I've fallen a bit behind in maintaining this build thread. So here's everything up until today.
So after losing one hex cap on the road a while back, I've been trying to get a matching fourth or source a new set. When you're picky, it's the biggest pain in the ass. I couldn't come up with a single V1 SpinFab small thread cap, although I'm keeping an eye out for one still. I contacted SpinFab directly, and they said they have moved on to the V2 design. If you look at the base of the hex, it has a slant to it as opposed to the flat base of the V1 cap. It looks fine, but I couldn't buy just one and have it be mismatched. So I ordered a full set in raw finish, and took it to a friend of mine to get polished. It was a pain to replace the whole set, but I guess these things happen. And it'll be nice to run waffles again, I prefer covering the lugs on RSs personally.
First and foremost, a huge thanks to my friend Nick (@nhammon) for polishing these. I've mentioned this before, but he's in the process of building a wild show Miata, and has been polishing brake lines for weeks now. So he was familiar with the process of getting the shine out of these caps. I probably would have mucked it up somehow, so it's great to have friends willing to help make sure things turn out perfect. So, definitely go give him a follow. I've tried to get him to start a build thread here, but that's been in vain.
For those of you that follow me on Instagram, I teased another car coming soon. In short, I traded one car I have in the garage (non-op), for another car that runs and drives, which will free up the garage. That means my Roundie can move into the garage, and I can put it up on jack stands for an extended amount of time and actually get some real work done. I'm getting close, and I'm really excited.
So the time has finally come to tear the car apart. I started the process yesterday after one last cruise. That was mostly to get as much gas out of the tank as possible, but it seemed like a fitting conclusion to chapter one of the 2002. At this point the car won't be back on the road for a few months I imagine. I started tearing apart the 2002 in my garage, and then it'll be towed over to a body shop for rust repair in the trunk. From there, it's off to my fabricator to build the tube core support, and get all the radiator upgrades taken care of. Then back to my garage for bushings, ball joints, etc. I'll also be finishing what I can of the interior at that time.
I don't have a ton of space, but it's more than I have had in the past. So I'm stoked on that.
Starting point. Dirty, rusty, not so hot.
Reminder that this shock tower is the main reason we are doing this.
I started by removing the tank. The debris there is actually mostly dirt and a foam seal under the tank. But there is a fair but of rust too.
After some creative shuffling, the 2002 now has a garage spot, and I can wrench in peace for the next few months. So far everything has gone smoothly, but I anticipate a few hiccups in the repair process. I'm actually very encouraged by my tear down. Originally I thought my differential support was toast, there was a thick layer of rust under the bubbling paint. I took a wire brush to it, and a layer of rust came off and it was solid underneath. The bottom side of the car is likewise totally clean. I will be taking everything down to bare metal this week to ensure that it is as solid as it appears, but it is very encouraging that my diff support seems to be totally ok.
On the flip side, I did find a totally rotten section underneath the fuel tank. Fortunately this is significantly easier to repair then the diff support, so in terms of trade off, I came out way ahead. I'm hoping for a speedy turn around. After this round of build, the car will still be ratty, but have a strong chassis and nice interior. Hard to complain about that. If all goes to plan, the car will be ready for some longer road trips this coming Summer.
On a Whole, This is Good
So I did a small amount of grinding to see what we were truly working with. Keep in mind this was done in about 30 minutes just on what was visually the worst areas of the trunk. I learned two things. I do not need a new diff support, and the shock tower is much, MUCH worse than I thought. On a whole, this is good news. to replace the diff support, the body shop would have had to drop the subframe, measure carefully, cut most of the trunk out. It would have be extremely expensive. I took my grinder straight to the visually worst part of the diff support, it had a very thick layer of flaking rust under the paint. What I discovered underneath was solid metal. Perhaps a little pitted, but not rotten through. Underneath the car, the beam is completely clean. I had a few people look at it, to make sure I'm not going crazy, and there simply isn't any cancer on the rear diff beam. This saves me likely thousands on the repair job.
That's a shitty photo of what was visually the worst rust in the trunk since I got the car. Underneath? Seems to be ok. Simply resealing the trunk floor seems to be the go to move here. No need to replace what is otherwise workable sheet metal. I will continue to grind every bit of paint off to make sure it's truly solid, but everything I checked so far has come up clean. Except...
The passenger side shock tower was what prompted all of this. The small grinding we did earlier revealed a hole or two. When I took my new angle grinder to it this time, I discovered some pretty catastrophic rust. This is bad, but not beyond saving. Fortunately I do have that sheet metal for this exact tower. Likewise, I seemed to have lucked out on the drivers side shock tower as well. Zero rust on everything I've brought down to metal.
This weekend I'll finish fully stripping out the trunk and getting the car ready for transport to the body shop. The tow truck comes to get it next Wednesday, and I'm hoping for a quick turn around time. From there it comes home for me to do all bushings and suspension refresh, and makes its last trip to my friend's fab shop for the core support work. We're getting into the thick of it.
I also made the impulsive decision to start stripping the interior. I want to put in that black carpet, so everything is coming out so I can pull the carpet, and when it gets back I'll be swapping that out. "While I'm in there" I'll also tackle some sort of radio solution. That'll at least put the interior in a happy place for me.
Keep in mind, this was supposed to happen after SEMA. Delays and some mistakes brought us to this point. But as of yesterday, the tow truck came to collect to the 2002 and it's at the body shop.
That's about the most low car friendly tow truck I've ever seen in my life. Love it, super easy getting the 2002 on and off. To recap, the 2002 is basically just going in for the passenger side shock tower, and some gas tank surround metal. The diff support was just fine, and frankly why over spend if the car doesn't need it? Hoping for a relatively quick turn around, though I'm not 100% sure what the timeline is. Once it comes back, it'll get a suspension and brake overhaul, and then finally off for a new radiator support and cooling system upgrades. There is light at the end of the tunnel now.
Stopped by Axis the next day, and they already had started chopping up my trunk. It's tough to see with this photo, but if you look below the fuel filler neck, that entire section of floor is cut out. It was rotted enough to warrant just making a new one. Tower was cut, rust treated and will be patched. Since the damage was limited to the one tear, it didn't make sense to completely remove everything.
This whole section will be cut and replaced. It is located under the filler neck in the trunk. Water seeps in through the seal and eventually rots out this portion of floor. Non-structural, but disgusting all the same.
Given the progress he's making, the 2002 will be back pretty soon. I have to prep the gas tank to go back in, which I've been lazy about. I'm shooting to get everything quickly reassembled, but we'll see how it all goes. Word is there is going to be another StanceWorks open house in January/February. It'd be cool to have the car back together by then and take it out for that. But that is only possible with absolutely no delays. So we'll play it by ear.
Axis sent me some photos this morning of the progress. Since I have little else to share, I thought I'd post them here. I haven't seen the car yet in person, but the photos being sent to me are promising. Given the speed they are working, I think I'll have the car back very soon.
A small but notable update, I now have black carpet in hand. So the red will finally be removed, and the interior will be one step closer to being complete. I've been complaining about the red carpet since day one, so it is kind of nice to finally know that is going away for good.
What can I say, Axis Paintworks works considerably faster than I can keep up with. Last night they sent me these photos. I've arranged for the tow truck to pick the 2002 up on Friday, so it'll be home and it'll be time for me to rip into the car. Excited to have the car back so fast, I honestly didn't think it would be back for a month or so.
You can see the difference in texture, I figured ultimately it didn't matter since the trunk is closed and I'm the only one who will see it
A recap on the damage and repair.
Alright so I guess it's full steam ahead on everything else. I've been slacking on prepping the gas tank and all that, but now I don't really have an excuse. I suppose the big objective now is to figure out about how long it will take me to finish everything I have planned. With the car back this Friday, I really want to have the whole car done in about a month. No idea if that's possible or not yet, there tend to be snags.
Well I brought the 2002 home over the weekend. Opted to use a truck and trailer instead, which proved to be a very lengthy process when getting the 2002 up on the trailer. It took nearly an hour of winching and pushing to get it up there, but eventually it did go. In my effort to save a few dollars, I killed a ton of time. Probably not worth it in retrospect, but what's done is done.
As soon as I got home, the car went up on jack stands, and the tear down process began. I'm starting in the rear of the car, taking care of all the changes I wanted to make there. So I started dropping the subframe. This is normally a fairly easy process, that was made infinitely more complicated by the center exhaust. The biggest problem being, it is one piece from the headers to the muffler tips. Rather than trying to drop the exhaust, I decided to work around it. This meant a lot of creative shuffling of parts, I disconnected the axles from the diff to shuffle around, and then eventually the entire diff from the subframe. I may have left it just suspended on the exhaust, as it is a pain in the ass to remove. It will come out later, but that's a problem for future me to solve.
So here we are. Rear end is disassembled. Not pictured, I did break down the trailing arms and subframe so they're bare, and started scraping and scrubbing all of the grime off. I'm not going for powder coated perfection, but there is no harm in giving everything a good scrub down. This isn't a show car by any means, and I try to keep that in mind to prevent myself from going over board in changing things. My instinct is to make everything brand new, but that's money poorly spent. Clean and safe is more important right now.
The goal over New Years is to break down the front end, and start prepping the rear subframe to go back together. I'm waiting on a new diff gasket to arrive in the mail, and will need to order sway bars for the car this week. So that, unfortunately, will be the source of some delay. Otherwise I'd be ready to put the car back together today.