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Discussion Starter · #181 ·
Finally...I found a replacement shock at K-Sport in Brookvale. K-Sport are made in the same Taiwanese factory as G4 was, so they are interchangeable, but are a black colour instead of chrome tho.


And they managed to supply me with the same 50mm "Type D" shock the dead shock, so it's a perfect fit in the old G4 hardware.


So on it goes, with the new caliper and pads. You'll notice I also fixed the broken ABS sensor wire in the background.


With everything buttoned up, I ran a whole 500ml of fluid through the whole system. Yeech...better out than in I guess. I also swapped the front tyre to the Michelin Pilot Sports. They're 205s on a 7in rim, so there is a tiny bit of stretch


Hmm...maybe the front needs to go down about 10mm?


But the great news is that Luce drives magnificently. The front end hasn't been so tight and planted in years, and no more front end clunks over bumps. And rather embarassingly, the ABS is working for the first time since 2007 :lol: (bloody **** it was as simple as a broken wire)

The reason for the difficulty with the suspension is because it's all custom. As we all know, there isn't actually any coilover kit available for HC Luce, except for some Korean kits which are quite exxy (the HC 929 was sold there as the Kia Potentia until 2001). The HC doesn't quite have the same suspension as FC RX-7, although you can MacGuyver it to work if you like it real low. In this pic you can see FC shocks on the left (G4 and Tein) and they are both 4ins too short. The one on the right is a mix and match setup that G4 (which used to be handled by Just Jap) was kind enough to put together for me.


I then got strut top plates laser cut out of 8mm steel, and that was the last piece of the puzzle I needed to get the hybrid setup into the Luce




It's good to know that I can still get parts for it, and interestingly, K-Sport also sell an airbag kit that will screw into the existing coilovers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #182 ·
After this, the maiden voyage went quite well....oh look a rotary at a petrol station


The suspension was pretty transformed with the removal of that dead shock, so no more clunking soundtrack as you drive. The ride height has settled during the drive (the earlier pic was just off the jack) so the wheel gap has re-awesomed itself.


Brakes work good too, and the ABS is still working, so I think that busted wire must have been the issue all along. The only issue was some strange squealing noise when I accelerated from standstill, and when I got home, the drive belts for the oil metering pump and alternator were pretty loose, so I tighten them in a hope that it'll fix it.


But a few days later the belts didn't seem quite so tight anymore, which means I think that they're on their last legs and are getting stretchy. So...new belts...JDM yo, Bando brand.


As you can see, the 13B has quite a few...one for power steer, a/c, alternator (which also drives the water pump and fan) and the air pump. Now the air pump is a weird rotary thing...it takes fresh air from the airbox and pumps it into the exhaust manifold. The official reason is to pump in fresh oxygen to help the exhaust charge get a more complete burn once it leaves the rotor housing, but in reality what it really does is inject fresh air to dilute the pollution in the exhaust, so the pollution readings aren't quite so catastrophic :D Some nice design there by Mazda: the water pump and fan are driven by two belts, the air pump and the alt belt. So if one snaps, you still get to limp home with a working water pump and radiator fan.


First, before I work on belts, I always unhook the battery. It's very easy for a spanner or something to slip off a fender and fall on top of the starter, and when that happens the motor will crank. Even if it only does 1/4 of a revolution, that's enough to trap your fingers in the belts.


Now, there are two ways that belts are tensioned, and the 13B has them both. The nice way is a tensioner that is tightened/loosened by turning a bolt. Once the tensioner is lowered, the belt goes slack and can be removed.


Two of the belts look like they can only come off if the fan is removed, but in reality you can wiggle the belt past the fan blades.


This is the other kind of belt tensioning...the alternator is on a sliding bracket, so I use a long screwdriver to lever it upwards (and make the belt tight) while I tighten the fixing bolt.


With this kind you also have to loosen/tighten the main mounting bolt on the other side.


Et voila...new belts! For the record, they are all the same as FC, except the power steering belt is shorter. I guess there must be less clearance in a Luce, so the power steering pump and a/c compressor locations are swapped compared to an FC.


Next job is to replace the other front shock. The other day, I replaced the really dead shock on the passenger side, but the driver's side still looked good, with no leak. But if you went over a speedbump, you could tell that there was a little bit of a difference from side to side...I dunno if this is due to the driver's side being worn, or because of differences in valving between the G4 and the K-Sport. But anyway, I'll change it so that the front end is a matched pair.


Struts are easy to change :)


Roughly 45mins to get to this stage.


The last thing for today is to remove the Blitz boost gauge from the steering column. The light doesn't work anymore, and TBH it isn't needed since the motor is capped at 6psi and doesn't spike. When I first got the Luce, the plans were to screw up the boost to the max, and then drive the thing until it blew up, and so I fitted the boost gauge. But then I had the motor rebuilt, and kept it at stock boost, so there isn't any reason to have a gauge. Looks much cleaner without it.


With the new tyres, it's still got good fitment :D Interestingly, what I thought was an rear wheel bearing noise is gone. I guess it must have been related to the hard old tyres being a little flat spotted from sitting in one spot for so many years. With the new Dunlops, it rolls quietly, so I reckon there's actually no issue there.




And we're done...mechanically this is as good as she' gonna get, and I would say the Luce drives as well as it did in 2007 when the resto was still fresh.
 

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Discussion Starter · #183 ·
One last job was the rust spot in the C-pillar. There was always a little bit of a rust spot in the c-pillar, mostly behind the chrome trim. But just the same, it's gotten worse while the car was in storage, and the paint in the area is a little bubbly and you can see rusty water coming out from that area. The question is...how bad is it?


Well, only one way to find out, and removing the trim starts with removing the rubber door seal, which has plastic pop studs at each end, but is just squeezed into a channel on the underside of the trim


With the rubber seal out of the way, some screws are revealed...


But the trim is also bolted to the c-pillar sheetmetal, and that means that the interior trim has to come off to access the bolts. BTW that metal panel at 11'o clock in the pic is the Yakuza Plate that tried to take my pinky finger...as I pulled it free of its plastic studs, it **** near sliced the thing off :D


At first the rust doesn't look too bad, after scraping off the loose stuff.


But further scraping with a wire brush exposed a few pinholes....Oops.


But if you look from the inside, the paint seems to be intact, so it's all on the outer surface.


The first step is to treat the rust with rust converter, which chemically attacks the rust and converts it into this inert black substance. Then I give the surface a rough sanding, and then wipe off the residue with a tack cloth, and then wipe the panel with prepaint solvent.


Then we bog...as me mate Edd China would say...a golfball of filler, to a pea of hardener. Then you mix it all until it's a uniform colour. Funnily enough, in 20yrs of working on cars, this is the very first time I've dabbled in bog, so this is all very interesting.


...within 5mins of mixing, it goes into a soapy sort of consistency, and you can peel chips of it off the board I was using. So once mixed, it starts to harden and you have to work fast.


Proof of the Yakuza Pinky Finger Rite of Passage..
 

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Discussion Starter · #184 ·
I found it quite hard to butter the bog on smoothly, but the main thing is that it's pressed down onto all the nooks and crannies and there aren't any air pockets. And as we'll see, the excess filler is easy enough to sand off.


Once it's dry, I start to rough in the bog with coarse 100grit paper, then move onto finer 320grit to get it smooth. As you can see, most of the filler is sanded off, what remains just fills in the little craters in the surface


Then wipe with a tack cloth again, and clean with prepaint...and then on with a few coats of Etch Primer. Etch primer has some acid in it, which eats into bare metal to get a good bond, and therefore it offers good corrosion resistance. Since there was some bare metal exposed by the sanding, I thought this was a good first step.


...then a few coats of Filler Primer, which is quite thick, and is good for hiding imperfections.


Then sand with very fine 600grit paper, then wipe with tack cloth, pre paint, etc


Then a few coats of metallic grey...


And we're done! I'd say that isn't too dodgy looking at all, although if I had this done professionally I prolly would ask for a refund :lol:. Not a Pebble Beach standard by any means, but the important thing is that the rusty bit is sealed off from moisture behind that trim, which should prevent the rust from coming back. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, but as for learnings, I'll try to learn how to prevent that epic masking line in the future.


And while we wait for the paint to dry before reassembling the car, I thought I'd have a go at fixing the stuck rear seat. The Luce has electric reclining rear seats, which are a cool feature, but while it was in storage, I guess some moisture or corrosion got onto the switch and one side jammed.


You can motor it fwd's, but it won't go back, so I figured there was nothing wrong at the seat end, it must have been a switch issue. So off comes the door card, and I disassemble the switch panel


It's a bit tricky to get it apart without cracking the brittle 27yr old plastic, but I manage to prise one end up, and squirt plenty of contact cleaner insider.


And now it works like a charm :D
Luce Recommissioning 2 - YouTube

With the car reassembled, you might notice there's been some work done if the door was open when you clock that epic paint mask line.


But with the door closed there's just a little masking line cutoff to give the game away.
 

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Discussion Starter · #185 ·
I have some nice detailing products, but they're mainly to maintain my other cars have pretty clean paint. My stuff for actually rescuing bad paint isn't very hardcore. This stuff does the job on my other cars, but for the Luce, they really weren't enough.


Even after claying (twice!) and then hitting it with Ultimate Compound and Paint Cleaner, the Luce was still a little chalky.


It's ok from a distance, glossy and black, but up close you can see lots of water spotting. Not really swirls, but rather a dullness to the paint.


Thanks to a good mate, I borrowed a range of German polishing products :)


Which are helpfully rated for level of cut.


But the other (important) part of the equation is the machine polisher, and collection of pads, all graded from fine to coarse for cutting, polishing or finishing.


I started off with the medium cut Intensive Polish, but it wasn't quite man enough to shift the water spots on the bootlid, so I ended up using the Power Gloss, which had the harshest cut. I tested a small section with a hand applicator and then tried the power buffer, and it didn't look like it was cutting through the clearcoat or anything (the pad would have gone black if so).

So I hit every panel with Power Gloss on the coarse cutting pad. Then the fine pad with Intensive Polish, and then the finishing pad with Sealing Wax. And...Ta-da!














The paint was done in 2006 by Sydney Smash Repairs, Panel Beater, Smash Repairers || Jack Hillermans Artarmon and it was a really nice job, so it was a shame to see it chalky and dull.


I'd say that if you were really super picky, you'd notice some faint water spots here and there, but I reckon it's pretty **** good, and so silky to the touch :) ...and that's where we are as of this evening. I got some new radius arm bushes on order, but apart from that I reckon I've atoned for the years of neglect, and this is as good as she ever was :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #186 ·
Well the last mechanical thing I wanted to do on Luce was replace the front radius arm bushes. After replacing both front shocks, there was still a little vagueness and clunkiness, so I think it's something I have to do. But the Luce has very unusual radius arms, which actually go backwards and mount to the base of the firewall. There is a big rubber bush there that rotates with suspension movement, but also cops the fore-aft loadings from braking. So that bush is really the first to wear out, as it is a conventional bush that also takes loads axially. You might also notice the weird steering arrangement the Luce, has...the steering rack actually lives inside the crossmember, and has a steering damper.


Room was a bit tight, so I unbolted the lower control arm, which allowed the radius arm to swing out.
Which allowed me enough room to wiggle it out. It's pretty well secured, with no less than six M10 bolts which were rattle-gunned tight.


Ahh that's interesting...the gland nut on the radius arm bush is a reverse thread.


But everything was on so tight, I ended up using the 'gun on all the bolts.


Ah. Yes. Very cactus. The locating tube has completely separated from the rubber part, no doubt allowing a lot of clunky movement.


First I tried to press out the old bush, but it's so big it didn't work, my biggest socket kept slipping inside of it.


So the hard-way, is to first saw through the metal casing of the old bush (after pulling out the insides of course)


Carefully cut all the way through...don't worry about nicking the casting, it's more important that you cut it all the way through. The metal bush is actually very slightly larger than the hole it's in, so it's stuck in there pretty tight, and making a few sawcuts around the circumference takes the tension out of it.


Then do this for about three hours.


Use a hammer and pin punch to peel back the metal casing where the sawcuts were made...


And eventually it starts to come out.


The next challenge, is how to get the new Whiteline bush in there. The plastic bush is one-piece, and comes already pressed into its metal casing. I was expecting a 2 piece bush that would just slot in either side of the casting, but this will have to be pressed in too.


First I tried to be clever, and put the metal casting in the oven for 20mins, while the bush went into the freezer. This has worked for me in the past, but not here. The bush felt slightly too big to fit.


Ok, so it's brute force time. But when I put the new bush in the press, the plastic part would just mushroom out and deform, so luckily I found this old coilover spring hat, that was just the right size to cup the plastic part of the bush.


The spring hat prevents the plastic bush from deforming as it's pressed in...the hole in the casting is 47mm, and the diameter of the bush is more like 47.1mm, so it takes a fair bit of force.


But it works...


...and eventually it's in.


You'll notice that the casting isn't quite centred in the bush, but that was as far as I could press it in, using this method. But the casting has slotted bolt holes, which allow a fair bit of adjustment, so it all bolted up easily without having to resort to using the prybar to make all the holes line up :)


And on the road, it feels great. The steering is a bit more direct and consistent, but the main difference is that it rides a lot more silently, and it feels tighter when you go over speedbumps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #187 ·
The suspension wasn't quite done though. Firstly, the pillowball tops were looking a little second hand...and the coilovers would make an annoying noise when you applied lock, which I'll explain in a moment.


So up she goes on stands. For what I''ll be doing, the strut legs will come off, but first the caliper is unbolted and wired up to the side.


When I turn the wheel to apply a lot of lock (say when parking), you can hear this ka-ting, ka-ting noise. Basically what happens is that as the bottom part of the strut turns, rotational force is applied to the top spring hat (and hence the pillowball top) via the spring. So the spring binds a bit, then releases, and that's that ka-ting noise. It's very annoying and you can feel it as a slight notchiness in the steering. G4's fix for it, is to install a rubber isolator at the top and bottom of the spring, but in my case, as the original shocks died, oil leaked out and ate away the rubber which fell to pieces.


And when I installed the new shocks a few weeks ago, I forgot to get new rubber isolators, and installed the springs without them. Anyway, this made the ka-ting, ka-ting much worse and as of today I couldn't stand it and went to see Frank at K-Sport. His solution is a bit different to G4's, which is instead of using rubber to give the spring grip, he installs a combination of steel and hard plastic spacers, which are greased up before assembly.


One goes at the top, and another at the bottom of the spring.


Ready for installation...I like to set up the spring height with no preload, which is to say that the spring, when installed is just very lightly trapped in place (the actual ride height is set by screwing the whole schock up and down in the bottom blue mount). I find this gets the best ride, without a "tense" quality that you usually get with coilovers.


Before installation...the new K-Sport vs the old G4 pillowball top. The K-Sport one is much bigger, so you use a thicker tubular spacer (pictured) when installing the shock. I didn't think there was anything wrong with the old G4 pillowballs, but when I compared them to the new ones, they do seem a little worn. The new ones are very stiff, to the point where you can't move the ball by hand, whereas the old G4s move quite smoothly by hand and maybe have a tiny bit of slop. Anyway they are 6yr old, so have had a good innings.


Installed and ready to go!


Well the minor suspension makeover has worked like a charm, the steering is silky smooth and silent from lock to lock now. Frank suggested that once a year, say during an oil change, it's a good idea to loosen the springs and paint some new grease between washers. But the front end is super tight feeling, I reckon it's pretty sorted now.
 

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ahhh so Q bond does the trick!
 

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Discussion Starter · #189 ·
Actually...no, it would appear that QBond is not a permanent fix...because for the past few months, the Luce has looked like this (since the day the bonnet trim flew off)


My heart sank at the sight of the trim fly over the roof of the car and get squashed by the traffic behind, because I've always thought that this part was NLA. Indeed, Mazda Australia no longer lists it as being available. But my good buddy Daeden at Mazda managed to work out that they are still available in Japan...and here we are!


Nothing like nice,shiny new things




So much better.


As far as I know, Mazda Australia brought more than one bonnet trim into the country, so for a very limited time only...they are back in stock! Part number here:
 
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