Ford Rustproofing: The Red River

Automotive Mileposts
Image: 1969 Continental Mark III being dunked in primer

1969 Continental Mark III being dunked in primer

Ford Motor Company called this the Red River


90 feet long
Holds 50,000 gallons
240 volt electrical charge

An original Ford Motor Company "better idea", the electrified Red Paint River was a unique way to guard against automotive rust back in the sixties and seventies. Car bodies were placed on a specially-designed hoist and then lowered into a tank containing the liquid. The tank, or "river" was 90 feet long and contained 50,000 gallons of red ionized primer paint, which had a negative charge.

But just dunking the car bodies in the primer wasn't good enough for the quality control folks at Ford. So Ford ran 240 volts of electricity through the car bodies, making them positively charged. This caused a reaction between the two components, and fused the negatively charged primer to the positively charged car body. Essentially the paint and the car bodies became one.

The outcome was a car that resisted rust much longer than one without this process.

Classic car collectors today perhaps have better chemicals to use than were available 40 years ago, such as Eastwood's Rust Encapsulator, POR15, Rust Bullet, etc., but the original effort put into the manufacturing process to prevent rust was admirable.


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