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Technical How much is too much rust?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by capucapou, Apr 8, 2021.

  1. capucapou
    Joined: May 22, 2020
    Posts: 13


    I've got a bit of a problem. I'm highschooler restoring my grandfather's 1951 ford victoria. I was so excited to restore something that I ignored the warning signs. It's a great car but it had been sitting in the Montana snow for 50 years. When I pulled it out, it had sank a foot into the mud. I'm sure that gives the idea of the rust problem.

    What I wanted to ask all of you much more experienced restorers is how much is too much. I took off part of my rear quarter today and found, like every single part on this car, much of what was behind it was shot. A lot of classics have the first foot up of the car rusty, but this car has rust from floor to ceiling. Every pillar is rusty, not just surface rust but deep enough rust to warrant concern and removal. I don't wanna abandon this project after a year, especially with a fairly cut up car, but I really don't have the time nor money to remove each and every panel and piece, weld by weld, to remove rust. Is there any feasible thing I can do or should I call it quits, sell it, and buy a sound classic that is MUCH more restorable.

    PS: I don't have a single acid dipping place in my state to my knowledge and I wouldn't really have enough money to not only dip it but to ship it.
    chryslerfan55, Baumi and loudbang like this.
  2. 61SuperMonza
    Joined: Nov 16, 2020
    Posts: 489


    Some pictures of what your looking at would help to assess your situation. The way your asking the question suggests that your not really prepared for such a job. I totally understand that, you dont want your project to be a burden.
    My thoughts are to look for a better example to work with and use parts from your grandfather's car in the build so you have his memory with you.
    Until we see some pics I couldn't give you the best advice. RUST IS A TOTAL BITCH
  3. I don't know for sure how much rust is too much, but it sounds to me like you're way over the too much rust line.

    While it's a nice idea to restore "Grampa's car" it might be way more reasonable to restore the same basic car as a tribute to your Grandfather and his car.
  4. evintho
    Joined: May 28, 2007
    Posts: 2,033


    Exactly what he said^^^! As a young hot rodder you don't want a project that's completely overwhelming. It'd be too easy to become discouraged. I say be on the lookout for another project that's a little less rusty.
    clem, chryslerfan55 and loudbang like this.

  5. capucapou
    Joined: May 22, 2020
    Posts: 13


    Thank you all! Yeah I didn't even think to simply get a sort of tribute car, that is an angle I didn't take. If I can find another Victoria in Montana it would be worth some thought. If not, I'm sure I can find a plenty less rusty classic. As for the rust, you'll have to take my word that's it's all over but I'll put some pictures of where I've recently cut and my swiss cheese trunk. All the pillars and everything directly behind the quarters looks about like this.
    PXL_20210409_042055352.jpg PXL_20210409_042011462.jpg PXL_20210409_041856716.jpg PXL_20210409_041833339.jpg PXL_20210409_041824709.jpg
    VANDENPLAS and chryslerfan55 like this.
  6. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 15,961


    Based on those pictures, I think this is still a fixable car. Sure, you could start with a cleaner one and save a lot of effort, but it wouldn't be "grandpa's car" anymore. Most of what is crusty behind that quarter could get a quickie sandblasting to get the loose "fur" off and then treated with POR15 or something like that.

    It's going to be a big job, and if you get discouraged and have to store it away for a while, I'd understand, but I wouldn't give up on it. Guys here have fixed cars 5x worse than that one. Me included. Yes, it's a lot of work, and a large time investment, but it's do-able.

    Long story short, if you really want to have your grandpa's car, this is not too much rust, based on what I'm seeing.
  7. 61SuperMonza
    Joined: Nov 16, 2020
    Posts: 489


    Not to confuse the issue, but I thought it would be in worse shape. I agree alot of work. I would say it comes down to how bad you want to build the original car.
  8. capucapou
    Joined: May 22, 2020
    Posts: 13


    Well I suppose I'll have to give it some thought. I know this car is certainly restorable in it's current state, but I'm not sure if I have the ability to do it myself. Especially given the fact that I started learning welding and metal working DURING this project.

    If I were to just keep on trucking, my biggest concern is the amount of rust in really hard to reach areas. That's mainly why I added the note of acid dipping. I don't want to take off so many panels that it gets to the point where all I have left is a firewall, roof, and a floor. I own a blaster but I can still only blast areas I can reach. I suppose I'm just worried that the rust repair will never end. For example, I started with a hole in the floor and I've been chasing rust to the point that removed all of the inner and outer rocker, part of the A pillar, part of the wheel well, and I'm still not done chasing it.

    It's darn overwhelming is all I can say.
    chryslerfan55 and Hnstray like this.
  9. Mike VV
    Joined: Sep 28, 2010
    Posts: 2,598

    Mike VV
    from SoCal

    Yea, when you have too much rust...there is no metal, just air.
    Otherwise, clean off the "rust" with sand/grit/walnut shell, etc. blasting, until you have solid metal. Cut away the thin material, buy or make replacement panels, and start welding.

    Of course the above is VERY simplified, it is the basics of installing patch panels.

    As far as more "air" than "metal", that's up to you, as far as replacement panel work that you want to do.

    Good luck, have fun with it.

    bchctybob likes this.
  10. 61SuperMonza
    Joined: Nov 16, 2020
    Posts: 489


    Having fun is the biggest part. If your not enjoying the process you have your answer.
    Elcohaulic, Texas57, clem and 7 others like this.
  11. Be realistic about how long it will take to finish the body. If you look at it as a 3 year project,and work on it twice a week in time it will get done with out taking over your life.If you see it as needing to be finished for the 4th of July your going to end up hating the car.
  12. Fortunateson
    Joined: Apr 30, 2012
    Posts: 4,585


    Well I know how you feel but from the pictures it doesn't seem all that bad. However there is a lot to do. Some of the repair patches can be fabricated by using card stock or an old cereal box to make your patterns and then weld them in. Eat the elephant one bite at a time!

    Do the little/easy ones first to build up your skill level. Over time tackling the bigger areas probably won't be so intimidating. There are some rust conversion products that work well like phosphoric acid, just follow the instructions. EMS sells pretty good patch panels for the more complicated areas like the rocker area.

    You said that the car has been in Montana snow for fifty years but there's only what eight months of snow so really it would only be 37.5 years if my Math is correct? LOL
    Rust is interesting in that it gets into the metal and if the metal is thick enough it almost gives a protective layer so even though something looks rusty it doesn't nesessarly mean the area is beyond hope. Remember there is surface rust and OMG rust!

    And as said earlier a couple of evenings/days a week and you'll be surprised at what you can get done! Good luck...
    loudbang likes this.
  13. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 2,144

    from PNW

    You are lucky you're young. You'll probably be a grandfather yourself by the time you get that done. Just ask yourself, "what would Gramps do?" and take it from there. Be prepared to spend every waking hour and every penny you ever earn to bring back a 51 Ford Victoria. Don't forget, life has a way of getting in the way.
    loudbang likes this.
  14. Hnstray
    Joined: Aug 23, 2009
    Posts: 12,307

    from Quincy, IL


    It is very easy for other people to suggest you stay with this project. I am not going to be one of them. Could this car eventually be repaired to the point of being drivable? Sure.

    Could it ever be really ‘restored’? Well, a qualified ‘yes’, provided there is an unlimited amount of time, effort and money available to see it through.

    Your questions are proof that you have good reasoning skills, and while asking opinions is useful, you should trust your own judgment. As a practical matter, that much rust in inner structures cannot be easily repaired, much less defeated, and will continue to eat away the ‘bones’ of the car no matter what is done to the outer surfaces to make them look good.

    I am not unsympathetic to your desire to retain a tangible connection to your Grandfather. Perhaps there are other options to do so that will not demand so much from you at a time in your life when you are on the verge of momentous opportunities and challenges that you will not be able to ignore.

    Whatever you decide, best wishes going forward.

    Last edited: Apr 9, 2021
  15. I think Ray said it best. The best approach is to evaluate what your wishes, skills, and resources are before you get far into a project that you abandon. Although sentimental toward the car, practicality sometimes is the best rule. I would thoroughly check out the chassis first, which is heavily boxed. Being "down in the mud" probably equates to the chassis being full of damp mud. If the boxing is very thin and rusted out spots are evident, a replacement is needed. From the pictures the body can be repaired. A lot of the exterior lower panels and floors are available from EMS, and some support panels are not available and will require fabrication. Here is a fabrication of the lower B pillar on my 53.

    Attached Files:

    TrailerTrashToo likes this.
  16. RMONTY
    Joined: Jan 7, 2016
    Posts: 2,308


    I see a lot of surface rust, which is still rust, but it can be chemically treated and then covered with POR or something similar. Post some photos of the car from 10 feet away and all sides if you can. It'd be nice to see the entire car.

    I see the mention of EMS panels above, and I will tout their quality and worthiness. Just remember that they are not an "exact" match in most cases, and sometimes it is best to evaluate exactly how much rust to cut out of the car, and you may be able to use smaller pieces of the EMS panels to get the desired results.

    If you can find some tools such as a used bead roller, english wheel, throatless shear, etc, you can begin learning skills that will last you a lifetime. I actually bought these tools new, and taught myself (with the help of the HAMB and Youtube) to make some of my own panels, and paid less for the tools and raw materials than I would have to purchase the panels, and I have the tools and the skills now to make my own panels.

    If you are a beginner welder, don't kid yourself and think you can fill in the swiss cheese holes with a MIG welder. Get a good ice pick, or leather awl, an old screwdriver sharpened to a point, and anywhere there are swiss cheese holes, start poking with a somewhat aggressive "poke" all around the area to find your way to the good metal, and cut out an inch or two past where the ice pick goes through easily. You can start chasing holes with the welder, and end up with a globby mess.

    Lastly but most importantly, resist the urge to cut too much away at one time, and be sure to take the time to brace everything if you are going to be replacing the rocker panels, and anything that is really structural. Good Luck and have fun, that the most important thing!
  17. Anything more than \_._{"}_._/ is too much.
  18. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 6,987



    You have good thoughts behind the old rusted out hulk. But, as @Hnstray mentions, there are other connections to your grandfather that should work out better for all concerned. It is your choice and decision, but the years of experience from other "older guys" that have gone through those roadblocks plays an important part of these decisions.

    Having built our first street legal hot rod/drag race 1940 Willys Coupe, there were certain things that did not appeal to us and most of our teenage friends. One of those was rust. We did our share of small fixes, but most of the old cars we found and purchased were in pretty good condition in stock form.

    The hard part was how to modify each old car to get it where we wanted it to look and perform. If the original 1940 Willys Coupe demanded fixing rusted out frame, body and other parts, that would have been too much for us to continue our build.
    Designing and modifying an old coupe was hard enough to get it right. But the inclusion of unnecessary body work to compensate for rust is just not worth the effort. Others may say otherwise and have their own way to look at building a hot rod, but for us the build and design of the motor and overall handling of the old car was more important.
    upload_2021-4-9_6-3-15.png Similar motor set up… May 1960

    If a hot rod starts out nice and needs more modifications to make it your build, then find one that meets that parameter. Being a grandfather is wonderful. Our granddaughter has thought of us since she was born. So, any thoughts or memories will be one big warm feeling, when she remembers growing up with us until her teenage years. (4-5 days a week, overnights and sleepovers…)

    We are proud grandparents and any inkling of those memories is all that we, as grandparents would like and remember. To have a cool teenager remember those moments are like a gold standard. We had plenty of our own hot rod adventures, but that portion of our lives are now great memories.

    The part of her 15 years on this Earth is more important to us than those past memories. Hot rods/drag racing will always be a part of our lives and if she chooses to remember us in the future, it will be from our times together that we were all having the times of our lives.


    I am sure your grandfather would like to be remembered in any way you choose. But, as grandparents, no one likes to have their grandkids spent countless hours and efforts to struggle with something like rust. The moments of big problems stemming from having to deal with countless hours of work. Or, doing something that will take possibly too much money and effort would not be what grandparents would like for their grandkids.

    Look for other ways to thank and remember your grandparents. There will be plenty of things to remember them and those are the coveted moments that will be close to home. Not struggling with rusted out hunks, even if you are talented and skilled enough to complete a difficult task, is not honoring your grandparents. IOHO…
  19. greybeard360
    Joined: Feb 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,916


    Sand blast, phosphoric acid treat all of the metal then POR15 all of the stuff you can get to. The problem is inside of the areas you can't get to, like inside of the pillars. This is where dipping the body comes in. It gets into every nook and cranny and treats the rust. Then a dip in a rust preventative.
    warhorseracing likes this.
  20. chopped
    Joined: Dec 9, 2004
    Posts: 2,109


    One step at a time grasshopper. You have the rest of your life.
    warhorseracing likes this.
  21. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 3,092

    from Alabama

    It's still hard for me to get a grasp from the photos provided. What I see does not look that bad as far as rust.

    From what see, I'm going to give you the truth. The truth is you went too far, too quick. I really wish you would have joined here before you picked up a tool. I don't see rust damage, I see restoration attempt damage.

    I destroyed one when I was 15. I wish I could go back and tell that ambitious kid...." Hey, just get the thing running and have your whole life to fix little issues as you go. Yeah I know it's not factory new....but it's pretty solid. It'll take 100 years for those inside braces to loose structure so Don't worry about it."

    You know, I had influences back then. Back then it was print. Now it's the net. Back then the magazine articles about restoring cars showed it was so easy any kid can do it. Some even had toddlers and small children repairing fenders and doing bodywork. It was all BS.
    What they did not tell you was "Daddy" had a multi-million dollar shop and did it for a living.
    ^^^ That's not bad, that's not bad at all.
    ^^^still not bad.....It'll take 150 years for those braces to loose structure., especially for a garage kept car.
    ^^^Still not bad.
    Car guys are full of shit. 100 percent rust free...BS. There's always going to be rust somewhere in one. It's just the way they were made. They will always have rust because...ding-ding, they are made of steel stamped and spotted together. They'll always be rust in one somewhere.
    Rust does not matter, structure does. From what I see you have good structure.
    Your Ace in the hole is it's a Shoebox. Shoeboxes were Overbuilt, especially Victoria's...

    Acid dip.....another sip of the Kool Aid from the anal retentive 10 point restoration guys....It's BS. As soon as it comes out of the acid. It's starts rusting again just like it did when rolled out the door in 1951. Only this time the "acid" may actually accelerate the process.

    Where do you go from here? My advice is to fix it. You damaged it. Now you fix it. It's time to put the big boy pants on and finish what you have started. Don't worry about those braces. They all look like that. Replace the body panels. You have done too much careful work. Man, you got to get it back together. You have to at least get it back into one piece. If you give up now, it'll be easy to give up on the next one....and the next one.
    Put the panels on, fix the holes. Get it back together.
    You have bit off more than you can chew so...start chewing.

    PS...This is more of a mental thing. Get a wire wheel, wire brush....brush paint those braces with rustoleum rusty red primer. It'll look so so much better. It'll be clean. It helps the the attitude and will provide some protection. Trust me, It's a great morale boost.
    [​IMG]Untitled by Travis Brown, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Untitled by Travis Brown, on Flickr
    [​IMG]Untitled by Travis Brown, on Flickr

    It looks is clean. It truly helps with the morale. That's from my F1. I passed that project along but it left in one piece.
    Don't worry about surface rust on the inside panels. Replace what you have cut out.

    You are doing good work. Keep it up. I'll come together but only if you keep at it..
  22. dwollam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2012
    Posts: 1,765


    How about some pics of the whole car? That would help evaluate it better. I have three '51 Fords counting a parts car.

    Squablow likes this.
  23. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 8,718


    Just a suggestion, maybe rethink what you’re end goal would be. I/e maybe you could get by with body mounts, etc to keep the car intact, go through the running gear and wiring, then drive it to school your Senior year.
    As a hobby this should be fun, not work and not overwhelming.
    If you like old cars, be a lot neater to drive a 70 year old car to school, regardless of what it looks like, than an ‘03 import.
  24. bigdog
    Joined: Oct 30, 2002
    Posts: 709


    Here in Iowa a car that only has the bottom 1/3 of the body rusted off is considered a good restoration candidate. They call this part of the country the rust belt for a reason. I've started with stuff way worse than that one. But the fact is you're always better off to start with the best that you can find and afford. You'll need to weigh the sentimental value of the car against it's condition, your skills, and time. If you got a different car you could use some parts off grandpas car on it as a reminder of him. Maybe use the steering wheel that he would have touched every time he was driving it or something like that.
    clem and vtx1800 like this.
  25. Tell you a story. In the '90s I helped a guy build a show winning '56 Chevy hardtop from a car that we literally replaced every panel except the roof. It was not like an early '50s Ford you could buy almost everything that we replaced. it looked like and easy build until we got it back from the media blaster.

    I would not suggest that ^^^^^ to anyone.

    I would have to see the carto decide if I wanted to tackle it. We build 'em today that we would have passed 40 years ago. If you have not yet built a car rust can be a deal breaker but if you love the car learn to deal with it and take your time.
    cad-lasalle likes this.
  26. Depending on the car and how badly you want it I haven't seen too many that can't be brought back, but it takes a ton of work and many hours to do it, I try to buy the best body I can afford when starting a project, I've been down the rust bucket road. HRP
  27. I would pass on this one. HRP

  28. Phtttttttt:p:p:p that'll buff out. :D:D:D
    mgtstumpy and hotrodjack33 like this.
  29. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 8,718


    I don’t see much rust though...
    Squablow and hotrodjack33 like this.
  30. hotrodjack33
    Joined: Aug 19, 2019
    Posts: 3,545


    Yep, Ray nailed it:D

    My suggestion is to put the Victoria on the "back burner" and find a car that is a little closer to usable. Something you can learn some new skills on and eventually drive and enjoy. Then, later on, get back to the Vicky with that expanded "skill set" and it won't be so daunting of a job:D

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