation pump system. This pump is required to keep the water/glass bead slurry in suspension during the process. In addition, a high volume air compressor is required to meet the CFM requirements of the system. Commercial rated Vapor Blast systems cost from $11,000 and up, not including the air compressor. Hence, it may not be a cost effective purchase for most repair or restoration shops to make.

Vapor Blast Cabinet

Vapor Blast Cabinet

Inside Cabinet

View inside Vapor Blast Cabinet

What will Vapor Blasting do and not do?

It will:

- Clean the surfaces of dirt, grease, carbon, oxidation, corrosion products.

- Prepare surfaces for polishing, inspection, plating, painting or leave as-is

It won’t:

- Remove baked on paint, powder coating or heavy gasket cements, more aggressive methods should be utilized for these (i.e., dry blasting, scraping or solvents).

- Provide a polished finish, we do not offer aluminum polishing

What are the advantages of Vapor Blasting over other methods of parts cleaning?

- It cleans surfaces by flow of water and glass beads, not by impact of abrasive particles.

- Threaded holes will not require extensive cleaning or have be re-tapped to remove abrasive particles that may damage threads.

- It is a dust free process, does not leave abrasive residue or gritty, porous surfaces which attract dirt and grease

- Simultaneously degreases and cleans surfaces

- Abrasive media is not impregnated into the metal surface.

- Produces a smooth, satin finish

- Does not abrade or remove base metal, maintains tolerances critical for bearing and interference fits, cylinder bores, pistons, valve seats, or recently machined surfaces.

- Due to the peening effect on surfaces, parts will stay cleaner longer

What is the size limit for processing parts?

Most disassembled motorcycle engine and suspension components can be handled in the blast cabinet.

What components can be vapor blasted?

Engine cases, cylinders, pistons, cylinder heads, intake manifolds, carburetors, wheel hubs and brake plates, pistons, fork sliders, small steel parts, fasteners,etc., if in doubt, ask

What preparation must I do before sending  parts to Vapor Blast Solutions?

Degrease parts, remove gaskets and gasket sealer as well as possible, If not I will have to do it.

Disassemble components, remove all ball, needle or roller bearings , if left in, I will remove them or they will require replacement prior to engine assembly.

Bushings and plain bearings can remain in-situ.

Carburetors can be left assembled, they will be completely disassembled, ultrasonic cleaned, and vapor blasted. You will be required to obtain and replace any o-rings or gaskets.

What is the turn around time for vapor Blasting ? Average turn around time is 1 or 2 days to Vapor Blast your parts and get them on their way back to you.


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