Saturday, May 7, 2016

More "Freshen Up" Parts and Some Trouble...

So as I hinted in an earlier post, the under hood insulation was not the first part I have recently purchased to freshen up the car.  A few months ago, after I got the car detailed at Rapt, I realized there were a few details that detracted from the overall "clean" car appearance.

These details are nothing large, but I guess the human eye picks up imperfections one may not be usually aware of.  For example:
So what exactly does this rubber trim do? Is it needed?
On this side too!
So normally something like this would not bother me (ok I'm lying, it bothers me to no end!). And I would try to figure out a way to repair it with the least amount of cost and effort (Superglue is a favorite...). But, the rubber had also hardened and so I wondered if it should be soft and pliable. As the second owner of this car, I know that this car was left outside most of its early life. And, despite many applications of products such as Aerospace 303 and other products to preserve and try to bring back the black, there was a permanent white-ish sheen of UV exposure that this cowl piece had.

When I inquired at Nissan Prince, I was told that I would have to replace the entire cowl in order to replace the rubber trim. So, I went ahead and ordered because it was a way to freshen up both aspects at the same time.

There was also this:
Windshield wiper arms showing wear and tear...
The yellow arrows point to areas where there are chips or wear on the wiper arms.  I had in fact previously used some semi-gloss black spray paint and resprayed the arms myself.  However I have done this twice already and it is likely that, since I don't do this painting in a controlled environment/have the paint baked on, the OEM part, designed for exposure to the elements, would likely last a lot longer.  Again, the car was left outside early on and likely, no one applied any sealant or wax to these arms (I am probably the only person who believes that ALL painted surfaces on a car need to be protected).

Anyway, since the wiper arms need to be removed in order to replace the cowl, it was only natural that, given the above thinking, I decided to go ahead and order some brand new wiper arms as well.

So it took a few weeks, but then I got the call so I went to Nissan Prince to pick up the parts:

After squeezing the cowl into the back seat (somewhat diagonally) I drove home and then life got so busy I wasn't able to work on replacing the parts...

Finally a few weeks ago (right before a business trip to Chicago) I decided to do the job, just in case the plane went down. Didn't want to die with unfinished business, right?
First, remove the wiper arms.  Begin by removing cap with small flat tip screwdriver (yellow arrow);
See how the faded paint detracts from the overall appearance? (red arrow)
Then use a proper socket wrench (12mm I think).
Next, remove this soft rubber trim piece by pulling the plastic "screws" out of the sockets
I'm now thinking, this is pretty easy...
For the original cowl piece, it's held on in 4 places with plastic clips, so just pull a bit hard (watching the outside edges where it tucks UNDER the windshield molding), to reveal:
The dust on the right, I expected. That rust, I did not!
Not just several years of accumulated dirt, but also splotches of rust! I was later told by the guys at Nissan Prince that this is very, very common ("there is always rust there"), so apparently a weak point in this car's design...
So you can see how the rust isn't just in one location...
Anyway, as I was trying not to faint from shock, instinct kicked in so I first reacted by doing what comes naturally, cleaning:
That dust is from all over Japan!
Not finished but you get the idea...
Then after I calmed down, I realized I had several choices.  One, I could ignore the rust, put the new cowl piece on, not tell anyone, and hope that my refusal to drive this car in the rain would stop the rust from spreading; two, I could spray on some Rust-O-Leum and pray that indeed, it actually does "convert rust to metal"; three, I could take the car to a body shop and have them deal with it, or four, I could try to sandpaper/grind off the rust myself, and apply some primer and paint.

Normally, I would choose the third option - put all the old pieces back on, and then take the car to a body shop. But with funds tight and an upcoming "shaken" (bi-annual road inspection/tax) coming up, I decided the better thing to do would be to go to a body shop sometime in the future to take care of not only this, but some other issues I've spotted, all at once.  So for the time being, I would have to deal with just this section of rust - long time readers will know I've dealt with rust on the car before - I just would prefer to let a pro handle it, of course.

Also, the cowl itself now looked like this, so re-assembly with the old pieces was probably not the smart option anyway:
Uh, this is not going to go back on well...
So the night I got back from Chicago, I first taped up the surrounding areas like this:

And used #400 grit sand paper to begin manually removing paint and rust.  I soon discovered however that the rust wasn't as easy to remove as I thought, as well as under paint that didn't show bubbling.

You can also see the old under hood insulation which was
beginning to separate in some places - see how it looks puffy?
So I used my Dremel to quickly remove rust from all areas I could find, both visible and under the paint! Effective but not as "clean" as by hand. Oh well.
Luckily I had an unopened can of spray primer
Three thin coats of primer later (several hours to dry in between, of course)
After 3 coats, I debated spraying on some KR4 paint (I had a semi-used can left). However, I figured not only would the primer do the job adequately, and serve to show the body shop what I had done, I was also worried that the old KR4 paint might not spray well, and cause a mess. So I decided to stop painting and put on the new pieces (later at Nissan picking up the under bonnet insulation I asked them about this, and they told me primer alone was fine...)

New versus old
Checking out how soft and pliable the new rubber/plastic piece is:
Supple is the word!
And then I began to prep the new parts by spraying down with Aerospace 303 and letting it soak in:
The underside, which won't see daylight again until it's removed.
And the topside, which will!
Installation was the reverse of taking the part off, being careful to make sure the plastic clips went in on both sides, and that the edges were tucked in under the windshield molding.

I found out that the rubber trim piece is actually about 1.5cm too long on each side - cutting required.
I then attached the rubber piece to the front of the cowl, which helps to secure it better (as otherwise only 4 plastic clips are holding it on).

And then I just swapped out the old wipers for new, transferring the blades over.
If you are curious you can make out the parts numbers...(28886-15U00 and 28881-15U00)
Then I just bolted the wipers back on, put on the plastic caps which cover the bolts, and I was done!

Speaking of parts numbers, here are the others for completeness sake:

So what's next? Luckily, there are no other places with that level of rust.  However Japan being a humid place, plus because I like to wash the car, I guess I will have to be careful going forward.  That being said, there is some bodywork I'm still thinking about, so maybe at that time I can get this under cowl area redone professionally.

In any case, the car looks like this now:
Ahhh Yeah! Perfect!
I hope this was an interesting and useful post! Sorry about the length...


Ibo Nibo said...

Your post can not be lengthy enough ;)

Good job. I guess a lot of us will be removing that part, just to treat the rust now.

You catched it while it was still only surface rust.

I really want to freshen up all those parts too...

What paint did you use?
On places like that, that are exposed and prone to rust, I would always recommand a 2K paint (they do exist in cans, but as it's 2K, it's one use only as after a day it hardens in the can). While the primer is enough on that place, as there wont be "acids", 2K paint are just more resiliant over time.
Also good on not using the old rattle can.

One thing you could still do, is spray some wax (in a can) in there. So water will find not ground, even in the moldings.

Continue impressing us (makin us jelly really) with your R33

Z Ketrow said...

Adding this post to the list of helpful tips that I will need in the future. Great post,Aki, thanks for the rare information!

Karl said...

I took my wiper arms to a powder coater and had them redone in satin. The rubber strip. It is a pain although 'wow' there are new ones still out there?!? hmmm
Loving the shock at finding rust. Try the UK, the weather here makes 33's an endangered species!

Aki said...

Hey guys,

Thanks for the comments as always!

Ibo, like I said this is a temporary measure. Just to stop the rust. But good idea on the wax idea!

Zach, expect some more like these going forward!

Karl - yes, a professional powder coat would be best. But cost and time-wise, it was easier for me to just get new arms. New parts are getting harder to buy as the suppliers stop producing them...


Unknown said...

Awesome post! Helped me out last week

Aki said...

Hi Asthar,

Thank you for letting me know! So happy this was useful to you.


Phil said...

Great website.
No problem just replacing the old rubber? My cowl is fine.

Aki said...

Thanks Phil! Well, I suppose you could simply replace the rubber, but since I am OCD I wanted new OEM fit and cowl was fine too, just not "new" LOL. How do you plan on replacing the rubber?


PDeaks said...

I bought this from Aliexpress

Z type 3M adhesive car rubber seal Sound Insulation , car door sealing strip weatherstrip edge trim noise insulation

It has worked a treat. Looks factory, and has meant I have been able to keep my original cowl. I understand the strip is there just to stop dirt/leaves as water goes in the vents anyway.

Unknown said...

PDeaks, ive tryed the z-type seal tape, its not the best, but i am also looking for a solution too replace the seal. i am struggling too find a rubber seal at the moment that will give a snug seal too the windscreen.

Gene said...

Bloody awesome post... so so helpful. ..thank you mate.

Anonymous said...

Hello! Did the new cowl come with the rubber that is going against the glass? Was only able to find rubber seal that goes to the engine side but not the one that goes against the glass

Aki said...

Anon, the new cowl came lined with hard rubber that goes against the glass. Not sure what happened with yours...??