In our previous blog post in which we explained why we bought this van, we also mentioned that Ford Transits are, sadly enough, known for getting some rust. Well, that’s the case with our van as well.
When we removed everything from our van, including the upholstery covering the floor, we found quite some rust on the floor.
In today’s blog post, we explain how we treated the rust we have found in our van.
Because we do not own a wide range of appliances, nor do we have the money to acquire them, we mainly used basic hand tools to treat the rust we found. The appliances we used are:
- Steel wire brush (handheld wire brush and a drill attachment)
- Denatured alcohol or some other cleaning product to make the surface oil free
- Rust transformer
- Metal paint
Step 1: brushing and sanding the surface
When the entire van was empty and cleaned, we first removed loose paint layers and rust by use of a wire brush. During this stage, you specifically have to watch for what looks like bubbles under the paint. These bubbles namely indicate that there is rust beneath the paint. It’s best to remove the paint layer at those places, it probably comes off quite easily anyway.
After we removed the coarse rust and paint layers, we used sandpaper to remove the rust more thoroughly. It also helped to use sandpaper in the areas that were a little harder to reach. We did not sand the surface in order for all the rust to disappear, but rather until all the loose rust and paint layers were removed.
Sanding the surface does not only remove the rust, but it also creates a better surface texture for the rust neutralizer and metal paint to adhere to.
Step 2: cleaning the surface
After we removed most of the rust, we cleaned the surface area before moving on. Properly cleaning the surface area ensures a better adhesion of the rust neutralizer and the metal paint later on.
We chose to clean the surface area by use of denatured alcohol rather than traditional cleaning products such as thinner. As far as we could find, most cleaning products often leave some sort of residue. Soap envelopes the particles on the surface you want to clean, this chemical compound then potentially gets left behind, so the surface is still polluted. Alcohol on the other hand evaporates, lowering the chances of residue, and thus leaves you with a cleaner surface.
Step 3: neutralizing the rust
It is quite difficult to remove all the rust in each spot without sanding through the whole metal housing of the van, which at most is just 2-3 millimeters thick. Therefore it is often advised to use a rust neutralizer. Rust neutralizers adhere to rust particles and create a new chemical compound. It replaces the oxygen atoms by others and creates a material that does not oxidize.
We used Brunox epoxy as the rust neutralizer in our van. We chose for this brand and type, mainly because it does not contain heavy metals or mineral acid unlike other products that were available here and were generally well reviewed, such as zinc sprays.
We have found that opinions are strongly divided on whether or not these products actually do what they are supposed to, and which brands do and do not work. We have opted for this particular product because we are mainly dealing with rather simple surface rust.
You have to be cautious with rust however. If rust is not dealt with properly in time, it can destroy your entire vehicle. We have first-hand experience on this matter with our first car! If you do not trust it, it is always best to seek advice from a mechanic on whether or not it needs to be welded or something else.
Step 4: protecting against future rust
Our last step was to protect the neutralized rust. Brunox epoxy serves simultaneously as a rust neutralizer and a primer, so we did not have to use a primer separately. After the rust neutralizer had dried completely, which took quite a while due to the lower temperatures we’re currently experiencing, we painted over it with metal paint. This will protect the newly formed chemical compound from water and air and reduces the chances for rust to return.
Next up is the floor! Over the next few weeks we will be focussing on putting down a subfloor and the insulation beneath it. In our next blog post related to our camper van conversion, we have explained how we’ve done just that.
Did you like this blog post and want to read more? Click here to go to our main camper van conversion page! Here, you can find a neatly organized list of all blog posts related to our van conversion project.