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April 13, 2006 - Spring is here...

Looks like spring is finally here.  The sun is out and my lawn is green for once.  Hope I can keep it that way.  I don't seem to do well with gardening.  Anyways, there's been a lot of rain this past month and it's nice to see things dry up and get warm.

Okay, I missed an update for March.  But only because I didn't get much done on the Celica in March(rationalizing again).  Most of the time was spent trying to get the Integra finished up and returned back to stock so I could sell it and get it out of my garage.  Finally got that all done and the car officially belongs to someone else now.  The Celica gets a nice dry place to stay now.  Good thing because all the rain last month didn't help the rust situation on the car.

Since we're on the subject of rust...   Most of the time I spent on the Celica this month was focused on the hatch section of the car, getting rid of all the rust and rebuilding the edge metal which the rear hatch weatherstrip seal mounts on.  The 76-77 Liftback had a real problem with rust in the hatch area.  When the weatherstrip and window seals go bad - which isn't uncommon for a car 30 years old, water leaks and gets trapped in the hatch area.  I haven't seen one Liftback yet that didn't have some sort of rust problem in the hatch area.

Here's some pictures of the rusted areas in various stages of growth.

So how does one deal with this?  I'm quickly finding out that it is impossible to grind out all the rust and leave any quality metal that can even have a remote chance of being structurally sound.  So I decided to ask the experts again.  Everyone tells me to remove/grind what you can, then use a rust neutralizer on what's left, then encapsulate it.  So I spray the neutralizer and let it setup and dry.  Grind again, then reapply the neutrilizer again.  So I do a few rounds of this which is time consuming but I can definitely see an improvement in the condition of the existing rust spots.  The neutralizers turns the rust spots dark and the bare metal takes on a different color.  the neutralizer also looks like it contains paint to encapsulate the rust.

So after treating all the rust spots, I need to to go back and rebuild the areas in which the rust totally rotted out the metal.  There's a few places where this happened.  So again, I ask the experts and they tell me to use expoxies, resins, fiberglass, and fiberglass embedded fillers.  So I again do some grinding to prep the metal, pop in a few rivets to strengthen the pieces, then start using some resin and fiberglass cloth to rebuild some edging and sheet metal.  I had some experience before with using fiberglass and resin playing around with duplicating some car parts.  So this part of the rebuild wasn't so bad.  What I wasn't prepared for was how cold my garage was when I was doing this and how much longer it took for the resin to setup and harden.  When you only have a couple hours every few nights to work on the car, you want to try and maximize the short amount of time you have.  The weather wasn't conducive to getting things done quickly.  What ended up happening was applying the stuff one night, let it setup and harden while I slept, then come back the next night or the night after to finish the work.  Repeat the process again, rinse, repeat...  Really time consuming.

There's actually fiberglass cloth underneath the filler.

Note to self: Fiberglass gets even more itchy when you start sweating...

There's fiberglass cloth in there too(below).

Okay.  So I got all the edge metal repaired and feel pretty good about it's strength.  It's not like it's supporting a motor mount or anything and the only thing that mounts on this metal is the rubber hatch seal.  Although all the metal is now repaired, I still don't feel good about the chance of water getting back into the hatch area and creating more rust problems.  Looking at my 2k4 Acura TL, they use a lot of this semi hard sealant on all the metal seams on the car.  Matter of fact, they use the junk all over the place on the car.  Hey, that's kinda cool.  I wonder if I can buy that stuff?  Sure enough, I found a quart of body sealant from Eastwood Co. who specializes in car restoration products.  The pictures say that you can apply it like paint with a paint brush.  Hey, I know how to use a paintbrush.  This is a slam dunk.

So I clean up and prep the area I want to seal and open the can of sealant up.  Hmmm, the junk like grey cake icing.  I scoop some into a cup and proceed to start sealing my hatch area.  At first it was easy.  But the stuff starts to setup and harden pretty quick.  Like REAL quick actually.  So as I work with the stuff, I find out I don't have a lot of time to play with it nor can make many mistakes since it sets up so fast.  Okay, so now I have resins and expoxies that don't setup fast enough, and sealant that sets up too fast...  Life is so unfair.

In any case though, I get the hatch area sealed up.  it's not as neat as I'd like it to be since it sets up so fast(and I always make mistakes), but I do feel confident that no water will get into the metal and cause rust problems again.  Besides, like my TL, the sealant will be painted over and will make it look nicer(rationalizing again). 

Remember that big rusted out hole?  Well, I cleaned up the space and decided that cutting and welding some new metal down there would be an overkill.  Not like it's an exposed space that everyone can see.  Heck, I doubt that anyone will see this space ever!

So since I had some extra resin and fiberglass left from my other patching exercise, I decided to just patch the spot up with what was leftover.  Hey, resin and fiberglass ain't cheap and I'm on a budget!  Waste not, want not, mama always said.

Take a look below.  It's obvious neatness wasn't a requirement nor a priority when fixing this spot.  I also was racing against time since the stuff was starting to setup and harden while I was applying it.  Okay, I really need to work on getting the proper mix of resin and catalyst down so I can get a predictable set time down.

Underneath the car looks good though, no holes, no missing spots.  All I need to do now is spray some undercoat on the spot and it's a done deal.

I got most of the interior parts resprayed now.  Just need to finish the door panels and center console.

Friends Koji and Terry Yamaguchi dropped off my rear smiley bumper the other day.  They were nice enough to help me get it from Japan.  It's in VERY good shape.  The top bumper is the one from Japan and is off the older Liftback - the type with the five panel tail lights.  Note the holes for the rear reflectors.  The bottom bumper is one from Australia that I got awhile back and had repaired and rechromed.  The picture kinda distorts the shapes but both bumpers are in very good condition.

Well, that's about it for this month's update.  Maybe next month the car might actually get to the body shop for paint!

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