Rust & Salt

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Salt water flowing over thin layers of rust generates electricity

Steel is an alloy comprised principally of iron along with small amounts of other elements such as carbon or nickel. When steel is exposed to the oxygen in air and to water, the iron changes through a chemical process called corrosion; this change creates rust which erodes the steel making it slightly smaller and weaker than before the corrosion took place.

On the Bridge, fortunately, the steel sections were originally over-sized in anticipation of corrosion and other threats. Water vapor evaporating from the ocean is all around the Bridge and often cools and condenses to form fog. Corrosion is sped up by the presence of salt.

The sea air around the Bridge not only supplies the water needed for rust -- it is also loaded with millions of tiny particles of salt. In the s the original primer paint on the Bridge was two-thirds by weight lead.

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Lead is a good material for preventing rust, but is harmful to people and the environment. Today different areas of the Bridge are re-painted about every ten to twenty years. The zinc protects the steel, because zinc corrodes more easily than steel.

Zinc serves as a sacrificial metal, so the steel does not rust when zinc is present. SALT gallery. TAR gallery. SMOKE gallery. KNOT gallery. The other reason for the greater prevalence of rust-related problems is road authorities changing the types of de-icing treatments they use.

It offers a manual with guidelines for identifying, preventing and fixing corrosion. Corrosion happens slowly, according to TMC, even in the presence of salt and brine, so fleets should be able to prevent it. Many describe it as a cancer because it spreads so quickly and is difficult to control, so preventive maintenance routines remain the most successful mitigation technique.

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Some manufacturers include rust-inhibitive coatings or protective paints on their equipment, and fleets report searching for those that offer high-quality protection with long warranties. For example, Averitt Express purchases Accuride Steel Armor wheels, which have a five-year corrosion warranty, Nelson said. Meanwhile, much of the electrical system lies within the tractor, but trailers also are susceptible to electrical corrosion, especially at the seven-way trailer plug connection.

Haug, founder of Missouri-based Dwayne O.

No salt. No rust. One step.

Haug Consulting. Maintenance employees should search for signs of rust on batteries and electrical components during every preventive maintenance routine and remove what they can.

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Joey Fassett, general manager of Exeter, N. One of the simplest anticorrosive measures fleets can take is washing vehicles regularly, the experts said. Brine solutions create a particular challenge because of the smaller size of the molecules or particles, allowing them to penetrate and get into different areas more easily, Nelson said. Brine solutions also are known for sticking to trucks more and reactivating with minimal moisture present.

The best washing systems target tractor and trailer undersides in addition to the vehicle sides and top.

Fleets commonly use low-volume, high-pressure washing systems, which work well for many exterior areas.

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