"Thoroughly check for rust, and the severity of said four-letter word, before buying a used vehicle."As you can imagine, I have a bit of a rust problem on my van. So far it's purely aesthetically annoying and isn't hindering the function of anything. But man, it's ugly.You can't get instafamous with a rust bucket.But in all seriousness, as far as aesthetics go, I saw this brilliant video by a fellow van-lifer that I randomly bumped into at a gas station in Canada named Justin. (DEFINITELY check out his YouTube channel). In the video he was describing, essentially, common sense about How to Van Life. How to truly be stealth, but to not approach it like you have something to hide. How to not be a shitty human being. How to not be a slob. How to not be an asshole who thinks he's above the law.As a result of all of his advice, your negative attention and encounters from law enforcement will significantly if not completely reduce/disappear. One thing that specifically stuck with me was the importance of maintaining the appearance of your van, RV, or vehicle. Think about it, it makes sense.If you are attempting to van-dwell in some of the most beautiful areas in a city, most likely there will be extremely wealthy people who have very nice things in that area. Nice homes, nice houses, nice streets and sidewalks, nice parks.If your vehicle is a rusted, paint-chipped, POS, it's going to stick out like a sore thumb, and even if you're not doing anything wrong, it will draw negative attention and potentially result in the police being called to your door to ask you about your business and to ultimately ask you to move on. Encounters with police, are generally best avoided.So here we are with my beautifully immaculate van on the inside. On the outside, my paint is chipping, there was bad surface rust, the rubber seals around all of my windows have my hasty, rushed, ugly-silicone-bead-attempts all around the edges. It's kind of a mess and it needs love. A lot of love...Most likely weeks worth of hard, hard, dirty, nasty, toxic love.I looked into the various methods of rust treatment and removal:* Sand- or Medium-blasting* High-powered Lasers* Cutting out rusted sections and replacing with bondo* Chemical converters / removers* Wire brushes and steel wool and a helluva a lot of good ol' elbow grease* AcidsThe most effective and time efficient methods are of course prohibitively expensive and the preparation is EXTREMELY involved. We're talking removing all of your windows and just disassembling your vehicle.So, DIY it is.I found this product in the forums called Rust Bomb - Rust Remover Gel from Orison Marketing.
Everyone RAVED about its efficacy and environmentally friendly chemical composition."Rust Bomb from Orison Marketing is a gel that specifically targets rust with its unique non-hazardous formula. It is designed to kill rust (iron-oxide), but will not harm aluminum, copper, brass, rubber, plastic or vinyl. It pulls the rust right off of the metal and leaves the metal like new. It employs a combination of modified chelators and rust inhibitors to attack the rust where it lives. The metal should be free of dirt, oil and loose rust. Rust Bomb should be applied to the surface with a brush or putty knife. The rust removal process can take as little as 5-minutes or up to 24 hours. It all depends on how severe the rust is. Deep rust may take several applications. When done, the gel can be easily removed with water. After de-rusting, apply an appropriate protective coating such as paint, Rust Bandit, a water based rust inhibitor or CP90, an oil based inhibitor."Alas, it was discontinued and there's even a bit of conspiracy surrounding the reasons for it being discontinued by people in the forums, Home Depot paint department employees, and mechanics I talked to in shops about it. Apparently, there are a lot of influential interests that really want cars to rust, so that you are forced to buy new cars. Any product that effectively removes rust, eventually gets discontinued. Planned obsolescence.Anyway, I looked at the chemical ingredients of many of the most popular alternatives for removing rust in vehicles and boats and it seemed like Phosphoric Acid was the winner. Something about Phosphoric acid and iron oxide converting rust to inert iron phosphate.I went to Home Depot, bought a big ol' tub of the stuff, some steel wool, and a drill bit wire brush or two, put the Phosphoric acid in a spray bottle, and started the grueling process.Scrub scrubScrape scrape*breathe in rust*Wipe wipeRepeat.Spray spray*curiously watch bubbling and rust color changing*Wait.*wonder about how long to wait**waits too long and weird black stuff shows up and phosphoric acid drips onto things it's not supposed to touch*Hmm...my hands kind of burn.*wash hands*
etc....I even learned another valuable lesson, probably the next Lessons Learned that I'll be posting. But summarily, DON'T GRIND RUST OFF OF YOUR AC HOSES!
You're welcome.So, after the grueling rust removal/conversion process, you have to primer and seal that area, or you'll experience what's called "flash rust" which is, self-describing and very, very real.I used this stuff, recommended to me by the helpful Home Depot paint department employee, called Rust-Oleum Primer Sealer. Apparently, the "sealer" bit was clutch, as all of the other primers are too porous and they let in moisture and allow flash rusting.But, later I talked to a dude at Maaco who was giving me an estimate on rust removal, paint reconditioning, body work, and redoing my fancy tri-color paint job, and he said that even the Rust-Oleum primer sealer won't cut it, and moisture WILL GET IN. Only PAINT can prevent...sigh...So, many sections of my van look better. But it's temporary until I drop $3,000+ to get it done right and repainted. Steep for a vehicle that currently has me stranded in Murfreesboro, Tennessee after a weak brake repair job in Florida that resulted in two rear drum brakes heating up, ripping to shreds, and exploding both rear tires.So rust sucks. I've only really dealt with the light surface rust on the body of my van so far and it sucks.
Be diligent when inspecting a vehicle that you intend to purchase.Lesson Learned.