The Seagull Part III: Sandblasting

This year I used a tool that I have never used before with any of my projects: a sandblasting cabinet, or glass beading machine. These sorts of machines come in handy for removing rust and paint off metal objects in a short space of time. Sandblasting leaves you with a nice smooth piece of metal, ideal for painting. If old paint is not removed, new paint may flake off and you can see old paint under the new. I don’t own one of these items but I was able to use one that belonged to the grandfather of a friend of mine.

Above: The sandblaster (0r glass beading machine).

Above: Inside – the red plastic piece is the sandblaster (the gun).

Above: The crankcase before sandblasting.

Above: Lower half of crankcase after sandblasting.

How it works:

There are several components to the machine that I used: the sand/glass mixture, the cabinet itself, the sandblaster and the compressor. The cabinet is the big metal box which holds the sand/glass mixture. Connected to the gun is the compressor. It takes in air and then pumps it through a hose to the gun at extremely high pressure (above 80 psi). The magazine on the gun contains a generous amount of sand. As the air flows through the gun it carries the glass/sand mixture with it and blasts from the barrel of the gun at an incredible speed. The operator has to be able to hold the gun while sandblasting, so there are two black gloves which are fastened onto the metal box and won’t come out. They protect the operator’s hands from the tiny sand particles racing around inside the cabinet. There is a little window at the top of the box so you can see where to aim the gun.

Operating Procedures:

  1. Fill the sandblaster with sand
  2. Turn on the compressor
  3. Place the soon-to-be-blasted piece
  4. Close the lid
  5. Start blasting!

Sandblasting is very effective when you have a rusted old motor like the Seagull. Old rust is gone is a matter of minutes, depending on the size of the piece you are sandblasting. Sandblasting it also very fun!

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The Seagull Part I

My project for 2012 was a 1974 British Seagull, Silver Century series. It has one cylinder capable of four horsepower, and was given to me by the judge at one of our 4-H fairs last year. This judge, who does home renovations, was rebuilding a garage for some clients and they asked him to throw away all the junk in the garage. When he was doing so, he chanced upon a box of Seagull outboard parts and decided to hang on to them, since he too likes restoring outboards. At last year’s fair, during showmanship, he noticed my interest in outboards and offered this box of parts to me. He wasn’t sure if the entire Seagull outboard was there but he said I was welcome to find out! The Seagull was in the condition he found it, with many battle scars, grease, and more rust than anyone would care to see in a lifetime. It looked pretty dubious, but interesting.

Above: The Seagull when I first got it.

Seagulls are reputed to be highly dependable. At our local 4-H fair this summer, when I was exhibiting the Seagull, one fellow told me that he had fished a Seagull out of the water during a fishing trip. He let it dry, put some cleaner in the cylinder, and it kicked into life on the first pull of the flywheel. The Seagull seems to be renowned for its reliability, and every engine enthusiast I talked to at that fair was very enthusiastic about them. Still I couldn’t help but wonder just how reliable this old outboard could be. With my last outboard projects I had a hard time getting them to work, let alone start on the first pull. The carburetors on both the Viking and Shrimp (which by the way are almost identical) frequently clogged up with old gasoline and always needed cleaning. Would the Seagull be any different?

One thing I always think about afterwards but never remember to do beforehand is to try and start my engine project before I take it apart. This time I remembered.

Would the Seagull start? It was in rough shape and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I put some gas in the block and gave the flywheel a whirl. Second time round, it started. I was amazed! I expected some noise but not at this level. The sound of that one cylinder was deafening! That’s because the noise is funneled down the lower leg and into the water which acts as a muffler, so if the motor is out of water there will be a lot of noise.

Doing your homework on a small motor is a good idea. Knowing the history is fun and being aware of small details is important; perhaps there is a specific way to remove the flywheel, and using the typical hammer-and-leaver approach will only do damage. Manuals come in handy for this sort of thing. Webpages are informative places too, but if you’re looking for stories about vintage outboards there is a very useful book called “The Old Outboard Book.” It is written by Peter Hunn and there is loads of information about antique outboards. Reading about old outboards is always fascinating. During my quest for information on my British Seagull I found numerous websites devoted to Seagulls. “Saving Old Seagulls” was the most personable. Here are some of them. If you know of any, feel free to recommend them!

Saving Old Seagulls

British Seagull

British Seagull Parts

Even a quick Google search for “British Seagull” will turn up loads of results.

Above: The Seagull at the 2011 Saanich Fair, not yet restored and as far as I could tell, all original.

In the next few posts I’ll go over the restoration process of the Seagull.

Introduction and Welcome

About Me:

I am a senior member of a 4-H Small Engines Club. Until my involvement in the 4-H program, I didn’t know anything about engines, and I mean anything. However, during my years in 4-H I have learned about engines through personal experience, reading books, and learning from club leaders, friends, and relatives.

This blog documents how I went about restoring my last three small outboard engine projects. You can learn from my mistakes, see how I managed to overcome irritating problems, and if you have any tips yourself, I’d welcome them!

My first year in the Small Engines club was a little confusing, because not only was I an engine novice, but there were so many other things I didn’t know about machines and tools. Everything was so technical! The leaders who ran the club in my first year didn’t have a lot of information or knowledge about outboards either, and I learned as I went along. So it is for this reason that I have created a webpage offering information about small engines: to help others who might one day find themselves in the same situation I was in.

 

All small gas outboards have the same basic parts. Small, old, outboards are a lot simpler than larger newer ones and have fewer electrical components. This makes them easier to fix.

 

  1. Note: I will refer to these pieces in future posts
  2. Carburetor
  3. Flywheel
  4. Crankcase
  5. Head/combustion chamber/cylinder
  6. Spark plug
  7. Clamp assembly and exhaust manifold
  8. Steering handle

Note: I’m assuming that you already have some knowledge about small engines.