159 Sub-frame rust DIY attempt - Alfa Romeo Forum
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(Post Link) post #1 of 15 Old 07-09-16 Thread Starter
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159 Sub-frame rust DIY attempt

Hi Guys,

Took the car for a service a while back at Autolusso, due to the undertray being off they easily spotted the front sub-frame had begun to rust.

I've decided as part of my long list of fixes for my 159 to have a crack at sort this out myself as there is rust, but its not excessive to the point of requiring a new sub-frame, nor do I think in its current condition it would warrant an MOT fail as its only partial in some areas.

Anyhow, I've just been down to my local Halfords and bought the following:

Wire Brush
Emery Pads
Paint Brush
Kurust Rust Treatment
Waxoyl Rust Remover (spray)
Waxoyl heavyduty underseal (spray)

I'm going to spend all day / Friday working on it, but would appreciate any advice or how to go about this, other than my googling and just generally bodging my way through it, I take it you just get a bucket of water, wirebrush the worst of it off, then scrub the remaining, then apply Kurust treatment, wait 1-2 hours, then reapply if necessary, then waxoyl it, then underseal it?

Any pointers would be appreciated,

Cheers,
Joe.

2007 159 1.9 JTDM - Argento with Full Black Leather
Wheels: 18" Multi-spoke in Dark Anthracite
Chassis Mods: Powerflexed front-lower wishbones
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Just did mine. You don't need water. Just wire brush off any loose rust and paint. Then treat with kurust (I used Bilt Hamber but kurust is a very similar product) then coat with underseal. I would get some aerosols of cavity wax to treat the inside too for a proper job.

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(Post Link) post #3 of 15 Old 07-09-16 Thread Starter
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Thanks Ian, seems it'll be cleaner than I originally though, brilliant!

Bit of a shocker though, to hear rust being brought up after a full once over, I've heard the jokes about Alfas and rust, but didn't think it would be true of the 159. Just glad it was spotted and pointed out to me before it was too late.
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The body of the 159 is galvanised and rust problems are rare but the subframes aren't galvanised and rust like nobody's business. Mine had been done at an "Alfa specialist" by the previous owner less than two years ago and that treatment had completely failed because they had just painted over the rust. You must use best efforts to get as much rust and loose paint off as possible. Then use a rust converter and then a good thick coat of underseal. Injecting with cavity way is a messy job because it runs back out. I put cardboard down to prevent stains on the drive.

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Yeah what your saying adds up as the rest of the body of my car is fine, it's just the sub-frame that is beginning to look dodgy. I drive my car to a disused airfield to jack it up as it's the only level surface in my whole village, so no need for precautionary measures

I'd like to treat the inside bumper struts aswell but I don't know whether I can be bothered to risk taking the bumper off and not being able to put it back on again.
The top of the front engine panel also looks like it's in need of a good de-rusting aswell.
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(Post Link) post #6 of 15 Old 08-09-16 Thread Starter
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Mission accomplished!

Not as bad as I thought, only issue is cleaning all the black mess off my hands.

All in all a job well jobbed if I say so myself.

Just going to wait until tomorrow to put the underseal on.
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In my opinion for this type of work a wire brush just doesn't remove enough of the loose rust nor the paint. To remove this I now always use a twisted knot wire brush in an electric or battery drill.

A wire brush like this:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bosch-26092...ted+wire+brush

or this:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bosch-26092...ted+wire+brush

these will remove underseal, antistonechip, rust and paint like you won't believe.
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Last edited by kandlbarrett; 13-09-16 at 07:36.
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I'd agree. Even better are larger diameter ones for use with angle grinders. With both you need to make sure you are wearing proper eye protection, and better, full face protection - odd wires do come out, and they do a long way through stuff at high speed - doesn't bear thinking about if it enters your eye.

However, over the years of playing with cars, I've noticed power brushes can lull you into a false sense - the rust looks to have gone, the surface is shiny - but scrape with a screwdriver or similar and you tend to find you've polished the top of the oxide layer left. Paint doesn't stick too well to it either.

If you've got the time, the space, the tools and the penny pinching mindset like me ;-) the way to go is to remove it, get it blasted to remove all rust and paint it with something suitable - the stuff they use for oil rigs springs to mind.

If you don't have the above - as mentioned, Autolusso sound to have done it for you.
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Good advice all, on my next attempt If my first try didn't do the trick i'll probably pull it, blast it, paint and treat.
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Good advice all, on my next attempt If my first try didn't do the trick i'll probably pull it, blast it, paint and treat.
What you have done should last a good few years provided you treated all the rust with the converter and your coverage with the underseal and cavity wax properly excluded moisture from reaching the steel.

Obviously blasting and using a high zinc primer like Zinga and then a good epoxy topcoat will last longer but Zinc primers don't work well on previously rusted surfaces even if mechanically cleaned.

I'll be keeping an eye on mine and scraping and retreating as necessary, at each service. We keep a 1981 Triumph TR7 as a daily driver and the regime works well enough on that. When it gets its restoration any new steel will be zinc primed (mainly wheel arches) but I have tried high zinc primer on rusted steel and it's pretty ineffective.




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Mission accomplished!

Not as bad as I thought, only issue is cleaning all the black mess off my hands.

All in all a job well jobbed if I say so myself.

Just going to wait until tomorrow to put the underseal on.

I'd fully intended to clean and treat my own thinking it was probably ok, given that the mot was less than a fortnight old. With the undertray off it looked quite bad, but possibly salvageable. When I saw it completely off the car it was clear it was totally destroyed. The worst parts are pretty hidden on the sides. I honestly now think that if the rust has become established you are only delaying the inevitable if it is not taken and blasted. There are just too many places you can't reach or treat with it on.

This is a job I was never going to realistically be able to do on my drive. Even if I could have done it, which I doubt, it would have taken days. The much better option for me was to drop it at Autolusso first thing in the morning, cooked breakfast at Morrisons, then settle into the library across the road to try to earn faster than the labour part of the bill. It's definitely one of those jobs that is easier to let someone with all the right kit do!
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(Post Link) post #12 of 15 Old 10-09-16 Thread Starter
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I agree it's probably best for a pro to do it, although mine wasn't exactly bad i.e with holes in it or through to the last cm's of bare metal, just orange in parts and flaking paint. I spent a good few hours scrapping it all back, treating, waxoyling, then undersealing over 2 days. If you where to factor this into labour costs, from my 30 that it cost for products, I'm sure you're looking at a decent bill if you want a proper shop to spend a decent amount of time and not just the main areas.

Even so as long as it keeps the car operational and passing MOTs for the next year / two which by that time I should have sorted the rest of the car, I should be able to put aside the 500-900 for a new sub frame and scrap the old one.

I just look at it from the point of view that if that's as bad as it is for almost 10 years service, which it doesn't look to have been treated previously (given that I reckon it would have lasted a few more years before it would fail an MOT and be shot) it's not done too badly, so a little treatment may go a long way.

Obviously for older cars, rust on the chassis or floor is a killer and so you would go the extra mile, but with a removable sub-frame that wasn't un-salvagable to begin with, I think it's ok to give it a shot yourself if it's not urgent.

It all comes done to priorities and money, if I had more expendable income, I would let the mechanics do what was necessary and defo do away with any rust, still I reckon more people have 30 sitting around than 500+ for a brand new piece of metal for the car.

Last edited by AlfaJoe92; 10-09-16 at 18:36.
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I agree it's probably best for a pro to do it, although mine wasn't exactly bad i.e with holes in it or through to the last cm's of bare metal, just orange in parts and flaking paint. I spent a good few hours scrapping it all back, treating, waxoyling, then undersealing over 2 days. If you where to factor this into labour costs, from my 30 that it cost for products, I'm sure you're looking at a decent bill if you want a proper shop to spend a decent amount of time and not just the main areas.

Even so as long as it keeps the car operational and passing MOTs for the next year / two which by that time I should have sorted the rest of the car, I should be able to put aside the 500-900 for a new sub frame and scrap the old one.

I just look at it from the point of view that if that's as bad as it is for almost 10 years service, which it doesn't look to have been treated previously (given that I reckon it would have lasted a few more years before it would fail an MOT and be shot) it's not done too badly, so a little treatment may go a long way.

Obviously for older cars, rust on the chassis or floor is a killer and so you would go the extra mile, but with a removable sub-frame that wasn't un-salvagable to begin with, I think it's ok to give it a shot yourself if it's not urgent.

It all comes done to priorities and money, if I had more expendable income, I would let the mechanics do what was necessary and defo do away with any rust, still I reckon more people have 30 sitting around than 500+ for a brand new piece of metal for the car.
Exactly!

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Now that you've done the sub-frame you might want to look at your rear suspension arms.

Mine were like this before and after.

Wire brush and scrapers, Navy Steel (Navy Steel Rust Converter: Safe North Sea Performance Since 1982), Smooth Hammerite, Waxoyl.
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(Post Link) post #15 of 15 Old 10-09-16 Thread Starter
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Wow, I looked over the whole underside of the car and it seemed fine, although am definitely considering looking over those suspension arms now.

I've never actually taken a wheel off my 159 yet, hope I don't run into any snags or end up wrecking the newly refurbed alloys.:s

I do love the after shot though, when the metal is fully treated, looks soo much better in black than crusty rust.
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