Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

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Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby skishop69 on Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:41 pm

We all know the inherent rust out problem of the sunroofs. I resealed mine temporarily when I got the car about 18 months ago. I thought I did a pretty good job. Not so much. She started leaking, so I decided to clean it up and reseal again. When I got into it, I was seriously disturbed at the rate at which the rot had spread. I know my fabrication, so I decided to go to town. Lesson 1: DO NOT attempt this unless you have a mig welder, an acetylene torch and a heat gun (1500 watts). This is much more difficult than it appears. I'll just give a quicky run down and later I'll give details. I am also taking pics along the way to post. First off comes the joy of scraping all of the sealant out. Once that's out, you have to remove your A and B pillar trims on bothe sides, rear view mirror, dome light and visors. Then out with the headliner. Now you get the fun of removing the wind deflector screws which also hold the roof hinge pockets.I suggest a liberal hosing of penetrating oil before you start the other steps. If they won't come out, you can drill them and hammer in a Torx bit (#20) and work them out with a 1/4 drive. With the sealant out, you should be able to see the lip where the sunroof halo is attached to the roof by spot welds. Center punch each spot weld then pilot drill it. Then use the appropriate sixe bit to drill out the spot weld. Don't skip the pilot step. At best, it's highly agravating. Now you're ready for the heat gun. You'll also need a painters tool at this point. It's a fancy putty knife that has one side cut out in an arch creating a point and it's much stiffer than a regular putty knife. You can get them at Home Depot. Starting at the drivers corner going clockwise, use the heat gun to 'melt the sealant in the joints. Aim it down into the trough to aviod cooking your roof paint. (no, I didn't cook mine) Get some leather gloves and a good shop rag. Work the halo up and down in between heating. You will also have to periodically use the painters tool to get in between the halo and the roof to do some easy prying. As you work your way around to the drivers door, you'll notice the halo goes in between the roof and the A pillar-B pillar roof brace, so you have no room to pry here. Use extra heat. This little problem will also make things difficult for the actual removal. When you get the the rear center section, the brace for the sunroof latch is also sealed to the roof. Apply heat to the brace and not the roof. Pry with the painters tool. You will also notice this brace runs between the C pillar-C pillar rear roof brace. When you get all the sealant loose so the halo is loose, you will have to pry between the latch brace and roof brace so that you bend the roof brace lip just enough to pry the latch brace out. It should be loose enough to move it a little bit at this point. The side roof braces are now keeping it from being removed. You have to take the drivers and passenger side mounting lips (where you drilled out the spot welds) and bend them up just enough to pull the drivers side of the halo out first. This is going to slightly bend your roof metal, but not so much you can't put it back. It's very nerve-racking intentionally bending your roof. Once the drives side is out, the halo should drop down some. Go and do the same with the passenger side. It should require less bending. Voila! It's out! Unscrew the two inside screws on the roof hinge pockets (at the front of the halo) and take the pockets out. Depending on the amount of rust, you will most likely have to drill out the spot welds for the hinge pocket braces so you have room to work while patching. You'll want 22 gauge metal. A 12"x18" piece should be plenty. DO NOT use galvanized sheet metal. It gives off toxic fumes when heated or welded. I'll get into the patching part later, as that's where I'm at now. This first part should take you around 4 hours give or take. I'll post more later in the week...


----UPDATE---
Ok, it took a lot longer than expected, but it's done. I had to cut out the bad sections, fabricate new ones, tack weld them on the bottom side and then braze them on the top. Yes, I could have just welded them up completely, but my mig takes umbridge to welding sheetmetal. With the braze however, the seam is completely sealed with no chance for rust. I also took out the troughs (which are really the cause of the whole rust out issue) in front of the hinge pockets so no water can collect and sit there. I've included pics of all the steps in a few posts after this. Sorry for the crappy shots, it's a cheap camera. It has been water tested thoroughly (after all, I live in the PNW lol) and has no leaks. I test fit it at each stage of installation, which takes a lot of time. I used body seam sealer on the halo flange that butts to the roof metal, and urethane on the joints on the top side of the halo. 2 coats of rustoleum on the halo prior to install and then 2 coats of standard primer after the welding and 2 'finish' coats after the urethane. Urethane doesn't adhere well to bare metal. I know someone was talking about making a carbon fiber or fiberglass replacement, so I'll save you the trouble. It won't work. There is no space on either the right or left sides on the horizontal braces between the A and B pillars to get underneath and adhere it to the roof metal. Yes, you could do the adhering/glasswork on the topside of the halo, but there's a problem with that too. I had the opportunity to drive with everything assembled and no headliner. I checked for airleaks on the halo to roof seam during this. Even welded in place, ther is a lot of flex between the roof and the halo. With my finger on the joint in several locations, I could feel the independent movement of both pieces with varying road conditions. This means that a prior thought of mine is correct. When in place, the halo is a structural component of the roof adding rigidity. Whatever goes in, must be as strong as what comes out with little flew, and you have to be able to attach it in a way that can't crack or break. Since body seam sealer is flexible and made to allow for shifting and flex, it stays sealed. I don't see how any type of resin used to attach a carbon or glass halo will flex and allow the shearing forces of the two pieces moving like they do. The resin will eventually crack or separate from the roof metal. I could be wrong on this, but it's something to think about before taking up the project.

More bad news..... I got to drive the car four times after the repair, before I heard a rod knock and lost oil pressure. This is the same motor that just got rebuilt 10K ago with a new crank and rods. Since this is the second engine to implode (the same rod none-the-less and nothing to do with my driving style I'm sure...) I have gathered everything to do the EJ22 swap. I tried to find an EJ22T for it, but no luck (or they wanted too much) So, I got all the rest of the turbo parts and I'm putting one on it and limiting to 6psi of boost. I just can't have it say turbo on the side on not have one. I talked to a guy at a performance shop in Redmond who knows these motors inside and out, and he assures me it will take it and scream like a banshee to boot (relatively speaking of course). I believe I've worked out all of the logistics of adding the turbo (oil and coolant supplies) and I have a remote boost controller I've been itching to try so once I get the harness modified for install, I'll update and take pics. I'm starting to think my car doesn't like me..... :(
Attachments
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Last edited by skishop69 on Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Suroof repair 101

Postby richardsubiestanley on Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:45 pm

Nice dude! Dont have a sunroof, but have a friend that has a real rusted one. I'll have to turn her on to this thread
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Re: Suroof repair 101

Postby Bram_R on Mon Oct 13, 2008 1:26 am

nice job, I didn't go all the way removing sunroof 'tub' altogether, but some pics of my patchwork can be seen at:

http://subaruxt.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9733

Bram
Last edited by Bram_R on Sat Nov 22, 2008 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Suroof repair 101

Postby skishop69 on Fri Nov 21, 2008 3:14 pm

Sorry for the delay guys. Working a full time shop job, part time weekend, and my own side work is a little time consuming. I got the halo completely finished and primered. I took pics of all the fab work as I progressed and will post them either tomorrow or Sunday with some more info. I can tell you I did away with the design problem that caused the rust in the first place. The troughs in front of the hinge pockets on the front of the halo. No place for the water to collect now. Tomorrow I will start the install process back into the roof skin.
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Re: Suroof repair 101

Postby Sorrow Six Star on Sat Nov 22, 2008 2:12 am

cool!
later model turbo!

is it a full time AWD car?
1988 Subaru XT6 XT22b project
1988 Subaru XTGL undisclosed swap project.
1992 Subaru "Leone" (Loyale Sedan SPFI)
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Re: Suroof repair 101

Postby skishop69 on Sat Nov 22, 2008 6:34 pm

Yes, it's an 87.5 XT GL10 AWD, LSD with all the options except fog lamps, but I have the factory set up to transplant. The sunroof goes in tomorrow....
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Re: Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby skishop69 on Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:29 pm

And the pics....
Attachments
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Re: Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby skishop69 on Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:35 pm

And more pics...
Attachments
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XT roof repair 101.jpg
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Re: Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby skishop69 on Mon Dec 08, 2008 9:40 pm

And more pics...
Attachments
XT roof repair 105.jpg
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Re: Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby Turbone on Mon Dec 08, 2008 11:24 pm

Wow Ski, it looks like it came new from the factory.
Nice work!
Hocrest wrote:You can dress up a turd and shoot it out of a canon.... It's still just a turd, going fast and wearing a suit... :P
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Re: Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby Bram_R on Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:38 am

Very nice job, that should be good for the next 20 yrs of this XT.

Did you use some special paint in the ' gutter' , the black paint I mean?

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Re: Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby skishop69 on Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:36 am

No, the dark gray (black) in the pictures where it is installed is just a standard automotive primer. The light gray on the halo by itself is a 'special' rust inhibiting primer we have here called Rustoleum. It's available at pretty much any hardware store.

BTW.... Thanks Rob. I'm pretty happy with it. The sealant isn't as smooth as the factory, but urethane is damn hard to smooth out completely.
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Re: Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby Psyko on Tue Dec 09, 2008 10:39 am

Dang. Looks good!
Need to hire you to do mine. :P
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Re: Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby skishop69 on Tue Dec 09, 2008 3:39 pm

I would be more than happy to entertain the thought of re-fabbing halos for anyone interested. Bear in mind you would be without your car for 2-4 weeks depending on my schedule. The obstacle to overcome would be price. I know we're all on a tight leash, and my regular hourly rate would put the price of this job over a grand and that's not really cost effective for the majority here. Of course, things will be faster and smoother on the next one but I'm guessing around $500 total. New hardware, materials, time, etc..... We can bounce the idea around.
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Re: Suroof repair 101... UPDATE...

Postby Psyko on Wed Dec 10, 2008 3:22 am

I'll have to keep that in mind. :)
Luckily mine are not totally shot yet, just getting there, so I can put it off for a bit. Plus, I'm not in a huge rush because my XT is sitting practically abandoned, without an engine, in Puyallup and full of every bit of car crap I could shove in it (and probably filling up like a bath tub again :().
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