So much salt..
March 9, 2011 6:47 PM   Subscribe

How to protect my classic truck from the salt of the sea?

I have a 1965 Ford F-100 pickup truck (bought from Cali, so it's in great shape). There's a chance that I'll be taking a job on an island off the coast of NH, and if I do I'll be parking my truck at the docks. Not only will the truck be parked right next to the ocean, but the parking lot is literally sandwiched between the town salt pile (used for salting the roads in the winter) and a scrapyard full of rusty metal.

Is there any way to protect my truck? Would it be fine if I oil undercoated it and waxed the entire body frequently? If there is no way to protect it, I'll make other less convenient parking arrangements. How far does my vehicle need to be from the ocean to be safe?

While I value everyone's opinion, I'm hoping to be able to hear from some car hobbyists or pros. I really want to keep this thing in good shape...
posted by Glendale to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total)
Best answer: Protecting metal from salt air involves a lot thought and preparation. Your 1965 Ford does not benefit from anti-rust coatings in manufacture, or steels with high rust resistance, or advanced anti-corrosive technology. It's a body-on-frame design, with few electrical bonding points between body and frame. It's more than 40 years old.

Who are you kidding?

If you want to preserve the thing, park it, with a lot of dry silica packs, some fuel system stabilizer, a fresh oil change, a fresh transmission fluid and rear end oil change, a fresh coolant change, blocks to take weight off the tires, and a fresh wash/wax/sealant/rubber preservative application, along with an out-of-vehicle battery charge/monitor, a long damn way from salt water...
posted by paulsc at 7:20 PM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: Salt does not evaporate out of the ocean with seawater. The air is not "salty" except within a few yards of the water on high surf days. Go find a street sign next to the beach, wipe your finger across it, and lick it. Taste salty? No.

"Salt air" near the coast causing cars to rust is a myth. You have to get actual saltwater on your car to cause it to rust.

That's not to say it couldn't be foggier or more humid at the coast, but the water in the air isn't salty.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:20 PM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: paulsc is on the right track with the fluid changes etc. I would guess that you may be coming back to the mainland fairly often and wanting to be able to use the truck right? if not, look for a garage for rent on craigslist. heck, you may be able to find someone that's walking distance from the dock. might be worth it to preserve the truck.

vintage trucks weren't prepped the same way modern vehicles are right from the factory. almost all of these trucks have some issues at the lower cab corners. Poor panel drainage, no seam sealing, terrible weather stripping and panel fit, its a wonder they survived at all. Even where it came from in California there are the same issues due to mud or road tar building up underneath and blocking the drain holes in the doors/cab. Even in a small bit of moisture can have a field day on that unprotected steel inside the panels because there was no electro-dip tanks to ensure all steel was properly protected. If it wasn't painted at the factory (think interior panels, cab drains etc.) it's bare vintage steel and prone to rust.

that said, I would go through the truck with a fine tooth comb if you can't find protected storage. like paulsc said, "a fresh wash/wax/sealant/rubber preservative application" is a great start. Make sure to pay extra special attention to ALL drain holes, doors, cab corners and bed. I would apply as heavy a wax finish to the exterior as possible, treat all rubber bits, and make sure that you have stripped, cleaned and resealed all drip trays and gutter channels for the cab. make sure there is no debris in the bed near the cab. water tends to pool there and it will rust out the steel in no time. take same time to use a product like waxoyl on the interior and exterior of your frame, and even your axles. waxoyl is a standby, must-do maintenance item in the vintage land rover community and it works amazingly well. apply as directed, and paint over surfaces that you can as recommended.

taking all of that into account, i would still highly encourage you to source indoor, or at least covered, storage close to the docks. it will be worth it.
posted by Bohemia Mountain at 8:42 PM on March 9, 2011

zinc anodes for cars and trucks.
posted by hortense at 9:06 PM on March 9, 2011

Best answer: Outdoor sports enthusiasts in marine environments learn this early. You need to get the salt off the metal, and unless the waves are actually splashing onto the truck, just being near the ocean isn't actually that much more of a hazard, as tylerkaraszewski points out. However you will pick up salt from the pier though, and salt certainly does get spread around marine neighbourhoods.

It's actually the airborne salt from the salt pile I'd be most concerned with. As others have suggested, work on getting a better parking spot. Were it me, I'd find a better parking spot, or think about commuting by bicycle, or maybe consider tossing a bicycle into the truck-bed to ride the last 1/4 mile or whatever, depending on circumstances. Then I'd invest in a portable pressure washer, and wash and wax frequently. Don't forget the undercarriage, service ramps help with this.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:06 PM on March 9, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the input guys! I'm going to follow all of the instructions, actually... I might as well take all of the preventative measures that I can, along with parking it away from the docks. Sounds like I finally have a good excuse to buy a moped, hah!
posted by Glendale at 4:29 AM on March 10, 2011

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