I checked back into this thread and all I got out of the deal is indigestion. I'm going to take a Beano and move on.
The problem is not the EPA, it is the E.U. "RoHS" compliance which is the problem. Most small parts used to be Alodined (Chromate finish) but the EU banned the process along with lead solder and other stuff. Things like that hose clamp which normally would have been chromated would instead be zinc phosphate dipped- which gives a soft grey finish, but does not resist rust in the presence of corrosives like salt.
The exhaust manifold is cast iron, raw, which would have had a waxy oil applied during machining- it burns off during use quickly and it will rust nearly instantly when it gets wet. Same goes for any raw metal surfaces such as aluminum or steel castings.
The edges of the starter motor body were originally enameled like the rest of it but during assembly the paint is scraped away causing a raw edge that rusts as soon as it gets wet.
Park a new machine outside on the ground and throw a tarp over it and you would have rust in a couple weeks from trapped humidity. Also being in temprature variances- like early winter- you will have liquid condensation forming on the metal because it stays cold as the air warms.
That was not to me a flood machine. It sat out somewhere in a salt spray environment such as parked near the ocean or transported in winter unprotected on salted roads.
It's a cosmetic issue on a machine designed to be used for agricultural/commercial purposes.
There's far too many people who are 'gentleman' users of this equipment who keep them in a climate-controlled hangar and wash them twice a week. It's NOT an Aston-Martin. It's a tractor.
This comes down to a satisfaction issue. If you're wanting a showpiece by all means complain. Me, I use tractors like hammers. It gets a washdown when I do PMs annually, and I try not to let mud and debris build up. It gets tarped in winter so the ignition lock doesn't freeze. Otherwise the rain washes it clean.
Based on the photos of the OP's machine, I strongly disagree with your conclusion of what happened to "his" tractor while at the same time I do agree with many of your points.
I operate a Kubota on 84 square miles of land in the middle of the ocean, at 17 degrees North of the Equator. The airborne salt here is so bad that it will corrode holes in aluminum window screens in six months. My tractor lives outside in tropical UV and salt conditions for going on four years, gets hosed off only occasionally and it looks NOTHING like the photos provided by the OP on his "new" tractor.
This entire thread evolved into a screwy tale with no conclusions ever reached on what the h#ll happened to that tractor or how it was resolved for and by the owner. Plating, painting, prepping, salt spray, nothing in my experience should have or would have affected a new machine in the manner that the photographs clearly illustrated.
I've read every post in the 17 pages of this thread and all I've concluded is that almost everyone is more upset about this tractor situation than the actual owner.:banghead:
Time to move on to another thread.