Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Harker Heights, Texas
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Don't know if anyone still has need for this advice, but the single best way to get rid of rust and keep it off of bare metal surfaces is to use a gun cleaning oil (metal conditioner).
Scrub the rust off with a green scrub pad and some oil (don't worry it will come off pretty easily), and then apply a very light coat over the entire surface and leave it there. Gun cleaning oil, or CLP (cleaner, lubricant, protectant) as we servicemen call it is ideal for this because it releases no toxic fumes like engine paint does, and it's non-flammable. Every few months wipe it off with a paper towel or shop cloth and re-apply.
You'll prolong the life of your metal hardware and with only a minimal effort. I use it on my engine and exhaust manifold on my truck on a regular basis.
By far the best product we have tested is Militec-1. It's far better than traditional gun cleaning oils, and while a little pricey (militec-1.com has an online store selling a case of 12 4oz. bottles for $85.00 US) it's definitely worth the cost. Supposedly you can use it as an additive to your oil (for the 4-strokers out there) for added protection of internal engine parts as well, but I haven't personally tried it.
Hope someone finds this useful!