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Rusted '87 Mustang

Eyes on the Prize

Bench Racing

by Ryan King

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Recently, I reviewed CarTech's Media Blasting & Metal Preparation because of the El Camino, but it's difficult to think about rust without returning to the Survivor '87 Mustang.

Yes, my focus is the El Camino, right now, but the Survivor is still very much on my radar.

As I've mentioned in several places on Classics and Performance, even though that car's undercarriage is covered in rust, it's still very savable — especially with my newfound knowledge from Matt Joseph.

Having learned more about rust removal and other metal preparation strategies in Media Blasting & Metal Preparation, I'm looking at the restoration work for the Survivor very differently. When I started with it, I had hoped to take care of the rust problems as discrete spots, but found myself disassembling the entire car. When I realized I would have to completely strip the body down to the shell, I recognized I was likely going to need to use more aggressive methods than a drill and power brushes — however, that's as far as I got. I didn't have the space to get into the project like I needed to. I've spent years thinking through strategies for getting the job done, but never had anything I felt confident about. Now I have the knowledge to recognize the different needs of the various deteriorated components and how to meet them using a number of different methods.

As an example, I was simply going to give up on the heavily rusted rear end and replace it, but now that I can see its rust removal requirements and distinct limitations, I think I can save it — which is great, because while it looks bad on the outside, the thing only has 14,000 miles on it. Once I take care of the cosmetic issues and the potential safety problems of uncontrolled corrosion on a member of the chassis that supports the vehicle, it'll virtually be brand new. What methods will I use? First of all, I'll need to protect the interior of the housing from anything destructive getting in it — like blasting media. To that end, I'll have to be certain it can be completely sealed. Then I'll likely use media blasting with an appropriate media type for the large and convoluted surfaces followed by a de-rusting chemical of some sort on the more sensitive areas like those around the openings because I can control its application better — and even if some gets inside, I can easily clean it out without destroying anything. What that does is save me time by taking care of the bulk of the rust removal with media blasting and allows me to save the bearings, gears, and differential internals by using a safer — albeit slower — method only in the sensitive areas. That makes the whole process more efficient and effective and makes saving this otherwise excellent component worth my time.

Just thinking about it makes me look forward to getting some space and equipment to dig into my Car Projects. I've been fascinated by automobile restoration for a long time and, over the last decade, I've grown to truly love and appreciate it as an activity and art form. I'm still much, much more driver-centric in my automotive interests — my love of driving and racing will always be why I love cars — but the mechanical nature of automobiles and the pursuit of returning them to their prime and keeping them perpetually on the road has become a real passion for me.

So, I'm keeping my eyes on the prize and working towards the day I can finally fulfill my lifelong dream to enjoy my cars to their fullest.

Here's to Muscle Cars: may their V8s always chug gasoline and bellow from their tailpipes like the monsters they are; and may they forever burn rubber, eat pavement, and roam the open road where they belong.


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