Revive a Rusty Trolling Motor

Completed trolling motor respray

Revive a Rusty Trolling Motor

After over 3 years of service my trolling motor was starting to show some wear.  Some corrosion became visible at the base of the main shaft and on the top of the steering box.  After getting some advice on the Fishraider forums I planned on patching the problem.  Yet after I started pulling it apart I changed my mind.  I ended up doing a complete respray of the parts that showed corrosion.  This is a rundown of the process that I used to respray the parts on my trolling motor.


Step 1:  Gather Supplies

I wasn’t sure what the existing paint was so I decided to go for an acrylic gloss.  The standard white colour looked like it would match the existing paint quite well.  I already had a few of the items required and got the remaining supplies at the local auto shop.


  • Wax and Grease Remover $12
  • Rust Converter $12
  • Masking Tape $10
  • Sand Paper $1.39
  • Etch Primer $16
  • Acrylic Gloss White Paint $15
  • I already had a wire brush, lots of rags and some methylated spirits


Step 2: Prep work

I disassembled the unit to gain access to the main shaft and top side of the steering box.  All the parts got laid out.  Anything small went straight into a zip-lock bag so that nothing got lost.  I usually pull the unit apart once a season for servicing and lubrication.  This made disassembly a simple process.  I recall the first time it pulled it apart was a bit tricky getting some bolts out.

Next step was to remove the flaking paint around the corroded areas.  For this I used a wire brush on a drill.  A quick blast with the brush made short work of the compromised paintwork.  This brought the affected areas back to bare metal.  I found the wire brush to be a little too coarse for the metalwork though.  I would recommend trying something a little less harsh even if it takes a bit longer.

Then I gave all the parts a thorough sanding using some 180 grit paper over a sponge block.  I removed just enough material to take the gloss off the existing paint.  It also provided some texture for the new paint to adhere to.

The last part of the prep work was applying rust converter.  Using a small paintbrush I painted over the corroded areas.  After half an hour wait it requires a wipe down with a damp rag.  Then immediately another wipe down with a rag dampened with methylated spirits.  Then wipe down again with a clean rag.  It was about this stage that it got dark and I had to put the job away overnight.  The next day in new light I noticed some corrosion still around the base of the main shaft.  I reapplied the rust converter which cleaned all the remaining rust off.


Step 3: Masking and Painting

Time to mask up the job and get painting.  I am usually impatient by the time we get to this stage so I had to temper my enthusiasm.  The plan was to mask around the joints on the motor unit and paint in two sessions.  First the main body, then the nose cone and tail section.  After taping it up I decided that it wasn’t looking too flash.  I pulled the tape off and disassembled the motor case.  This would allow better access to some of the corroded areas around the joins.  The nose cone came off and the tail section slid back just enough to expose the join.  I was careful not to damage the extremely fine seal rings that sit in each of these joints.

I used masking tape (with junk mail) to build a shield protecting the inner motor.  I also used a nail and some heavy fishing line to hang the unit in a well ventilated location.  Another tip at this stage is to tape and secure the wires at the top of the shaft.  Losing one down the shaft would be a nightmare to retrieve.  The other parts were strung up on metal coat hangers fashioned into hooks.

Next up was a coat of etch primer.  Upon seeing how dark it dried I thought I might be visible through the top coats.  Too late to change now though.  Following the primer were 5 coats of the white gloss acrylic.  Each coat applied 5 minutes apart.  Using light coats I could still see the primer for the first 2 coats.  From coat 3 it started to look better and by coat 5 it looked fantastic.  I left it to dry for 24 hours before continuing.

The following day I reversed the masking so that I could paint the tail section.  I was starting to run low on junk mail so used a plastic bag for the majority of the masking.  I followed the same process; wax and grease remover; 1 coat etch primer; 5 coats of gloss.  After leaving it to dry I removed the masking tape.  Then after 24 hours I reassembled the motor unit.  When reassembling the tail section ensure that you push the motor brushes back.  This needs to get done before trying to join the tail back up to the main unit.


Step 4: Polish and Reassemble

Finally I gave it a quick polish as there was a slight orange peel effect in the paint.  This brought out a good shine on the paint.  Next was to reassemble and relubricate the parts ready for its next outing.

Key Tips:

  • Regular servicing makes a job like this much easier
  • The metal is quite soft so be gentle with abrasives
  • Ensuring you get rid of all the corrosion before painting
  • When reassembling the motor housing ensure you first push the motor brushes back before trying to close the tail section

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  • JACK / 6 August 2020 3:50

    Looking at doing the same, how did the paint hold up? Cheers

  • Ocean Addiction / 10 August 2020 4:12

    Surprisingly well mate. I did this project back in 2015 and it is beginning to look like it needs a re-coat after another 5 years. I think ensuring you maintain as much of the factory paint as possible to make a solid base for your new topcoat helps. Good luck with the project!

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