Category Archives: Automotive

Skat Blast USA 960-DLX Deluxe Abrasive Blasting Cabinet Review

I have been using my Skat Blast cabinet for almost 2 years now. Due to the lack of online reviews of this company’s cabinets I would like to take an in-depth look at mine.

I originally ordered the 940-DLX, but due to what I assume was a mix-up at the TP Tools store I got shipped a 960-DLX. I got it shipped via their LTL service who delivered it straight to my garage

The 960-DLX comes with a flood light inside of each corner instead of 1 light in the 940-DLX. In retrospect having 2 lights is necessary for blasting complex parts with lots of sides like valve covers and wheels. I would not recommend switching them out with regular bulbs, the flood lights pierce through the media cloud much better with their directional light.

The light fixtures connect directly to the electrical box on the top of the blast cabinet. It’s a very simple approach, with off-the-shelf parts that can easily be replaced should they break. A foam pad between the electrical box and the cabinet prevents blasting media. Although very simple, it’s very effective.

I added additional lighting through some 12V LED strips to the inside of the cabinet. While they don’t do as good of a job as the flood lights, they do help get rid of shadows when blasting parts at odd angles the flood lights can’t reach.

One of the largest complaints I have is changing the protective mylar film on the inside of the window. This film is a sacrificial layer between the glass and the blasting area that prevents the glass from being etched by ricocheting media. It must be replaced regularly in order to see inside the cabinet well. Trying to replace the film by reaching inside the cabinet often results in the film not being applied squarely or one corner of the film not sticking to the glass because it wasn’t applied completely flat. According to TP Tools the best way to change the protective layer is to completely remove the glass panel from the cabinet. This is accomplished by removing the multiple sheet metal screws that squeeze the black plastic border against the glass to the cabinet. Since these screws are self-tapping, replacing the film multiple times and removing and reinstalling these screws multiple times wears out the holes made by the screws. This can be corrected by installing some jack nuts and replacing the self tapping screws with regular screws. It would have been nice if it came this way though.

The cabinet needs another 8 or 10 inches of height to be comfortable for me. I have to hunch over to get a bit my hands into the gauntlets. I left my cabinet up on the pallet it was delivered on but I would still like it to be taller. The media trap door on the bottom of the cabinet is too low to the ground to slide a 5 gallon bucket under. I have to use a small plastic container and fill it up several times to drain the cabinet.

The filter for this cabinet keeps my garage spotless. I have a 5 gallon bucket with a Dust Deputy in-line with the vacuum to help separate the rust etc before going to the main filter. The included vacuum is quieter and performs better than the small shopvac I have for my HF blast cabinet.

In hindsight the dust deputy probably isn’t necessary, but keeping my garage clean is of utmost importance, so I consider it an extra safeguard.

Using my blast cabinet to prep valve covers for powder coating.

The stock air filter is washable and reusable. I purchased a second one to rapidly swap them, then wash the second one in the sink and let it dry. I am always surprised at the amount of dirt that comes out of the filter when I rinse it.

I have never noticed any blasting media or dust coming out of the cabinet itself. The vacuum keeps a strong negative pressure inside the unit, making sure the only air coming out of the cabinet is going through the vacuum filter.

Tips for making the protective film last longer:
1. Keep your air filter clean. Reduced vacuum suction keeps dust in the cabinet longer creating a larger dust cloud and scratching the film more.
2. Keep an eye on your blast media status. I have found that worn out media scratches the film faster.
3. Keep the objects you are blasting as far away as you can from the film. It’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the film gets more and more scratched, you hold the objects closer and closer to the film so you can see through the scratches.

Trying to blast with a cloudy window only hinders blasting speed.

Some general blasting tips:
1. Blasting doesn’t work very well against some coatings. For instance latex paint and powder coating resists blasting very well. They need additional prep before blasting, like paint stripper.
2. Trying to blast objects that have large chunks that fly off instead of being obliterated land in the media and either block the holes in the pickup tube or get stuck inside the gun. Clearing out the passageway is done by placing a hand over the end of the nozzle and forcing the air through the media hose. If the objects remain in the media though they will continue to clog the passage until they are drained and sifted from the media.
3. Keep your blasting cabinet dry. I use an oil/water separator directly before the air enters the blast cabinet. It removes all the moisture before it enters the cabinet. Wet media makes the media clump up and clog the pickup tube and gun.
4. Stay on top of maintenance. Replacing wearable items, cleaning filters, etc all keep the cabinet performing optimally.

Another modification I made was adding an hour meter to the cabinet. It’s easy for me to forget how long I’ve used the cabinet, unsure when I need to be replacing wearable components in the gun, replacing worn out media, or emptying the air filter. I added a 120V hour meter to the switch controlling the air filter to keep track of the time spent blasting.

Blasting with a clean window is much easier and results in faster blasting.

I use an Ingersoll Rand SS5 5HP 60 Gallon Single Stage Air Compressor with this cabinet. When the cabinet is running at 90 PSI controlled by an oil/water separator dial the air compressor runs continuously but keeps up with the demand. After blasting is complete it usually shuts off after 10-20 seconds. Regularly change your oil if you are running a consumer grade air compressor at 100% duty cycle! I added an aftermarket DIY “air dryer” between the compressor to the tank to cool the air and remove excessive moisture during long running sessions. I also added an automatic drain valve to the bottom of the tank to remove moisture that gets into the tank. In hindsight I should have just upgraded to the next model up which has all of these features built in. Any compressor that can output 10-15 CFM at ~90 PSI will be able to power this cabinet. If you have a small compressor consider moving down to the smaller orifice gun, although it will hurt your blasting speed.

I have been using the cabinet for the past 6 months mainly blasting valve covers. Most of them are corroded enough that the factory paint is no longer present and they can be blasted immediately after boiling them to remove excess oil and getting gunk out of the baffling. Blasting in general is not good at removing the factory paint.

The gun has several wearable components inside that need to be regularly replaced or performance suffers. The gun has never clogged the entire time I have used it. Although it works very well the gun isn’t very ergonomic, I find myself regularly switching between holding by the grip and holding by the pickup tube. I think a nozzle shaped like a wand or something you can hold like a large pen would be more comfortable if using the gun for a long period of time. I would highly recommend starting off with the carbide nozzles, they last much longer than the ceramic ones and pay for themselves quickly.

Feeding the gun is the pickup tube. This cabinet’s pickup tube works very well. When using blasting media with no chunks of blasted off paint or dirt the gun never surges or runs out of blasting media. When there are pieces of paint or objects larger than the media they will get stuck to the sides of the pickup tube and limit the media going into the gun. Covering the tip of the gun and forcing air through the pickup tube temporarily clears the objects, but until the cabinet is drained and the media sifted it will continue to clog. I wish the cabinet had a finer screen to catch large objects while letting the media through. Removing the tube from the cabinet for replacement is very simple.

Using the blast cabinet to restore an Ariens snowblower.

The foot pedal is very nice compared to the trigger activated gun. Gripping the trigger for long periods of time leads to cramps, especially when you find yourself gripping the gun too hard unintentionally. Simply step on the foot pedal and blast away. The pedal has a cover that is large enough for me to easily fit my size 12-13 shoes in without being cramped.

I originally had a Harbor Freight blasting cabinet that I slowly modified to make it perform better. In retrospect I should have started out with the Skat Blast cabinet. It performs better and ended up being about the same price after I did all of the modifications to the HF cabinet.

Despite some shortcomings, overall I would highly recommend this Skat Blast cabinet. Made in Ohio, with a 5 year warranty and readily available replacement parts, I am able to blast most parts very quickly and get finished parts out the door faster.

Craftsman 917. 273220 Tractor with a Kohler Command Twin CV25S Engine Starting rough, Poor performance

Winter has arrived, which means it’s time to winterize the outdoor power equipment for the season to keep everything running in tip top shape. The blower, whacker, and pressure washer are winterized, but the tractor has been having some trouble running lately. The Kohler CV25S engine will start fine but after a few seconds it will die. If I pull the choke out for a minute I can get it to stay running though. I did a cylinder leak down test, the first cylinder had excellent loss values, while the second cylinder was leaking air like a balloon with its end cut off. The spark plug was also covered in carbon

So with a leak down test that negative, and thinking I heard air coming from the oil pan, I decided the probable cause was weak piston rings letting the combustion gasses into the crank case.

Next step, take the engine off the tractor!

Taking a peak inside was pretty disturbing/ The cylinders appeared to be in great shape, but the piston head was a bit… neglected?

The cylinder head had quite a bit of carbon build up I’d need to clean off. You can also notice on the right side of the head oil stains from where the head gasket was not sealing correctly against the engine block. A possible culprit to the starting issues! This would also mean I incorrectly diagnosed the issue as worn pistons rings. This is more likely where the issue is stemming from.

The sides of the piston and the rings appeared to be in great condition. No carbon buildup inside of the grooves, the oil control rings looked like they were operating correctly. After reading some more on a few tractor forums it seems the rings on the Kohler Commands rarely need their piston rings changed. I already had the piston out at this point, might as well re-ring it and deglaze the cylinder

The top of the piston, however, was in roughed up shape. It looked like something had been sucked in through the intake and bounced around for a while!


The intake valve was in good condition. It made a proper seal. I cleaned off some of the carbon on the shaft but didn’t think any lapping would be required.

The exhaust valve was in worse condition. The bottom of the valve had something slimy on it that elbow grease and an ultrasonic cleaner was unable to remove. I’d have to take a wire brush to it in order to clean it off.

The seats were in good condition, no scratches or blemishes that could keep the valves from seating properly.

The head after a little bit of cleanup. You can see here where whatever was hitting the top of the piston also hit the bottom of the head.

The head gasket on the Kohler Command engines before 2003 was a rather poor design. The new gasket design is much more substantial.

I decided that since the engine was already disassembled I would go ahead and replace the head gasket on the other cylinder at the same time even though it isn’t having any issues right now. More experienced people that myself also recommended cleaning the valves as those are the normal culprits to poor performance with the Kohler Command engines.

I ordered
* 2 24-841-04-S head gaskets (might as well replace the other one while I was at it)
* Cylinder honing tool to deglaze the cylinder
* Fuel pump and filter
* 24-108-05-S piston ring set
* 2qt of 10w-30 oil and a 52-050-02-S filter
* 6 ft fuel line

to complete the engine winterization process.
6 feet ended up being near exactly the mount of fuel line I needed to replace every piece of fuel lines from the tank to the carburetor.

After I received the parts I got to work deglazing the cylinders and getting the new piston rings installed

Got everything back together, and accidentally broke the oil pump! Ordered a new one off of ebay, waited a week, and got everything running again!

After taking it out for a spin I realized the engine was surging pretty bad:

I took the carburetor apart again to look for any remnants of dirt or gunk in jets or passageways.

Unable to find anything wrong, I decided to purchase a cheap knock-off replacement carburetor from Amazon to rule fuel issues out of the equation.

After receiving the new carburetor I found I was still experiencing the same issues. The only other troubleshooting steps I could think of would be the coils. The Kohler Command twin engines were manufactured with “smart spark” modules that adjusted the spark timing to improve engine performance. Kohler released a parts bulletin back in 2013 stating the entire spark system was being obsoleted for a different version of coils.

I found other videos on youtube stating similar symptoms, so I decided to replace yet another part, the Kohler 25-707-03-S kit.

Unfortunately, after replacing the entire ignition system and flywheel the problem persisted. After another leakdown test the intake valve on the number one cylinder was still leaking.

It was time to turn to the professionals.

I took the cylinder head to a local small engine shop to get it properly cleaned. Unfortunately again, not even the pros could do it correctly, after reassembling the engine the problem still persisted.