21 October 2009

Losses and Lessons: Bats batter stored cars

VEHICLES COVERED: 1976 El Camino, 1957 Ford Ranchero and 1939 Studebaker President

WHAT WENT WRONG: A Minnesota man stored his vehicles for the winter in a barn, hoping to keep out the elements. Little did he know the elements had a way of finding a way inside. Hundreds of bats made a home in the barn during the long winter, unbeknownst to the owner. Come spring, he opened up the barn doors only to find his cars coated with bat guano – a caustic mix of feces and urine.

DAMAGE: The droppings ate into the paint job, and without a clear coat, caused significant damage requiring an entire repainting. To make matters worse, the Studebaker was a convertible, and the top was left down. The guano covered the interior resulting in a total loss of around $10,000.

CAUSE: Guano consists of ammonia, along with uric, phosphoric, oxalic, and carbonic acids, as well as some earth salts and impurities. Leave it long enough on anything and it will start to eat its way through.

LESSON: A dedicated storage area doesn’t mean you should ignore covering your collectible, especially if you’re storing your car for a long period of time. Indoor car covers would have prevented the guano from settling directly on the paint. And even for those without a bat problem, indoor covers prevent dust from settling on your paint and safeguard your finish from accidental bumps and scratches. Also make sure your storage area is sealed tightly; bats aren’t the only critters that can make their way into garages and wreak havoc.

BOTTOM LINE: Out of sight shouldn’t mean out of mind.

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