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How do you eat an elephant?

Discussion in 'Car Talk' started by Ryan, Apr 23, 2016.

  1. Ryan

    Ryan
    "Racing amuses me" - Enzo Ferrari Premium Member

    One bite at a time...

    Little bit of back story shall we?

    I learned all my fundamentals on our family car. My mom and dad bought the 1983 Corolla SR5 when they got married in Puerto Rico as their big gift. Incidentally it was the last new car [​IMG] ever. Through two kids, many moves through my dad's career in the USAF, and growing up, the car never left us. When my time rolled around to start driving, I wanted nothing more than to have this car out on the road. It sat for a few years and needed some TLC so my dad turned my loose with the FSM and the toolbox and I learned the ways of the wrench. It was a rewarding and invaluable experience in the coming years.

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    However, it seemed to be a magnet for soccer moms minivans and one deer. I was never faulted for any of the collisions but after a few whacks over 4 years I decided if I was going to be the harbinger of death for a car, it may as well not be my dad's (side note: if any of you know of any AE71's lying around with good quarters, give me a holler)

    I figured I'd stick to what I know and I discovered club4ag and spotted a car for sale. gtsr5 was selling his 4AGE swapped SR5 for what was, I have now come to appreciate, a reasonable sum that 19 year old me could afford. Thank you DrifterS for starting me down this path. Steve if you're still out there drop me a line.

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    Fast forward a few years. A roll on and rattle can paintjob later, I gallivanted about my youth in my car. Some suspension stuff, a 20v, a JDM bumper, and other goodies later and it was starting to form up into the dream car I was after. She was suffering from some mild cancer but I simply couldn't put the car to rest for long enough to actually fix everything wrong with her. The temptation to drive was too much. It was fun though when I would on the very rare occasion see another one and park alongside.

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    Then came the events of 31 MAY 2012...

    There I was minding my own business on the way home from work and a young lady driving on a learner's permit with no supervising adult in the car decides to cross an intersection on a red light. There was nothing I could do.

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    I was hysterical. The responding officers almost called me an ambulance as I nearly passed out from hyperventilating. As my car lay there bleeding out, I couldn't even speak. What else could I feel after 5 years of work, time, money, blood, sweat, and tears was taken from me? Naturally her insurance company wanted to offer a pathetic $1,050 total loss settlement. I would not let it happen. Over the next year, I sent weekly faxes to the adjuster showing what the cars actually sold for on the market. Big thanks to all of you guys here. Many of your For Sale ads landed at the desk of this poor adjuster. I went full Shawshank Redemption on this poor man and he probably knows more about AE86's now than anyone at State Farm insurance. By the time my offensive ended, I was presented with a $3,950 settlement. I opted to keep my salvage car and had $2,900 to play with. I would like to offer this one bit of advice however:

    Disregard females. Acquire currency. Buy Corolla parts. Stay single if you want to have a project car. Amazing how women can make that kind of money evaporate...

    After two years of my poor car languishing in neglect, I couldn't bear not to have a Corolla on the road and began my hunt for a transplant shell.

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    Through absolute luck, Craigslist in middle-of-nowhere Alabama had the answer. A scrap yard employee was selling two zenki SR5 hatches for an exorbitantly low price. I could have run there with cash in hand.

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    I picked up the cars and dropped them off in the garage at my parents' house where the 1983 used to dwell and then came the wait. Not to get too personal and buzz-killing, but crippling depression plays havoc with your happiness and life's priorities. Long story short, I'm getting better. It's been a rough couple of years.

    After 1000 days (yes, bizarrely it turned out to be exactly 1000 days since the cars arrived [​IMG] Strange how life works), one of the cars emerged from its den. I decided it was time to get started.

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    • Wow Wow x 1
  2. Ryan

    Ryan
    "Racing amuses me" - Enzo Ferrari Premium Member

    You guys have seen plenty of tear down pictures so I'll spare you the replication

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    Holy crap removing sound deadening sucks! Good thing we did because hidden beneath was a through-and-through bullet wound and rust on the floor pan from water coming in through the hole.

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    Many wire wheels sacrificed themselves for the cause of seam sealer removal. I am so tired of the sound of a drill...

    Needless to say we got there in the end. Time to start the stitch welding!

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    Which brings me to a question: Where else should I weld up? We've done the engine bay, floor, doors, windshield, hatch, and windows. Anyone got a good write up handy? We mostly followed this video (on mute): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY0wEKg3dAI
    My buddy then went to work on some of the more troubled rust spots. Some places simply were beyond recovery and we had to amputate. The B-pillar, passenger side rear corner, passenger C-pillar, all received fresh metal. It's coming along beautifully.

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  3. Ryan

    Ryan
    "Racing amuses me" - Enzo Ferrari Premium Member

    We had originally intended to take the paint down to the original Toyota primer and go from there but we found a few layers more than we expected of respray and decided we may as well go down to the skin. How many chances do you get to do this? We figured if we'd come this far, why not go a little further and block the body?

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    So while we're here:

    As I'm grinding down paint and get ready to start the fun part of body work, what else would you guys suggest I do with the body completely torn down? I've already decided against a cage so please don't suggest it. Plenty of folks have been trying to convince me and it is not an option for my application. This is going to be my weekend car and I might go drifting/auto-x/track 6 times a year if I'm lucky. Are there any essential things to do other than the standard body work stuff that would have tangible benefit? Any trouble spots I should head off now before they show their ugly heads?

    I figured in between days working on the recipient down at my friend's house, I would start tearing down the donor car to get a feel for what I'm looking it. Whilst I have the 20v out, I intend to replace all the gaskets and seals as well as the oil pump. Can anyone confirm that this: https://technotoytuning.com/toyota/20v4age/20v-4ag-complete-gasket-set is really all I need? I have also elected to go for a COP Conversion on the car rather than FUBAR another firewall. I think I understand how to do it, however I still don't understand how or why it works. What I need to find out is if the Greddy Emanage Blue (that is already in the car), when wired up for both the Injector and Ignitor harnesses, will offer me any more granularity in the eventual tuning that the pro will do. It is a bone-stock blacktop and I have no intention of going standalone on it till it's time to build up. As of now, my "upgrade" priorities are suspension, chassis, weight, and power in that order. I'll probably end up doing the transmission and rear end gaskets and seals as well. I have always wondered what it's like to own a 30+ year old car that doesn't leak something when I park it.

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    Moving on. Not too much progress with the body as we were knocking down the last of the paint and eliminated the last major rust spot on the car. It was ground down and blended beautifully but I forgot to snap a picture. I'll update on Saturday and show you my friend's handiwork.

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    We also finally got around to taking the paint down and out from the fenders, hood, and hatch to see what other secrets lie beneath. Aircraft Remover is both my new best friend and arch nemesis. Good for getting paint off, but then it was time to vacuum the yard [​IMG]

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  4. Ryan

    Ryan
    "Racing amuses me" - Enzo Ferrari Premium Member

    And since it has been humid the last few days, we have grown weary of sanding off flash rust every three days so we decided to start our body filler skim coating with the roof. The roof in in beautiful shape but there are some small hail/rock knocks and we figured we could use the practice before we tackle the larger panels even if we end up blocking down all most all the filler. The doors and rear quarters however...

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    Made some solid progress this weekend after a two day marathon session.

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    My time with the DA and sanding off the two coats of paint and primer on this car is almost done. There's something quite zen about starting with a bare metal across the entire car.

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    We're skimming a bit heavy on some parts of the car and in particular the rear quarters. We made a beautifully welded in side marker light delete but the factory metal didn't take kindly to the heat. It'll take a bit of blocking to get that squared away. Also the rear fender flare had taken a few knocks and bumps along the way. Our meagre body filler shaping skills will be tested.

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    I know it sounds lame but we ran through quite a bit of time constructing this dolly for the car. My pops decided to stop by and helped us with a bit of his engineer-jitsu. It is fully customized to fit the AE86 chassis and works like a charm for rotating and rolling the car where we need it. I'm detailing it here because, damn it, we're proud of it! It'll really come in handy come paint time.

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    Same story with the rear quarter, we decided to delete the antenna hole on the fender for that sweet JDM smooth Trueno look. I still haven't worked up the guts yet for a JDM steering wheel or tail lights. Something tells me that the $600 could be better spent elsewhere :'(

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    And thus we arrive here. The body has been skimmed and all rust repaired. The last patches of stitch welding are complete around the hatch area. We've got another two day marathon set for tomorrow and Tuesday. We should hopefully be ready to start priming in a week or so. Now comes the endless block sanding. Time for dust and misery...
     
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  5. Ryan

    Ryan
    "Racing amuses me" - Enzo Ferrari Premium Member

    One more update before we prime this thing!

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    The fender needed some work too so we had continue our crusade vs rust. I can't believe I forgot this little jerk. My oncologist welded up some amazing patches.

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    Then we needed to square away the last corner of the drivers side rear quarter. One more transplant and we'll be done with rust (for reals this time). I will confess: there is still one more spot of rust on the car behind the rear bumper but it's so inconsequential we're going to fiberglass it, and pray. If worse comes to worse, it's easily accessible later on for proper treatment if it gets worse. Not looking forward to blocking down the body with so many patches but it'll be worth it to have a legitimately rust free car!

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    We also decided to spark up the welder one last time and ace the last places for some stitch welds. I was satisfied with the first round of welds around the hatch area but we figured while we're here, we may as well future proof myself in case I wanted to one day run true coils on the rear (I don't but who knows what the future holds?). I think my oncologist just got into a rhythm and went a bit bonkers [​IMG] . I'm not complaining. Let no man say my rear suspension failed on the chassis side [​IMG]

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  6. Ryan

    Ryan
    "Racing amuses me" - Enzo Ferrari Premium Member

    I decided to finally finish up the interior even though I know it's going to get even more filthy during blocking. The flash rust from the humidity was getting annoying as I had to wire wheel it off every time. I'll still need a couple more cans of white to finish out everything perfectly but I'm satisfied that all traces of blue are being eradicated. Two cans of primer and 4 cans of white later...

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    Since we're getting danger close now to getting primer on the body, it was time to start bolting on panels and getting gaps lined up. It's actually looking like a car now!

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  7. Ryan

    Ryan
    "Racing amuses me" - Enzo Ferrari Premium Member

    Time to block it out. Two days of sun burn and sore muscles. The oncologist went to work on the rust repair and weld spots to get them perfect.

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    I was tasked with the large flat surfaces. If you look carefully, you can see the anger in my face.

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    Time to dust it out and clean up. Leaf blowers and shop vacs are your friends. The cloud of dust that came out of and off the car/driveway was hilarious. The neighbors were not pleased.

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    And here she is. Cleaned up, wiped down, and tack clothed; ready for primer. We got the body as blocked down, straight and level as we could. After many many man hours, a nice base tan/sunburn, and much wailing and gnashing of teeth, the body was finally done.

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  8. Ryan

    Ryan
    "Racing amuses me" - Enzo Ferrari Premium Member

    Time for her to start looking like a car.

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    And finally tucked in for the night.

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    I think it's time to take the week off. I can barely pick up my arms; my shoulders are so sore!
     
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  9. Dan Allen

    Dan Allen
    I am the Pastor Maldonado of RaceDepartment.

    Great job on the resto so far!