When diving in strange Troves, you occasionally find yourself in the domain of The Creature From the Black Lagoon, but more often than not there’s treasure waiting to be discovered. All it takes is a bit of patience, an appreciation for good conversation, and these things just surface.
First on the wish list that just happened to be available, although it had to be brought in from the Trove in Canada (2 Troves! What good fortune!). It’s a 3 1/2 inch, bubble-faced, Airpath compass, probably made in the 1930s. What a beauty! After speaking with the Airpath guru at Keystone Instruments in Lock Haven PA (home of the Cub), I sent it off for a complete refurbishment.
The next step was to tackle the layers of rust, corrosion and paint on the Cub window and door frames. I did some homework (always a pleasure these days with the internet at my fingertips). There are a number of ways one can remove the crust of ages, from wire brushing to medieval sand blasting (Jeff’s term – hang on, you’ll meet him in a minute). I chose soda blasting and am glad I did. The medium, to paraphrase one of the videos from an Aussie bloke, doesn’t “hammer” the crud off, it cuts it off. The edges of the soda are softer than sand or glass beads or pecan shells but those edges are somewhat sharp so you get very effective cutting with little to no damage to the surface of the piece you’re working. There were videos of soda blasting the printing off flimsy aluminum soft drink cans without damaging the cans, so I decided that was for me.
Enter Jeff Bender of Bender Aviation Services. Now Jeff is a friend of mine and all that, but he also happens to be a very fine airplane mechanic and enjoys the thrill of business ownership, the plusses and the minuses. No matter what day it is or how it happens to be going, Jeff is the same guy every day, super helpful and a great guy to have on your A-list.
Ok, enough of the commercial. Jeff happened to have access to a soda blasting tank (boy, is this a simple setup), so a trip to pick up some soda, protective gloves, eye protection, and so on and we’re off to the races. One note, first: *they* say you can just go to the store and buy boxes of Arm and Hammer or whatever and go to town … I learned there is soda and there is soda. The stuff just soaks up water all by itself. Soda blasting tanks should have a water separator attached or you use nitrogen to keep the compressed stuff dry. The soda that is meant for blasting isn’t quite so hygroscopic (here, from Wikipedia, is what that means: soda is … “so hygroscopic that [it] readily dissolves in the water [it] absorbs: This property is called deliquescence. [beer question – pilots love beer questions]. A hygroscopic material will tend to become damp and "cake" when exposed to moist air (such as salt in salt shakers during humid weather).”) … or soda in soda blasters.
Herewith, a before and after. The excitement of the moment plus foggy goggles, sweat filling my rubber gloves and a general enthusiasm for getting on with the project produced only one B&A picture. The difference, though should give you an idea of how effective the soda blaster was in removing 40+ years’ accumulation of grunge. This isn’t a final product – oh no – but it gives a hint as to how the frame projects will move along.
A few more quickie pictures and I have to retreat from the computer to do meaningful work around the hacienda and replace the deficit in my “going to the airport” jar.