Stella Rust Removal

I wasn’t fortunate enough to have a garage until five months ago. My scooters wintered outdoors. I rode them in the rain, so I wasn’t terribly concerned about parking them in the rain.

The Northwest doesn’t employ salt on the roads like they do back East. Boston was heavy-handed with the sodium chloride application, so metal parts start to rust after awhile. It’s common and expected. You can minimize the damage by washing the vehicle regularly to rinse the salt accumulation off, but if you drive in the snow, it’s a losing battle. Luckily, almost everything’s made out of plastic now!!

I didn’t think the Frankenstella would mind spending the Seattle winter outdoors, until certain parts of her started to rust – with a vengeance. If you look at the floorboard, you can pick out which screws were not stainless steel; direct your attention to the lumps of corrosive material bleeding orange all over the paint. Well done, boys.

But it wasn’t the floorboard I was concerned with – it was the speedometer bezel smack in the middle of the headset. Almost immediately, the edges began to rust until no metal was visible, just a city of chunky brown and orange subdivisions impinging on my pretty cream paint. I decided it was time to evacuate the residents.

I’ve heard auto folks call rust “car cancer”. I can see why. Once present, it appears to multiply exponentially, compromising everything in its path. One day I noticed a tiny fleck of it on the speedo ring, and just weeks later there’s no chrome left.

My default response was to just order another speedo cover from Scooterworks. Then I was in the auto store cruising for touch-up paint, and I discovered a humble bottle of magical elixir called, quite modestly, “Rust Remover”. My little DIY light bulb illuminated and I decided to try restoring the speedo cover myself.

I didn’t know rust could be removed. I thought it was irreversible. I pictured the metal being eroded, transformed into rust. But I discovered that the metal is still there, hiding underneath that unkind blanket.

The hazardous rust remover was not only outlawed in California, but the warning was missing that comforting phrase, “may cause”. It basically says, “this will give you brain damage”. Leery of losing further brain cells after that spray paint fiasco (more on that another time), I donned my industrial strength rubber gloves, opened the garage door for ventilation, and selected disposable tools.

I did the removal in five steps:

  1. Prep
  2. Apply
  3. Soak
  4. Agitate
  5. Rinse

I taped off the area I didn’t want to remove. I wasn’t sure if the masking tape would withstand the power of the rust remover, so I watched for any chemical reactions after I applied it. Any spillover seemed inert on the tape, but I wiped it off to be safe. The next day when I removed the tape there was no paint damage at all. Your mileage may vary.

Because the chemical was so potent, I chose application tools that were disposable and non-metallic. After trying several items, I found that a tiny paintbrush and a standard toothbrush worked well for different parts of the process.

Applying the formula was easy. It’s a jelly consistency, so it’s difficult to spill or splash. I squeezed some into a plastic cup and then dipped the paintbrush in to apply. I went around the ring twice, being sure the area was fully saturated. Then I wiped any extra off the face of the speedo and the tape with a paper towel.

The bottle says to let it soak for 5-10 minutes, or “several hours for serious rust”. This must have been really serious. I let it sit for about half an hour, and then went back at it with the tooth brush, dipping it into the jelly in the same fashion. Then I scrubbed. It appeared to foam up as I worked, which made me feel like I was making progress. Remember the bathroom scrubbing bubbles? Like that. When I’d scrubbed quite a bit, I let it sit again. I re-checked the progress an hour later and it was still hard at work so I decided to leave it overnight.

In the morning I rinsed it off with water, and was impressed with the progress. About 75% of the rust was gone. I decided to repeat the process. I followed the previous steps again and let it sit for a few hours. After the second rinse, it was just like new! Magic.

It worked so well that I tackled my badly-rusted seat back/spare tire carrier next. Sparkly!

And I’m proud to say I suffered no additional brain damage.

That I’ve noticed. So far.

But I’ll keep you updated.

About kristin

I launched Scooter Lust in 2008 to fill the void of all-inclusive scootering sites. I've been riding for 22 years and I have a degree in journalism. I create all the content on this site. I'm so happy you're here! Read more about me, leave a comment or contact me.