Comrade car wasn't just dirty. Comrade Car was filthy. A mix of wood dust and general neglect for vehicle hygiene, meant that once he was parked in the sun this car was a dusty, stinky mess. Plus there were two weeks between buying and the delivery, which left me with ample amounts of time to read up on all the weak points and things one should change, if he or she wants to enjoy their car for a while.
I decided (and that's rare for me), at least a basic cleanup might work wonders.
The next step was a warning that I had heard from a lot of old car owners: The sound deadening common at the time was most commonly a combination of woven fibre and bitumen mats underneath. Whilst not an entirely bad idea, the problem is that the if the car leaks (and they all do), the woven mat soaks up the water and stays moist for months and the moisture then slowly creeps through the most minute cracks in the bitumen mats onto the steel, slowly rotting the car from the inside out. Especially on vehicles that were built in a rather cost conscious (i.e. cheap) way and have only primered panels under the bitumen. And that's exactly what happened here. Plus add the charming scent of "wet dog" to the mix and you'll probably understand, why I was motivated to dig into this matter rather sooner than later.
And then there was this one moment, where I just sat in Comrade Car, sighed and took it all in. I am pretty sure that in official Soviet language there wasn't really an overarching concept of design in a Western sense as to make something appeal to the potential customer. Because why would you? The people were lining up to buy your cars, not because they were great, but because that's what you could get. (And from what I gathered, you actually had to be somewhat priviledged to get a Lada Niva at all.)
Therefore just look at this dash and the steering wheel and the ignition barrel on the left side, like in a Porsche 911. Everything is at its place and all the extra gauges are there to let you know about the (important) vitals of your engine, when driving to that one oilfield in Baku, that you're supposed to prospect or along those railroad tracks in Siberia...
... then reality kicked in and I decided to clean the driver door window. Three times. Inside and out. Guess what, the glass isn't milky at all.
A few days later my first trip to a somewhat local Lada-dealer brought back memories of buying spares for my various Dneprs - new parts, rusty from the factory wrapped in sheets of newspaper with Cyrillic letters on them and the more fancy ones in wax paper. Knowing that the car would run, brakes and clutch were the logical next steps. As Comrade Car was forced to wait his time with the bonnet removed, both the containers for brake and clutch hydraulics were so brittle that the cracked, when I tried to removed the rotten supply lines. (I would later find out that any plastic vessel had severely degraded due to UV-light and age and thus I ended up replacing every single one of them.)
Niva's are known to be somewhat rustprone, but when people think of this they usually refer to the rusty exterior. Whilst absolutely true, in my opinion the bigger issue comes from the inside. In an attempt to quiet down the somewhat agricultural nature of these beast, generous amounts of fibre-mats and bitumen sheets have been applied on the inside. The problem: the furry mats suck the water up like a sponge and stay moist for a very long time. At the same time the bitumen mats will start to crack and thus water can seep through and slowly make the car rust from the inside out.
... and that's just what came out more or less straight away. Ultimately I would fill up two full bins and a smaller bag.
That being said: This is the original red - ain't it absolutely gorgeous?
I suspect, in the end it was somewhere around four to five hours with lots of swearing to get all of the bitumen out. In those areas where rust had already formed, it was an easy task of just peeling it off, but those spots, where it was constantly stepped on it was a real b*tch.
Then some brush-on rust converter.
And for the time being, some regular etch primer will have to suffice.
Seats back in and ready for the first testdrive.
As you probably worked out yourself, this is not a chronological depiction of the events that took place, but I used working on the interior, whenever I needed a break from other tasks. Trust me, of those plenty have been available.
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