Railcar Refurbishment

Keeping you on track for years to come.

Causes of corrosion

For tank car internals, the high chloride content in some cargo (such as saltwater in crude oil) can lead to heavy corrosion in unlined cars. There are also some highly caustic materials carried in some applications that can lead to premature coating failure and corrosion. For some hopper cars, the cargo can be very abrasive, and wear coatings out faster than expected, sacrificing the integrity of the lining and thus leading to premature corrosion


For cars that are 100% ferrous metals, steel grit is often used. For cars that incorporate any non-ferrous metals as part of the construction, ToughBlast Garnet or other mineral abrasives are often used.

A lot depends on the facility the cars are being processed in. If the plant can keep the area the blasting is occurring in completely dry (with a blast booth for instance) steel grit may be the preferred choice. If getting water into the area is ever a possibility, an expendable material like the garnet is probably a better choice.

Why Good surface preparation is critical

To limit the damage from corrosion, and drastically slow it’s progress.

Maximize investment life of coating.

Eliminate the danger of cross contamination between cargo types during change of use.

Maximize usable lifespan of car itself.


A lot depends on the output needs of the plant. If the plant is very low production, (>1 painted car output per day), or primarily tank car internals, manual handheld blasting is preferred. If there is a desire to increase the output of the department, if blaster employee turnover is high, or safety is the primary concern, automated surface preparation is preferred. This can be accomplished by either robotic manipulator arm style of blasting with conventional equipment or a pass-through centrifugal wheel style machine.

When air blasting, it is always recommended to utilize a system that can provide 150PSI compressed air output. This will provide maximum production.

Project challenges

Confined space (and all the regulation that accompanies this work) for most railcar internals.

Widely varied types of coating to be removed, which can be totally different from car to car- that affect production time, and thus throughput scheduling.

The variation in coatings to be applied leads to major variation in surface profile requirements. This makes QC work an even more challenging task.

As most types of work, on most types of railcars requires the operator to be working at height, all applicable fall protection and height safety equipment should be worn. Proper access control and documentation should apply to the confined space considerations as well.


Protecting the railcar surface is important after going to the effeort to remove rust and other surface damage. Applying the right coating can add years to the service life of the equipment.

Typical coatings of lining a rail car are high-build 100% solid epoxies while exteriors are more commonly coating in a thin film waterborne material.

Most painting equipment is a plural component system with the ability to change ratios quickly, allowing for greater flexibility in coating choice.

Standard coating inspection instruments are used, for wet and dry film thickness, environmental monitoring, and holiday detection.

Want more information?

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