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Home 2014 Editions April, 2014 Reader’s Choice: Treating Rust

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“What is the proper way to treat rust? I do quite a bit of restoration, and rust has always been a problem. Also, how do you prep a vehicle that has been sodablasted?”

— Randy Walker, owner, Randy’s Body Shop, Durant, Okla.

Question answered by: Tom Horvath

Rust is a serious issue and can be a big problem down the road if it’s not dealt with from the

Teaching employees the importance of rust is something I felt I stressed too much about – until I had a problem. Now, I can’t stress enough the importance of addressing it early in the process.
Rust not dealt with properly is always a problem, but sometimes it may take a long time to show up. I remember one time doing a restoration thinking that everything was fine. Months later, the customer pointed out a fingerprint that showed up in the clearcoat. The fix that day was to color, sand and polish.

A month later, it came back. The real problem was that when we blasted the vehicle, we didn’t use gloves to protect the surface. Guess what? The rust was caused by acid from the skin, and it showed up much later.

Three Steps
The first step is to take proper care to protect the surface as soon as it’s ready. Take proper care not to touch the surface with bare hands. No moisture or other contamination can touch the surface of bare metals.

Next, find a compatible primer surfacer for bare metal, usually referred to as DTM or “direct-to-metal” primer. This is the foundation and is the most important part of any repair that deals with bare metal.
After the foundation, many hours of prepping, painting and material usage is applied to the surface. This can result in thousands of dollars and, if done wrong, will be a waste of time.

I like systems, so when I look at DTMs, I look for a paint system that’s complete, from DTM to high-build primers to sealers. This way, if there is a problem, I know where to look.

If you’re intermixing one product line with another, no manufacturer is going to take responsibility if there’s a failure. So even if there is a cost savings for a length of time, the one time you have failure, the failure could be so catastrophic you may not be able to ever overcome the loss.

  • Step one: Strip the metal to bare. Soda blast, paint stripper, bead blast, etc. However you do it, make sure it’s done in a moisture-free environment.
  • Step two: Don’t touch the surface with bare hands.
  • Step three: Find a compatible primer system, DTM, high-build primer and sealer.

Tom Horvath is with Clearcoat Solutions. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Tom Horvath

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  • Matt Lipski

    Tom this is Matt Lipski You did a set of mirrors on my 1973 Pantera. I am hopeful that you can do the same job on my 1971 Pantera. This is a very early car with the early style window channels. I need this work done by march 1st of this year. Can you do this one small job for me the same as on the 73.
    Matt Lipski