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Tech Tips -- Product Review
By John Milliman, editor
Bill Irish and the folks at Zero Rust sent me a sample of their product line to try out. A bold step on their part, considering I'm a POR-15 fan. Of course, sponsoring our newsletter and giving Stovebolters a discount for awhile helped convince me, too.
But lest ye think me biased already, trust me to be impartial and to give Zero Rust a good work out. In the interests of all rust-bustin Stovebolters everywhere, here goes.
As you know, our arch enemy is corrosion. Rust, or more accurately, metal oxidation is very similar to plain ole fire -- eliminate the oxygen (hence the term "oxidation") and you can stop rust in its tracks. Welllllll, pretty much. So, what companies like POR and Zero Rust have done is come up with products that coat the rusty metal with an impermeable layer that blocks the oxygen from getting through and fueling rust's "fire." There are several ways chemically to make this barrier so it will chemically bond to the metal. Some involve using isocyanates and some, like Zero Rust, don't. The problem with using isocyanates is that while they use the moisture present to help cure the barrier into a super hard, armor-like barrier, if you breathe any of it in, that same moisture-bonding process will happen in your lungs and kill you -- which would make for a really lousy day. That's why some of those products, like POR, tell you to apply it with a brush.
The isocyanate-free products, like Zero Rust, on the other hand, are a whole lot safer to use in spray applications. No isocyantes mean no turning your lungs into rock-like fossils in your chest if you spray them with out proper safety equipment. I'm not saying isocyanates are bad, they're just bad if you don't handle them properly. Like any advanced tool, they take a little careful handling.
Enough chemistry! On to the business at hand. I finally had some time to check out Bill's nice "care package" of rust busting goodies he was good enough to send me.
In the box Bill sent me was a ziplock bag containing two smaller bags of white powder (oh noooo.....) that make the "Prep Step" degreasing solution and three rattle cans -- one each of the Zero Rust red oxide primer, semi-gloss black top coat and a clear coat. Not a huge amount of product, but enough to get a feel for it. As I had just removed the 2-speed rear axle I'm going to use in my '49 ton and a half, it seemed a good idea to try out the Zero Rust system on the axle mounting hardware.
In the photo above are the two U-bolt brackets that cradle the underside of the axle. One has just come out of the blasting cabinet and the other is about to go in. Just prior to blasting the parts, I soaked them per the instructions in the "Prep Step" solution made from the white powder -- two heaping spoonfuls per gallon of water -- to remove grease and whatnot. The solution worked pretty good.
At this point, I should tell you that although I bead blasted my parts, you can apply this stuff to rusty metal just like POR-15. I'm just anal and I don't like the thought of rusty metal lurking under my nice paint. But that's me. You do as your conscience leads...
After blasting the parts, I sprayed them again to prepare them for the primer coat. The instructions said to wet the parts with the Prep Step and then just let them dry. Pretty easy so far, I thought.
Once the Prep Step had dried, it was time for the Zero Rust treatment itself. This was the moment we'd all been waiting for -- the isocyanate-free, impermeable barrier that comes in an easy-to-apply rattle can. Waa hoo!
A good point Bill restated for me was that ZR is UV sensitive. "This is one of the primary reasons that Crystal Coat was developed, i.e., to bring UV protection AND a glossier finish to the dance for those who prefer fancier digs," Bill explained. "For most applications, say on the underside of a project-no big deal; but say you're doing the engine compartment, your floor pans which won't be entirely covered by carpet or a mat, or some other more visible area and you want to dress it up a bit-just shoot those areas with Crystal Coat and Presto, you've just danced to the first tune."
Here (on the left) you see my freshly primered brackets, still wet with the Zero Rust application. As a primer, of course, it dries to a flat finish. The product went on quite evenly (like any rattle can, good vigorous shaking helps). I not only was able to do the brackets, but a couple of spring leaves, U-bolts and nuts, and the little plates that go under the tops of the U-bolts (on top of the springs -- I don't have my assembly manual in front of me while writing this, so I can't give you the actual nomenclature -- sorry). I think that's a lot of coverage from a can (and a free one at that!).
Even though it was a warm, dry day I thought it all dried pretty well. I got a little cracking where, in my zeal, I applied it a little thick. Nonetheless, I was thinking to myself that this sure beat the pants of doing the brush routine ...
After the Zero Rust primer coat had dried, it was time to top coat with the semi-gloss black. Like the primer coat, it went on smoothly and evenly -- exactly what you'd want from a spray can. And a little went a long way, as you can see in the photo.
I haven't as yet gotten to the clear coat, but I don't see why it won't be as easy to deal with as the rest of it has been -- I'll let you know if otherwise.
In the final analysis, I really liked how easy it was to use this product. No muss or fuss like with POR (but either way, my hands still get black!). AND, you can spray it on without having to suit up for a Moon walk (A big plus). On the other hand, it will be interesting to see if it's as hard and durable as POR in the long run.
The Zero Rust is certainly a MUCH easier product to apply than its competitor, POR-15, and provides an impermeable layer over the rust (if you can seal in the rust, it can't spread) just like POR-15.
Durability? We all know you can pretty much shoot high caliber weapons at POR-15-coated items. Is Zero Rust just as tough? I'll have to let you know. Could very well be, but check back with me in 20 years....
All in all, I liked it and recommend trying it yourself.
Thanks to Bill Irish and the folks at Zero Rust for letting me try out their excellent product. I liked using it and I think you will, too.
-- Note: Be sure to read Bill's article on Zero Rust.
Remember: always think safety
... and with this article, if you don't think "safety,"
you may not be able to do any more "thinking" at all ... editor!
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