Road rust

Bryhanna Greenough vs. the rust monster.

For over ten years I’d been happily pushing pedal to school, work, the grocery store, dentist appointments and wherever else I needed to get to.

Then, by an unusual set of circumstances, a car just kind of landed in my life.

Made on the cusp of the millennium, this lean, mean, driving machine has all-wheel drive, turbo power and a good sound system. Like a steely fish, a silver wash of paint draws attention to the beauty of form.

The car had belonged to my family. After my dad died, my mom didn’t want to sell it.

She offered it to me and I just couldn’t take it. So she parked it in the garage where it sat and collected dust.

She told me she wasn’t going to sell it. It would be here until I was ready.

Owning a car is expensive and so far had been unnecessary. Its fits awkwardly with the type of world I want to have a hand in creating, but when we started The Scope, I could no longer deny that it would be really useful.

Coming from a small town in British Columbia, I grew up around cars, motor bikes, and snowmobiles. I chose Auto Mechanics over the Drama and Art electives in high school. Being behind the wheel of a car gives you an undeniable feeling of power.

For the first while after I got the car, before the business started, I just stared out at it from the apartment window, wondering at it. It was in perfect condition. Mom just had it serviced, shampooed the dog-smell out of the seats, and bought new tires. She even installed a bike rack.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

St. John’s is particularly hard on cars. Potholes, salt, rain and snow do their damage. In this terrarium-like climate where slugs, snails and mushrooms thrive, so too does the rust-monster.

A couple of months ago my car got dinged while parked in a lot. I don’t know what happened exactly, but it dented like a pop can. A row of paint was stripped away, and in no time at all, a rusty scab formed.

The scab really bothered me.

The last time I brought it into the shop for an oil change, I asked for an estimate to repair the dent and paint. When the answer came back four hundred dollars too much, it was time for a plan B: hey, I got hands.

Applying only the pressure of my two hands from the inside I was able to squeeze out most of the dent. But where the metal buckled there is nothing I can do. The most important problem was the rust where the paint was scraped away.

Looking online, I found some notes on rust repair which can be applied to cars, bikes, or anything metal. Entire rows in box stores are devoted to rust repair and painting metal. Most of the products on the shelves are marketed to be user friendly, so you don’t have to be an expert at all.

A multi-pack of sandpaper, some primer and a capsule of colour-coded touch-up paint cost me about 30 bucks.

It was a lot easier to round up the supplies than it was to begin. I didn’t want to mess up this otherwise perfect vehicular specimen.

The medium grit sandpaper sloughed away the rust in no time, exposing the bright metal that lay beneath. It was difficult to know the range of the rust patch, so I sanded a centimeter beyond in all directions. It took some elbow grease to get through the paint.

After wiping the area clean, the first of several coats of dull grey primer was applied to stripped metal, protecting it from future rust. After the area was built up to match the surrounding paint surface, I used a fine grit paper to smooth out the seams.

Finally it was time for new paint. I shook the pen-like canister and removed the little wand brush inside. Sparkly silver essence dazzled in the sun as I propped my arm on my knee for support and dipped the brush. Then, carefully, as if painting an elephant’s toenail I applied the paint with long even strokes.

Illustration by Kira Sheppard.


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