Rust Spiders from Mars

I’m running out of puns, I’m sure which will be a huge relief to most readers of this blog. Anyway, as the title suggests I have found some nasty bits under the paint. Lots of paint stripper and hours with a wire brush has revealed horrors under the many layer of paint. Ok – it’s not all bad and given that the van is 43 years old and spent most of it’s life under the blistering heat of Aix-en-Provence and it’s no surprise that the paint -(especially the roof) had become thin and porous – or just flaked off, leaving the bare steel exposed to the elements.

Here’s shot of the roof plastered with paint stripper and wrapped in cling film. The idea behind the cling film is that it excludes the air and stops the stripper from drying out

Paint stripper doing its thing – marginally more interesting than watching paint dry

And here is what’s under the paint

It’s a messy business – this car stripping lark

it took a few more applications of stripper to remove the 5 coat of paint and with a bit of wire brush work here’s the result.

Rust spiders – these probably started off as stone chips and water has worked its way under the paint, leaving little trails of rust in its wake. The corrugated part of the roof is in much worse shape, with scabby bits of rust all over. There’s deep pitting where the corrosion has eaten into the thin steel.

Bare steel – except where it’s rusty…

What to do? I could spend hours trying to grind out the rust but there will be very little steel left – which I would have to make good with filler. Or I can treat the rust with phosphoric acid, which will stabilise it. The whole roof will still be pock marked but actually I think it will be fine. I don’t want to hide any defects, it’s only an old French van and all those imperfections are part of its character (dare I say patina?). With the rust treatment, a coat of etch primer, couple of coats of poly / epoxy primer and the colour coat should keep the rust in check for a few more years yet – so that’s the plan.

Here are a few more shots of the stripping process. Sorry it’s a bit dull, but then this is going to be the most tedious bit of the restoration.

Is that a bit of Bleu Neve I see?
The original sign writing is too far gone to rescue – but I have a set of templates so I can recreate it after it’s been sprayed
‘Scabtastic’ – the cataphoric black primer was easy to strip off the new rear pillar – if only the rest was that easy!

In other good news, I’ve managed to track down a new pair of front wings – without indicator holes, as originally fitted to the AK350. I like to keep people guessing, especially on roundabouts, so having no front indicators won’t be a problem – not for me anyway.

One thought on “Rust Spiders from Mars

  1. These spiders webs are common – I had them on my van but 14 years later all is well. I rubbed into them with wet and dry as best I could and treated them as you are planning, so good luck!


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