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Discussion Starter #1
NOT that I need another project right now, but this one found me...

My 2004 Explorer has a factory Class II hitch, which has two large holes from rust-through. Ford wants close to $300 for a new one (these double as the business end of the rear bumper, it's the steel behind the plastic bumper cover).

So, I got one from a junkyard, upgrading to Class III. Not that I'll tow anything heavier, but it will be nice to be able to use 2" drawbars on everything (the truck, tractor and RV)...

Being New England, you can't find one without at least a small amount of rust. These are installed in a pretty tough location: behind the rear tires, up inside the bumper so not even rain will rinse them off after getting barraged with salt, etc. from the roads.

So, what's the best way to treat the new one? I only have $80 into this, but don't want to go over $150 total if at all possible.

I've read a variety of opinions on the best way to remove the old rust (wire wheel, wire brush, sander, angle grinder with flapper wheel, hand sand, or sandblaster). Other than the time or cost involved, does it really matter?

As for paint, obviously, I'll prime and paint it. The question is, what should I use? Again, lots of opinions on whether rust convertors/encapsulators (POR-15, Eastwood) are worth the money, or if the bottom of a vehicle is the right place to use them (some say they are too hard).

Of course, the top coat will be the last decision, and I am already lost enough on the first two.

Or... Do I just install it and not worry about it? The rest of the frame has lots of rust (no holes, at least not yet), and the truck is pushing 280,000 miles...

Mike
 

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POR15 seems really tough to me. I painted the transmission crossmember on my truck with it a couple years ago, and there's no sign of rock damage (from rocks thrown by the front wheels). And being under the truck, you don't have to paint over it (POR15 is uv-sensitive, and needs to be painted over if it painted on something normally exposed to the sun).
 

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I would wire wheel it, then spray it with bedliner, if it were me...

Right about bedliner. I use it instead of paint/primer on several eq items, such as ATV racks, rusty splash guards.

Just wire brush the steel. I just buy a gallon at wal mart and some of the disposable paint brushes. The unused stuff in the gallon can stores real good with a tight lid. I have some over 3 years old and still good in the can. You can get the spray on, but I prefer the brush on type from the can. For large flat surfaces you can use a small paint roller.

Do not paint or prime first. The bedliner has a acetone base, which makes it dry fast and stick good to steel or old paint.
I use disposable rubber gloves when applying, it bonds really good to bare hands.

It will soften and or lift fresh paint. What is nice is it dries fast when applying. I usually apply at least 2 coats and sometimes 3. At 70 degrees you can re-coat in 30 minutes.

If it gets peels or scratched, just apply over the damaged area.
 

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I'd use POR-15,had very good results with it in the past--be aware it only works best if applied over "some" rust,it's ok to wire brush off all the loose flaky rust,but leave some so it will be activated,it has a rust converter action and without any rust it will tend to peel or flake off later..
I did the floors in my '81 Chevy van up front with it in 2001,still looks like the day I did it when the rubber mat is lifted up..used it on several other vehicles I owned too..

I have not used bedliner myself yet,but I'd say it too would hold up well..
I would go for the brush on stuff too,the spray on stuff doesn't seem to hold up as well..

Up here every class 3 trailer hitch I see has powder coating all bubbled up and flaking off--it lets them rot right thru before you see the damage when the coating finally comes off..I hate the stuff myself--everything I had from brush guards,side steps on trucks, to trailer hitches it was used on rotted from the inside out or under blisters in the coating..some swear by the stuff--I swear AT it..in my opinion its just another cheap way to make something look good for awhile,then it fails..Rustoleum paint lasts longer in my experience..
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks guys. I also considered bringing it to a shop for it to be sandblasted and maybe painted (or I could do that myself). I just don't know what they'd charge. May be worth buying a sandblaster myself.

Mike
 

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Thanks guys. I also considered bringing it to a shop for it to be sandblasted and maybe painted (or I could do that myself). I just don't know what they'd charge. May be worth buying a sandblaster myself.

Mike
Like tractoralcholic says about his por15, the rustoleum bed liner actually is better over cleaned rusted metal and will stick better and longer when brushed instead of sprayed and not a lot of effort in pre-prep.

It's a no brainer to use and if it gets barked it's an easy re-coat over the damaged area. Powder coating a trailer hitch or priming for paint especially in areas of high salt content and abusive area is kinda in same category a putting a diamond in a Goat's Axs or trying to make a silk purse out of a sows ear. You said your frame that it bolts too is rusty so not like it's for a show vec.:tango_face_wink:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
It's a rusty frame under a 15-year old truck with almost 300,000 miles! Yes, the engine and tranny are rebuilts, but the rest of the truck is starting to show its age. That's exactly what I need to keep reminding myself...

My real problem might just be getting it painted at this point. It's coming into the coldest part of the year. I don't have heat in the garage or shed, and really don't want to do this in the basement.

Mike
 

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I have been dealing with rust problems on the factory installed hitch on the (purchased new) 2000 Toyota 4Runner for a long time. Every season I scrape the loose rust off and give it a fresh coat of Krylon Satin Black spray paint. Looks better for a while but certainly not the ideal solution. My Toyota FJ Cruiser has factory rock rails, tubular steel. Looked like a powder coat when new. They have started rusting badly from the frame attachment point out to the outer tube. A new set is over $300.00. I am going to take them off in the spring and a local company is going to use recycled crushed glass mixed with water to remove all the rust. Then they will use an industrial type paint to refinish them. They told me any coating that chips will allow moisture to get under the finish so they suggested the industrial finish as being the toughest solution. This will probably set me back a couple hundred but even if I buy new they will not be as well protected as they will be after blasting and repainting. Bill

Here is a link to the company in case anyone wants to read up on this.

https://www.dstechnologyllc.com/
 

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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Thanks. The other thing that jumps out at me is the fact that these things are tubes, whether round or square/rectangular. That means, twice the surface area, and they're rotting from the inside out as well as from the outside that you can see.

If the old one didn't look so bad, I'd just buy a new aftermarket one from U-Haul, and have them install it. Would cost a little over $200, with someone else doing all the work. The aftermarket ones use the same mounting holes, and mount on the outside (hanging below) the factory bumper-integrated hitch, so leaving the old one off isn't an option.

Mike
 

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I'd buy a new uhaul one, scuff it and spray it with Rustoleum bedliner in the rattle can. I recently did this on a new set of front skid and rear gas tank skid plates. Turned out really nice.

Sent from my SCH-I605 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks. Haven't done anything yet, but leaning towards leaving it alone and just using it. It will probably outlive the rest of the truck at this point.

If this were the summer, I'd paint it first.

Mike
 

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I've bought a few class 3 hitches at salvage yards that looked new still,for $25..
One place local has a huge pile of them they pull off trucks before they crush them..

Made me wonder if all the effort and expense of de-rusting and painting an old rusty one was worth it!..

I found several trucks that were scrapped with like new receivers on them,nice enough that I bought 3 of them,even though they were for other brands of trucks than mine was..

I re-sold them for $50 each,made $25 on each of the 3,it was worth it..one of them off a Dodge 4x4 pickup was a tubular one ,a Draw-Tite 10,000 lb one--and whoever "installed" it only used 4 cheap carriage bolts intended for wood--three of them I unscrewed with my fingers too,only needed a wrench on the last one!..:eek:

Some guys I know have drilled a hole in the square tubing and added some oil,to delay rusting..one guy went as far as installing a grease fitting and pumped it full of grease!..
He works at an auto repair shop that has a power grease gun,and they get grease in bulk 35 gallon drums..bet it held a few quarts!..
He claims it will never rust in his lifetime..
 

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After the clean-up of the part, use Metal Prep and dry well after you wash it off. Using that product, the paint will adhere better and it neutralizes the rust activity.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Haven't had a need for the tow hitch for a while, but will be getting some firewood soon, so I took the time to install this today.

I followed Robert's (and my own) advice, and just left the new one alone. There's really very little rust on it, in fact, much less than the frame of my truck that I just installed it onto...

Other than the Lincoln logo on the hitch cover, it looks great!

This came with a 7-wire connector, which I'll probably never use. I left it in place but unplugged (covered the truck connector end with a plastic bag and left it tucked behind the bumper cover).

Pretty easy job, other than fighting some of the bolts, both off and then back on. The old bumper/hitch was in such bad shape that it was crumbling in my hands. Had to use a sledgehammer to break the rust bond between it and the frame of the truck.

Pics of the old and new bumper/hitches below. I forgot to take pics until the job was done, so I don't have any of the whole new-to-me steel bumper.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #19
No kidding. I couldn't believe how light it was when I pulled it off. Felt like it was made of aluminum.

The new one is significantly heavier.

Mike
 
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