Rat Rods Rule

Help Support Rat Rods Rule:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-known member
Jan 13, 2018
South West CT
I was checking my Dakota for a bad bearing yesterday. Still not 100% sure it needs to be changed but did find lots of rust. These trucks have so many nooks and crannies to hold water and salt. I bought this truck from a guy in Chicago 10+ years ago so figured I would have this problem at some point. Everything looks pretty sound right no. Question is, I have a cheap HF sandblaster, should I de-rusts these areas and then prime and undercoat? I guess a wire wheel or brush might work too. i do want to do something though to clean it up so other suggestions are great too. I use this truck on and off to go to work, no highway, and dump and Lowe's runs. Thanks. Jim


  • 20230408_175405(1).jpg
    93 KB · Views: 35
  • 20230408_175356(1).jpg
    93.5 KB · Views: 27
  • 20230408_175349.jpg
    85.1 KB · Views: 26
What year? I have a very custom 98... Looks like you need a rust converter but I don't know much about them.
It is a 2002. Has 164K on it and runs pretty good.I have been neglecting it a lot the past few years with under use. My Wife has a 2002 Mustang GT that is the snow and ice it stays in the driveway, and she uses our RAV4 and I drive the truck. But with the last 2 years of hardly any snow or ice, the Mustang has stayed out and I used the RAV. Sitting is the worst, next to that pre-treat stuff on the roads for rust. I'll contact Eastwood about the rust converter. Love to see some pics of the 98. Thanks. Jim
Scrape off the loose stuff. Open the factory drain holes (they probably have a very hard, deep filled in area). and get them open so water can't sit there. If you can get it clean enough for the rust converters or paint to stick, they can help some, but paintable products does not replace missing metal, it only aids in keeping the metal still there a bit longer. I suspect your going to find a few extra holes in several of those areas as you clean off the crusty loose stuff.

As bad as its going to sound, the fine line test for the condition of the metal is the pick hammer test. The old ark welding slag removal pointed end of the pick hammer is one of the best metal thickness tools available. The test is pretty simple. Using the pointed end, swing the hammer into the metal you want to test. With driving a finish nail hard swing, at the suspected weakest point of the metal, you will know for sure what shape the metal is in within seconds! If the pick hammer bounces off, or puts a small dent in the metal, its good. If the pick end blows through, the metal is bad. If the hammer blows through, the metal is oxidized enough you can't weld it. Period! You can use the pick hammer to determine how far you need to replace the metal to. If you don't believe me, take a 3" square of 20 gauge sheet metal and hold it over an opening, and strike the center of the opening with the puck end of the hammer. You can hit 20 gauge sheet metal really hard with that pick hammer and all it will do is bend the 20 gauge metal. If the hammer blows through, that metal is thinner then 20 gauge. If its on a frame rail, its not much support. If the pick hammer dents a frame rail, I would deeply consider patching the frame. I would caution the use of the pick hammer test if you really don't want to patch the holes, because I promise that knowledge of the condition of the metal will never leave you.

I fixed this kind of stuff for 30 years at my welding shop here in the north west corner of IL. I'm retired now, so no I won't fix it for you, but I will advise you on how you could fix it.

Of the 3 pictures you posted, none are critical structural areas except maybe the flat area on the right side of picture #1. That is the frame support above the lower control arm. If removal of the crusty metal reveilles small holes (1/4" or smaller) in that support frame section, I'm still not sure I would be too concerned, but if that area had larger holes, I would consider adding a metal patch large enough to add support to that frame ear. Do the pick hammer test. After you clean it up, and get to real metal, if you are concerned, post new pictures and I will advise from there. You can PM me, or email me.

I would expect the pocket with the rubber bump stop to have the front edge rusted through. Its just a bump stop, and it doesn't appear it has been used in a very long time. I would not be concerned at all. The frame under my 49 had rust holes in one of those pockets. I cleaned them to bare shiny steel (with the rust holes intact) and painted both sides. Those pockets now have painted rust holes, the good news is, they don't hold water anymore.

The pocket are in the last picture should have a drain hole in it, your probably going to have to really work at it to get it open. The fine dirt and sand will be like breaking a chunk of cement. getting the drain hole open would be good, but probably not life threatening if you can't.

The area's of larger concern are the boxed frame behind the front wheels. Look up inside the factory holes in the bottom surface and pull out all the chunks of frame you can from inside those boxed frames. That flakey junk inside is holding water inside the frame rails. The factory holes are suppose to be for draining water out. Once cleaned, if its really thin or has a lot of holes, the bottom section of the frame can be replace with 1/8" plate steel. If you replace that bottom, be sure you remove the old holey metal, and expect to be welding about an inch up the side walls. Also, be sure to put some drain holes in the new piece. If its still intact, that frame patch may not be required for the useable life of the truck.

The next area of concern would be behind the trans crossmember where the frame converts from the boxed metal to the "C" channel. That "C" channel has a 1/2" to 3/4" lip standing up from the bottom inside edge. That extra lip allows water to stay there until it starts rusting the lip, and the bottom of the channel. The bottom of that channel can also be replaced with 1/8" flat metal, but don't add the inside water holding lip back on. You may have to weld up the outside about an inch from the bottom there as well. Gene
I do not have experience with frame repair, but that's good stuff there, Gene. I am also a member over on the P15-D24 MoPar site, and a young man did a full disassembly and repair on a Plymouth - I think he is from the Detroit area, if I recall correctly. His frame was in seriously bad shape, and he did some patching, but to my Okie mind, that frame was trash. (We never had to deal with serious rust like that in Oklahoma, so maybe I'm too picky. Even my first series 49 P15 parts car is not rusted like that, and it was from Nebraska. Now I live in the Ohio 'Rust Belt", and I see that sort of serious damage on lots of vehicles around here.)
Magnesium Chloride.

Magnesium Chloride.

It's in common use now . It continues to melt icy roads at well below freezing.

It promotes decay , attracting moisture and rust at all temperatures.

A family member bought a Mazda Protege5 new in 2003. I've been chasing

rust and rot with mig , rust inhibitor and paint for 5 years now. I'ts mechanically perfect but a PITA.

For the Dakota, lifting the box may be necessary. Needle scaling/sand blasting seems to be in order; pressure washing, degreasing, & painting.

You will see as you tackle this.

Good Luck. 8^)
Thanks to all for your suggestions. I crawled under the truck today with a pick hammer and went from end to end. Nothing looked that bad and the hammer did not penetrate any spots on the frame. I have seen on youtube that where the frame goes from box to C is a problem.Mine had no issues of rot or rust there. The front end I sent pictures of is by far the worst on the truck. The area near the trans mount looked ok too. I cleaned out some of the areas up front and opened the weep holes. Lots of stuff has been replaced on this due to rust. Driveshaft, rear spring's rear shackle buckets, steering shaft, ball joints and all brakelines. I have to new front cab mounts, that I hope to get in this summer. Bed is pretty bad but it is a work truck. I think the bed liner is holding it all together. The only think worrying me now is the oil pan looks very rusty.I really like this truck and with the prices I am not afraid to put money in to it. It runs good and still has lots of power. I do most of the work on it myself but things like the oil pan I would probably have my local friend/shop do it. Not as much fun working on you back at 65yo as it was at 26yo. Thanks again for all the help. Jim
It is a 2002. Has 164K on it and runs pretty good.I have been neglecting it a lot the past few years with under use. My Wife has a 2002 Mustang GT that is the snow and ice it stays in the driveway, and she uses our RAV4 and I drive the truck. But with the last 2 years of hardly any snow or ice, the Mustang has stayed out and I used the RAV. Sitting is the worst, next to that pre-treat stuff on the roads for rust. I'll contact Eastwood about the rust converter. Love to see some pics of the 98. Thanks. Jim

Some pictures of my 98...The engine bay is my avitar.


  • IMG_8936.jpg
    168.4 KB · Views: 8
  • IMG_8952.jpg
    138.2 KB · Views: 7
  • IMG_8981.jpg
    107.5 KB · Views: 7
  • IMG_8989.jpg
    134.9 KB · Views: 6
Rust on the oil pan? Oil 4x4s often have this problem. Most are a major pain to pull an oil pan off of.

One of my customers had an old Dodge snow plow truck (15 years of snow plowing makes every truck old), and he came in with oil running out of holes in the sides of the oil pan on his truck. Of course, a big snow storm was on the way, a quick fix was required. He found an oil pan, but flat rate said 10 hours to change it, and everything under the truck appeared to be one rust covered blob. We were not expecting anything to unbolt.

As a one time use shot, we opted to clean as much rust off the sides of the pan as we could, after we had drained the oil and left the drain plug out. We scrapped and sanded until most of the pan sides was down to bare metal. There were several 1/4" diameter holed in the sides of the pan, and it was near 6 pm. We got a couple packages of J B Weld epoxy (about the only choice at that time) and mixed up a big batch and coated both sides of the oil pan. Just before we closed the shop for the night, we set a heat lamp under the motor with the lamp facing the oil pan, and closed the hood to keep as much heat around the oil pan as we could. The inside shop temp was 60 degrees, but the temp at the floor was probably closer to 25 degrees. We returned about 6 hours later, and pulled the heat lamp, installed the drain plug, added oil and hoped for the best. The truck was plowing snow later that morning, from 4 am until 6am the day after (26 hours straight). They were always checking the oil level and never had to add any. After the plowing session we had a chance to look at the oil pan. It was completely dry, not even a hint of a leak. That truck lasted 2 more years before everything was pretty trashed and they junked the truck, That oil pan never did leak.

I've used J B Weld on things like that since with a lot of success. It has to be applied to clean, dry, oil free, metal, and it has to be let set up long enough to fully cure before any liquid is added. I prefer to let the J B Weld to set up at least 24 hours, but the original situation was an "emergency" and with adding the heat lamp we probably got lucky. It may be hokey, and is probably not a long term fix for something that can be replaced, but it does work. Gene
Neto, My original 48 Plymouth P15 was a Chicago suburb Police car (seen pictures of it new Hinkley IL I believe, had the spot light on the door post and a 6" diameter STOP light on the rear fender) the 1st 12 or so years if its life, then sat around outside up until just the last couple years. When I built it, the original frame was rotted out so had you could put the open palm of your hand through the frame rails, top to bottom, and not touch anything, in several places. Any body structure that could hold water was rotted away, even had rust holes in the roof, and that was from just salt. Rust is very real around here, and starts showing up in cars and trucks as new as 4-5 years old. I've seen 6 or 7 year old trucks with frames rotter so bad they were not cost effective to even patch up.
Gene, So did you find a usable frame, or did you build a new one?

Coming from Oklahoma, my first experience with serious rust was in Minnesota, while in college. You'd see lots of cars with holes in the lower section of the doors big enough to stick your arm up in there (to unlock it, I suppose). Bumpers rusted clear in two. Later when I was working in Tulsa again, during the down-turn up in Detroit, we got a lot of guys coming south to work. One guy told me about his side gig - he's find a solid Oklahoma car with a worn out engine that left a cloud behind it, drive it up North and get an engine out of a rust heap, combine the two, and he could turn a decent profit. (I cannot remember now, but he may have then drove a rusted heap back South, and use the engine for another Oklahoma car.)
But now I see all that rust again, here in Ohio. Holmes County, where we live, is hilly, so they use a lot of salt & brine on the roadways. Some years, when they didn't use up their "quota" yet when Spring is coming, you'll see them out spreading the stuff on a normal day, because if they don't use it all, they won't get as much money the next year.
Neto, I probably should do a build tread on my 48.
It has a Dodge Dakota chassis under it. About all that was left of the car was the outer shell. It was a rust bucket. Just before I lifted the outer sheet metal off the frame, I cut about 18" of original floor pan on both sides of the car. That 18" was all that was left of the floor, between the firewall and the back end of the trunk lid.

I used the cab floor pan, and the bed floor from the Dakota as the 48's floor. The outer body was installed much like you used to put those old 1/24 scale car models together, set the body over the floor and frame with the motor and transmission installed, and glue (in my case, weld) it back together.
I know rust!

A few pictures.
Pic 1, The box on the right side is the frame. The thing on the left top of the pic is the bottom of the drives door. The thing hanging to the rright of the door is the actual door post, the square at the top of the post is the lower door hinge. The triangle looking thing is the actual frame connection for the front body mount at the firewall, which is the laid down S looking thing just above the rubber mount. One of those holes in the frame I spoke of earlier would be just forward on the frame from this point, the really dark spot on the top surface of the frame is the beginning of one of those holes.

Pic 2, This is the rear edge of the same floor as the 1st pic, and where the floor and rocker should be. That frame is 12" inside of the door.

Pic 3, This is the reason the lower sides look like they do. I had to cut this much off the bottom of the rocker and the door on the driver side to get to metal I could weld to.

Pic 4 This is what the passenger side of the car looked like the day I got it home. Someone before me had already cut off the too thin to weld metal. That 18" of floor pan I cut was behind the floor you can see daylight through on this pic. It was basically over the top of the rear axle hump on both sides, there was no floor left in the trunk area. Gene


  • 48 coupe 0016.jpg
    48 coupe 0016.jpg
    84.7 KB · Views: 11
  • 48 coupe 0015.jpg
    48 coupe 0015.jpg
    85.1 KB · Views: 11
  • 48 coupe 313.jpg
    48 coupe 313.jpg
    64.4 KB · Views: 12
  • 48 coupe 0005.jpg
    48 coupe 0005.jpg
    105.5 KB · Views: 11
That's some serious rust!

I'm sorry to say that we scrapped a 4-door that was much more "there" than that one. (It was missing the front clip, dash, and about everything else that could be taken off, and the rear deck lid area had been cut out to fix another car, but I later wished I had held onto it, to build a woodie. I think the frame was still solid, even though it had been nose down in a creek to stop erosion.)
Thanks again for the replies. I had wondered about JB Weld. A guy in our 4X4 group cracked his rear diff and used it and as far as I know he never had to do anything else. I don't dare touch it right now. I once touched a rusty brake line and it started to leak. I bought some rust encapsulate and plan to clean the area and top coat with under coating. Jim
I have found that J B Weld works pretty good for sealing holes and cracks to keep fluids in, if the area was cleaned of the liquid residue and there wasn't any movements of the parts, and it was left to fully cure before the liquids were reinstalled.

What J B Weld does not do well is hold parts that are under any stress or vibration together. It also does not do well when the liquids are under much pressure. In both those cases, the J B Weld fails quickly.

The only fix for leaking brake lines is to replace them.

Open up those drain holes if you can, clean off the loose flakes, and seal that Dakota frame up. Gene
I didn't work too much on the pickup over the weekend. I was able to sandblast the areas, encapsulate and under coat. Took the shock off to replace. When did they get so expensive. Hard to find Gabriel $12 shocks. Thank again for the help. Jim


  • 20230415_163457.jpg
    85.5 KB · Views: 10
  • 20230415_163505.jpg
    80.5 KB · Views: 10
  • 20230415_163514.jpg
    78.8 KB · Views: 10
The sandblast and encapsulation looks much better then it did originally.

These days I'm pretty thrilled to find any shocks under $40 each, and to get that price I need to buy on line. The local parts stores get $50 + each for some no name brand.

Latest posts