Fighting rust & odors and stroking AMC engines

January 1, 2013 | By Staff


I was going through some back issues and had some ideas that may help in two areas. I learned a trick for fighting rust long ago that we used in industrial painting, namely phosphoric acid. When you strip a vehicle and find rust, it has to go. Grind it, sand it, sand blast it, or use a chemical acid dip. You can make a chemical dip from dry crystals bought at Home Depot and mixed in water. Be VERY careful, this is nasty stuff, but it will strip rust off quite nicely.

Once the rust is gone, spray or wipe the clean metal with phosphoric acid. Rust-Oleum metal prep #108 works very well. The phosphoric acid combines with the steel to make iron phosphate, a crystal that is chemically bonded to the steel and provides adhesion for the primer and paint.

Regarding the elimination of tobacco smoke smell, I have found that the most significant “sponge” of that smell is the headliner. If you need to get a smoky smell out of the car, you should replace the entire headliner.

While the headliner is out you should wash the underside of the roof with solvent, soapy water, vinegar or a suitable cleaner. I did this on one car and a two gallon bucket of soapy water looked like coffee by the time I finished cleaning the steel roof. Tobacco smoke is a thick, oily “tar” that will stick to anything until it is washed off. I have also found that a product called Febreze works pretty darn good at eliminating odors.

In a past issue reader Michael Smith asked about stroking a 4.0-liter Jeep engine. I have investigated hopping up a 4.0-liter for use in my 1977 Pacer wagon. I have not done the work but have found a plethora of information in the American Motors Owners Club (


I’m not a big fan of car hobbyists using acid compounds but nonetheless do appreciate you taking the time to share your advice with all of us.