We love a “hack” here at Garage Night, as demonstrated by our project to put KTM forks on Richard’s BMW F650.
So when Trent found out about a way of using baking soda gun to clean up bike parts we were dead keen to give it a go. All you need is an air compressor with a duster gun, some plastic line, insulation or gaffer tape and a supply of bicarbonate of soda. And you can see the results in this episode of Garage Night TV.
Soda blasting is a great alternative to sand or shot blasting, because the blasting medium doesn’t damage the underlying metal. It uses the explosive force of the tiny soda particles as they shatter on impact to knock the dirt, grease, paint etc off the surface.
So it’s perfect for cleaning, for example, the alloy parts on motorcycles. It takes you back to the original metal finish – and it leaves hard anodizing intact. I think my brake caliper bracket, as shown in the video, is the perfect example. You can strip paint from metal parts too.
Carburettors are another candidate, especially since the soda simply washes away after the job is done.
Be a bit careful though – it will remove paint. I was just about to soda blast my gold Brembo brake calipers, which look anodized but I found out are actually painted.
There are various industrial versions of soda blasting, so it is possible to get it done professionally. And you can buy home kits, but they are not particularly cheap. And anyway, where’s the fun in paying someone to do it, or buying an off-the-shelf solution? The parts we bought to make our system only ran to about US$15 at the most – that included a 5kg (12lb) bucket of baking soda, best purchased from an oriental foods supermarket.
The soda is food grade and therefore non-toxic, though eye protection is a good idea, and a face mask wouldn’t hurt either. Keep water away from your work – the baking soda is soluble so once you get it wet, it’s ruined.
We’re sure our set-up could be refined to recapture the soda and also control the flow. But for now we’re pretty happy with how it works.
A final word of credit to Air Cooled Tech, which is where Trent found the idea. Lots of useful stuff there, though I am left wondering what biker Trent is doing looking around a website for Volkswagen enthusiasts … is he thinking of building one of those trikes with a flat four hanging out the back?