Sadly, it's not a new release from Tower of Power that I'm referring to, but the new plates that arrived yesterday from my home state:
In our last installment, I had removed all the rust and sprayed with rust converter just to be safe, and yesterday I dug into the rest of the repair job. First, I covered all of the holes with a wire mesh patch kit, and then covered that and the underside with a generous helping of short strand fiberglass body filler.
Then today, I sanded the cured filler down so that it was reasonably smooth, masked everything off, and coated the entire area with truck bed liner.
Because the bed liner has a rough texture to it, sanding the body filler to perfectly smooth wasn't really necessary. The above bed liner photo was taken right after the first coat, but two more coats followed, and by the time I pulled off the masking tape shortly after dark this evening, both steps looked ready for prime time. The underside of each step (where the moisture was coming from) has also been covered with a protective rubberized undercoating, so I think I can now claim victory in this particular battle against rust. Only time will tell for sure though.
As I said previously, the results of this repair technique may not be as sexy as cutting out the rusted metal and welding in an entirely new door step, but I feel confident that I've bought myself several years at the very least, and possibly much more than that. The bed liner is tough as nails, and the combined result of that, the body filler, and the wire mesh feels very structurally sound.
In educating myself on this subject over the past week or so, my overall sense is that far too many approach rust repair with the intent of making their vehicle bullet-proof for the next 100 years. After hemming and hawing over the various options for a few days, I decided that shooting for 5-10 years and getting on with the rest of the conversion made a hell of a lot more sense. As a wise man once said, you should never let the pursuit of greatness get in the way of being good enough.
So with that bit of fun out of the way, it's time to get back into treating the van's interior with anti-corrosion protection, sound deadening material, and thermal insulation. I've been chewing on and experimenting with some different options while waiting for various carcinogens to dry and/or cure over the past few days, and I'm guardedly optimistic that this phase will go pretty quickly. Onward.