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Bringing a VE 5 speed 3rd gen back to life!

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Bringing a VE 5 speed 3rd gen back to life!

Old 10-01-2018, 09:57 AM
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Old 10-01-2018, 09:58 AM
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It's far from perfect, but at least it's shiny. However, now that it's shiny, that makes all of the defects all the more obvious. The paint does look better in person than in the pictures. The passenger side of the car has a number of scratches, but the driver's side is in remarkably good shape. I'm excited to see what it looks like out in the sunlight, but I didn't have time yesterday to take it out for a photoshoot.

Next up: new tires, an alignment, and rust repair!
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Old 10-08-2018, 09:56 AM
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I had the Maxima out of the garage while I was working on other things, so I figured I would snap some pics while it was still clean and shiny!











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Old 10-10-2018, 05:38 AM
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amazing brother ! making me miss mine !
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Old 11-12-2018, 07:41 AM
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I hope you're ready for a big project, because I sure wasn't!

My I30 has a bit of rust on the rear fenders and I want to repair it myself. However, I'm very picky about the paint quality on that car, and since I have no real experience doing rust repair or paint, I wanted to get experience on the Maxima first, since I don't care nearly as much about it. There were five areas of rust on the car, but two were so bad I decided to not do them and focus on what I thought I could manage. That was a wise decision. I no longer have a need for the Maxima now that the I30 and M3 are running reliably, so all this work has been done with the intent of selling it soon. Still, I wanted to do a quality job here that will last many years, so I didn't cut any corners.

I bought quality auto paints and primer from a local supply store. The primer and clear are 2K paints that are much higher quality than what you can find at Home Depot. They're more expensive, but I think they were worth it. The spray pattern alone was pretty amazing.

So here are the before pics:

















To make things easier, I removed the DS rear door. It took a bit of time, but it was well spent.



My VIN sticker was looking pretty sad:



The first step was to go around the rust areas with a hammer and chisel and knock all of the loose stuff out and get to solid metal:









The PS was the worst:







Crap, those are some big holes!!!



Here's a pic of most of my products.


Last edited by 95maxrider; 11-12-2018 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 11-12-2018, 08:34 AM
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Then I went around with a few wire wheels on my gun, and then brought out the angle grinder with a flap wheel to really get down to bare metal.



















Then it was time for the Bondo wire mesh stuff. I needed something for my goop to adhere to, and this stuff worked nicely. One side has some adhesive on it, but it was pretty weak. I layered it to increase strength and also give my goop more to cling to.











Then it was time for my secret weapon….POR15 in body filler form! I love POR15 paint and have used it all over my other two cars, but it’s just paint. Thankfully, they also make it in a thicker form, which they call a seam or body filler. It has all the rust-preventative properties as the paint, it’s just thicker! In my case, I was it had been a little thicker, but I was able to make it work. I don’t think I was using it quite as it was intended, since I was filling in large holes, but overall I’m happy with the product.










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Old 11-12-2018, 08:35 AM
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It was about 50* outside during this whole project, so the garage was never quite warm enough for my products to cure as they should have. It didn’t help that I put the POR15 goop on way too thick. Three days later it appeared to be cured, but as I started sanding it down with my Dremel I found many areas still wet and goopy. Oh well!







I then did a round on Bondo after smoothing out the POR15 mess:









Then a second round of Bondo:





And then for the areas inside the fender, some rubberized undercoating:



Then a final coating of the thinner Bondo to fill in the tiny holes:









Then, it was time for the moment of truth- painting!!!

It was too cold outside, and too windy. But winter was coming and I didn’t have many options, so I just had to make do.





There were three coats of primer, three of color, and three of clear. My masking job got all sorts of messed up and was not as good as I had planned, but I was short on time and had to finish up the job that day. Needless to say, things were rushed and not done as well as I had planned. Still, the car had paint on it again! Here’s how it looked after bringing it back inside:



My transitions were crap:






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Old 11-12-2018, 08:35 AM
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But it kind of looked like a car again:















After letting it cure for 5 days, I wet sanded it. 1500, 2000, 2500, and 5000 grit.

















I bought a new 3” backing plate for my buffer and some 3.5” pads so I could work in these tight corners. My 6.5” regular pads were way too big.


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Old 11-12-2018, 08:36 AM
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That 5000 grit wet sanding was great! The shine came right back with the buffer which was a little surprising given how scratched it was.





I did sand through the paint in a bunch of locations, mostly on edges. What can I say, it’s tough having no experience working on these complex curved areas. Flat exterior body panels would be easy compared to this stuff. I’ll probably go around and touch up the areas with my touch up paint.





The finish is far from perfect, but without the crazy bright lights shining on it, it’s not nearly as noticeable. This makes it looks much worse than it is.







Now, with the bright lights turned off:













Lights back on:





Trim reinstalled:







And that folks is how you do some rust repair at home! It’s far from perfect, and wouldn’t be acceptable on my I30, but for this car I’m gonna let it slide. I could have spent another day refining the Bondo and perfecting the shapes of the fenders, but working with Bondo is a PITA and I was running out of time, so this had to do. I learned a lot of lessons which will help me do a better job when it comes to do the I30, and I hopefully slowed down the rust on the Maxima by sealing up all those holes and getting POR15 all over everything. I must say that I’m pretty proud of myself, and doing this has made me much more confidant about doing other rust and paint projects in the future. Long live the 3rd gen!

Last edited by 95maxrider; 11-12-2018 at 08:52 AM.
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Old 11-12-2018, 10:15 AM
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Good job!
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Old 11-16-2018, 09:31 AM
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holy crap man, i am more than impressed ! holy cow !, looks great man really does ! and i am so impressed by the polishing you did to the hood and roof, it looks like new paint ! wow.

i am debating what to do on my quarters, they are going to hell. this is not motivating because it looks like tons of work ! ehhh (and im a daily driver) sigh, but props man this is really good work.
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Old 11-16-2018, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Prophecy99 View Post
holy crap man, i am more than impressed ! holy cow !, looks great man really does ! and i am so impressed by the polishing you did to the hood and roof, it looks like new paint ! wow.

i am debating what to do on my quarters, they are going to hell. this is not motivating because it looks like tons of work ! ehhh (and im a daily driver) sigh, but props man this is really good work.
Yeah, it was a fair amount of work, but it was done as a learning experience, so it was okay with me. I have a feeling fiberglass would have been a better choice for the large hole repairs, but for some reason I just didn't consider it when doing this job. Lesson learned! Part of me just wants to do everything I can to ensure this car stays on the road long after I sell it. I've only seen a few other 3rd gens on the road the whole time I've owned this thing and it makes me sad! The areas to the rear of the rear wheels wells are BAD and would have required welding, which is why I decided to just leave them alone and focus on what I could "do".
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Old 11-20-2018, 08:10 AM
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Now get it sold!
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Old 12-04-2018, 08:53 AM
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I still had some touch-up paint lying around so I decided to use it up. I ran out of it when doing the PS R door, so that area is pretty sloppy, but the rest of it turned out well enough. There was a long scratch running along most of the PS of the car, and some other scratches on the PS R door:







A previous owner had already applied touch-up paint, but it had started to fail, so I wanted to fix it up before selling the car. There were also some previous paint repairs on the hood that needed to be redone:



So I brought out a new fun "tool", a fiberglass pen!



This thing is awesome! It's very stiff and abrasive, and made quick work of prepping the areas. I went around to all of the areas I wanted to repair and sanded them down a bit to remove as much of the old touch-up paint as I could:











Then I cleaned up with some rubbing alcohol and started applying the touch-up paint:

















I have to say, it made a big difference! It's tough to show in pictures, but the new paint really helps hide the previous touch-up work. If you're not looking for it it's easy to not "see" the new paint, so I'm very pleased with how well it turned out. Next up, one final photo shoot before it goes up for sale!

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Old 12-04-2018, 10:44 AM
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With the leaves turning all sorts of crazy colors and the Maxima nice and shiny, it was time for some glory pics before selling it!







































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Old 12-04-2018, 10:46 AM
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Old 12-04-2018, 11:14 AM
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stunning man ! making me miss my 3rd gen alot, amazing work dude.
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Old 01-22-2019, 02:00 PM
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Well everyone, after three years it was time to sell the Maxima. It served me well, and allowed me the freedom to work on my other cars in peace, but with them generally reliable now, the 3rd gen wasn't getting much use, and needed to find a new home. I put up an ad on Craigslist with the pretty pictures above and waited. For almost a week I got nothing, and then I was bombarded with inquiries. In the end, I sold it to a gentleman up in New Hampshire (I live in Virginia) who bought it sight unseen for the full asking price of $2,600! He said he used to own a 3rd gen, and had been looking for a good one to buy and fix up. He said mine was the best one he had seen, and he just had to have it. He also owns a 1st gen NSX as well as a NA Z32, so I knew it was going to a good home. He plans on fixing the rust and oil leaks, and may repaint it at some point.

Not too long after I bought the Maxima, I somehow got the idea that I wanted to sell it for 10x what I bought it for. I'll be the first to admit this was only possible because of how cheap I bought the car for- $250! Granted, the car was on its way to the junkyard if I didn't buy it, and you can see how much work I had to do to it just to get it "good enough". Still though, I had my goal and set about trying to make the car good enough to justify such a price. Hence the AC repair, rust repair, paint buffing, new tires, etc. Everyone, including myself, was skeptical that I could ever get $2,500 for it, but I had nothing to lose by trying, so I set the asking price at $2,600, figuring that would give me a little wiggle room to negotiate. I had a hard time believing that someone wanted the car so badly that they would pay full price without even seeing the car in person, but such is the appeal of a nice VE 5MT VLSD 3rd gen!

Here's my last pic of the car as it was being loaded onto the trailer:



I still have the short shifter that came on the car. Does anyone want to buy it for $50? I don't know the brand.





And with that, I guess this thread is pretty much done. The Maxima served its purpose, and gave me a lot of great opportunities to try and learn new skills, so I'm grateful for the time I had with it. This is only the second car I've ever sold, so letting go was kinda tough, but I knew it was the right thing to do. I'm glad the new owner is as nutty about these cars as we are, and I'm also glad to not have to worry about keeping it road legal and safe. With the wife's 2001 Escape sold and replaced by a 2007 FX35, we no longer own any cars that leak fluids or have rust issues, which makes me very happy! Thanks to everyone for reading, now let's get back to that I30!
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