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
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
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
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
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
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!