Rust Proofing The Laser

This week I crawled under the car and made sure there weren’t any rust issue, I also got a whole lot of parts and even put some on.


allTheParts


The first thing I did this week was replace the throttle body gasket as I had previously had it apart and it wasn’t looking too good. Might as well!


badGasket
goodGasket


Next up was the oil pressure sender. The one that was came with the car was bent a bit and didn’t seem to be fully installed. I’m not sure how it managed to get bent but I decided I’d go the safe route and switch it out.


umWhat
allShiny


Now comes the fun part, checking for rust and using POR-15 to make sure it stops. I started small by painting anything around the engine bay that even hinted at starting to rust. The strut towers are an obvious area as they have a tendency to rust on these cars, but I also covered a lot of the subframe and parts around the steering rack, including the sway bar. While I was out by the car, I replaced all the push in zip ties and ran the wires back where they’re supposed to be. Forgot to grab pictures but it’s looking a bit more organized now.


notBadButStill
allBetter
paintedSomeThings


My front wheel bearings were making a heck of a racket when they turned, and the passenger side one was froze up when I pulled it off. I ordered new bearings plus the inner and outer seal and set about taking the hubs apart. The first thing to take off is the inner grease seal, which is the larger of the two. Next is a clip that takes quite a bit of force to get out. We don’t have a snap ring pliers that opens enough to hook onto the ends of this one, so we used two flat head screwdrivers to get it started on one end and pry it out.


innerGreaseSeal
snapRingNeedsRemoving
snapRingRemoved


Once that’s done, you have to push the wheel hub out of the bearing and knuckle. This is easy to do if you have a press, and not too hard if you don’t. We grabbed a socket that fit the hub spindle without catching the bearing and then hammered the hub right out. The inside surface of the bearing is two separate races that tend to fall out as they please, so that’s something to keep an eye on.
As an aside, you can disassemble this whole thing and just replace the seal and repack the bearings. I opted to replace the bearings as well and I’m glad I did, the grease was dried out pretty bad and starting to get crusty. Guess that explains the stuck hub.
You’ll also need to remove the bearings by prying them out of the bearing shell as well as removing the outer bearing shell from the knuckle, which is easily done with a chisel and hammer. Just make sure to work your way around slowly and try not to damage the surface the bearing sits against. In the pictures below you’ll see the outer grease seal and race stuck to the hub as well as the separate bearing races, the outer bearing surface, and the ball bearings themselves.


socketHubRemover
removeTheseBearings
outerBearingShellRemoval
outerBearingShell
outerSealStuck
bothRaces


Since the outer races decided to stay on the hub on both sides, we whipped out the angle grinder and went to town. We actually tried heating it up with a torch first but the hardened steel wasn’t budging, so we opted to cut it off. We did end up hitting the spindle that the inner bearing races will ride on but it’s not bad enough that I’m worried. It’s also a surface that won’t see any movement, so it’s not like it will grind away at the bearing or anything. Just make sure that the outer most lip that meets the hub isn’t scratched as that’s the surface the grease seal rides on.


grindingTheRaceOff
someDamageDone


I dunked the knuckles and hubs in the parts washer and let them sit over night. After some much needed scrubbing they were looking ready for some paint. Time for more black skin stains!


allYouNeedForHubs
cleanedAndReadyForPaint


While the paint dried on those parts, I hauled the transmission outside and plugged the half shaft into one side and the axle shaft into the other. This is to make sure I don’t get anything in the transmission while I’m washing it down.
I first sprayed it down with a pressure washer, then hit it with some foaming degreaser and let it sit for about 5 minutes. I hit it with the pressure washer again and was rewarded with a pretty good looking transmission.


dirtyFront
dirtyBack
cleanersEngaged
firstSprayDown
firstSprayDownBack
firstSprayDownInner


But not quite clean enough. After all, it’s not every day you have the transmission out with full cleaning access. So I scrubbed it with scotchbrite pads and added another layer of degreaser after that. A final wash had it looking much better, or at least good enough for me. I did consider painting it but I’m not really that worried about the transmission looking great, I just didn’t want the accumulated grime going back into my nice engine bay.


finalSprayFront
finalSprayUnder
prettyNumbers and Stuff


With that completed, I returned to the wheel hubs for some reassembly. The first thing I did was get the outer grease seal in place at the outside of the steering knuckle. I’d actually recommend putting the bearing in first and then doing the seal, I wasn’t really thinking as you’ll see soon. It can be a bit tricky to align the seal without one side popping out. Slowly working your way around and making sure it stays uniform is the best way to get the seal in place. Once it’s sitting flush all the way around, you can hammer the bearing in.
I made sure to put a shirt down under the knuckle so as not to ruin the outer seal I’d just put on, then I grabbed the big hammer and worked around the bearing making sure it was sinking in uniformly. It’s actually not too hard to do, but the inner race may fall out of the bearing. You don’t have to worry about it as it will match up when you sink the outer bearing shell in all the way, just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t somehow get in the way.
Next up is that annoying clip we removed earlier. This was a bit interesting to get in but some gentle tapping from the hammer to start one end and then work around does wonders. The inner grease seal is the last part for the knuckle. For me this was harder to get into place than the outer grease seal. Once again, patiently working around the entire surface will get it into place in short order.


Outer grease seal with the bearing in place behind it.

Outer grease seal with the bearing in place behind it.


bearingAndClipInPlace
innerGreaseSealInPlace


Now you’re ready to get the wheel hub put in place. This is fairly easy, line the spindle up with the bearing and grab a big hammer, then go to town. I did have one of the bearing races catch and try to escape from the other side of the knuckle, taking the grease seal with it. This is easy to fix once the hub is in place, just hammer some more stuff back into place. Well, don’t hammer the grease seal, but you get what I mean.


Hub in place, inner bearing race tried to push through and push the grease seal out.

Hub in place, inner bearing race tried to push through and push the grease seal out.


raceBackInPlace
sealAllGood
completedUnit


Now, this is the part where we learn what not to do. For some reason, I pressed a bearing straight onto one of the hubs. That’s great, unless of course the bearing needs to be in the knuckle first because the knuckle tapers towards the outside and you can’t get the bearing in that way. Guess I’ll drop it off and Weavers and hope we can salvage the bearing and outer grease seal.


uhThatWasDumb


Wasn’t my first mistake, and it won’t be my last.
Case in point, I decided to crawl under the car and use some POR-15 on the under body where ever I saw a hint of rust. Sounds fun right? At least I prepared this time! I grabbed a few things to make sure I wasn’t going to get completely covered in some slightly carcinogenic stains.
Ali felt like pitching in so she got me a set of goggles and some nitrile gloves (Thanks Ali!). I also grabbed myself a TyVek coverall, another pair of my favorite work gloves as my other set disappeared.
I suited up and mentally prepared myself for 3 hours of crawling around under a car making sure to cover any minute sign of rust. It doesn’t help that the car is painted orange, any overs pray looks suspiciously like rust.


readyForWar


I’m actually very happy with what I found. Not much was rusty, but there were the usual spots like wheel wells, along the unibody seam, and the hatch floor. I did find a bad spot starting along the passenger rocker, and the hatch area where the spare tire is kept has completely rusted out. Not surprising, as it’s the lowest point of a hatch that’s prone to leaking, and Mitsubishi didn’t feel a need for any kind of drain. I’ve actually seen that issue on most of the cars I’ve owned, are drains that expensive?
Somebody has previously undercoated the car with what I think is spray on bed liner, this actually did help in some areas. However, in other areas where it had started to come off, it trapped water and actually helped accelerate rusting. It must not have been prepped either, as it was just flaking off in some areas.

I also didn’t prep before painting the POR-15 on, but it sticks to rust well enough that I’m not too worried. I’d like to get it on a lift at some point and do a more thorough job, and it’s likely going to be repainted next year anyway. If you want to do it the right way you can get some prep products from the creators of POR-15. You first use a cleaner and degreaser solution called marine wash, this sits for about 20 minutes (and should be kept wet that entire time) and then you wash it off. Next, you use a metal prep solution that sits for about 20 minutes and needs to stay wet as well. Once the time is up you spray it off again and then you’re ready to paint. These are definitely some nasty solutions so if you go this route make sure to get a coverall and a full on paint mask or the like. You don’t want to breath this stuff or get it on your skin.

Now, with all of that said, I naturally skipped most of that. I tried to wear a mask for fumes but it was too bulky to fit under the car, so I just went with the goggles, gloves, and coverall. I started around 2 and by the time I was done it was around 4:30 or so, and that was only covering maybe 1/4 of the under body. I did a first quick pass with the paint to make sure I covered up the rust and marked what I’d need to do on my second pass. Once that gets tacky, you can go back and make a second pass. I did front to back on each side so by the time I was done with the first pass, I could move back to the other side and be ready for the second. Don’t be afraid to lay it on heavy for the second pass, until it’s nearly dripping.
I will say, make sure you paint from the top down. Find the highest point you need to paint and start there, then paint down towards the ground. It really sucks noticing something you need to paint further up past the surface you’ve already painted because you will inevitably run your arm through that wet paint. The coverall does a good job, but laying on it created a problem where my sleeves would end up rolling up on whatever arm I was painting with, so my wrists got some paint on them. But this getup did do a good job of saving my clothes, not that they’re good clothes anyway. I did manage to get my face though, and I would have gotten my glasses as well without the goggles.


paintItAll
getItGood
allDoneandDirty


I let this all sit over night, and it looks pretty nice now. Like I said, it will get repainted and I’d like to get it on a lift to clean all the bed liner off and really get it fully rust proofed, but it will do nicely for now.
I got a bit side tracked Sunday and spent most of the day working on the Mazda. I decided it would be a good idea to finally take care of the quarter panel rust that doubled over last winter. I don’t want a replay of that. I’ll cover that in another post, but let’s just say that I really should have just left the side skirts on and continued my life in happy ignorance.


whyMazdaWHY!?


When I finally did get back to the Laser, it was to get the engine on the hoist and throw some extra pieces on quick. I installed the crank pulley and was happy to see the timing mark line up just right. I also finagled the exhaust back into place and replaced the muffler clamp I’d broken before with my nice stainless steel clamp. I even used hi-temp rtv to seal the ends and hi-temp anti-seize on the bolts. I’m so fancy.


installThisThing
needToFixThat
fixedThat!


Seriously though, that exhaust looks so nice under the car, I didn’t take a shot as I was on to the next thing, but it’s beautiful. I’m contemplating whether I want to spray the final few feet of pipe and muffler with the hi-temp paint as well. I’ve got a bit left, and it looks so nice…
Anyway, I replaced both of my axle seals. We actually have a seal puller that is pretty nifty, it just hooks right onto the seal and pops it out. Good thing I’ve already replaced 90% of my seals! Reinstalling was easy as well, dad showed my a trick that uses pvc pipe to push the seal in uniformly. You do need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t tip one way more than the other, but it’s pretty simple.


newAxleSealsIn


I installed the starter plate as well and had planned to install the clutch and transmission as I’ve got the engine on a hoist now so there isn’t anything in the way. However, I can’t remember if Weavers stepped the flywheel or not when I had them resurface it. I got to the part where I had the ARP flywheel bolts lubed and ready for Loctite but I just can’t put it on without knowing for sure the step is right. DSM’s are picky when it come’s to step height, like it has to be 0.608″-0.612″ kind of picky, so I’m going to haul it back over with the wheel hub and have them double check. They’re pretty quick so they should have the ready to go Tuesday or Wednesday.


starterPlateInstalled
notQuiteGoingToUseYet


I decided to wrap up for the night. It was about 7:30 and I was done with working for the day, plus I had this post to write.
The good news though, is that the engine is on the hoist and ready for the transmission. I’ve got it lowered to the ground for now so that if the hoist gives out for any reason I don’t lose a sizable investment. I’ve figured out where a few of my oddball metal plates need to be bolted to the block, so I should be able to get most of that stuff right as well.
When all of that is done, the engine can finally go back in the car. Then I have to figure out what plugs in where and hope to whatever gods, aliens, or all-powerful-mice are listening that it fires up and doesn’t explode. Either way, you’ll read about it here next week. Unless it explodes, that may warrant a mid-week update.

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About Justin Marwitz

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