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DIY Body work on a 88 ranger

I am about to get a 1988 Ford Ranger with significant rust damage and I was wondering, how exactly I could take care of this myself, especially considering it has created holes in the body, any help?

I think you’ll have a handful. The first problem is whether or not the rust has compromised the safety of the vehicle. If the vehicle is safe to be on the road, you could rivit sheet metal patches over the rusted areas patch some areas with fiberglass.

I think you probably should take a pass on this vehicle. Some parts may be even hard to obtain.

I would pass it up but it’s a ‘gift’ so I would feel bad if I turned it down. And the places where the rust has eaten through is just like the bed and the rear fenders. Oh and the exhaust.

Check you local junk yards. You can probably find a used bed and just replace the rusty one. Color might not match, but so what?

Here are some instructions I created for someone else. If the rest of the truck is sound try these steps:

  1. Sand or grind away as much rust as you can. I have also used an aerosol based paint stripper and a putty knife to remove paint from areas where the metal is very weak. Clean out debris from any weep holes (these are small holes that allow panels to drain any water that gets inside them).
  2. Use a rust conversion chemical and apply it to all areas of rust on both the inside (as best you can) and the outside of the panel. Por 15 is a great product for this.
  3. Purchase fiberglass mesh and a corresponding 2 part resin and hardener that you have to mix. Place a dry cleaner bag (the clear plastic kind) on the ground and have plastic gloves and safety goggles ready. Also have a body putty spatula, a small paintbrush, a popsicle stick and a plastic drinking cup.
  4. Cut the fiberglass mesh into a shape that is large enough to cover the rust hole and an additional ?? to ?? of good surrounding metal (not counting weak metal immediately next to the hole).
  5. Put on your gloves and safety goggles and mix the resin and hardener in the plastic cup per the mixing instructions, stirring it with the popsicle stick. It will have the consistency of syrup.
  6. Set the fiberglass mesh onto the dry cleaning bag and pour the resin/hardener onto it. Use the body putty spatula to spread the mix evenly over the mesh.
  7. Pick up the fiberglass patch and place it directly over the rust hole, using your gloved fingers and the body spatula to smooth out wrinkles where the patch contacts metal. Always spread outwards. Apply more resin with the spatula as needed but be quick as curing begins immediately.
  8. After it has cured, (as needed) mix up more resin/hardener and apply it to any areas that appear to need more of it, using the paintbrush. If you can get to the underside of the rust area (such as in a trunk, rear panel or door) brush some of the resin mix over the area where the fiberglass and metal meet. Be sure not to plug up any weep holes.
  9. After everything has cured, sand raised areas down and use thin coats of Bondo to blend out imperfections (you shouldn?t need much Bondo). When everything looks good, prime and paint. Also spray Por 15 or Rust-Oleum paint into the underside of the repair area, if accessible, to slow down the rust?s return.

I agree with mcparadise if the rust is confined to the bed only. It’s far easier and cheaper to replace the bed than to repair rusty body panels.

What I would be concerned about would be other areas that may be rusted and not readily visible. You say it has “significant rust damage” so it’s difficult for me to see the rest of the truck being in good condition; especially if it’s a northern Rust Belt truck.

It isn’t confined solely to the bed, but it is far worse there than the cab and forward. The worst of the front is discoloration on the roof and moderate (not severe) rust damage in the wheel wells