Alfa Romeo Rust Repair

The body shop called today to point out some rust they found when they removed the rear bumper (like I didn’t know about this). I guess what they really wanted to tell me was that it was going to cost more money.

I had ladled POR-15 Rust Preventive Paint on the sheet metal above the left bumper shock six years ago when I saw it looking not so good. I tried to put out of my mind the rust that I could see inside the bumper where the rubber had split.

Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money…

So far the body shop has repaired rust in the front rocker panels, around the base of the windshield on the passenger side (without removing the glass), around the right windshield wiper drive shaft, on the door under the driver’s side window, around the rear bumper shock, below the bottom edge of the rear window and the trailing edge of the trunk lid.

Over the years I had treated those areas with POR-15 and/or Eastwood Rust Encapsulator Paint and that seemed to slow the oxidation down almost completely.

I’d previously done my bush league repair work on the rust on the inner front fender wells and a large hole in the spare tire well – my first attempts at using fiberglass. Those repairs look great if you don’t look at them.

Alfetta in the Body Shop

After haggling with State Farm Insurance over the value of my car, they agreed to pay for the repairs caused by their insured, errant driver.

Since the front end was being worked on, I decided to pay the body shop for some additional work, mainly replacing the Swiss-cheesed rocker panels behind the front wheel wells. Wolf Steel actually sells the lower front fender repair panels, but when I called them, they said it’d take at 3 weeks to get them. J & J Autobody in Monterey, where the car is being repaired, fabricated the panels and also replaced some of the rusted inner wheel well.

I was also lucky enough to find some Euro bumpers, so I thought it would be a good time to put them on too. Someone had made a bracket for the front that attached to the existing bumper shocks. Unfortunately, they were pop riveted together, so the shop took it apart and put in bolts. I guess the Euro bumper mounts lower so they used snips to remove some metal from the top outer corners so it would clear the front fender a little better.

The body shop also pointed out that the door panels were rusting at the bottom. I’m already spending more than the insurance company paid (and more money than I have) so I told them that was a back burner operation. It’s polyester resin (Bondo) time, for now. That started me thinking about taking off the inner door panels and going at it with Eastwood Rust Encapsulator.

I also have to give a plug to Larry Jr, at Alfa Parts Exchange for going the extra distance to help me with replacement parts. When the body shop told me the car needed a RF fender, the front upper and lower valence, Larry went out an procured an Alfetta for the parts.

Broke Booster

The brake pedal went hard on the Alfa, indicating that something with the brake booster (servo) wasn’t working. I removed the vacuum hose from the booster and there seemed to be enough suction.

I know there are some Alfa owners that drive without their boosters but it felt like I really had to stand on the pedal if I wanted to get close to locking up the brakes.

I replaced the brake master cylinder a few years ago when brake fluid started leaking into the booster, so I guess five more years was a pretty good deal. The brake fluid that leaks into the booster is sucked into the intake manifold and on deceleration, a smoke screen ensues that would make James Bond proud.

I called Alfa Parts in Berkeley and talked to Ruth Ann. The next day UPS delivered (non expedited!) my new rebuilt booster. It was painted silver and a little rust was already starting to show through. I had an open can of Eastwood Rust Encapsulator that I’ve been using on the BMW so I put on two coats.

The job went more easily than I thought. Drain the fluid out of the brake and clutch reservoirs; disconnect the brake and clutch lines; remove the steering column covers (so the column can be lowered out of the way), remove five bolts holding the pedal box and it all pulls out forward through the engine compartment.

Putting it back together wasn’t too difficult either. The Motive Power Bleeder I bought a few years ago was a good investment. I had tried Speed Bleeders but the Power Bleeder made it even easier.

In fact, the hardest thing was trying to get the two holes in the rear top half of the cheap plastic steering column cover line up with holes in the steering column and the bottom half of the cover. It took me 20 minutes. I guess something always has to be a pain in the ass.