Successfully dealing with a rusty car can be as exasperating as troubleshooting electrical problems. Once you start, it's like opening the proverbial can of worms. Rust travels under paint, rubber, carpet, and just about anywhere else you might not look until it's too late. Normally this would mean spending many hours grinding, cutting, and forming patch panels to replace the cancerous metal that needs to be cut out. So what about a rusty chassis or any other part that simply has been affected on the surface? You wouldn't want to cut out a section of rusty windshield frame, only to have to build a whole new channel section to fit in its place, unless you are extremely competent with bodywork or the rust has completely deteriorated the metal. Sometimes the best way to deal with small areas of surface rust is to simply grind through the top layer until you see clean, shiny metal. The problem with grinding the rust off is knowing how deep the rust has traveled and when to stop grinding. Simply put, if the affected area is too far gone, there really isn't anything you can do but cut it out and replace it with new steel. But, if the affected area is suffering from surface rust only, you will want to read on.
When someone says, "Hey, check out this new rust treatment; you just apply it to the rust and it becomes neutralized," most of us think of some late-night infomercial gimmick. Truth be told, when we first heard about Rust Bullet we had those same feelings. Being a body and paint man, yours truly was extremely skeptical before trying this stuff out. The first thing we did was read the literature Rust Bullet sent to us. The entire brochure was dedicated not to how "cool" Rust Bullet is, but rather an in-depth look at how this product was tested against all 319 other brands of rust control products. Every test from seawater immersion to impact resistance was performed at independent laboratories following the standards of the American Society for Testing and Materials. As far as we are concerned, any company that believes in their own product enough to put it through eight types of rigorous tests at six different laboratories, including the National Testing Standards Inc., Atlas Weathering Group, and B.F. Goodrich Aerospace, earns some consideration.
So now, the real question is what kind of preparations need to be performed for maximum benefit? After all, a chemical this complex must be equally complex to apply, right? Wrong! Rust Bullet can be applied by brush, roller, or out of a normal automotive paint spray gun. Surface prep consists of simply scraping away or wire wheeling any large flakes of rust from the surface. The directions add to this: if scraping or wire wheeling cannot be done, a heavier first coat will overcome this problem, and then soak through the flakes to penetrate the steel. After two to three hours of drying time for the first coat, the second and final coat can be applied. Rust Bullet needs no reducer or catalyst, and the equipment can be cleaned with mineral spirits, toluene, xylene, or MEK. One of the only stipulations with using this product is that it cannot be applied when the air or surface temperatures fall below 35 degrees F.
For our testing, we prepped and sprayed the front framerails of a '67 Chevelle wagon. We figured since we went to all the work of making the new engine look pretty, there just was no reason not to give the rest of the engine compartment the same attention. Besides, this type of work is probably much closer to what us "backyard"types can and would do to our own rides as well. Sure we would have liked to pull the body from the chassis and send it off to a media blaster/powdercoater, but for our purpose, that is just not feasible or necessary.