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Too Much Rust for the Weary

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2012

By Karen Kapsanis


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Although I don’t see offshore oil platforms around Pittsburgh, rarely pass storage tanks, and don’t frequent industrial facilities where pipe needs to be repaired because of corrosion under insulation, a few recent JPCL articles of late triggered a painful and humbling memory.

It’s those words “bare steel” that really get to me.

Lessons of Professor Pete

That’s because, a year ago, I decided to stop ignoring the rust on the inside rims of two wheel wells of my car.

 Karen's rusty wheel well
Go ahead; just try to get it off.

I had shown the rust to our art director, Pete, who knows cars as well as art.

“That’s nothing,” he said. “It happens on lots of cars. A body shop will charge you plenty just to take off that little bit of rust and repaint it. You can fix it yourself with the right sandpaper and touch-up paint.

“It might take a little elbow grease, but just be sure to get all the rust off, down to the bare steel, Karen, or you know what will happen.”

He even explained why the inside rims of the wheel wells on my car had this problem. It’s from the pebbles, debris, road salt, and water that the tires kick up against the inside rim, breaking the paint, and exposing the steel to the perfect environment for corrosion.

Steeling Myself

So one relatively warm Saturday in November, I took to my garage and worked on my car.

Several hours and an incredibly sore back, shoulder, and arm later, I had sanded off as much of the ¼-inch-wide, three-inch-long strip of rust as I could from one wheel well and repainted the “bare” steel.

I know: I was using sandpaper on a car, not power tools on structural steel. But all I could think of was SSPC-SP 11 and power tool cleaning to bare metal. Was I even in SPitting distance?

Less than a year later, that wheel well is rusting again. My tiny bit of (poor) surface prep was a humbling lesson in how hard industrial painting contractors work, even using surface prep equipment that is much more sophisticated than my sandpaper. And they deserve a lot more respect and appreciation than I can articulate.

If you’re not a contractor and you haven’t had to clean steel to bare metal lately, go ahead—try it. Unless you are a true weekend warrior, I’m not sure you’ll like it.

But if you like it, could you stop by and take care of my wheel wells?

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Karen Kapsanis

Karen Kapsanis was the Editor in Chief of the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings when these blogs were written. Post-JPCL, Karen remains an inexplicably lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers and a surprisingly speedy sprinter.

SEE ALL CONTENT FROM THIS CONTRIUBTOR

   

Tagged categories: Certifications and standards; Corrosion; Maintenance coating work; Rust; SSPC-SP 11; Steel; Surface preparation

Comment from Tim Race, (10/12/2012, 8:28 AM)

Karen I feel your pain. The previous owners of my house had used white latex house paint to repaint the front porch iron railing. They simply painted over the rust and old peeling alkyd paint. After several years of my wife insisting that I repaint it, I finally tackled the job. Equipped with my rotary power tool and several attachments I got to work. After several days of dusty, dirty, hunched over work I had had enough and declared the rail ready to paint. Most of the rust and loose paint were gone, but it was a far cry from SP 11. As a former consultant, I'll admit that it is a whole lot easier to be critical of surface prep quality, than it is to achieve it in practice. I'll take a pass on those wheel wells!


Comment from peter gibson, (10/12/2012, 10:32 AM)

That is correct.Theory often does not match reality.


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