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It all started one day many months ago when I inadvertently discovered rust lurking below the paint surface. Because my 76 spent who knows how many years with its tail end exposed to the elements, as it sat in a car-port style storage facility, the trunk area had obvious surface rust spots. One of the first over ambitions things that I started doing when I first got the car, was to strip paint on the whole trunk top. Sure enough, the rust spots were pitted and nasty, fortunately none went all the way through.


I have to say, what really amazed me was to find these randomly scattered really small surface rust spots in areas where the actual paint appeared normal to the casual eye, prior to stripping it. This was a head scratcher for me. How can that be!??. The paint looked normal and surface smooth and even, yet it really was not as it appeared beneath. 


I decided to do a test after removing the trunk, knowing that it would be risky. You guessed it, I began to strip the nice paint finish surfaces inside the trunk area, including around the sides of the spare tire cavity where finish was rich and shiny and almost pristine looking. My fears were confirmed, there were these tiny little rust spots randomly scattered about and of various shapes all over in the trunk area, with no evident pattern in their spacing or locations. Interestingly, none were any larger than a small fire ant in any one dimension.


That settled it, it was then that the paint stripping priority began. Months into this adventure and treating the surface with Ospho (my favorite) and epoxy primer sealer as I progressed, I was mostly done in November, with the exception of the front clip areas and whole underside. I completely stripped the front and treated for rust. Last week as I surveyed my general progress, it occurred to me that I had done nothing with the wheel wells!


In the last few days I have been stripping the nice-looking textured surface of the wheel wells. They were in such nice shape as was the trunk and I sure hated to remove all the nice paint and semi-soft filler texture material, but it all had to come out. In the months of doing this, my findings have been consistently the same, all throughout the entire car surfaces, those tiny little irregular shaped surface rust appear. I suppose it is possible that left alone they could remain dormant with no cancer growth, peacefully under the paint. Somehow, being overly cautious I have my doubts.


I almost forgot to mention my paint removal technique as someone may surely wonder looking at the pics. The background on how I came to adapt it and why I continue to u se it is a subject for a different blog. This involves paint removal by scraping, using sharp edges/tools of various shapes and sizes. The scratches on the surfaces may be obvious in the pictures. I welcome your thoughts on this subject as well as any other suggestions. I'm always looking for different ways to doing things, experimenting and learning new techniques. One thing that I try to be mindful of since humidity is often high in Houston, is that after treating for rust, I promptly try to apply the sealer. I don't know how that will work out with these coming cold days!!??










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Gosh, newer seen someone so worried about rust with THAT rust-free car! Sure it's better to catch early but you could have enjoyed driving her few more years. Hope you get her back on road soon.👍

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Thanks Tommy, I hope so as well. You're right, it could have probably waited. My initial goal was to replace the trim and fix the trunk. Then one thing led to another. Once I get it painted maybe in the late spring, I hope to put it all back together and on the road and continue working bottom side and interior at a slower pace.

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Love seeing your work. I am also a big fan of Ospho on bare metal and then epoxy primer to seal, then body work on top.


Looks like you are making good progress.



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Thanks Jason! It's been a bit slow but a little consistent. yup, I agree, that's a perfect sequence and recipe for peace of mind, lol.

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Making progress on driver's side. As I advance and troubling rust areas are getting exposed, it makes me glad to have ventured toward exposing all the sheet metal, even where the paint looked decent.


Looking at the second picture, there is a nearly a 10 inch in span/length of area between the weld joint/interface in the wheel well that began rusting. I would consider that to be structural, as it does appear that the spot-welded perpendicular piece of sheet metal adds vertical rigidity and possibly provide structural integrity so that the strut load is adequately distributed? It is only a guess anyway. There are a few other little unexpected areas where rust spots showed up.


I'm thinking remove as much of the rust, treat it, and seal it. The thing that I'm not clear on is how to make sure that the rust neutralizer penetrates the seam (where rust is sandwiched between the two layers of sheet metal). I would hate to seal it before verifying that the rust is addressed there.

Maybe somebody can provide some ideas? I sure would hate to do anything drastic, unless it is really needed. Will see how the passenger's side looks. By then maybe somebody has suggestions, or something comes to mind. 


I hope by this weekend I can finish the passenger side. Will keep you all posted!



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I'm happy to report that things progressed more so than I had anticipated. I almost finished the passenger side.  As it turns out this side had a bit less rust in the area that I was concerned about (rust sandwiched between the sheet metal). However, I am still finding various random little rust spots.


There is still much work to be done on this side before sealing it, but at least most of the paint cover is gone. Admittedly, it was definitely more challenging of a task at first due to the surface being on top, the geometry and irregularity. It did not seem feasible to constantly look up as I scraped, so had to do much of it by feel to reduce neck fatigue. 


In the coming days, I need to figure out how best to tackle the rust between the spot welds. Any ideas or pointers?

I think I'm going to take a day or two to catch up on the TR6 body work.








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Thanks to a couple of you for the emails, I took recommendation to spray the OSPHO instead, to soak the hard to penetrate surfaces. It worked darn well! I did another round of clean up and resurfacing rough areas, cleaned and then epoxy coated before temps dropped again! I also started the driver side rocker. Man, I found the same pesky random rust spots, just like before. No matter where I strip paint, they show up, even where paint appears perfectly fine. Really weird!!

I wonder if anybody else has witnessed this type of strange thing?




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More progress happening, but the more I remove on the passenger's side rocker panel, the worse things get. as the pictures show large rust spots. Will find out this weekend how badly they really are after some grinding. More to come on that :)



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Oh, almost forgot, this is how the driver's side rocker is shaping up! The view is looking from front towards the back.



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After finally wrapping up the driver's side rocker stripping, it turned out to be not as bad as I had feared, but still not great. I tried to clean it as much as possible to reveal depth of damage, this is how it looks (for both the worst spots). I'm still going after the deeper pits with the Dremel tool bronze brush. 




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Oh, and for completeness, this is the passenger's side wheel well that I had forgotten, but took pics while on that side. After the rockers, I'll need to get back to my original goal of the wheel wells, the rear ones next. I continually get distracted with rust issues, but hopefully I will not divert with not the best of surprises. 



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This took longer than I anticipated, the labor on stripping the passenger side rocker, up to the top edge. It took nearly an hour to find out one way I could try to remove the bottom trim holder/pins. I tried everything from drilling tiny holes through the plastic centers and using a small screw to attempt to extract. This was one of the suggestions that apparently worked well for some folks here on one of the tech BMW2002faq forums. More than likely, I was doing something wrong and just could not get this approach to work. After trying some more without success, I finally gave up and just punched them in. Of course, I will never recover them and will need to source replacement push-pins. 

Needless to say, once I had the clips out, I was able to remove all the paint. I was able to confirm that the previously identified bad spots, were in fact the worst of the rust damage on the rocker. I'm disappointed to see the pics came out just terrible, no depth whatsoever and did not capture more of the rocker length. I will take better shots during the daylight hours as I progress along and prior to moving on.

The next step is to completely strip the driver's side, all the way to the top of the rockers also. I'm feeling optimistic that I will not discover bad rust. We shall see! My plan, which may hold, is to wrap up both rockers and move on to the rear wheel wells finally. This time for real, no more distractions!! :)





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I'm happy to report that this afternoon due to unforeseen events, I wound up with some extra time on my hands. I would have normally diverted to other higher priority things that would quickly consume every minute. However, I got this dreadful sudden cold a couple of days ago that continues to feed on me, and truthfully my overall energy level towards important tasks waned. Interestingly enough though, my mood hungered for getting my hands dirty and blasting my ears with grinding and dremeling metal, while on my back. 

Having completed the second phase of the passenger's side rocker, I immediately moved everything over to the driver's side and began stripping the remaining paint up to the top of the rocker. Things looked better balanced, now that both rockers are mostly free of paint and all rust exposed. A bit more prepping and they should be ready for OSPHO. Oh, and also the jack points need more work with the dremel tool, as they have crevices and areas that are not very accessible or easy to grind off the stubborn rust mostly present at the weld joints.

Before wrapping things up for the evening, I snapped a pic of most of the tools that I have been using on the rockers and wheel wells work in the last few weeks. Missing from the picture, are a couple smaller flat tip screw drivers with edges sharpened, used extensively for the hard to reach, rounded and odd shaped corners of the wheel wells. And of course, a couple of pics of the work done.





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Well, thanks to all day rain showers, I managed not to fall too far behind on getting a decent start on the rear wheel wells, the driver's side anyway. The range and size of the rust spots appearing so far is consistent with what I witnessed on the rockers and front wheel wells. However, I'm concerned about the little rust spots emanating from the vertical joint that connects the quarter panel and wheel well. I assume those are held together with spot welds?

This time around, I had the presence of mind to take a couple of before-shots to have a baseline. At least, in the event that I decide later, to try to notionally try to simulate the factory texture, the pictures may come in handy. I doubt that that will be the case, but I suppose one never knows ahead of time.

It continues to amaze as I ponder how the rust areas lurk and grow hidden underneath the paint. This 02 must have at some point been parked inside a highly humid place for extended periods, or the factory had a bad batch of sheet metal, that is unless prepping errors were introduced during the paint phase. I'm by no means knowledgeable in those areas and I see that I'm way over-thinking this as usual. 

The goal will be to try to clear the surface for most of the wheel well by this weekend. We shall see how things go. I will try to finish this side first this time, before moving along to start passenger's side.






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The rear wheel well has proven to be more demanding of care to keep the hand tool from deeply gauging the sheet metal during the paint scraping process. I think this may be due to the more pronounced roundness in two directions as compared to the front wheel well. Moreover, it seems more round in both front to back and left to right sides of the car. The sharp corners of the chisel tip have the propensity to want to catch non-flat surfaces as I push it along. It's not a big deal really, but it does take more time to advance. Needless to say, I did not get in a hurry. The weather turned out nice, a comfortable 60 degrees F, which caused me to take a relatively comfortable position and slowly manipulate the chisels and screw drivers to keep my 02 from bleeding too badly :). As the pics show, the progress was a bit less than expected. I hope to finish this wheel well by mid to end of the week, since I may get an hour or two at a time, in the evenings.   






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What an interesting adventure this has been on the rear wheel well. There are so many surface undulations that it has caused me to exercise creativity just to allow me to continue to move forward. It definitely pushed the limits of my unconventional methods. This caused me to put the grinder to the top of the arch, where there seem to be more prevalent wrinkles and uneveness.  


The one thing that I discovered while under there that is worth noting, is the fact that the two drain holes, circled in yellow, were actually mostly blocked with undercoating/paint. This seems to be a problem. Junk and rusty residue or things falling in through the two round holes, just remain trapped in there, holding moisture. I used a piece of wire to clear both left and right drain holes and when I did that, a fair amount of powdery rust and small particles started coming out. Probably a more effective way may be to use air pressure or a long enough wire to knock everything loose and push it out, making use of the round holes for access?.

I would be pleased if no surprises show up, but we shall see how things go this week!






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This last week seemed to march forward faster than the previous and before I knew it, I had spent far less time than I had intended on the 02. Nonetheless, I did get far enough along that at least I was able to get a start the passenger side. :). I have to admit, I was starting to feel anxious, not sure exactly why, maybe it's that the driver side was a bit intense. So, with regards to the driver side, I just need to start prepping it for the rust killer application and final inspection.


The first set of pics show how it shaped up. Then, followed by the start on the passenger side. Looking at the shots now as I post, it does not look like much progress, but we'll see how tomorrow goes. Also, I'm not too excited about the rust spot and its location there on the forward side. The way it looks, I have a sneaking suspicion; this side may reveal more unpleasant surprises as compared to the other side.  I sure do hope I'm wrong! 


If I can get about halfway through it tomorrow in revealing sheet metal, that will be pretty good! It will provide good direction on my focus for the week. A very big thanks to those of you coming along on this journey with me! I've never done this on wheel wells before and trying to figure it out as I go.










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Good news so far! no big surprises have showed up on the passenger side wheel well. The weather though a bit rainy, it was pleasant to be in the garage for an extended period of time. The same as before, I took a comfortable position and chipped away at it. I think that I will leave the top side to the end as before, as it will be a bit of a bear, and a bit taxing on the back and neck. Besides the ugly rust area on the lower forward side, additional spots so far, shown in red. Of course, the spots on the seams, not good either, and I'm still concerned about them. We shall see how things go this week!.  






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Just a brief update today. I'm not thrilled with the little progress this week so far, but still plowing ahead. I definitely will catch up in the next two days. I'm anxious to see if surface revelations continue to remain positive. So far, it's looking good! Stay tuned as I progress towards the upper side and behind-the-shock/spring areas of the wheel well.




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This side was a bit more stubborn around the top section and was more resistant to material removal. Not surprisingly, it has the same wrinkles and distortions. As far as the undercoating material, it has remained together, not hardened or severely cracked after so many years. It has remained to this date still pliable and flexible. Most importantly, it apparently has protected surfaces from weather and flying road debris. Whether it is a breathable and or impermeable material, I have no idea. It certainly would be interesting to know about its properties!  

I admit, it seems that there is something wrong with this set of shots. It almost appears that the settings were somehow zoomed in. I checked my phone and could not find evidence, but I'm wondering if I inadvertently zoomed-in?? I will check for that next time, as it's kinda really bugging me. :)











Edited by Jesse
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The weather was good today and made a fair bit of progress on the most challenging zones! I'm nearly out of the woods. Mostly it is the fender side that remains. As mentioned before, this part I will be doing by feel since it's impossible to get my head in a position where I can see and simultaneously manipulate the tools. This adds some time, but not a vast amount, since it's not too large of an area. If things go well, this weekend may do it!





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Boy, this passenger side is every bit as intense as the other side! And it is still going well. The best part is that there is no surface to be majorly stressed about. One thing I noticed is that I will need to unmount the springs to address the top mount areas. I'm thinking for completeness, do the same for the front struts.

As soon as all the paint comes off here, I will focus my attention on the rotted spot on the lower forward side behind the rocker panel. It may be best to resolve to a satisfactory degree before moving away from this wheel. I don't yet know what I will do about that damage? We shall see as it gets close!







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I think I got the remaining few little areas around the top done. Will do a final inspection tomorrow for any spots missed. The outcome (minus the shock/spring inaccessible areas) is that this side is in about the same overall surface condition as the driver's side. I also got a pic of what will be my focus, the rusty area for this week, which is the gaping hole appearing on the bottom right of the pic. Oh, and the red circle shows a bit of surface rust discovered around the weld/seam. I may need to use the Dremel tool with wire brush to clean it out. 




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I took a shot at cleaning out the gaping rust hole, using the Dremel tool with a couple of different implements; a brush, cylinder shaped grinding tip and cutting disk. I cut out the rusted edges as straight as possible. I also used a wire brush tip on the hand drill. Because of the wheel arch in such close proximity to the hole, it is a bit of a challenge to make good cuts.

To be honest, I was not sure how much good it would do or how it would turn out. While there is still a bit of rust remaining that I'd like to remove, it looks like it may actually work, and not necessitate intrusive surgery as I secretly feared.

As I pondered the end result, I thought if I can just cut to a decent square shape, then I could cleanly weld in a piece of 20 gauge sheet metal. If I can clean it out tomorrow and apply Ospho and then seal, I can start on the patch work towards the end of the week, Lol!




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Total baby steps here, in trying to figure proper cuts and what sheet metal needs to go in. After a bit more cleaning and some cutting to get as much a straight line as possible or near a square shape, some progress! It's a bit challenging, due primarily to the wheel arch being so close. I used the Dremel with cutting disks and also the drill with medium cutting disk. The grinder was too bulky due to the size of the disk and large head. Looking at the pictures, I also realized there is more rust inside the hole that needs to be removed. I feel like the area around the hole has good metal surface, such that it will allow for good welds. We shall see!

Anyhow, after staring it for a while and looking at the other side for reference, it appears like there may be two layers of sheet metal there. I'm guessing it is between the two layers that it rusted out?

As the pictures show, I also found rust between the two layers on top and I had to pry it apart as much as possible to allow access for grinding off and removing the powdery rust and for later treating it.  






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