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Porsche POR-15

When I bought my 1968 Porsche 912 at the end of '98 I knew there was some water damage.

I went over to the previous owners home to inspect the car again and deliver the remainder of the payment for purchase. They had anticipated my arrival and had decided to open her up to let some fresh air in. She had been sitting dormant for about three months beneath a cover, in a driveway during the rainiest part of the year here in Monterey, CA. We then discovered about a 1/4" of standing water in a couple places on the floor.

"EEEEKKkkkk! Okay." I thought, "Might not be too bad... At least the water isn't pouring through like a sieve..."

We cleaned up the water, pulled the floor mats out and rolled the windows down to let it dry.

I did the best inspection of the pan I could with the car in the drive and immobile (did I mention the engine was still in pieces?). Everything still looked solid. The pan itself was nice and rigid in all the places the water had been collecting and it didn't look like the rust had gotten the chance to feast for long. I was told that the car had been parked inside a garage nearly all of its life (they had owned the car since early 1972). It had only been moved out into the driveway a year or two before. Initially, I wasn't terribly worried about the water. This was the first time they had noticed water in the car and as I said the pan looked and felt solid.

I checked the door seals and they looked as though they had been recently replaced. Although I couldn't find any places where it appeared to be installed improperly, this seemed like the likely source. We settled on two hundred less for the car due to the damage to the insulation and carpet.

As it turns out, I believe the water was instead leaking in through the windshield seal. I plan on re-painting and getting new tires for the car in the next month or two. Luckily I have a dry place to park for now. The only source of water is from washing (I am being VERY careful) and rain (which hasn't been an issue and won't be until this winter).

Now let's skip to two weeks ago (July 29-30 '00) and the project begins...

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Step 1: Remove Insulation (Day 1)

This had to be the easiest and most enjoyable part of this project. This stuff was unpleasant and unsightly. I couldn't be happier to see it go.

Recommendations: Wear a good face mask at least when removing this stuff. Pulling it free threw up a lot of rust, dust, mildew and 30 year old fibers into the air. There is nothing in that cloud that you want to be breathing.

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Step 2: Scrape Excess Tar Paper and Glue

So begins the real work. We scraped and scraped and scraped, removing all the tar paper that coats the pan. I have to say that the paper really did its job. The places that it wasn't worn through to metal were in great shape. The white glue that holds it in place is rather tenacious and takes some work to remove. In retrospect, I wish we had moved to the power tools earlier in the day... After an hour or so of scraping, we got a fan and set it up in the back seats. It didn't move a whole lot of air, but any circulation helped cool things off for us.

Recommendations: Once again, wear a mask. I spent a great deal of time sitting on the floor outside the car during this and the next part of the project. Something to sit on helped a lot. I used a bag of terry cloth rags with my legs more or less beneath the car (don't forget to set your hand break, put her in gear and block the tires!) Knee pads may not be a bad idea if you have them.

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Step 3: Vacuum and Sand

By far the most time consuming and physically demanding part of the project was the sanding. We went through both driver and passenger sides with power drills using both wire and nylon bristles. For as long as this took, this should probably encompass steps 3, 4, 5 and 6. Suffice it to say, this was a lot of work. When we were done however, the pan looked great. It's still hard for me to believe that there was all this pretty clean metal under all that crud.

enlarge (63.5k)Now I know that the POR-15 instructions say that the paint can be added to rusty surfaces. Actually it boasts that it likes rusty surfaces, but I couldn't simply clean, paint and pray that it's as cool as they say it is. Perhaps this was an unnecessary step, but I sleep better at night knowing I was thorough.

Recommendations: Here the mask becomes imperative. In addition to all the flying rust and glue particles, the use of power tools makes eye protection necessary. Two other very important items are ear plugs and a good pair of gloves.

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Step 4: Vacuum and Sand (Day 2)

Did I mention that the sanding took a long bloody time? We finished up sanding, put the driver seat and throttle peddle back in so I could get home. It was great, felt like a race car with the passenger seat removed. She felt nimble and a bit quicker as well, but I'm sure that was mostly psychosomatic.

enlarge (63.5k)Here is the more or less assembled car and more or less disassembled me... I slept well that night.

Recommendations: Get lots of sleep, we aren't done yet!

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Step 5: POR-15 - Marine Clean (Day 3)

As per the instructions that came with my (2) POR-15 Starter Kits, I vacuumed then cleaned the floor with the included Marine Cleaner. It seemed pretty straight forward. I will just have to assume that it did what it was supposed to, as the pan was already pretty darn clean and free of grease and oils. Final ratio for me was 3:1, but with as light of a job as this was 5:1 would probably have been fine.

Recommendations: Mask time again, gloves as well. The kits came with a pair of surgical elastics, but I picked up a ten pack from OSH. I ended up using a couple pairs of those and was glad I had them.

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Step 6: POR-15 - Metal Ready

Next came the metal etching and prep step. The POR-15 Metal Ready would appear to be their own brand of Naval Jelly. While they may have a proprietary formula, working with it is very similar. I bought a couple spray bottles for dispensing the stuff) the directions say to keep the surface wet for 15 - 30 minutes). This made application extremely simple. Spray, spray spray... wait... spray, spray....wait... go to lunch.

Recommendations: The spray bottle was a good investment. While you certainly could wipe or even pour the stuff on, spraying was definitely optimal.

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Step 7: Rinse Metal Ready

I took a wet terry cloth towel and gave the whole pan a good rinse and wipe. I used a second spray bottle, this time with just water to keep the rag wet. After this, I used another terry cloth for drying. I let the pan dry even after my hand drying for an hour or so with the fan blowing over it. Once again, I felt it would be better to err on the side of caution to make sure no water was sealed in with the POR-15.

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Step 8: Apply POR-15 Paint

This was as simple as simple can be. I picked up a couple additional brushes (the Starter Kits come with one each but they are rather small) to help expedite the process. I applied the paint in a thin coat as per the instructions, waited a couple hours and applied a second coat. The version I ordered (and apparently got) was the Black, but it sure looked like a Glossy Black to me. Initially I thought that the color would dull as it dried... This was not the case. It looked as wet dry as it did as I was applying it. Strange. I'm not worried about it as no one will see the floor, which I certainly have mixed feelings about after all this work. It's okay though, I just make all my passengers (yes, I begrudgingly put the other seat back in when I was done) look under the floor mats before they get in.

Recommendations: Go for the slightly more expensive brushes (3-5 dollars) even though the brushes themselves will be rendered useless (assuming you don't have any of the POR-15 thinner to clean them with) after the POR-15 dries on them. The cheapies, while enticing for 50-70 cents, will probably leave bristles in the fairly sticky POR-15 paint. While this shouldn't harm anything, you can probably imagine it's not very sightly. The sponges should work as well, but I went with regular brushes.

There are many more images on the next page from a few alternate angles. Due to the number of thumbnail files, this page may take a minute or two to load.
Click here for the Gallery

I hope this helps someone. The process was overall pretty easy, save the several hours of sanding/scraping. However, if POR-15 works the way they say it does then a lot of that would be unnecessary. Overall, I am very happy with the product and the process and would do it again. However, there is still some work to be done. The pedal assembly (as seen in many of the photos) needs to be cleaned and POR-15'd. The rest of the insulation around the door sills will be removed and the surfaces underneath will be POR-15'd. The few areas under the dash that I couldn't get to will be POR-15'd. I'm going to be doing some touch up to the bottom of the pan in a couple spots, which should just about do it. After I have everything I need covered, I will be applying a top coat of something a little less glossy to seal in the POR-15.

In closing I just wanted to say THANK YOU to a close friend of mine David. Without all his help, advice, tools and garage this project would not have been possible.

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tw34k andrew allspaugh