Gearbox Rebuild | Blasting Our Way To Perfection
What does it take to recondition a gearbox? Technical Knowledge?...... Specialist tools?......New parts?.........But what about appearance? As trivial as it may sound, if something looks good it is believed to be better, even though the difference is purely cosmetic. However what if it means more? Let us explain the difference....
1. Gearbox Reconditioning | Where We Were
We have repaired and reconditioned over 1000 gearboxes and suffered with a particular problem for a while. Cosmetics. We have technical knowledge, we have specialist tools and we have the parts however the end result did not look as impressive as the work that went into it.
The Image on the left is a standard used gearbox before any work is carried out. The Image on the right is after all the internals are cleaned and a full bearing rebuild has been completed.
This is a serious problem for us when you want customers to chose you to repair their gearbox. And with other repairers out there we needed to distinguish ourselves from the competition.
We tried various techniques to remove the oxidisation from the outer casings. Our internal high pressure cleaning machine was the first attempt. We use this machine on a daily basis to thoroughly clean the internal parts. It completely degreases the components and removes any foreign contaminants that may be hiding between the parts. Although this works perfectly on the gears and other internals, it simply did not touch the oxidisation that lay stubbornly attached to the outer casing.
We then tried an acid bath. Although it completely removed the oxidisation, it was a very expensive and time consuming process, that had to be outsourced because of the acid bath size. It also had an effect of changing the tolerances within the metal work as it slightly etched every surface. This meant we couldn't rely on the setup as it may cause an issue with the units service life.
We invested in sand blasting equipment in 2014. With our quick turn around times, no matter what system we chose, it had to be in house. We could not afford down time waiting for parts to come back from 3rd parties with sometimes varying results.
Sand blasting is an aggressive cleaning process, leaving the surface area matte grey on contact, however undoubtedly clean. There was alot more control on the areas directly cleaned compared to acid baths. However sand blasting is extremely messy and very time consuming. Even with dust extraction and and isolated area, the blasting media found its way into every corner of the workshop. Not good when you are trying to rebuild highly precise bits on engineering. We ultimately suspended sand blasting as it was creating a numerious issues and wasting valuble time.
For a time we had no solution to our problem until we discovered wet blast technology.
2. Gearbox Reconditioning | Where We Are Now
In spring 2016 we discovered a technology called wet blasting. It has been around for a few years however with machines being uncommon in the UK and very expensive, it was something that had eluded us. We ordered our machine late spring 2016 and our new shiny machine was installed and commisioned in later October 2016.
The difference is unquestionable and we can now restore casings and other parts to a state where it is almost impossoble to tell if they're new or refurbished.
We can now offer our products and repairs with more confidence as you are receiving an item that looks as good as it's built. Recon units now leave us looking like brand new gearboxes. We have had very positive comments from some of our regular customers like Thurlow Nunn Vauxhall as well as our one off customers.
The process involves a blast media very much like sand blasting, as well as high pressure water and a specific chemical solution.
Watch the process below and let us know what you think!
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