Monday, August 23, 2010

Clean, Dismantle & Dis-assemble

No more joking around. It is time to take this car apart. First things first: My deep thanks go out to Ben and Beth H (my bro-in-law) who lent me their beater '95 Nissan Pathfinder so that I'll have something to drive while my 944 is out of commission. I was trying to figure out a way that I could do this over a long weekend and drive the car between stages. I now realize this would not have worked. Maybe if I had survived on Red Bull and had 2 helpers and worked non-stop. It is so much better to just be able to work on the car for a few hours after I get home from work and be a little more leisurely about it.

This brings up another note. Many of my estimates for time spent are pretty forgiving. If I note here that I worked for an hour, it means 40 minutes work, 5 minutes referencing manuals to not screw things up, 5 minutes snacking or grabbing a drink, 5 minutes consulting with my buddy so as to not screw things up, and 5 minutes stretching my muscles which are not familiar with the concept of manual labor. If you are any good at this, you could take 25% off my times, maybe more. I was trying to take things easy, not hurt myself, and maybe even enjoy the process a little. Hopefully, all this data gives you a better idea of the scope of painting a 944.

So, back to taking apart the car:

First, Jesse and I broke out the power-washer and hosed down the car, then proceeded to give it the wash of a lifetime. We scrubbed the thing with pretty harsh pads and soapy water, and took time to hose off as much of the undercarriage and wheel wells as we could. In retrospect, I wish I would have been WAY more thorough during the washing in the wheel wells and below the rocker panels. [Later in the process, when taping up the car for spraying primer, I could not get my tape to stick behind the panels because they were so dirty. You would be wise to run a rag across the areas that will be getting tape adhered to them, and clean them until that rag comes off clean. I also had a ton of dirt caked to my carbon filter, up under the panel that holds the antenna, that made a substantial mess later on when removing the antenna.]

We dried the car with garage rags, and started dismantling anything that could come off which covered paintable metal. I didn't take pictures of all this,and many of the procedures are found on This is what was removed, and estimated times for removal:

Rear Hatch struts: 30 min (yeah, yeah. One popped right off. The other took some figuring out. More here)

Rear Hatch: 15 min (Four bolts at the top of the hatch, covered by plastic on interior of car roof, easy. More here. If you notice the seal is compromised, now would be a great time to do this DIY repair)

Rear Quarter-panel windows: 2 min (don't mess with the seals, just lay in the bed of the car, put your feet on the glass, and push with both feet REALLY hard on one edge. The whole window (and seal) comes out slowly enough you could do it solo, but have a buddy catch it.)

Rear Hatch Seal: 15 min (This is the seal that sits on the edge of the car-part of the hatch, not the glass part. It peels right off, but leaves a nasty waxy sticky residue that took a bit to clean off.

Taillight Assembly x2: 1 hr. (This has all these little bolts that are a pain to reach and I had to keep removing carpet and such to get to them. Once the bolts are off you have to pry a bit to get the thing out and break the gummy weather seal, which was also a pain to clean up. Use the balled up sealant as an 'eraser' to get smaller bits) Here's a picture so you can see some of the mounting bolt spots:

Rear quarter-panel reflectors: 5 min

Rear license plate holder: 15 mins (The bolts both stripped and had to be cut off. They were very rusted.)

Main Rear Bumper: 15 min (2 big ol' bolts, not much wrenching room, 19mm)

Corner Rear Bumpers x2: 20 min (There are a couple of bolts holding on the plastic corner bumpers. I couldn't find a way to get the socket wrench around them. I had to use a crescent wrench and it took a while. Also note, If you can reach, it is better to take these off before the bumper, because they are molded to fit around the bumper, see this pic (sideways, sorry). If you can't get them off first (as I couldn't), then you can carefully pry them off the bumper as the bumper is removed, and then take out the bolts holding these on.)

Rear bumper pads: 15 mins (3 bolts each, spray them with bolt loosener first or they'll snap, 10mm)

License Plate lights x2: 5 min (These are two small lights that are above the license plate and need to be unscrewed from inside the natch area, and then pried carefully up away from the metal. They are held on with adhesive or sealant. I accidentally broke one when prying on it.) See pic of hole:

Gas Cap: 2 min (there are only two easy to get to bolts, but once removed, you have to wiggle and jiggle the gas cap to the left while nearly closed.)

Gas Cap Rubber surround seal: 1 min (In my haste I pulled this right out, not realizing it has a gas drain hose which will probably be a super-pain to reconnect. I probably should have just let this be, and painted around it. See later pictures for where I think the best spot to tape is for a color change.)

Outer door handles x2: 20 min (more here)

Interior door panels x2: 40 mins (I pulled these off to get better access to the rear-view mirror guts which were causing me drama, and because I'll be painting the door jambs and door edges.)

Rear View Mirrors x2: 2 hours. (I fought with a stripped bolt on the drivers side mirror for an hour before drilling it out completely. It's a hot mess, and I have NO idea how I'm going to get that mirror back on. I might have to drill and re-tap it. I should have used bolt loosener first, and a better fitting hex wrench. It should have taken 5 mins)

Antenna: 45 min. (My antenna hasn't been working in the past years, so I wasn't to keen on saving it, thinking of converting to a windshield antenna some day, or troubleshooting the problem. Anyway, to get the antenna off, you have to remove the front wheel of the car )or crank the wheel way left to get more clearance, then pull out the carbon filter (by removing the hose from the top), and then you can see and maybe reach the antenna base inside this panel. You then have to try to grip the base and unscrew the antenna from the top. I couldn't get a good grip and ended up mangling the washer type of thing that is part of the bracket holding htis thing on. Eventually it came out with lots of coaxing. I just snipped the antenna wire and will solder it all back up if I ever decide to replace the antenna. In the mean time, I hear that Home Depot has some rubber plugs in their screw drawers that will fill the hole nicely for $2 (after the paint goes on).

Hood windshield-washer sprayer tips x2: 5 min (You just have to pinch these on the back side with pliers and they pop right out.

Headlight Covers: I took them off, and then ended up putting them back on for stripping and paint.

Porsche emblem, 944 emblem, and side panel bumper strips were already off.

Front license plate holder: 15 mins (The bolts both stripped and had to be cut off. They were very rusted.) 

Front Main bumper: 5 min (Two big ol' 19mm bolts.)

Reflectors and bumper pads from Front bumper.: 20 mins

Front Spoiler: 1.5 hr (On each side of the bumper there is 1x 10mm head sheet-metal screw at the bottom of the fender, 3x 8mm screws across the side, right above the parking light, 4x 10mm bolts near the fog-light, 10mm bolts underneath the spoiler. Good luck, most of these were a major pain to remove since they are mounted to plastic and require ginger hands to keep from ripping the spoiler. The three bolts on the drivers side at the top of the spoiler that keep it flush with the quarter panel and most easily accessed from inside the wheel well, without a wheel in the way, and they take torque from both sides (ie, a wrachet from the top and a crescent wrench from the bottom.)

Last off was the window trim. I really didn't want to paint the car with the trim running along the top and bottom of the window. I had started to try to pry it from the back with bad results, but I didn't want to have to mask this part crappily. It turns out that you should pry the trim (the thin black metal piece) from front to back, carefully with a small flathead screwdriver. It slowly pulls out and when you work your way back to the rearmost potion of it, there is a small tab that goes into a small hole on the door. I seem to remember reading somewhere that these are extremely difficult to put back on.

You can see a picture of the tiny hole in these pictures where the black and silver paint meet:

Lastly, I pulled off the rain-gutter strip that runs along the side of the roofline, fron the hatch, down to the hood. This piece is thin aluminum, and I just pried at it until it slowly started to come off. It is going to be a pain to strip and to put back on.

Total time today: 14 hours (7 hours x 2 guys, though we spent some time watching each other work, and there were some lame setbacks with uncooperative bolts.)

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