photos by: Rick Seitz and Brian Sabo
Busting the Rust off of Our Two Long-Term GMEFI Projects
Imagine seeing a beautiful example of your favorite car. Perfectly painted, aggressive rumble at idle, tight and snappy revs. Taking a closer look, the interior matches completely but as you pop the hood you catch a glimpse of the frame rails. No amount of chrome or shiny black paint could cover up or distract the eye from all of that rust. Dealing with rust is by far the single most challenging aspect of body or frame work that can make or break a project and it can be tough to deal with. Mainly because rust wants to keep on coming back.
Since rust only requires two of the most readily available resources on the planet to form and grow and most paints and even some sealers do not form a completely air/water tight barrier, you can not expect to be able to just cover it up with a coat of paint and be done with it. You first need to clean the metal of all corrosion, then etche the metal, and finally put a sealer on it to keep the rust from coming back.
For the home shop or restoration hobbyist, this process used to require a countless amount of man hours or a ton of money. Even if you were lucky enough to have access to a sand blaster, getting all of the rust is so time consuming most people would either resort to having the frame professionally blasted and dipped or even just skip over it all together.
However, there is another option out there and thanks to the geniuses at KBS Coatings it is more affordable and easier to do than you would think. With this three step process you can say goodbye to rust in the shortest amount of time and be sure you never open the hood to your dream car to find that ugly red scale bubbling up through the paint.
Having a few on going projects of our own with, lets just say, less than perfect frames, we had to give the KBS Coatings 3-step process a go. Our particular projects were a 2002 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 and a 1987 Buick Grand National. While both cars have always been pretty well taken care of, just as in the scenario above, the devil is in the details so we picked up the KBS Coatings 3-Step Frame Coating System and got to work.
Both cars have been long term stablemates, but as a result of some suspension upgrades and general maintenance, it had become clear that it was time to address the light surface rust. Since we did the 3-Step Frame Coating System on both cars, back to back, it one made sense to feature both of them here in the same story.
The first step is to get everything clean, after all it doesn’t matter how good the coating is if you don’t start with a clean surface. The cleaning process was made incredibly simple with KBS Klean. We simply applied it to the parts in need of cleaning and washed it off some time later. For heavily soiled parts it can be left to soak for more than 24-hours but in our case a few minutes did the trick perfectly. Using a bristle brush to work the chemical into the grime and rust also helped a lot as well but it is not always necessary.
The next step is to blast the rust away with RustBlast. This should be applied to a dry, clean surface and should not be allowed to dry. So once you start the process you have to keep applying it to keep it wet. It can take anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours depending on how severely corroded the workpiece is but in our case it only took 20 minutes and we were ready to rinse it off with the water hose. It is worth noting that RustBlast is essentially Phosphoric acid and even though it is biodegradable it does not exactly smell like roses, so do this part outside or at least somewhere with really good ventilation and don’t skimp on the PPE.
After allowing the parts to dry for a few hours, it was time for the final step, apply the RustSeal. One of the coolest things about this product is that it is self-leveling. What this means is that it can be applied by whatever means necessary and it’s going to come out looking great and stay looking that way for a long time. Spray it on, roll it on, or brush it on. As the coating dries it naturally levels out making “orange peel” and roller and brush marks disappear.
We put two coats on letting each 2-mil thick coat dry to the touch before moving on to the next and we were good to go. Now instead of taking away from the overall beauty of these cars the frames actually add to it. As skeptical as we were that KBS Coatings has come up with a way of making such a difficult task so easy, we have to say their 3-Step System really does work fast and the process really could not be easier. Not to mention, the finished product is really tough so you don’t have to worry about chipping and peeling.
One concern we had when we first received our 3-Step System is how little the containers were. Initially it did not seem like we would have enough of any of the three products to be able to complete our projects. However, the KBS Klean is concentrated and makes up to ten times its volume. RustBlast and RustSeal however are not meant to be diluted and should be used at “full strength.”
Both of these products go a long way though and in the end we found that we had just enough to complete our projects. For boxed frames KBS Coatings also has another really easy to use product called Cavity Coater that effectively protects those hard to reach areas. This self healing film can withstand more than 4000-hours of salt spray without breaking down and comes in quart, gallon, or aerosol can sizes. It is even offered as an aerosol kit that comes with a 36-inch cavity wand. For our application, the coverage was great and it only took a few cans to cover the inside of our frame rails.
These two cars have really never looked better.
Elizabeth is a hardcore horsepower enthusiast with unmatched intensity for making things faster and louder. She wakes up for power and performance and only sleeps to charge up for the next project that’s heading to the track. From autocross to drag racing, Elizabeth is there with you, so stay tuned for her unique perspective on horsepower news, builds, tech info, and installs — with her, it’ll never be boring!