Eastwood Surface Conditioning Tool Review By Skinned Knuckles Magazine

COURTESY OF SKINNED KNUCKLES MAGAZINE FROM THEIR JUNE 2017 ISSUE. 

Eastwood’s Surface Conditioning Tool – Contour SCT

By Roy Girasa

The following review of the Eastwood Surface Conditioning Tool (SCT) was submitted by Roy G. of Oregon. Roy volunteered to use the tool as part of the restoration of his 1964 Ford Galaxie. He and I had spoken previously about the work that he was doing on the car. He had been using a dual action sander to remove the paint and surface rust – it was a long, slow, tedious job.

Roy rents space in a multiple-car facility; several other restoration projects by other owners are going on within the same building, and Roy offered the use of the Eastwood SCT to be used on some of the other cars as well as his own. His evaluation of those projects is included in this article.

Skinned Knuckles has edited the original article submitted by Roy only to the extent that the format fits within our parameters and the terminology is correct. The content has not been altered in any way. We hope to have an additional review of the SCT within a couple of months. Keep watching Skinned Knuckles for additional information.

Editor

Tool Description

The Eastwood Contour SCT – Surface Conditioning Tool is an electric sanding tool powered by a 9 amp double insulated motor and comes standard with three drums (stripping wheel, metal finishing drum and the expandable wheel and bands). There are many optional attachments. The Contour tool carries a list price of $199 and the optional drum accessories list for $19.99 each and up. The tool has a six position speed control and a handle on top which allows for comfortable sanding. The tool weighs about eight pounds, owing in part to its steel body and three metal gears. The tool feels sturdy and quality made.

1st Test:

Sanding a rusted Ford Model T body shell.

 

 

I didn’t start with my Galaxie as I expected that I would. Let me explain. I rent space at a multi-unit shop. A fellow restorer, Jeremy, is resurrecting a Model T Ford. Next to my Galaxie is Jeremy’s T body, and it provided the perfect testing opportunity!

This T body has been sitting for more than a decade and was completely covered in surface rust. We decided to first test the standard metal finishing drum that comes with the tool by starting with the top of the cowl. We set the speed at the high 6 setting. The sanding went well, and we removed the rust off the left side cowl and its side in just a couple minutes. The metal was barely warm to the touch, so there was no warping risk. There was slight wear on the finishing drum. I also accidentally sanded against a thin protruding bolt which did wear a groove into the roller. Continuous sanding over the test period minimized this groove.

The bottom half of the left panel had coarser surface rust. The finishing drum did well, but we wanted to test the optional stripping wheel which was designed for more aggressive sanding. The more abrasive drum quickly removed the coarser surface rust. The metal body was warm where we sanded, but not hot to the touch. We decided to really put the sander to good use and went over the entire outside of the shell with the abrasive drum. Within about one hour we finished our initial pass. Our best guess is we removed about 80% of the rust in this hour. This would have taken me at least 2-3 hours of steady use of my compressed air-powered dual action (DA) sander to do the same (assuming I had an adequate and continuous stream of air to power the DA).

We didn’t stop there. I wanted to now test the metal finishing drum on the coarsely sanded surface. We changed back to the standard finishing drum and started on the right side of the cowl.  I sanded for about a minute and completed about a foot square section. I removed a good portion of the remaining rust, with only minute surface rust remaining in the dents and rust pockmarks. The results were positive, highlighting the ideal use of both drums for the rust removal.

Finally I wanted to do an initial test using the optional expanding drum and the 120 sanding band. I went back over the same cowl section and in a minute removed all the remaining rust, excluding the dent recesses. The sanding band did heat the surface more, but never to the point where you could not lay your hand on the metal without having to remove it due to high temperature. I also noticed some sparks from the sanding band on the metal. But by gradually moving through the surface there was never a point of heating the metal. This also smoothed the metal from the finishing drum. I did a further test with the expanding drum in test #3.

I estimated it would take a total of 2 hours to sand the entire body using the SCT with the stripping wheel and metal finishing drums in succession. By contrast, completing this task with a dual action the job would take many more hours, and possibly subject the metal body to a greater level of heat. Sand blasting would be a comparable option for some, but with more mess and risk of blowing through thin metal. There is no risk of that with the Contour tool. After about one hour of continuous use, the aggressive drum showed only slight wear and plenty was left to tackle another body. It was impressive for the amount of rust that was removed.

 

2nd Test:

Sanding the rusted hood of a 1956 Chevrolet 3200 pickup

Our next test subject was my personal pickup. This ex-farm truck had been sitting in a neighbors’ driveway for the past 15 years until I purchased it last summer. Every panel of the truck has surface rust, primer, and remnants of the original blue paint. So it seemed to be the perfect test subject. The hood and roof of my truck did not have any paint left – just surface rust – and sections that are very crusty. For this test, I wanted to determine usage time and rust removal amount along with heat generation on the truck’s hood using the abrasive drum and expanding drum.

 

I started with the stripping wheel at the high 6 setting. 20 minutes later I was done with the initial pass with an estimated 98% of the rust removed. What remained were the minimal remnants of spots that were heavily rusted. To see how I would remove the remaining bits, I switched to the expanding drum and the 120 grit sanding band and tried a more moderate speed, using the 3 setting. The remaining rust immediately disappeared and the bare metal took on a sheen due to the sanding band removing scuffing from the abrasive drum. I then tested the 240 sanding band on a sanded section which expectedly smoothed the scuffing even further. Please see the image below to see the comparison.

 

Part of this test was to also determine the exact temperature of the metal surface after using the drums, but I quickly found that my non-contact laser thermometer did not work on shiny surfaces so I had to use a less accurate method: my hand. What was cool to the touch before sanding was only mildly warm to my bare hand after using the abrasive drum. The expanding drum left the metal hotter to the touch but not to a point that was too hot to leave your hand on the surface.

 

A few comments about the expanding drum. Flat surfaces were its strength. In a quick extra test, I placed the 120 grit sanding band on the top flat rusty surface of the trunk’s bed wall and in less than 30 seconds I removed all the surface rust on a three foot long section.

3rd Test:

Removing two layers of paint on the hood of a 1964 Ford Galaxie

Next I wanted to test removing paint with the abrasive drum and with the expanding drum. For this test, I used my current restoration project, my 1964 Ford Galaxie. This car has one blue repaint over the original turquoise paint and has a nice large flat trunk perfect for testing the two different drums. I started first with the stripping wheel on the right half of the trunk lid. In exactly ten minutes I removed most of the paint with just remnants of the original primer on the lid. I then switched to the metal finishing drum and went over the same area. This also took ten minutes and left a fairly smooth, clean lid ready for primer, but not too smooth or shiny. The metal never got hot. I used the 6 setting for both drums.

 

My next part of the test was sanding the left side of the lid with the expanding drum and 80 grit paper. I decided to start at the 4 setting but soon moved it to the 5 setting. Since the trunk lid is very flat, I was able to remove all of the paint with just remnants of primer in about six minutes: incredibly fast and easy. I then changed the sanding band to the 120 grit sanding band to see how this would work as a finishing grit. I felt it was still a bit coarse, so I then switched to the 240 grit paper and it worked perfectly. I again was able to sand the left side in just a few minutes. It left the surface similar to the polishing drum used on the right side of the trunk lid.

 

Since I had paint on the trunk lid, I was able to use my laser temperature readings and observed that the hood surface did not climb more than 30 degrees Fahrenheit during the sanding. Both drum options worked well, with the expanding drum quicker on the flat surfaces. Ultimately deciding between the two will depend on what you are sanding and your own personal preference, but I was impressed with both drum options.

Additional Observations

 

  • Time savings alone make this a valuable tool. Considering my one Saturday a week that I can devote to my car, this would save me many weekends on my restoration.
  • The tool is easy to use, and despite its heaviness, is not too tiring because of the handle’s position. Horizontal surfaces also are ideal because the tool weight rests on the sanding surface.
  • The gradual start of the drum rotation was smart because it prevented initial overly aggressive sanding when starting.
  • As expected due to the size of the tool, tight areas where the tool cannot reach such as dents, edges and embossed body lines will have to be sanded using other methods.
  • Use of the appropriate sanding drum saves time and wear on the drum. I recommend all the drum accessories.
  • As expected, the wide sanding drum puts out plenty of sanding particles so please wear eye and breathing (respirator) protection. Also ear protection is encouraged as the sound levels are high when sanding.
  • Electric powered means I loved not having to use my air compressor!
  • Changing the drum is quick and easy with one reverse threaded bolt, and took maybe 20 seconds. Swapping sanding bands took slightly longer but was still very easy and can be changed without removing the drum.
  • One quirk: if I angled the sander such as when I sanded the hood edge, the motor’s fan would blow into my face.
  • With all of the above testing, the stripping wheel and all the sanding bands still have the majority of material left. The metal finishing drum lost a little over half its material and is close to needing a replacement. Considering I sanded the Model T Ford body, two hoods, a trunk lid, and random parts of three vehicles, I was impressed.

Would I Buy This Tool?

 

Ultimately, we all want to know if the tool provides value and worth to be a part of our tool kit. The answer is yes. Time savings alone versus the many hours of using other methods for rust and paint removal makes this tool a must have. While one cannot expect 100% removal of a vehicle’s paint due to the various surfaces and edges of the project, it removes enough so quickly that you will gain more Saturdays to work on the next steps of your restoration. Well done Eastwood!

Roy Girasa

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