Updated: Aug 18
Rust is a van-killer. A little bit is manageable, too much of it could lead to the demise of your van. It's important to deal with rust at the outset. It's one of the very first things you need to do when you buy a van for conversion. In this guide I will show you how to rid your van from rust to help it last much longer! I'm Shane, I've been teaching people to convert campervans for several years, I'm the van conversion instructor at Udemy, author of The Van Conversion Newsletter, and the proud owner of a beautiful self-build campervan called Beans. So let's jump in and have a look at how to remove rust from your van!
These are the supplies you need repair rust in your van
(Click on any item to purchase it)
6 steps to repair rust holes in a van
There are four ways to repair rust holes in a van:
Body filler kit
Metal Epoxy putty
In this article, we will look at how to repair rust holes using metal epoxy putty - it's really easy and really cheap. Let's dive in!
Step #1: Sand down the rust
To remove the rust, you will need a drill and wire brush head. You could do the job with sandpaper alone, however, it could take a very, very long time and leave you with a very sore back. Sand back (using the drill) a centimeter or so on each side of the rust spot to ensure you erase any trace of rust.
Step #2: Apply Rust remover
To remove any remaining rust, apply the Rustins Rust Remover. It is excellent for removing surface rust from steel and iron.
The duration of time it takes to remove the rust using rust remover depends on the severity of the rust on your van. Light rust takes around 30 minutes to remove, while heavy rust can take you up to 24 hours.
Apply the Rustins rust remover to a microfiber cloth and wipe the metal with it. It will remove any trace of surface rust from the area. It will also stop the rust from spreading and doing any further damage.
NOTE: Always wear gloves, mask, and protective glasses while applying it. It's a flammable vapour that can damage your eyes and burn your skin.
Step #3: Repair the holes
Once you remove the rust, you may have a hole in the place where the rust was. So, you will have to fill up these holes using metal epoxy putty.
When mixed, the epoxy forms an industrial-strength polymer compound that you can mould into any shape and use to repair or patch up any steel or iron components. It quickly repairs or rebuilds or patches up things made of metal.
To apply it, mould it in your hands till it’s warmed up, then apply it on the inside and underside of the campervan. Leave it to dry.
NOTE: Wear gloves and a mask. Make sure that this protective wear covers your skin to safeguard you from epoxy. It’s toxic and many people find they get faint-headed if they don't wear a mask.
Step #4: Sand the metal epoxy putty
After 24 hours, the epoxy will harden or become rigid. When this happens, smoothen the metal surface by sandpapering the excess putty.
Step #5 (Optional): Use a primer
Now that the rust is out, you need to repaint your campervan. Before painting it, add a primer layer to the metal (iron or steel). It will protect it against rust.
Step #6: Apply metal paint
For excellent results, use Hammerite white metal paint. It provides a very smooth finish and protects metal from any weather elements. When painting, paint both the top and the underside of the epoxy.
Step #7 (Optional): Apply Underbody Seal to the bottom of the van
If the bottom of your van is in poor condition, you might want to do a proper job with an underbody seal. It gives heavy-duty protection for the underside of your campervan and other high-impact areas that are exposed to various things like stones, water, and corrosion.
For effective rust removal, you will need to strip your campervan bear first.
Remove all the inside panels and the flooring that comes with the van.
Remove the plastic exterior trim panel rims. When it comes to a campervan, you will never look at a painted car the same. It has so much rust under the paint. And it is essential to remove it before it spreads and does more damage.
Leave the campervan bear. This will give you room and help you assess your van correctly. Upon inspection, you will see the affected areas, and once you have marked them, you can start on the rust.
Also, carry out regular checks to maintain a rust-free campervan.
I hope you found this guide to remove rust from your van conversion useful! You are well on your way to a beautiful self-build campervan! Don't forget to subscribe to The Van Conversion Newsletter for everything you need to get started with your own van conversion.
If you're converting a van but unsure of how to do it, you could also check out the Van Conversion Course on Udemy. In the course, you'll learn directly from me how to convert a van into your dream home - no prior experience needed!
Until next time,