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Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
10/26/20 11:03 p.m.

In reply to Rodan :

It really is frustrating but when it finally does pop in the relief makes it all worthwhile.

I've got a project planned for this winter on the 2001 - will be removing the PPF and we'll see what it gets hung up on this time.smiley

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
10/26/20 11:55 p.m.

Now if I had any sense, I would have flipped it and called it a successful project.

I don’t - hence the Scopecreep screen name.

While I was finishing up the new engine, Flyin Miata was sending out emails about “Black Friday” sales and since I’m a sucker for a deal, I checked them out and ended up buying the following over Thanksgiving weekend:

FM Stage 2 Suspension Package

  • FM front and rear springs
  • Koni Sport adjustable shock set with bump stops
  • FM front and rear sway bars

FM frame rail reinforcement kit

So instead of selling or enjoying the car, I put it back up on the QuickJack and started tearing apart the suspension. Luckily it’s a Tennessee car so everything came apart and went back together uneventfully.

I had some trepidation about drilling the holes for the frame rail reinforcements but they went in easily as the frame rails were unmolested from any jacks or jack stands over the years.

For Christmas 2018, I got a set of pleather replacement seat covers from Ridies.com that I was really happy with them. I was concerned about color matching and they sent me 5 different “tans” and I went with the one that was the closest to the rest of the interior as it is now after some fading over the years. They fit well and were much easier to stretch than the leather ones I had previously used in other projects (including the NC). Time will tell how long they last but for an occasional driver, I suspect they will hold up just fine.

By the Spring of 2019, the NB was pretty much done - everything in the engine and transmission completely resealed and a brand new suspension ready to do whatever

So I thought “Why don’t I do some AutoX this summer” so I went down to Huntsville to pick up a setup of used Nitto’s on stock Miata 15 in rims and ended up buying this as well.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
10/27/20 12:40 a.m.

As they say “ the best laid plans…” - long story short, there was no Autocross done last year (or this year either due to COVID). In late spring of 2019, we bought a house where Scopecreepette goes to college and ended up spending most of the summer going back and forth to it. I didn’t realize just how much time it would eat up doing small repairs and finding, refinishing and hauling furniture to a house 2.5 hours away.

Scopecreepette and I did manage to break away from our domestic chores long enough to attend MATG again in Fontana Village NC. We broke away for a day and went to the Biltmore in Asheville NC. If you get a chance, it’s worth the rather steep entrance fee they charge as there are hours of things to look at if you have the time.

They had a great turnout in 2019 at MATG and one of the cars there was a 1992 Sunburst Yellow Miata. Scopecreepette kept going on and on every time she saw it about how much she liked the color and how cool it was with the pop-up headlights. I had never seen her go on about a car like that before so I started thinking may I should look for another addition to the Miata stable...

We put just over 1000 miles on the NC over 4 days (we took the NC since I hadn’t put enough miles on the NB to be comfortable on a long trip yet) and really enjoyed the roads and the comradery of all the Miata folks there. One of the things that fascinates me about large gatherings of Miata’s is the breadth of people they attract. You have everything from pristine, low mileage Miata’s to homemade Exocets and the age group goes from 18 to 80 (one of the couples we drove up with are 78 and 77 years old and they drive a NC2).

So, during the course of looking for a SBY 92, in late October 2019 I came across a fairly local (30 minutes away) 95 C-package Miata with a hardtop, Koni Sport shocks and new TR’s and Dunlop Direzza ZIII’s for about the same price as the parts listed above. I decided I could make a SBY clone so I contacted the seller, made a deal and then it briefly joined the herd...

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/8/20 11:35 p.m.

The 95 was completely rust free and really clean but the leather interior had completely deteriorated and the car was really down on power. It also was a hardtop only car but I got the convertible top frame in the deal.

So the first order of business was to determine why it was down on power. While driving home, I had to downshift into 4th up every hill to keep the speed consistent. After changing plugs and wires with no improvement, I decided to check the timing. When I jumped the pins in the diagnostic plug, the timing was set to about 4 degrees so they had timed it without jumping the pins. Once I adjusted the CAS to set it at 10 degrees that took care of the power issue.

Since it was going to be turned into SBY Miata, I found a black Robbins soft top with glass window already installed on the frame on Facebook. I was surprised at how easy it was to get the frame lined up and how basic the rain rail was (and that it didn’t leak).

After a winter spent working on a damaged hardtop (more on that in the future) and a couple of mid 1970’s Cub Cadet lawn tractors, I found this in Alabama a couple of hours away the week everything started shutting down for Covid in March:

After confirming that it was a 92 with an HZ paint code, we worked a deal. It was a little rougher than I would have liked for the price, but after looking for 6 months I decided to just go ahead and take the plunge.

After an uneventful 2 hour drive home and some garage cleanup, I parked the 95 and 92 side by side to start swapping parts from the 95 to the 92 since almost everything was better in the 95 except for the seats.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/11/20 12:09 a.m.

The first order of business was to do something about the funky trunk. Everything in it was wet with mold growing on the carpets. It also had an oversized battery that was taking up the space that the spare tire should occupy.

After a day of scrubbing and completely eradicating the stinking factory sound deadening, I had the trunk fairly clean. After letting it dry overnight, I pulled the carpet, trim, spare tire, jack and tools and a correct battery with tray from the red 95 and installed it in the 92. It was quite a transformation.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/11/20 12:15 a.m.

After seeing how dirty and wet the trunk was, I decided I should probably see what was going on with the convertible top. While it was an extremely worn canvas top, I didn’t see how the trunk would be as wet as it was.

After removing the rain rail nuts, I pulled the top frame and realized that the top didn’t have a rain rail - all the rain that made it inside went into the car (and trunk). Since I had bought the car in an apartment complex, I suspect it saw a lot of water during previous ownership.

When I put the HardDog Ace roll bar in the NB, I kept thinking it would be much easier to install without having the top on so I ordered another Ace roll bar from Bethania Garage. While it was being shipped, I cleaned up the package tray and the floorboards. I was surprised to learn that most all the water had gone directly into the trunk as the floor carpets under the seats weren’t nearly as bad as the trunk.

I like that Hard Dog Ace since it sits a little further back so the seat can go all the way back and the seatbelts bolt directly to their factory attachment point. Since I had learned a few things (don’t drill out the spot rivets on the tray hanger - use an air chisel and drill the one rear leg hole that you can’t really get to above from below using the backing plate to mark where to drill) I got it installed in about half the time.

Since that was done and the worst of the cleaning was done, it was time to start moving suspension and wheels and tires between the 2 NA’s.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/11/20 12:21 a.m.

The previous owner had purchased Koni Sport adjustable struts but had left them on OEM springs. I had purchased NA Flyin’ Miata springs with the extended travel rear top hats during the Black Friday sale in 2019 so it was time to marry the aftermarket parts together for the 92 and the OEM parts together for the 95.

It was straightforward but time consuming as I was assembling 2 complete sets of and installing them a corner at a time. The 92 is still on OEM sway bars but I intend to correct that in a couple of weeks - assuming FM has a Black Friday sale again this year.

The last task before taking it off the QuickJack was moving over the TR Motorsports wheels and tires from the 95 to the 92 and moving the factory “Daisy’s” (that had been painted black) over to the 95.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/11/20 12:27 a.m.

The next project was to play musical soft tops…

The black Robbins top needed to be moved from the 95 to the 92 since it was a high quality top and in good shape.

The tan top on the 2001 SE had a ⅛ inch tear that was right where you look when getting in the driver's seat and bought out the OCD in me so it had to go.

Since I had never installed a soft top (and had heard on the various non-Miata forums how difficult they are to install), I decided to buy the cheapest top I could find so if I screwed it up, I wouldn’t be out too much money.

After some research, I ended up buying a Tan vinyl, plastic window soft top with attached rain rail from Autotops Direct and after finding a weekend without a chance of rain (3 convertible tops were involved) started the process.

I started by moving the black Robbins with frame to the 92 SBY and then removed the 2001 NB tan vinyl top with frame and just set it in the 95 so I could start on the installation before too much time had expired on Saturday.

I used the frame that came with the 95 and was pleasantly surprised that it already had the canvas straps needed for NB installation. I had watched several YouTube videos in preparation and the installation of the new top was really straightforward and only took a couple of hours even going slow and double checking everything. I put weights on the front bow and left them on overnight into Sunday to try to stretch the top. While it stretched some, I ended up adjusting the front latches all the way out to catch the windshield frame and working it closed by adjusting them back in.

The top seems to be of good quality and fit well. I suspect it should be good for several years but when it wears out, I’ll likely go with a Robbins canvas since I know I can install it and they’re much easier to live with (especially in the cold).

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/15/20 11:22 p.m.

Since all the parts had been switched over, it was time to move the red 95 on to a new owner. While I was preparing to do that, I read a post on the local Miata Facebook page that linked to some $99 “Pleather” seat skins for NA Miata’s on Amazon. Since the original seats were shredded, it made sense to invest a hundred dollars and roll the dice.

The seats fit well and were really easy to install. The material has a lot of stretch so it was really easy to pull them tight.

 

When I had the 2001 NB at our local garage to mount and balance some Continental ECS tires, one of the mechanics said he was keeping his eyes open for one to build as a father/son project with his 16 year old. Once the 95 was ready, I gave him a deal and the 95 moved on to a new life.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/16/20 11:15 p.m.

 

Leaks

One of the things I was disappointed in was how much the 92 SBY Miata leaked fluid. When I bought it, the PO had recent receipts for a head gasket, timing belt, and oil pump replacements with the associated gaskets and seals so I thought grunge on the underside was just residual fluids from before that work was done.

After driving it some, I realized that was not the case and it was leaking quite a bit. After a 30 minute spirited drive, there would be a puddle under the front and rear of the oil pan so I decided to replace the valve cover, CAS and camshaft and crankshaft gaskets since most of the work involved was removing the belts and covers.

After getting everything apart, the exhaust camshaft seal was leaking so after replacing the camshaft and crankshaft seals, I thought I was good to go (wrong).

While scraping the silicon off the top of the head, my hand brushed against one of the front exhaust camshaft cap bolts and it moved. I spun it by hand and then picked it up - the previous mechanic had broken the bolt and just left it in the cap which is why it was leaking around the exhaust camshaft gasket.

 

After drilling and tapping the broken bolt out, I installed two new OEM bolts and and finger checked the rest to make sure there weren’t any more broken (there weren’t) and replaced the CAS and valve cover gasket feeling pretty sure I had solved my leaks.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/16/20 11:25 p.m.

 

Leaks (Continued)

After another spirited drive, I looked under the car and it was still leaking - now it was collecting on the bottom of the bellhousing so I decided to do the gaskets on the back of the engine as well as the input and output seals on the transmission as I had begun to have serious questions about the previous owners mechanic. As I was removing the driveshaft, I noticed coolant on the PPF bolts:

After seeing the coolant, I decided to investigate the thermostat housing as it just didn’t look right. Since this was my first 1.6 engine, I wasn’t sure about this setup was stock (it wasn’t)

I’m really not sure why someone would modify the housing but ordered a new housing and o-ring. Since the housing was being changed, I ordered all new 1.6 specific hoses as well (including the water plug on the back of the engine).

Once I got the old housing off, it became clear where the coolant leak was - the o-ring had compressed and instead of purchasing a new one, they smeared RTV on the face that compresses to the head and it was leaking around the o-ring.

While I was waiting on the housing and coolant lines, I pulled the transmission and decided to replace the rear main and rear main housing seals as well as the 3 seals in the transmission.

Once that was complete, I replaced the thermostat housing, o-ring, coolant lines and buttoned everything up and finally, no leaks.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/17/20 12:00 a.m.

I decided the next project would be to fix some of the paint issues in the 92 SBY Miata. The paint had worn through to the white on the top of the rear bumper and the drivers fender had a pastel yellow swath where a PO had fixed a dent. The rear finish panel was cracked in several places so I decided to replace it with a new panel from Moss Miata.

I ordered some HZ paint code rattle cans from AutomotiveTouchup.com at the recommendation of cmcgregor and was really happy with the results.

I ended up with some orange peel (the metal fender was worse than the plastic) but after some wet sanding with 1200 and 2500 grit and rubbing compound with a DA polisher, I was pretty happy with the results.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/17/20 11:04 p.m.

The steering wheel was covered by a slip on ring that covered the outside of the “ring”. After I got it home, I decided to take the cover off and see if the wheel was salvageable (it wasn’t).

I picked up a used one on EBay - best $50 I’ve spent on the car thus far.

Now when I drive the car, the part you touch feels great and I don’t picture what was underneath the wheel cover. I’ve still got an intermittent flashing airbag light but that’s a project for another day.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
11/17/20 11:46 p.m.

Mrs. Scopecreep and I have started getting more active with the local Miata Club. The Club takes a few multi-day trips and while I have confidence in all my Miata’s, they all have a lot of miles on the odometer. The 92 SBY has 139K on the odometer but the speedometer cable was broken when I bought it so that number could be much higher. The 2001 SE has 145K on the chassis, 98K on the engine and the 2008 is actually the highest mileage @ 175K miles. We decided we wanted a newer, lower mileage Miata to take on the longer trips.

After looking at both examples of ND Miata’s I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. I really like the NC PRHT as it’s a hardtop and also a convertible. With the ND’s, you have an option of a soft top that's a convertible or a RF that’s really not a convertible, it’s more of a Targa top like I had on my old Supra’s. As I was struggling with what to do, I found the following while perusing FB Marketplace:

It is a 2015 Club PRHT with 14K miles and I realized it wasn’t what I was looking for but exactly what I needed. I showed it to Mrs. Scopecreep and we were in the car to see if we could work a deal in about 15 minutes. A few hours later, it came home with us. Since it has an automatic transmission, Mrs. Scopecreep is comfortable driving it (I can still get my manual fix in the 92 SBY and 01 SE).

It’s maiden voyage was a Veterans Day Parade with the Miata Club and we had a really good time. The crowd was down significantly due to Covid-19 restrictions but those that attended were really enthusiastic.

The Googly Eyes on the NA and the BDU wearing Teddy Bear riding in the NC2 were big hits with the little kids.

When we got home from the parade, both the 2015 and 2008 got parked in the garage so I can start the process of switching the aftermarket parts I’ve installed on the 2008 onto the 2015 since they have less than 4K miles on them.

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
11/18/20 12:57 a.m.

Nice work on the paint! That came out looking really nice. My color match is not that good, but I'm pretty sure that's because of the paint on the car, not the spray cans. 

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
12/4/20 11:56 p.m.

In reply to cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) :

I'm happy with it but the color match looks better in pictures than in person. It actually seems to look best in sunlight, worse under fluorescent lights like below (looks worse in person).

I'm not too worried about it - I think it gives it a little character smiley

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
12/5/20 12:08 a.m.

So after a couple of weeks of swapping parts between the 2 NC’s, I finally got the following moved to the NC2:

Progress springs

Koni Sports

Progress front and rear sway bars (the front will go out the passenger side if properly motivated).

Hawk HFS front and rear brake pads

Moroso aluminum coolant tank

Reading the list it doesn’t look like much but it took a couple of weekends working several hours a day to accomplish. The NC2 received its new alignment today and it’s done for the near future.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
12/5/20 12:34 a.m.

Before I pulled the 2 NC’s in the garage, I had started working on the red hardtop that I kept from the 95 Miata.

This was the result after a few hours of sanding to clear up areas where the paint wasn’t sticking well and to sand off most of the clearcoat. Its original color was BRG which would have looked great on my 01 SE except for all the red paint sad

After I taped off the inside and rear window, I started putting on the primer. While spraying this first coat of primer, I had 2 or 3 drips so I decided I needed a different method than painting it lying flat.

So I clamped a couple of 2x4’s to concrete blocks and used the guard for my table saw to hold the hardtop almost vertical. This worked much better since the paint can didn’t spend much time horizontal (which is when I get drips). After 4 coats of basecoat and 5 coats of clear, this is what it looked like – I was a little disappointed with how much orange peel is in the paint. There was much more this time than when I painted the fender, bumper and rear panel.

I've been sanding on it a little with 1500 grit wet but I don't have great light in the garage so I stopped as I'm afraid I'll over-sand some areas. It’s supposed to be full sun tomorrow so I’ll pull it into the sun and finish sanding the orange peel out. I think I have enough clear on it that as long as I’m careful, I can get most of it out.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
12/12/20 12:05 a.m.

After several hours of working on it last weekend with 1200 and 2500 wet I decided to stop with just a little bit of orange peel left. I probably should have kept sanding but chickened out.

This is what it looks like after compound and polish. I’m satisfied with it considering it cost less than $100 in paint supplies.

Remember at the top of this page where I unintentionally bought a turbo setup?

I’ve been collecting parts (cooling and exhaust) and it’s time to install it to see what condition it’s in. I just put this engine in a couple of years ago so everything is coming apart nicely.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
12/15/20 12:18 a.m.

After spending a couple of hours Wed – Friday after work and half a day on Saturday, the engine is out and the front sub frame cleaned up.

Next task is to replace the rear main seal and determine which clutch to use. Hopefully I can determine if the new engine has an upgraded clutch by looking up the part numbers. I’ll also be removing the lower pulley to verify it has an adjustable timing wheel.

I’ve got a new timing belt kit with a water pump but I’ll wait to put that in once the engine is in the car as there is plenty of room with the radiator and fans removed.

The parts list is short (header to downpipe exhaust gasket) but will probably grow as I put the engine in and mock up the intercooler piping from the parts that came in a bin when I bought the motor.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
12/19/20 9:58 p.m.

So the scavenger hunt was a mixed bag. The flywheel and clutch were OEM but it did have a FM adjustable trigger wheel.

I was a little surprised that the timing was set for full retard on the wheel. I was also surprised that it took me at least 10 minutes to work the trigger wheel off the crankshaft. I’ll need to clean up the wheel and crankshaft with some sandpaper before I put the engine back in.

Since I had removed the clutch on the scavenger hunt, I went ahead and replaced the rear main seal and installed the flywheel and clutch from the engine I pulled since it has about 2K miles on it.

When I was swapping engine mounts, I noticed a large drop of oil on the bottom of the turbo drain fitting, Since I was going to replace the hose anyway, I went ahead and took it off and found this.

The bottom fitting was 5/8” and the line coming out of the turbo is ½” . They used 5/8” hose and I suspect it leaked around the top even though they had tightened the hose clamp as much as they could.

After a search on the McMaster-Carr website, I found a 1/2” barbed and 3/8” NPT thread connector and ordered 10 feet of ½” gas line on Amazon. Here’s the main project for today:

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
12/21/20 12:16 a.m.

Once I started to put everything together, I decided to let the hose stretch over the ends overnight since they were extremely tight

The plan for today was to continue to work on the turbo motor with the hope of finishing it up but plans changed when I saw these on FB Marketplace last night

I contacted the seller who was about 45 minutes away and ended buying everything below at about a 70% discount.

The package of parts had been removed from a 2013 NC Club and included:

949Racing 6UL 17X8 rims with a +48 offset in Tungsten 

215/45R17 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S3+ with approximately 500 miles

2 sets of McGard two piece spline drive lug nuts

New (when tires were put on) OE Mazda TPMS sensors

Cobalt Stainless NC front strut bar

After I got back home and everything stored in the shed, I decided to finish up the oil drain hose and call it a day.

I expected to really have to wrestle with the hose but after stretching it overnight it went on in a few minutes without much drama.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
1/10/21 10:43 p.m.

I installed the new (to me) engine during Christmas break from work and started taking the front of the engine apart to do the timing belt and then this happened

The first Torx screw came out fine but the next two stripped out their heads so what started as a quick easy job just got a lot harder. I ended up using a left hand drill bit to get the 2ndnd screw out. Once it was out, I tapped the cap with a hammer and flat head screwdriver and the frozen screw moved with the cap and I could unscrew the last one.

After a search on the Miata forums I learned that the screws were M5 .08 10mm Flat Head Cap Screws and I ordered 15 on Ebay with a 3mm Hex head as I prefer those to Torx heads.

While waiting on them in the mail, I went ahead with the timing job (including intake, exhaust and front crankshaft gaskets, new belts, idler and tensioner pulleys and the water pump).  After I got it all back together, I took the following picture to admire my work…

A sharp eyed person will notice that I forgot to install the plate that goes behind the camshaft gears. After a few minutes of cursing, I got to undue much of my hard work but eventually got it back together. The Hex head screws came in and were a perfect fit.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
1/10/21 10:56 p.m.

The weather was wonderful on January 1st in Tennessee so I took the opportunity to switch the factory wheels and tires for the 17X8 6UL’s I purchased a couple of posts ago. I’m really happy with how they look.

We had Cars and Coffee on the 2nd and they got quite a few compliments.

Scopecreep
Scopecreep New Reader
1/10/21 11:30 p.m.

So the past week has been a lot of re-installing parts and looking up torque specs. By the end of the day yesterday, I had everything reinstalled and torqued down, fluids added, and double checked. The only remaining thing to install was the full Flyin Miata MazdaSpeed Exhaust that I had bought in preparation for this in 2019.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve grown more and more concerned about whether the motor was any good. The seller had never run the engine – he had purchased it from a guy he raced against and had decided to go another direction (normally aspirated MegaSquirt) before he installed it.

As a result, I decided to do the initial test start on the factory airbox/cross intake pipe. It would save me time in knowing if I had to pull the engine again.

After installing the FM exhaust and triple checking everything, I pushed it outside the garage and tried to start it and it wouldn’t start – sounded like 1 or 2 cylinders were hitting but not enough to run.

I decided to torque the spark plugs (initially I had seated them on the crush washers and added a half turn) and tried again – same result.

I then reset the gap on the crankshaft positioning sensor (NB2’s have a trigger wheel on the crankshaft to tell the coils when to fire) and it started and died.

I realized I had left the intake pipe off when I was setting the gap (air not metered) so I put it on and it started running pretty rough but leveled out after about 15 seconds.

I did a little dance and waited for the white smoke to stop pouring out of the tailpipe. And waited. And waited.

I continued to wait once it got up to temp and let it idle for another 10 minutes and there is still a ton of white smoke coming out of the exhaust. I’m starting to think it may have a blown headgasket.

So I decided to zip tie the air cleaner to the power steering reservoir (I couldn’t put in the airbox because turbo intake was in the way) and take it down our dead end road. If it was still blowing white smoke when I got home, I was going to put it back on the lift and contemplate a headgasket job.

When I got back home (it’s about a ¾ mile down and ¾ mile back) the white smoke is gone – so I did another little dance and but then realized that I had a small puddle of oil where the car was idling so I put it back on the QuickJack to look for the leak.

On the lift I saw that it was coming from somewhere above the starter so I tightened the banjo bolt on the VVT oil feed and started it to see if that was the issue. While I was walking around looking for my shop light, the engine made a funny sound and died. As I turned around to look, I saw the fuel line had popped off the fuel rail and spewed gas all over the front of the engine. After changing my shorts, I cleaned up the gas, reconnected the fuel line and opened the windows (door was already open) and called it a day to let the fuel vapor evaporate tonight. After work tomorrow, I’ll see if the oil leak is fixed. I suspect it is because of where it was and the puddle oil was pretty dark.

Engine sounds healthy – it was a bit of a rollercoaster day but I’m going to call it a win…

 

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