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"Thanks to a damp climate, salt on the wintry roads and a polluted atmosphere, the UK is an ideal environment for rust"
.Practical Motor Caravan: Project Voyager ~ February 2004
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No rust for the wicked....

Even an elderly motorhome like Project Voyager could last and last if properly looked after, so Simon Collis popped down to Rustbusters to see how they could help.

Just because you’re getting on a bit doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be spoiled once in a while. And if you’re looked after properly, it can add years to your life.

That advice isn’t just for doling out to wives and husbands — it applies to motorhomes too. Our current project van, an Elddis Voyager III, has reached the grand old age of 11, and it’s still in fairly good condition. The aim of the project is to tackle a few jobs hat might be ideal for someone who has bought a secondhand motorhome. Last month, we took Project Voyager for its first service, and found no urgent problems; this month, it was time to protect it from rust.

 
Thanks to a damp climate, salt on the wintry roads and a polluted atmosphere, the UK is an ideal environment for rust. Motor caravans are an ideal target for several reasons: they generally sit outdoors most of the year, they are used fairly irregularly, which means moisture sits on the surface for long periods of time, and they enjoy a long life of anything up to 20 or even 30 years.

 

Rustbusters, which is based just outside Bournemouth, is the brainchild of Phillip Lewis and specialises in treating motor caravans. When Phillip bought a new Auto-Sleeper Recro in 1990, he was keen to have the vehicle protected from rust. When he looked into the various DIY kits that were (and still are) on the market he found it was impossible to carry out a thorough job, and he started to look into what would be required to protect the vehicle properly.

13 years (and some very impressive industrial-quality tools) later Phillip is well established in the motor caravan community. I watched him in action as our Voyager received the full Rustbusters treatment.

 

Never to late...

It might seem bizarre to have an Il-year-old vehicle rust proofed. Isn’t the damage already done? Well, the answer is yes and no. The period time to have vehicle treated is when it is brand new. Many new vehicles will only receive a lick of paint to protect them from rust, and in many cases gaps will be left in difficult-to-reach places, which will then be the first areas to corrode. Even if a chassis is galvanised, as is the case with Al-Ko chassis, for example, holes drilled for bolts, brake points or to mount a coachbuilt body will not be similarly protected, and are therefore susceptible to rust.

The first step of Phillip’s rust proof process is a thorough inspection of the vehicle. If here are serious rust problems already evident then welding will need to take place before treatment can begin. Any perforations in the bodywork will allow air to circulate irrespective of the rust proofing, so the body must be intact to be suitable for this work.

My heart was in my mouth as Phillip inspected Project Voyager. From the 7m, purpose-built pit running through the workshop. Phillip and I looked up at the vehicle chassis — and I was surprised to find it in decent condition. It was, said Phillip ‘amazing’ for its age. Ironically, that’s partly to do with the fairly high mileage (over 70,000 miles), which means this voyager hasn’t spent too much time sitting idle in the damp. The main areas of rust were at the rear chassis extensions, but these hefty supports need more than a bit of surface rust to do them any harm!

In some ways, then, he Voyager was at the ideal stage for rust proofing. The product used by Rustbusters, which is called Waxoyl, contains some ‘rust killing’ agents, so some corrosion on a secondhand vehicle is no barrier to a successful rust proofing.

Waxoyl is a wax and oil-based product sold by Hammerite, and works by repelling moisture and coating the surfaces of unprotected metal. Two types are used in the rust-proofing of a motor caravan: a clear product and a thicker, black substance, which is a combination of Waxoyl and underseal.

Clear Waxoyl is applied in a very fine spray to areas of the vehicle that are susceptible to rust but which won’ t be particularly exposed on the road. These areas include the insides of the cab doors and the bonnet. The bases of the windscreen pillars, the scuttle panel (which runs along the base of the windscreen), the wheel arches and the front cross-member. With a variety of nozzles and attachments, Philllip can inject even inaccessible locations like the cab doors, coating the insides with a layer of protective Waxoyl.

For the underside of the vehicle, which is obviously more exposed to damage, Phillip uses black Wayoxl with underseal. Waxoyl keeps the underseal flexible even when dry, which is why the coating will never become brittle and peel away from he chassis, exposing the metal to corrosion all over again. The mixture is incredibly viscous tins call be left on their sides without the liquid running out.~ which is why it must be pressurised at over 4000psi to produce the fine spray Phillip uses to coat the chassis.

The full rust proofing process takes Rustbusters about a day, and the Waxoyl dries overnight. Most customers spend the day in Bournemouth while Phillip works on their vehicle, and then stay overnight in their van before departing in he morning.

The cost for a medium-sized coachbuilt like Project Voyager is £580. Phillip will normally send a written quote when the motorhomee is booked in for rust-proofing, the size of which will depend on the dimensions of the vehicle in question.

Taking into account the good condition of our Voyager, it would be a shame to see it succumb to rust after a few winters in the cold. For that reason, a price of under £600 seems like peanuts compared to the possibility of a much-loved van prematurely reaching the end of the road.

Simon Collis - MCM EDITOR

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Step One
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Phillip begins by inspecting the vehicle chassis for corrosion problems that will need attention before rust proofing can begin.
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Step Two
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Areas of the bodywork around the wheel arches and sills must be protected from the Waxoyl, which Phillip achieves with a variety of a covers and polythene sheets. The wheels and brakes are protected by a large black cover.
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Step Three
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Phillip uses a high-pressure air hose to blast off any flaking rust, paint or road dirt. Waxoyl should be applied directly to the chassis, and if applied to flaky paint that will later fall off, the Waxoyl protection will be lost.
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Step Four
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Using an atomization spray, which mixes Waxoyl and air at high pressure to produce a light spray, Phillip injects body cavities. The ‘steam’ is actually escaping Waxoyl, showing that the product has spread through the whole door.
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Step Five
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Areas inside the front wings can be particularly susceptible to rust, so Phillip injects this area with clear Waxoyl too. Waxoyl won’t affect the running of the engine, and can also stop electrical corrosion on battery terminals.
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Step Six
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The chassis is coated in thick black Waxoyl and underseal. As well as providing flexibility, Waxoyl helps the underseal to flow into nooks and crannies that could otherwise become corrosion hotspots.