I've been treating the rust as bad. It is eating my van. But it also has a story to tell, like anything else.
Rust is the memory of water. Where there is rust there was water, and likely will be again. Water is the stuff of life. Oxidation (rust) is vital to life processes.
This rust is telling me that if I pay attention, I might thank it later.
My van has a pattern of rust around the roof that is familiar to anyone who owns an older van. The two back corners are the worst, at the lowest points where the little van gutter encourages water to sit and work its oxidizing magic.
I'm sure it isn't coincidence that I have been reading about the desert (thanks rube!) and water catchment and cisterns. If I want my van to be as self sufficient as possible, why not include catching water? Obviously plenty of water takes a certain path across my van.
So instead of hating the rust, I let it inspire me. My van will have a sort of 'spoiler' across the back that prevents most water from going off the back. It will be diverted to the rust spots about a foot forward of the corners, where it will be released into pipes running into water tanks. I still need to work out the details. This idea has just hatched.
The water may not be drinkable, but as long as the van is clean and not in a polluted area I don't see why it wouldn't be.
Brilliant! Thanks rust!
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