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Hot Rods Flash flood! Saving an old car?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by gene-koning, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 2,423


    My son has a 57 Dodge wagon he has been working on for a few years. We just got done installing an off topic motor, and we had a guy do the exhaust. He messed it up, so the car was back at his shop to get the pipes fixed.
    It, and 8 other cars and trucks at the repair shop got caught in a flash flood this past Fri night (July 21). At midnight, the river, 150' away was still in its banks, by 1 am, the river was flowing out of its banks, and by 3 am, the whole parking lot was flooded to the point we couldn't get anything out of the lot. by 7am Sat morning water was up to the top of the fenders. Last night all you could see was the roof. The river crested today, at 16' above flood stage, the car is in about 4' of water.

    The car is insured, and my son wants to save it. We are not deeply concerned about the motor or trans, They are modern and can be easily replaced, but we are concerned about saving the nearly rust free body.

    Anyone have experience saving a car that has been completely under water, we would like to hear from you. About the only interior in the car was seats and some carpet in the back, the car was suppose to go in for painting, so the interior was removed before this event.

    Everyone wants pictures. Be ready, they may make you a little sick. Gene

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
    chryslerfan55 likes this.
  2. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 29,616


    I'd say the key is to strip anything left of the rest of the interior out and flush it out good to get all of the mud out of all the nooks and crannies. Then get it dry. It should go without saying that the steering box and rear axle need to be cleaned out along with the wheel bearings needing to be repacked or replaced depending on how they look.
    Clean it good, blow the water out of as many corners as you can and set it out in the sun and hope for a week or so of 100 degree days to bake it well.
  3. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 6,778


    I'd think the good thing for you is you might get your hands on it before anything really takes effect.

    You'd have to pull everything than can hold mentioned carpet and seats, get them out asap, possible to maybe dry them with fans before they start to mold.

    Door panels and such might be ruined if cardboard backing was used, definitely pull the rear apart, see if water got in there.

    Get fans up under the dash, hopefully you can get to it before things start oxidizing
    Same with all bulb sockets...pull the gauge cluster let things dry out, might get lucky and save it...maybe a mild 150-160 bake in the oven could help

    I'm just thinking of things off the top of my head, again, you have a chance to minimize issues before they start as opposed to one that sat for years afterwards.

    Even if the insurance foots the bill, I'd still take the engine apart and assess it, along with the tranny.
    triman62 and Hnstray like this.
  4. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    from SW Wyoming

    Some WD-40 will help flush moisture out of switches, wiper motor and other electrical items. As mentioned above, pull everything out and flush it out. River mud gets into everything.
    triman62 likes this.

  5. scotts52
    Joined: Apr 7, 2008
    Posts: 2,299


    In addition to the above ideas, go to a local hobby store and get a whole bunch of dessicant. It will help pull moisture out of the air. Put it in packs and shove them up under the dash etc. It's the same stuff they add to a lot of packaged foods to absorb moisture. The best part is, it can be used over and over again.
    triman62 likes this.
  6. I'd do the above, as well as water blast it, before leaving it in your Summer sunshine to dry out.
    triman62 and Hnstray like this.
  7. robracer1
    Joined: Aug 3, 2015
    Posts: 488


    Your insurance co. will probably want to total it, if they do more than likely you can buy it from them. In GA. you repair it and have it towed to a designated state patrol office and have it certified to drive on roads or get a salvage title depending on the age of the car.
    You might want to check your states procedures on this matter and be ahead of the game.
    Look luck hope this helped
  8. 56premiere
    Joined: Mar 8, 2011
    Posts: 1,445

    from oregon

    That is sad. Sorry. What everyone says is right, but if those cars and trucks are floating there may be a lot of dings and dents that weren't there.
  9. karl share
    Joined: Nov 5, 2015
    Posts: 108

    karl share

    Go down to your local container shipping yard if you have one,they throw out all the bags of dessicant when they unpack containers. I see bins full of the stuff in my travels,2lb bags of it.
  10. rdscotty
    Joined: Sep 24, 2008
    Posts: 195

    from red deer

    It is highly important that you check this out. In Alberta, if the water reaches the bottom of the dash the vehicle is deemed unrepairable, the VIN is flagged and the vehicle can NEVER be returned to the road again.
    Bandit Billy and cosmo like this.
  11. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,717


    Good advice here. Best of luck on cleaning and drying.
    triman62 likes this.
  12. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,057

    from Quincy, IL

    In Illinois the law permits an owner to keep a salvage vehicle than is 9 or more years old. Just went through this 2 years ago when my OT shop truck got smashed by a neighbor's tree during a windstorm. (also, formerly, I was a licensed Dealer, Repairer, Recycler and am somewhat familiar with the laws anyway.)

    Being it is a 'fresh water' (nasty enough, but no salt), the advice given above is good. I have dealt with a few flood cars and watched the procedure on others as well. Just takes a thorough cleanup as described.

    That is not to dismiss the frustration and labor involved, but you have a much less complicated vehicle in the condition you describe and it will come out okay. Best wishes.

    triman62 likes this.
  13. cshades
    Joined: Sep 2, 2011
    Posts: 514

    from wi

    This made me think about the Ford plant in Louisville. I took the tour 1 time when I was at the street rod nats there, and one of the things they told us about before the tour was when the river there flooded the plant(1937). They ran the assembly line in reverse and disassembled the cars, cleaned all the parts and then started the line again and reassembled them. I found it fascinating that they could do that and have no problems with the public. Now the cars would just be crushed without a thought given to it.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  14. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 6,001


    Hey Gene,

    We all have some sort of water damage or moisture in our houses and cars that stay outside. But, in your case, after you get the car back from the insurance company, you will have to disassemble it for best results. Yes, the desiccants are a good way to get the moisture out, but if you cannot get the desiccants from a shipping company, then go to your local big box store or amazon.
    These plastic containers with Damp Rid Pellets work well, but you have to check them every day to empty out the liquid that fills up the container. Dump the excess and put it back in place. The hanging ones are great, but as they absorb moisture, get overloaded, they drip or leak. So, we have only used these large plastic containers for ease of use and emptying.

    But, for garage with the body empty, you can safely place one of the Davis Air Dryers in place and shut the door. It heats up the whole area without a flame or hot coals. You can leave it plugged in overnight as long as the top and bottom are not clogged up with combustible materials. Air flow is a must. We had it sitting on a large piece of floor tile and it worked well. Always wipe off the top surface to keep the dust and other combustible stuff out of the holes.

    Here are a couple of old posts from 2016 that talks about the mildew and moisture problems. The first was taken care of by desiccants and the air dryer. The Corvair needed towels, remove the carpet, a big garage wet/dry vacuum, and a large fan going all night and day until the moisture was gone. No desiccants were available back then and there was not something like the Davis Air Dryer. Just a big fan blowing for a week, all day and night in the garage.

    Wherever you store your car(s), there is some moisture that is getting inside of the structure. In an old house that we used to live in that was built in 1963, someone had poured a concrete patio up against the house's weep edging. No air was able to go in and circulate. So, the inside of the closet that backed up to the wall started getting some mildew.

    This device solved the problem from the inside. I had to go out and clear out the concrete away from the house to let the weep edging do its job. mildew solved. But prior to this, we also used those crystals in a plastic container. That soaked up the moisture, but was a pain to empty without spilling.
    Davis Air-Dryr 1000 Mildew Fighter
    This device plugs into any outlet and is relatively trouble free. There are no moving parts and it is a low powered heating plate underneath. No fire hazard unless you store it next to stuff that will combust over time. On a concrete floor, it is best. on carpeting, you might want to place a floor tile underneath.

    On a friend's boat, he had one plugged into the shore power outlet and that kept the boat dry all winter. Just sitting in the dock, thin fiberglass walls weep moisture during the California winters and it runs down the side of the interior walls to the sump. Sometimes, during the winter when people are sleeping and it is cold outside, ordinary breathing moisture builds up inside the walls and runs down the walls to the sump. When this device was turned on, the moisture on the walls was not there. It also provided a slight heated cabin upon arrival the next time to go sailing. It does work.

    In your case, you might need at least two of them, depending on how large your garage is and how much it is exposed to the weather.

    If you put one in each car, you might want to roll down the windows slightly and put a floor tile under this heating device. For the small space, it definitely will keep everything dry and no mildew smell. Also, did you check your heater/hoses for leaks under the carpet? This Davis Company makes smaller versions, but they don't put out as much drying power. YRMV

    JNAKI, NOV 21, 2016

    Dec 2016 HAMB

    I drove my wife's 62 Corvair Coupe about 20 miles round trip back in 1969. It was a fun car to drive. But, in the So Cal rains, (yes, it rains in So Cal) I encountered a phenomenon that was totally unexplained. When driving in the rain on a normal highway, the car was a little "floaty" but manageable. Going slow helped with the hydroplaning.

    But, when I had to go through deep, intersection dips, here came the biggest surprise of all. (There was a deep dip that was full of flowing water.) Most cars just plowed through and in my 65 El Camino, I did just that with the brakes engaged and accelerator pushed down for propulsion. This kept the brakes heated and fairly dry upon exiting the other side.

    But, in the Corvair Coupe, I did the same thing and when I got to the bottom of the dip, here comes a flow of water through the right side lower vent, filling up the step down cabin floor. How in the world did that happen? I pulled over and shut the vent, on the next big dip puddle, it did that same thing again. Now, I was driving with an inch or two of water sloshing on the floor. It was like a kiddie pool.

    It was not fun drying out the water and carpets. but, I checked the vent opening and did not notice why that happened. My wife's commute in this car was always on flat roads and never noticed any water incursions into the cab floor. But, when I drove it through several deep dips flowing with water, here comes that water through the vents again. Later on, we sold the Corvair and bought another El Camino for my wife.
    bq874 and Bruce Fischer like this.
  15. In Sandy we had salt water to deal with, thousands of cars were scrapped, some new, some old. One guy in my town with a beautiful '58 Vette never believed in the 19' storm surge, he lost his car. One guy I know that is on the water had people lined up wanting to park their hoopties in his driveway.
    Hyfire and Bruce Fischer like this.
  16. Hot Rods Ta Hell
    Joined: Apr 20, 2008
    Posts: 4,291

    Hot Rods Ta Hell

    Insurance will definitely 'total' it. Your first battle will be establishing value. You probably have more $ in the car than it was 'worth' before the flood.

    You'll have a lot of labor involved, blowing the drivetrain apart and reassembling with assy lube, etc. I'd guess you'll have to take the engine down to at least a short block assy. to ensure you're able to solvent rinse all the silt out.

    With the water at mid windshield level, I'd count on replacing all of the electronics; gauges, switches, wiring, etc.

    You'll need to pressure wash (water and then air) in all the nooks and crannies of the body and frame. Rockers, inside doors, A and B pillars, etc. Wherever that water went, mud and silt will settle. As mentioned, desiccant, fans, WD-40 and a bake in the sun. You'll want to lube all your door window, latch, hinge mechanisms and swing them through their operation. Perhaps a paint shop will let you bake it in their paint booth for a couple of hours?
    jeffd1988 and belair like this.
  17. The insurance company will total it....

    I knew a guy in the early '70s who bought a brand new Pinto that got flooded in fresh water on the way to the dealer. He got it for basically scrap value AND got to it relatively quickly after the flood. First thing he did was drain/flush/change all the fluids, then ran the car a couple of times up to operating temps to evaporate out whatever was left. He then completely disassembled the car; motor/trans out and stored, all wiring removed, all interior removed (including the seat covers off the seat frames, headliner), brakes fully disassembled, fenders/hood/trunk lid off, doors off and fully disassembled, gas tank out, etc, etc. Everything got washed in clean water and carefully dried. He used WD40 to clean most of the electrical bits (switches and plugs). At the end of the rebuild, all he ended up replacing was the gauge cluster, radio speaker (interestingly enough, the radio survived after cleaning), new headliner, and all the pressboard bits (package tray, spare tire cover, some misc covers). Now, he spent six months of evenings and weekends doing all this, but at the end he had a new car again. I know he drove it for at least a year after with little trouble. They can be saved, but it's a lot of work.... and he had about $500 in the whole car.
  18. I wouldn't bother telling the insurance company, sounds like to much hassle.
  19. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,057

    from Quincy, IL

    I was thinking this very thing. You may be better off not making a claim and dealing with the car promptly and without the aggravation of negotiating the settlement amount. In Illinois, a total loss vehicle must have a third party valuation......the Insurance Company does not determine it's value, but uses the third party number for their settlement purposes. I discovered this when settling the claim on the vehicle mentioned in my earlier post.

    kiwijeff likes this.
  20. harpo1313
    Joined: Jan 4, 2008
    Posts: 2,262

    from wareham,ma

    if you know someone with a heated spray booth ,it wouldn't hurt to bake it for a few hours.
    kiwijeff likes this.
  21. Atwater Mike
    Joined: May 31, 2002
    Posts: 10,655

    Atwater Mike

    The BMW dealership I was with during the '80s received cars shipped to Portland or thereabouts.
    When unloading in '85, a new 325 is was dropped into 25 feet of water, and soaked for 30 minutes or so until a sling could be fitted and the vehicle lifted to the deck.
    We received a car carrier delivery 4 days after, and the previously immersed (and soaked!) BMW was at the top of the trailer. It was rolled off, and pushed by 3 or 4 Associate techs into a lift stall.
    Car was raised, and the owner's son came out to take a look...Black car, ETA engine (2.7) and 5 speed.
    "This'll be my new race car," he announced. I whispered to my apprentice that he was all wet...

    Wayne bought the car from the insurance company 'for a song'. (his words)
    I recommended that we pull all the harnesses and electronics. Wayne scoffed. (he was so smart he sent us 'dummies' to school. He didn't need it...Just one example.)
    A young associate BMW tech was assigned to getting the car running.
    40 hours later, the service mgr. gave me the repair order. Young Scott had 40 hours punched on so far...(!)

    Hooked up scope, no power anywhere. (well, nowhere it was needed to start!) I removed the harness from the Motronic Control Unit, laid it across my bench, and blew approximately 1 cup (!) of sea water out of the plastic shielding. (harness was approximately 15mm X 25 mm in breadth, so there was room for water AND 'power'!)
    The whole operation was fruitless, as Wayne wanted to fit the 1985 engine with Webers! Then, just 'hardwire' the car for ignition and stop lamps! I haven't a glimmer what he was figuring on 'racing' against, but I suspect it was a lowly-sanctioned Autocross. (as run at the Junior College on Sundays)

    Alas, a month later the Racecar was sitting at the back of the parking lot, stripped of its hood, doors, seats, and other sundry pieces by thieves. Wayne had quashed his racing career, for but a load of seaweed.
    Hnstray and Budget36 like this.
  22. Gut it interior wise, and start cleaning, vacuuming first then pressure washing then vacuuming some more. Be sure and get all the nooks and crannies, because you can be sure that the water and anything it was carrying with it did.
  23. jackalope
    Joined: Mar 11, 2011
    Posts: 687


    Strip it as others have said. Wash it out completely while it is still damp. Dehumidify it with doors closed. Put an ozone machine in and it will be totally fine.
    Obviously anything mechanical that the water touched will need to be broken down and cleaned and repaired.
    Ozone machine will be your friend.
    Sorry it happened in the first place. Totally sucks. I bet the guy felt terrible as well.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
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  24. czuch
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 2,688

    from vail az

    That's a heart breaker.
    The shop owner should, (?) have insurance. Maybe not flood insurance, but property damage anyway.
    Given its an old car maybe he would help with the ddrying process.
    Its gonna be a lot. Your son is gonna learn more about that bitchen car than he thought.
  25. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 2,423


    Thanks guys. there is some great into here. I will keep everyone posted on what happens.
    The car has an agreed value insurance on it. He knows what the insurance will pay off. It appears that the car may also be covered by the shop's insurance. Both companies are aware of the situation and understand my son's desire to fix the car.

    The water has dropped a lot today, and the shop insurance has given my son permission to remove the car as soon as someone will tow it off the lot. The first stop will be just up the road from the flood site, where a car friend that ran a detail shop has a body shop now (he has done flood damaged car repair before). For all I know, it may already be at that shop. My son was able to take the rest of this week off for the clean up process. Our friend and my son will be doing the beginning clean up at our friends shop, then it will be coming to my shop where we will pull the motor/trans, and do whatever it needs from there. The car will be saved.

    If anyone has more info for us, please post it up.

    Jnaki, will we want to use those Davis Air Dryers after we do the first hose down? Will they prevent the car from stinking down the road? Gene
    triman62 and Bruce Fischer like this.
  26. jackalope
    Joined: Mar 11, 2011
    Posts: 687


    Ozone machine prevents them from smelling. You can use these in cars that smokers owned. Eliminates all offensive odors.

    Sent from my iPhone using H.A.M.B.
  27. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 4,989

    from Berry, AL

    It can be saved. A friend of mine had his OT Maverick submerged by storm surge from Hurricane Katrina, salt water over the roof. He tore it down to the shell cleaning and desalting it all the way. Put it all back together, it looked just like it did before. He's a paint and body man, so he knew what to do.
  28. greybeard360
    Joined: Feb 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,748


    Make sure to hose out the insine of the doors, the wells behind the rear wheels, they will be full of mud. Also stick a hose into holes in the frame rails and get them flushed out good. I have seen more rust from the inside out because of mud getting into every nook and cranny !!!

    Sent from my Moto G Play using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    Hyfire likes this.
  29. I have used damp rid in a lot of my old cars that leaked water.The stuff really works.Bruce.
    jnaki likes this.
  30. Gene.I am so sorry for your sons wagon.I really hope he can save it.Bruce.

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