FFT: Salvaging Rusted Sill Plates

Oh I’m sorry, did you want some SEMA coverage? If you just can’t wait, then I must insist that you check out our footage of us walking the floor at SEMA and the Imperial Palace’s Car Collection.


Welcome back to the ongoing saga of my Oldsmobile-propelled, 1965 Chevrolet C-10, better known as the “Futuramic Farm Truck”. I want to go back to a post I made, following the bumpers I had for it. I probably should have asked my fellow 60-66 owners first, but being disillusioned with craigslist at the time (my love for it comes and goes), I scrapped them and made about $50 off the both of them. I promised I would post what I made off of them when I got rid of them, so there it is. I’m sure I could have made more had I sat on them a while longer, but I was tired of tripping over them every time I went to take out the trash, and I was going to recycle some other metals anyways. Now onto to the topic of today’s post:

When I got the truck, it was missing a few things like most interior parts short of the dash and steering wheel, a starter and all of the body trim. It did have some bonus parts though, like 15 lbs of joint compound for sheetrock/ cheap bondo intermixed covering most of the severe dents, A sweet EVH-themed paint job, and these rusted sill plates. I’ve put them off for a while because I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep them as wall art or actually use them, but I figured that the truck could use as much help as it can get in the interior department.

¬†What I did here is pretty basic and you can use the technique to revive any cheap Chinese-made chrome-plated junk you have sitting in a pile of rust and flaked plating. First I took and cleaned off both of them with a mild detergent and stainless steel brush. I got the brush set for like $0.99 at what our dad’s would call “The Cheap Tool Place”. It’s nice because I can thrash them and then just go buy another set for almost nothing. I hate taking care of cleaning brushes… wasted time as far as I’m concerned. It also comes with a brass-bristled and plastic-bristled brush also.

You want to clean all the junk that’s accumulated on them so you’re not spitting dirt and rust all over the place when you do the next thing. I used my ancient Black and Decker 6″ bench grinder equipped with a wire wheel to bring it down to bare metal. This is important because it has a nice surface area for doing large areas and has enough torque to really dig in and get rid of all that junk. Any other way and you’ll probably be there all day. This doesn’t just eat rust, it destroys flaking chrome. It’s always great to kill two birds with one stone.

Now I’m sure that to most of you shade tree guys, this is a huge investment. You need to shop smart, read reviews and pick up a good used one on Craigslist or at a local auction. I got mine at an auto auction that also sells tools and my dad made a stand out of it using plate metal, a junk steel wheel and a junk car axle. Remind me to post a picture of it in the gallery sometime, it’s quite a sight.

If you’re going to be using a bench grinder there’s two other things you’re going to need and that’s a pair of gloves and some eye protection. These are both found for a very reasonable price at the aforementioned “Cheap Tool Place”. The grinder will grab things out of your hands and fling them across the room. I’ve hurt myself before doing this. Once it goes flying, you want your eye’s protected. The grinder will also fling anything it removes, and you don’t want any of that flying in your eye. Remember: Blind people don’t drive.

After I got them both down to bare metal, I just hit them with a light coat of some cheap primer. To be honest, this is not a great rust inhibitor, nor a good foundation for professional quality paint. I live in an area with very little humidity and the aesthetics of the car don’t necessitate a professional job. If you want to have a legitimate finish, I would suggest using an epoxy primer or powder coating. If you powder coat your project, do the coating first so you can match the painted parts to the coating; it’s much easier this way.

Take a look in the gallery below to see pictures of the progression.