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8 years ago when i got my used truck i went with a set of westin black-painted std steel step bars. i noticed the insides were unpainted and knowing that most rotten step bars id seen seem to rust from the inside out, i thought id try painting the insides. i poured 1/2 a qt of black rustoleum paint inside each one, turned them, tilted them back and forth, trying my best to coat the inside of a 3" pipe that i couldnt see. put them on and kept up with the outside as best as i could, waxing in the summer, painting any rusty spots, running huge front mud flaps to try and keep gravel damage at bay. took them off this week because i had noticed the step pads were loose and under the drivers side one there was a rust hole, knocked on them with a shot hammer and poured all sorts of rusty wet crap out. found a few pinholes i was unaware of. im going to completely sand the outside and im wondering what i could pour inside. liquid bedliner? construction expanding foam? or should i just let be and be glad ive gotton 8 years out of a non-stainless step bar set? im not sure what the normal service life for a product like this is, my truck is driven daily, year round, and they seem to salt 1/2" for every 1/4" of snow we get around here. im thinking construction foam would just hold water like a sponge, dont know how well bedliner would stick, i cant prep the inside like you can a truck bed. if it wouldnt take so much to do, id almost consider putting a grease fitting on and fill them with grease, i considered used motor oil if i could indeed completely seal it up. anyone tried anything that worked? or by the time they rotted through it was time to get another truck anyhow? i doubt i'l have it another 8 years, so im thinking of trying to make what i have go a few more years.
POR15 would be my first stop. If you haven't tried it yet, talk to other people about it, it's a pretty slick paint.
If you have access to sand blaster, that would make life easier. I believe Westin's are powder coated and not painted, so it may take some work to get it all off. Once you have it clean, degrease, surface etch, prime with POR15 and paint it the color you want.
For the inside, You could make a whip out of say 3/8" all thread, some old stainless wire or a couple of wire wheels. Run the whip on a drill and brush out the insides as good as you feel you need too. Then I would run a rust converter in it, I like ospho, but naval jelly or the like should work. You could use the 3/8" all thread as a pole, then cut out some 2.5" wood plugs and place towels between and use the assy as a brush. Then POR the insides and be pretty well off.
Mine are Rusty after Ten years. I'm getting new ones. Would hate to think, what would happen if one of them broken and dropped down when I was doing Sixty. BTW can you get the bolts from the Brackets to the Bars loose? Mine won't budge.
mine came apart fine, i used teflon tape on all the fasteners when i put them together. i ended up filling the insides with expading construction foam and did the outsides with areosol bedliner. looks good (for now) this time i used anti-sieze on the fasteners. probly will go with stainless the next time around. i run really big front mudflaps to keep the gravel chips down, and i try to keep up with the finish. probly have another 2 years at best for this set. dont know how much longer the truck will be on the road. ive toyed with giving it to my daughter to drive-but then again im not sure i want to part with it. time will tell.
Aircraft aluminum, had a set on my 2000 for 6 years and they looked as good as new when I traded it in. Took off a set of black nerf bars the previous owner put on it and they crumbled after only 5 years....
2011 Ford F350 Lariat, 4x4, 6.7 PSD, SRW, CC, Short Box, Reese 16K slider
2009 VW Jetta TDI
2006 Golfstream Sedona, 34', 5th Wheel, Reese Sidewinder pin box
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