The sense of history runs deep in the British psyche. Many old houses, monuments and even trees are protected from change by law. We love antiques so much that whole TV shows are dedicated to them. And thousands of enthusiasts spend their evenings and weekends restoring and maintaining vintage vehicles from bygone eras. But driving our cars on the roads exposes them to dirt and water which will quickly cause corrosion to bodywork, chassis, and other components. It’s no understatement to say that rust prevention is one of the biggest issues facing the historic vehicle community.
If you drive a classic vehicle, you’ll know how important it is to deal with corrosion as soon as you find it on any part of your car. It’s no good just painting over the rust as the damage will continue unseen. Instead, you should remove all the rust before treating the metal beneath to prevent it from recurring. Most amateur restorers will keep some form of surface preparation equipment among their car restoration tools. This may be anything from a Scotch Brite pad or wheel, to a pneumatic blaster made by a manufacturer of bristle blasters. These tools should be used to remove all the loose material, including rust and paint. The smooth metal beneath should then be cleaned thoroughly before the process of protecting it can begin.
If an area of bodywork has been affected by rust, rainwater can sometimes cause the oxidized metal to run and stain the paint around the affected area. Fortunately, it isn’t always necessary to strip and repaint the whole panel – use a rust stain remover, like Purple-X from Rustbuster, to clean away the stain and leave the surrounding paintwork looking as good as new. If the rust has penetrated deep into the metal, it may not be enough to simply paint over the damage. Any holes should be filled using car bodywork filler, and it’s important to get a smooth finish which is flush with the surface of the panel.
Now it’s time to prepare the damaged area for repair, using a quality anti-corrosion paint. Not many people realise that salt is a major contributor to coating failure, so if your car has been driven during the winter or on the beach, the finish may have become contaminated by road salt or sea salt. If you are in any doubt, it may be worth using a salt test kit to check the surface, or you may end up wasting a lot of time on ineffective repairs. Once you are sure the surface is as clean as it can be, repair it with anti-corrosion paint to keep future rust in check. If your vehicle sits on a galvanised chassis, galvanising paint should be used for the underside. Otherwise, apply under car sealant, and use a wax injection kit to protect the chassis from the inside. And don’t forget to use your car chrome polish so your ride will always look it’s best!