What is the Best Abrasive Blast Cabinet Siphon Pickup Tube Upgrade?

Some links on this page are affiliate links. We may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What is the best abrasive blast cabinet siphon tube upgrade or modification? The answer might surprise you. The best upgrade is to eliminate it all together. Each and every day we tell customers about the benefits of converting a siphon tube blast cabinet to a metering valve setup. The difference in blasting performance is unbelievable. I know what you’re thinking. We aren’t saying that because we sell them. Instead, we sell them because the improvement really is that dramatic. Our recommendations are based on real world, personal experience.

An image with some blast tube replacements and upgrades and text posing the question, "What are the best abrasive blast cabinet siphon tube upgrades?"

As a small business owner on a budget, I got by for years using a Harbor Freight blast cabinet with the stock siphon tube. It sputtered, surged and struggled. It clogged easily and just wasn’t much fun to use. Time is money and blasting was typically a slow and frustrating experience. Too much media in the cabinet? You’ll have issues. Too little media in the cabinet? You’ll have issues. Pickup tube not in the right position? You’ll have issues. Tube too deep in the media and not getting enough air? That will cause a problem. Did you manage to get all that fixed for a few minutes? Surprise! You’ll still have issues.

Sometimes if I moved the tube around and prayed to the right abrasive gods it might actually flow blast media consistently for a couple minutes. Then the problem became maintaining the magic flow formula. Does any of this sound familiar?

You might have to kick or bump the cabinet with a knee every so often to keep media sliding down in the hopper. Be careful now. Once you’ve got the temperamental sand straw sucking media, the last thing you want to do is mess things up. Don’t let it suck an air cavity, clog, get starved for media or do anything else that might mess it up. Disturb the delicate balance you’ve managed to create and you’ll need to start the process all over again. Big deal? Just do what you did the first time right? The problem is once you manage to get the stock siphon tube flowing, you’re not always sure how or why. I’m always reminded of Spongebob’s very particular bubble blowing formula. He had a lot of things that needed to happen to ensure success:

(Video courtesy of The Official Spongebob Squarepants YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@SpongeBobOfficial)

I quickly realized clamping down or mounting the siphon tube in the cabinet was a bad idea. Sticking the tube down in the sand and being able to move it around easily improved things slightly. At least I could quickly clear clogs and reposition the tube when I had issues. The problem with that solution, is you typically need to have more media than you need in the blast cabinet to keep the tube down in the media.

One day while constantly banging, moving the tube around and clearing clogs I decided enough was enough. I couldn’t take it anymore. I decided I was going to make this cabinet work or give up and spend way more on a better cabinet. I hit the internet and researched blast cabinet pickup tube upgrades. I spent hours figuring out the “best” siphon tube upgrade and set out to try them all with some help.

We tried pretty much every sandblast pickup tube modification you can imagine, and a few you probably can’t imagine. I bought overpriced aftermarket siphon tube upgrades. I watched YouTube videos and made my own. I welded two tubes together. I put one inside the other. I bent tubes, drilled holes. soldered copper tubes together and more. We. Tried. Everything.

The Best Abrasive Blast Cabinet Siphon Tube Upgrade:

So what was the best sandblaster pickup tube mod?

It was honestly all a waste of time and money. Some solutions offered a slight improvement, but none really worked well. No matter what sort of siphon tube you make or buy it is still a pickup tube. At the end of the day you’re left with a slightly better version of an awful design. I was ready to give up. It must be the horrible Harbor Freight blast gun? Right. Probably. Before I spent money on a new gun, I decided I’d try one of the metering valve designs since I could do it cheaper.

I was very resistant to trying a metering valve setup. Much of that was a lack of understanding regarding how the valve works. Once I thought about how gravity assisted the flow, things started to make more sense. I was still hesitant. I didn’t want to waste any more time or money. I definitely didn’t want to drill two holes in the blast cabinet only to discover this was yet another modification that didn’t work.

I decided to try making my own. Of course, there’s trial and error involved there as well. It isn’t as straight forward as you might think. I whipped up the simplest and cheapest version I could come up with. I wanted something durable with no frills and no thrills. I built a low cost metering valve with flow and performance in mind. I installed it and the difference was like night and day. Even the bad triggered Harbor Freight blast gun blew media well and consistently! I could blast longer and better than I ever could with the terrible siphon tube.

Since then we’ve refined the design further and came up with our own versions and our own little secret tweaks that help improve flow further. We’ve added features to further improve your blasting experience and we have worked hard to offer a blast cabinet metering valve solution for any budget.

In conclusion, after hours of research and trial and error, I can promise you this:
The best Harbor Freight blast cabinet pickup tube modification is to simply eliminate it. Get rid of it. Convert your cabinet to a gravity fed metering valve setup and don’t look back. After countless hours of frustration, I mean that from the bottom of my heart. There is nothing you can do to the standard siphon pickup tube design that compares.

My only regret is not trying a metering valve sooner. I wasted much time and money trying other solutions and modifications. You don’t have to make the same mistake. Whatever pickup tube contraption you come up with, it won’t compare to a metering valve or media valve setup. We know because we’ve tried them all.

If you’re sick and tired of struggling with poor siphon tube blast cabinet performance, just do some sort of metering valve setup. I don’t even care if you buy it from us. Buy it from someone else. Make your own. Just do it. You won’t be disappointed compared to the stock pickup tube design. The good news is, our prices are so low most customers can’t build a comparable product for less. It usually doesn’t make sense from a time or cost perspective to make your own. We price our products so fairly it is often just as cheap, or cheaper, to buy from us. Save time and money! No research. No running around town trying to find all the right parts and pieces to fit together and work right. We’ve got a solution to meet your needs and budget. Not convinced? Still want to try a siphon tube upgrade first? We get it. Been there. Done that.

What if I don’t want to upgrade to a metering valve?

So, time to play a little devil’s advocate here. Suppose you can’t or don’t want to upgrade to a metering valve setup. What is the “best” siphon tube upgrade then? We’ll reiterate. We don’t recommend bothering. However, if you wanted to “upgrade” to the “best” of a terrible design you could try one of the side by side double tube designs. We don’t like the small tube inside a larger tube setup. We find you typically get better performance out of two separate tubes welded together with a special arrangement something like the design shown below:

A blast cabinet siphon tube with welded double tube design.
A welded double tube steel blast cabinet pickup tube available via Amazon: https://amzn.to/3J3cDX3

The problem with the double tube design is cost. If you don’t make this solution yourself, it typically costs $40 or more to purchase. If you don’t weld, finding a suitable workaround costs money and time and doesn’t work as well. Why bother anyway? In our opinion, you could spend the same and get a metering valve that will work better.

The other issue is longevity. A metering valve will last longer than most pick up tubes. All siphon pickup tubes wear out over time and require replacing. Many blast cabinet siphon tubes are 18 gauge or thinner steel. The thinnest part of our steel metering valves are about 2.7 times thicker than the walls of the common aftermarket siphon tube upgrades sold today. It makes no sense paying $40 to $100 for siphon tube design that doesn’t work as well and won’t last as long.

A metering valve setup works much better, lasts longer and ends up being cheaper in the long run. We’re capable of manufacturing the “best” siphon tube design and could do it for a higher profit margin than our metering valves. We don’t because a gravity fed valve design works 10 times better. It just does.

We’ve said it a million times, and we’ll say it again: Converting your Harbor Freight or other economy blast cabinet to a metering valve setup is the single best upgrade you make to it.

Leave a Comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00