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RedGT Dork
4/13/21 8:55 p.m.

Tonight I tried ceramic-coating the black set of wheels.  With the cheapest thing amazon sells.


I cleaned the wheels as well as I have ever cleasned them, which may not be saying much.  Then wipe on, wait 5+ minutes, wipe off.

It looks great when setting:

But after doing the final wipe as instructed the finish dulls a bit.  Still brighter than before and water (and hopefully brake dust!) slips right off.

I went and did a second coat after 2 hours which is setting up right now.

As for why?  Well "run the tires you have for economical fun" lasted precisely one event.  The car is too close to competitive to not take the plunge on decent 200tw tires.  Giving the Falken RT660 a try in 245/45-17 which will go on these wheels in a day or two.

Reason for choosing?  Out of the current "decent" 200tw tires (Yoko A052, Bridgestone RE71R, BFG RivalS, Nankang CR-1, Nexen SUR4G, Falken RT660 - of which the best choice depends on class, setup and driving style) these are the...cheapest.  $640 a set in this size.

RedGT Dork
4/14/21 9:48 a.m.

Other updates:  ran an autocross last Saturday which is where the series of pics in the GIF came from.  Front shocks were installed before this.  Car felt great but it will take a few events to dial in shock settings, especially with the switch to very different tires for the next one.

Topping off the oil before runs is a bad idea, as it resulted in (evidently) sucking oil still hanging out in the filler tube up into the PCV/intake and smoke screening the course on run 2.  This was enough to misfire and throw a CEL too.  CEL went away on its own by the time I got back to grid, and by halfway thru run 3 the smoke was done with.  Ran fine the rest of the day.  So don't fill the oil right before going to grid, lesson learned.

A friend took this potatovision video since I was laying a smoke screen moving from grid to the start line, but there was no massive explosion.  The end of the smoke in this video was the end of the problem entirely.


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
4/19/21 9:45 a.m.

I think you may have saved me a bit of embarrassment there.  After my oil level sensor incident when I was 1/2 quart low (cutting to limp mode and belching smoke) I was going to top up the oil in the paddock at my next trackday to avoid "limp mode" at the track. 

So much for that idea! cheeky

RedGT Dork
4/20/21 1:42 p.m.

Did some very questionable body work to the LF corner that took a snowplow hit during the car's long downtime. (circa 2014 according to the previous owner)




Other side for comparison:


It's 'better'.  The main thing is it is all properly fastened now.  The side marker was swapped for one with all its plastic tabs intact, missing fender liner fasteners are present, the factory plastic clip-on point for the bumper that was missing, is now installed, and a few zip tie stitches were added to the bumper.  Reshaping the fender by hammering wood up inside it was done just to line all that up, not trying to make it look any better.

RedGT Dork
5/11/21 12:50 p.m.

Misc updates.  

Tires are on.


Tires are sticky.


Had a codriver for an event, and low turnout has meant lots of runs.  32 runs on the tires so far and they look really good.  The first event the heavily abused left front developed some funky wear that isn't unheard of, but it has since gone away.

I leveled a section of garage floor to check the alignment.  Had about 1/16" of front toe in, now has about that much front toe out and it's more eager to turn in now.  Camber is even side to side, -1.8* rear but only, -0.3* in the front.  There is room to adjust for more but the adjustment bolts often seize in the sleeves on these cars and despite the low miles/no rust, mine is no exception.

To remedy this, the best solution appears to be cutting through the bushing sleeve and eccentric bolt, between the control arm and subframe.  Then install new lower control arms.  For now the tires are holding up REALLY well so that project is most likely getting delayed until winter.  But I went ahead and bought the biggest, baddest sawzall blades I've ever owned.

"CS RX8 Camber Kit"



RedGT Dork
5/11/21 1:08 p.m.

On the silver car I used Bennet performance coils, which technically should have had dwell increased to really be 'right', which isn't strictly street class legal.  They did work great, better than OEM, but on this car i decided to go with the plug'n'play BHR coils for not much more.  Considering OEM coils are upwards of $250 a set, somewhat suspect, and not very long-lasting, I talked myself into the BHR's which require no tune to run properly and have a 5 year unlimited mileage warranty, for $399 shipped.  The job is also easier because installing them is exactly the same as OEM, no adapter harness needed, OEM plug wires fit, you don't have to change out the mounting bracket, etc.


The little plastic feet do not contact the bracket so the part is snugged down against the heat sink.  The foot is flush with the sink and the sink would be flush with the bracket anyway so it's not like this affects airflow or cooling, just annoys me a little in principle.

But they physically fit in the space well, install was a breeze, and the car runs notably better as a result.  The occasional burble/pop at idle is gone (both cars have done this on old OEM coils, both fixed by new coils) and the two torque dips in the rev range are notably reduced.  I swear the engine feels smoother up around 8000-9000 rpm as well.  Very pleased.  Hoping MPG might improve too but that's probably too optimistic.

RedGT Dork
5/25/21 9:24 a.m.

7 AutoX events on the car total now and really, nothing to say about that.  Put gas in it and go.  Knock on wood.  Have settled on ~28 psi hot in these tires even with the complete lack of front camber, which seems faster than higher pressures and the shoulder wear is plenty reasonable.

Currently trying to determine whether I have a minor cooling problem or maybe an overcharged or other AC problem:

The car will sit and idle indefinitely and the radiator fans run to keep it cool.  It can drive at any speed with the AC blasting on a 90+ degree day and temps are good.  But when sitting at idle with the A/C on in the summer heat, after not too long the AC shuts off and the radiator fans shut off - or at least they stop running at the elevated 'AC is on' speed that is audible from the cabin.  When this first happened, I started driving again to keep temps down, and the highest I saw was is 212F.  With the car moving, the A/C compressor began cycling again in fits and bursts, longer each time, until engine temp got back down around 206F and then the AC ran happily and consistently once more.  With further research, this looks like it is JUST below the threshold (213-214F) where the fans should kick into high speed if the A/C is not running, according to the factory documentation.  So the overall cooling system might have recovered OK if I waited it out.  Mazda appears to be fine with these cars running as high as 225F, though whether that is smart for longevity of the engine is a whole other question.

What I don't have an answer for is why the AC shuts off at very hot idle (i.e. there is no airflow through the condenser).  This is repeatable and consistent.  I would guess it's possible the system is overcharged or undercharged and that operating conditions can become 'not right' when there is no airflow, causing the compressor to not kick on for some reason - pressure out of spec, refrigerant temp out of spec, something like that.  Start moving again and everything is fine.  For now the solution is to not idle with the AC on.  It's not a bad solution until I eventually get stuck in traffic on a 100* day.  I simply dumped a couple of parts store cans of R134/oil/dye in until it started working and was in the 'green' range on a crappy integrated gauge on the can, so it's entirely possible the charge level is not correct.

Track-based Autocross on Saturday if the weather holds, and TrackSprint on Sunday.  Need to install and bleed brakes this week, since rotors, pads and fluid are likely from 2005.

RedGT Dork
7/8/21 8:15 a.m.

This has become an exceptionally boring thread, which is a good thing.

At the last autocross event it was a humid 95+ degree day and I was spraying the radiator more than the tires - mostly because I was being neurotic and didn't want to see temps of 215+ degrees before the fans turns on full tilt to control it.  Mazda says this is fine, but Mazda says a lot of things.  The car would come off course and sit at ~210-213 (the stock high-speed fan kick-on point) without really shedding heat.  Since rotaries build heat quickly under heavy load I wanted to be starting each run at as low a temp as possible, it would still finish the run at 215-218 even when starting at 195.

So I flashed a tune onto the car, an exact copy of the OEM tune except with lower radiator fan kick-on temperatures.  This seems to have taken care of the temp issue, as much as I can test on the street.  The best I could manage was a 'full tilt', (i.e. still sane enough to do on public roads) run up an old hillclimb near my house.  With the A/C on for additional load.  That got the car to come off the top of the hill at 210+, at which point I shut off the AC and parked it.  The new-normal fan settings brought temps down to ~190 within 2 minutes, no spraying.  Excellent.

The AC will still turn itself off in 95+ degree heat after a while of idling, I'm assuming the charge level is not quite correct and without airflow through the condensor it is tripping a pressure switch.  But now this is no longer a problem for the car, only for its passengers.

First track day for the car today.  Just a single-session Run/Work TNIA event so I can be done in time to attend the wake/funeral for the friend who helped me with...well, basically everything in this thread, on both RX8's.  Cancer is a bitch.  :(

RedGT Dork
7/14/21 8:07 a.m.

Pocono was good.  It was over 5 seconds faster than my Mazda3 was, despite being on PS4S due to the threat of rain.   NJMP Thunderbolt later today.

cmcgregor (Forum Supporter)
cmcgregor (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
7/14/21 12:05 p.m.

Sorry about your friend. Looks like you're enjoying the car though!

RedGT Dork
7/15/21 11:30 a.m.

NJMP Thunderbolt was amazing, mostly.  For 2.75 sessions the car was great.  It was 95* and humid but temps were 'manageable' with one solid cooldown lap per 20 minute session, or in some sessions just using the slow people as 'cooldown sectors' while waiting for the point by.  The Falken RT660's seemed to be remarkably consistent throughout each session, whereas the PS4S last week and RE71R last year both changed drastically in feel and grip as they got 'too hot'.  The brakes were also excellent and consistent.

About 15 minutes into the 3rd session the engine simply shut off at full throttle mid/top of 3rd gear.  No CEL's besides one pending for the known-bad secondary air injection pump.  No fluid loss.  No funny noises.  No drama.  It cranks normally but won't start.  Fuel level was ~1/4 tank.  Have since added 5 gallons just in case it was a bad gauge reading or an issue getting fuel between the two halves of the saddle tank.  No change.  Had to borrow a friend's tow rig to drag it home.  More diagnosis to come this evening.  Seems like an abrupt loss of fuel is most likely, perhaps a dead pump, though it seems like one can hear the pump running/priming when the key is on.

RedGT Dork
7/15/21 8:39 p.m.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand of course it was the same fuse that parked the car in the first place before I bought it.  Back in November I replaced that fuse and a visibly berkeleyed up connector in that circuit, and it has been 8 months...6,000 miles...100 autocross runs...and 75 minutes on track since then.  It's been so long I forgot about that entirely until it hit me like a ton of bricks in the middle of the day today.  Got home from work, pulled the fuse, popped a new one in and the car fired right up.


I can't even.   Am so dumb.


Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter)
Hungary Bill (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
7/16/21 3:38 a.m.

Cancer can eat a whole bag of Richards, man.  I'm sorry to hear about your friend. 

I'm headed out to my car now.  He's got some 2-stroke and tire smoke headed up his way.

RedGT Dork
7/18/21 5:58 p.m.


NJMP Thunderbolt.  From the right angle you can hardly tell half the paint is missing!

RedGT Dork
7/22/21 8:45 a.m.

Over the last few evenings i got a bunch of little things done, half an hour at a time:

-Tires rotated.  They are holding up well but it is time to flip them on the wheels soon.  It looks like they will easily make it through this entire season, but probably not much beyond that.

-Dropped the undertray and did even MORE rinsing of the battery acid aftermath.  I think I am going to have to just pull all the stuff around the front of the engine bay (airbox, battery and tray, coolant reservoir, ECU box, radiator) this winter and repaint everything that acid peeled the paint off of.  Also the rusty water staining makes everything look worse than it is and it needs light scrubbing to get that off.  Not taking the time to do it right now.

-Made a dummy/blockoff plug for the rear O2, since it's not doing anything anyway I may as well try running with it unhooked entirely.

-Added a handy dandy note for next time the fuse blows and I am being an idiot:

-While the undertray was out, I added foam around the outside of the radiator to replace the factory stuff that was almost entirely gone:

Next up is Pocono next Tuesday, it will be interesting to see if temps at speed stay any lower with the foam replaced.  It should be better but haven't been able to test -  the absurdly hot weather has given way to typical weather this week and it's been 75-85 degrees at the most.

RedGT Dork
7/28/21 2:01 p.m.

Video!  Still underdriven in a handful of places but so far it's about 9 seconds faster around Pocono than my Mazda3 ever was.


RedGT Dork
8/18/21 9:56 a.m.

So at the last track day in mid-July temps were indeed better, I never actually took a cooldown lap because in Intermediate group passing is in designated areas only.  Coasting behind behind slower cars every so often waiting to reach one of those areas provided enough cooldown time to keep temperatures reasonable.

That event I picked up a bunch of OPR on the Falken RT660's.  The drive home was absurdly loud and I finally caved and broke out the solo nats OPR-removing setup and cut most of it off.

Wheel weights removed because it was about time to flip these tires.  You can see in this pic how deep the center groove was getting.

This is over 100 autocross runs and (6) 20-minute track sessions.  No complaints about how they are holding up, but definitely time for a flip.  Good timing because sometime after pocono i picked up this lil hitchhiker that needed to be removed.

That done, I bled the brakes and started playing with aesthetics.  I wanted to try wrapping some portion of the car to see if i could handle doing the whole thing and making it look a bit better.  The hood and roof are particularly bad.


RedGT Dork
8/18/21 10:03 a.m.

So, wrap.  This is 3M 2080 'Black Rose':

This was my first time hacking something like this together.  I have a heat gun, I have a knife and I have a squeegee wrapped in a shop rag.  Let's do it.  About that last part, the removable protective layer for application definitely helped me not ruin the vinyl.

I did this in sections because I didn't have a helper around to lay the whole large sheet at once, and I quickly discovered that although the vinyl is repositionable....so is failing clearcoat.  So peeling and stretching and re-adhering like normal was not really an option.  The right solution is to sand off the bad clear coat first, but who has time for that?


Roof done.  Yes, you can see the topographical layers of missing clear coat through the vinyl which was expected.

RedGT Dork
8/18/21 10:21 a.m.

I did the mirrors too, using the sunroof hole extra material, to demonstrate to myself that i could get the wrap around tight curves like that.  It was pretty reasonable.  Did the gas cap too because at this point I was just having fun.  Applying it was really enjoyable, if I didn't have other obligations I'd do this all day.

Originally the plan was to see how this held up the next few months and do the whole car in winter.  But I don't know that I like the color enough to do the whole car at a cost of about $550 in material and a LOT of time.  I have trouble getting myself to like non-factory colors.  This one was close enough to one of the special anniversary RX8 colors that I was OK with it but turns out I don't really care for it.

Around this time I finally picked up the 'beat up cheap hood' I wanted to grab from a guy on marketplace, to cut up for hood vents.  I got there and found out it was actually pretty decent - LOTS of stone chips but reasonably solid clear coat and paint.

I don't have a truck right now but I do have a Fiesta, a roof rack and a dream.

OK so this looks fantastic. My potatophone doesn't show it well but what a difference.

I love the pearl/metallic in good original paint. 

The fenders look really out of place now.

New plan.  Skip wrapping the whole car, at this guy's prices I think I am just going to go back and buy the matching fenders.


RedGT Dork
8/18/21 10:34 a.m.

So, the original hood.  Partly, I wanted to see if this makes a cooling difference and at $120 shipped the vents were not unreasonable.  Partly, I haven't cut anything up in years and wanted a silly little project.


Pop off the insulation:

Oh it's dual-layer, fun. :-/

Drill holes and trace vent ID.  When drilling the holes I realized I am pretty sure I gave away my cleco pliers in a GRM New Year's box because "when am I ever going to use those?!"  oops.  Since the vents are flat and the hood is curved quite a bit, it would have been nice to solidly anchor one corner before drilling the other.  Oh well.  Got it done.

Mostly used a dremel for the top layer, I only have single-speed 'real' cutoff wheel devices and that was burning the paint.

Dug out my ancient pneumatic nibbler to do the underside much more quickly:

Checking placement on the car - for now the vents are attached with some screws I had on hand rather than rivets, because I'm going to wrap this hood later.  Wanted to make sure none of the screws/nuts were going to poke stuff in the engine bay.

Prior to finding out how clean the new hood was and changing my mind about vinyl, I had ordered this stuff, a much cheaper brand, to see if my hack self can work with it - this one would only be about $300 to do the whole car which was more palatable.  However the color choices are pretty lacking.  At any rate, it's here, may as well wrap the ugly vented hood with it.


Then after some cleanup of the cuts, we have hood vents.  It's so ridiculous.  I love it.


RedGT Dork
8/18/21 10:43 a.m.

I had to do some rudimentary aero testing.  These pics are at the same location, same speed.  Left pic is with the vents only, making sure there is actually low pressure above the vent.  There appears to be, though it's more towards the rear than expected.

The right pic is with a gurney flap type device (you know...a hacked up piece of 1x1 angle...) at the leading edge of the vent.  This clearly moves the low pressure area forward and appears to increase its magnitude it as well.  I have no idea if that translates to pulling more air through the radiator and out the vents to actually help with cooling but it's neat to see the principle in action.  If I leave the vents installed with locking hardware, I can easily swap the angle on and off to see if it makes a difference on track.

bgkast PowerDork
8/18/21 10:47 a.m.

Those vents look great. Are they made specifically for the RX-8?

Re: your oil smoke show issue, have you considered switching to a dedicated oil tank and running 2 stroke oil to the oil metering pump using a Sohn adapter? I did that on my old 8 and it seemed to work well.

RedGT Dork
8/18/21 10:58 a.m.

They are, from Keisler Automation, the LFX-RX8 guy.  https://www.keislerautomation.com/rx8-products/rx8-hood-louvers  

There's also this option at over two times the price but with a fancy vinyl installation template and leading edge flap built in.  https://www.good-win-racing.com/mazda/miata/61-1523RX8  Might have been easier but they're not in stock and, well, twice the price.


Smoke show turned out to be from topping off the oil on a cold day and then immediately running the car hard.  Hasn't been a problem since.  Nothing against a Sohn kit, just haven't bothered to go and do it.  I do premix 1/2 oz per gallon.

RedGT Dork
8/19/21 2:51 p.m.

So after all the work on the hood, of course the next track day was looking wet.  Back to #rainspec, solid hood and Michelin PS4S tires:

We had one dry session, about 70 * and cloudy, in which I went out on shock settings too soft.  Car was floppy *and* loose, fun to drive but not quick.  2 seconds off my Falken RT660 time from last month.  I'm annoyed I didn't drag the Falkens along and put them on if it turned out to be dry, but oh well.

2nd session was decent, I'd forgotten my box of camera mount stuff but still had the little adhesive one on the bumper SO that's what we got.  Mandatory tether not because it would actually save the camera if it comes off, but to make sure it doesn't go bouncing through someone else's windshield.

2nd session was drizzling in certain parts of the track leaving me not confident about grip in the corners, and the grass was wet from earlier storms so I REALLY wanted to stay out of it.  Despite that I went faster with a 1:52.6, only a second off my dry/falken time from last month.  I have a long way to go getting comfortable at this track, lots of underdriving still to fix.  I also adjusted shocks this session so the car was still playful but a little less scary and floppy.


And that session ended with an actual downpour.

3rd session was steady rain, I went out and puttered around doing 2:00's, it was still fun and I got to experience what an ABS car feels like when you get on the brakes hard and a tire is hydroplaning.  This is the first vehicle I have tracked/autocrossed with actual normal working anti-lock brakes, so I've got nearly no experience with that.  Scary, but the car still slowed reasonably enough.  


In regards to the underdriving - if this link works you can see many corners especially in the first portion of the course where minimum speeds are much lower in the right hand video, and that's the one on a dry track with sticky tires.  I was not driving it to its potential last month.  I'm closer now but not really there yet.


RedGT Dork
8/27/21 10:01 a.m.

TNIA has photographers at every event now, and one free pic plus the option to buy a whole bunch of course.  This time the freebie was pretty cool, in the rain:



Have been doing little junk in the '30 minutes a day in the garage' this week.  Replaced a tail light gasket.  wet sanded and sealed the headlights.  Figured out how the bumper and fenders come off so I can go pull parts car fenders this weekend.

Headlight refinishing:


Bought an endoscope camera (possibly the best $45 on amazon evar) and checked out both ends of the cat.  I don't have any experience with what clogged ones look like but this seems sorta OK still.  Not that I know what I am looking at.



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