1 2 3 4 5
BoxheadTim PowerDork
2/19/13 12:08 a.m.

I ended up ordering the classic VMaxx, FM sway bars and a butterfly brace. Originally I was trying to go for the adjustable VMaxxes but the classic ones were in stock and given the multitude of delays so far, I figured the classic ones would do very nicely, thank you. Plus, the less there is to adjust, the less there is for me to berkeley up.

So between some cat herding, furniture building and aquarium set up, I found enough time to turn this:

Into this:

I built up the suspension from all new parts even though I am already running NB MSM suspension, but this way I have a chance to sell the old struts and springs ready to mount. In order to put the front coilovers together I ended up having to shave the two top rubber mounts by about 1/10" as I wasn't able to compress the rubber enough to start the nut on the thread. A quick call to FM tech support suggested the shaving approach (thanks Keith) and after that, the coilovers went together in no time at all.

I managed to fit one of the rear ones before I ran out of time:

Unfortunately it looks like I have to take both front and rear suspension apart completely - the rear one either needs the poly bushes regreased as they're squeaking up a storm, or the bushes thrown out for uprated rubber items. I have to do the front suspension also, but I haven't got around to upgrading the bushes there yet so I'm a bit on the fence as to which way I'm going. Given that the car needs an alignment afterwards anyway, quickly stripping the suspension to regrease the bushes isn't a big deal, but I'm not sure I want to do this on a regular basis. Anyway, something to sleep on.

EvanB PowerDork
2/19/13 12:29 a.m.
BoxheadTim wrote: Given that the car needs an alignment afterwards anyway, quickly stripping the suspension to regrease the bushes isn't a big deal, but I'm not sure I want to do this on a regular basis. Anyway, something to sleep on.

Add grease zerks to allow regreasing without disassembly?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/19/13 9:53 a.m.

Problem with using zerks to grease the bushings is that the grease doesn't go where it needs t go. Ideally, poly bushings work as a bearing, the center steel sleeve rotates inside the poly. But zerk fittings only lube the outside of the poly.

I've been using Sylglide silicone brake grease on poly bushings for a while, it seems to be working well. The green marine bearing grease was a failure when I tried it on the Targa Miata a few years back. I'm thinking CV joint grease with a high moly content might work well too, although I don't know how it deals with environmental effects.

DaveEstey SuperDork
2/19/13 9:58 a.m.

You'll like those coilovers. I had them and was quite pleased with their comfort and performance.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
2/19/13 10:06 a.m.

Looks like suspension disassembly time then. I hope the sleeves come out fairly easy. I have a big tub of the Energy Suspension lube so I don't have to apply it sparingly . I was surprised how "stiff" the rear suspension felt - when I originally put the bushes in, it moved almost without resistance and now it groans like the coffin lid in a bad horror movie.

One suggestion I read on BobIsTheOilGuy was to dimple the inside of the bushings (like a golfball surface) a little to create pockets for the grease. Supposedly that massively cuts down on the amount of regreasing that is necessary. Has anybody tried that?

BoxheadTim PowerDork
2/19/13 10:08 a.m.
DaveEstey wrote: You'll like those coilovers. I had them and was quite pleased with their comfort and performance.

I remembered that you liked them a lot and figured at that price point they were well worth trying.

DaveEstey SuperDork
2/19/13 10:14 a.m.

With a decent alingment and Toyo R1R's I set a faster raw time (autocross) than an experienced driver in an Elise on the same rubber.

z31maniac PowerDork
2/19/13 9:42 p.m.

Yeah they are good for the price. If you're going to track it, I'd suggest the the Frog Arms. I noticed increased feel up front from one track weekend to the next and less rattling up front too.

The Energy Suspension bushings already have long grooves cut in them for grease retention. But mine only have ~1k miles on them so far with about 350 of that pounding over curbs on track.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
3/30/13 8:36 p.m.

Ah yes, the massively delayed update to the build thread. I've been slowly working on the car but haven't had time to post updates, so here we have the mega-update for the last six weeks or so.

First, a quick trial fitting of the radio and gauge mount. The tombstone needs a bit of tweaking, as did the gauge holes - apparently not all 52mm gauges agree on their sizes. Oh well. Of course, neither the headunit nor the gauges are hooked up at this point :

Then it was back to fitting the various suspension goodies I bought from FM a while back. Starting with the rear anti-roll bar:

Can't remember where I got the suggestion but someone recommended to put a layer of teflon tape on the ARB as that would make it easier for the ARB to rotate in the bushings even with the appropriate grease applied. I eyeballed the locations, wrapped, then installed:

No photos of the installed bar, but trust me, it's on the car :). Now, it's time to take off the NB Mazdaspeed Bilsteins and chuck on the front bar and the front VMaxxes:

My preferred way to replace the front struts on an NA - which might or might not be the recommended way, but it works for me - is to disconnect the ARB and then remove the long bolt that holds the top suspension arm to the chassis. As the car is a desert car it's not a problem to take these bolts out and it makes this a pretty quick job:

Pop the new strut in, they were all pre-assembled and set to what I thought was the correct height:

Lift the assembly, put the top bolt back in, then use a jack to maneuver he whole thing into place:

I also tend to use jacks to lift the car off the jackstands and load the suspension so I can torque the suspension bolts correctly why I have easy access to them.

Now it's time to install the front ARB, guess who runs out of Teflon tape. Organized, that's me:

Everything connected, torqued and all that. All I need to do is put the new undertray back on and take the car off its stands, but in the meantime I have to show off the FM frame rails:

I have the whole butterfly brace but it looks like the OEM cat on the car and the butterfly brace are having a bit of a disagreement as to who wants to occupy the space that the cat is currently claiming for itself. The floor around the driver's side framerail has been pushed up (presumably during some sort of off-road excursion) so that might have something to do with it. Anyway, I was planning to put on the FM high-flow cat and exhaust anyway so I left the brace off for now.

Time for the big reveal, take it off the stands:

Oops, that's quite a bit lower at the front than expected. Maybe I should have read the instructions properly?

Ah, that's better:

Note to self, when setting the suspension it might help to use the settings from the "also for 90-97 with NB suspension" line and not the NA line. Doh. I still need to readjust the rear ride height but I want to regrease the polyurethane bushes there anyway before I do that, plus I want to have the 15" wheels with tires on there.

I tried to get the car ready for today's annual tech for my SCCA region, so I put the ECUs and partial interior back into the car but did run out of time. At least I got a chance to drive it with the new suspension. I'm pretty happy with it so far, it's not too harsh but the car feels much better and does barely lean in corners that are approached in an enthusiastic fashion.

Hopefully my rollbar should be ready in a week or two as that's one of the main missing pieces of the puzzle before going to Laguna Seca in April. Oh, and a set of 15x7 wheels with some sticky rubber on them.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
4/11/13 2:05 p.m.

Rollbar is supposed to arrive today, for some reason I have a suspicion I might not be working late tonight.

Also ordered exhaust + cat off the nice people at Flying Miata so I should be able to fit the full exhaust (Maxim Works header, high-flow cat and 2.25" exhaust) before I get to Laguna Seca.

Last piece of the current puzzle is wheels and tires, I have until the end of the week to make up my mind on those.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/11/13 2:40 p.m.

When I started reading the previous update, I saw the bit about the cat and thought "hmm, Tami asked me about interference between our cat and a butterfly a couple of minutes ago..."

Laguna Seca as in the Miatas at MRLS event? Excellent.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
4/11/13 2:48 p.m.
Keith Tanner wrote: When I started reading the previous update, I saw the bit about the cat and thought "hmm, Tami asked me about interference between our cat and a butterfly a couple of minutes ago..."

Musta been somebody else.

OK, it was me who asked .

Keith Tanner wrote: Laguna Seca as in the Miatas at MRLS event? Excellent.

That's the badger. I'll show up with a half-built car (no supercharger, no aftermarket engine management, heck, not even the ARC intake) but I'm adamant about showing up.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
4/11/13 11:07 p.m.

When I came home tonight there was a big box waiting for me in the garage. Let the unpacking begin:

Mostly unpacked:

First impressions are very, very good. It was well packed, the welds looks nicer than on the other bar and I really appreciated the little details like the spreader plates also being powdercoated. Not to mention that it feels really solid, too. Plus, decent instructions, too, although after trying to fit the other bar I probably would have been able to work out all by myself how to fit this one .

Roll on the weekend!

monark192 HalfDork
4/12/13 11:27 a.m.

Nice roll bar - Blackbird work looks sweet.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
4/12/13 4:02 p.m.

Hopefully got the wheels sorted out now, too. At this point in time I couldn't justify buying a set of TE37s (mainly because I couldn't find a decent used set and the car needs paint so I couldn't spring for a new one, I know, excuses, excuses) so I ended up ordering a set of 4x100 Rota Grids. That way I can figure out if I like the looks of them on the build and upgrade to the real thing once the wallet has recovered from getting the car painted sometime this summer.

Now all that's left is tires and I just found that tirerack.com doesn't (yet?) have the BFG Rival in 205/50/15...

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
4/12/13 4:09 p.m.

I can't figure out what's holding the car up in this picture.

Are you a wizard?

BoxheadTim PowerDork
4/12/13 6:58 p.m.

I got one of our cats to hold up the front of the car.

Actually I just didn't have the "really wide angle" lens on the camera as I don't like taking that into the garage.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
6/2/13 8:44 p.m.

Well, the build thread got a bit neglected while I was trying to get her done in time for Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Time to bring the build thread up to date, although there aren't that many pictures due to lack of time.

First, I test-fitted the rollbar so I could determine if I needed to cut the parcel shelf further or not compared to the EGR rollbar. The answer was, unsurprisingly, yes. Also, in the spirit of "doing things the right way" - don't do what I did and look at the side striker plate for the hardtop, think "I really need to remove those before I trial-fit the rollbar" and then forget to do so. The scratches in the powder coating are rather visible . Anyway, looking good:

A few more holes in the car later and we have a bad picture of the rollbar bolted to the car:

Everything fit well, the fitting instructions that Moti includes are good and include all the necessary detail and the whole thing went together rather well, keeping in mind that this was only my second attempt at fitting a rollbar.

As with pretty much all rollbars, the footplate on the passenger side and the top bolt that holds the ECU attempt to occupy the same space. I had already remove the bolt, so I eyeballed the ECU mount, "adjusted" it with my Dremel (one tool that is proving invaluable) and it everything went together as it was supposed to be:

The new radio surround also needed a bit of tweaking so the tombstone would fit, which required a little more Dremeling:

I specifically picked a "digital media receiver" over a CD receiver so I could mount it low without the center console interfering with the faceplate. Plus, I don't carry CDs in the car anyway - I mean, where would you put them in a Miata?

At this point, things were getting really rushed, so no photos. Not to mention that pretty much all the cool parts like the new exhaust and header, Arc intake etc are still on the shelf.

My local SCCA favourite tire/alignment/universal fix-it shop fitted the tires to the new rims and then had to do a manual alignment as their alignment rig was damaged and the parts didn't make it in time. Given the restrictions they did a pretty good job at the very last minute but between that problem and the invariable fatigue from late night wrenching, we decided to skip Saturday and just go down for Sunday. We did make it to the track though - after losing a balance weight of one of the rear wheels somewhere on I-80, which led to a bad case of "Miata shimmy". Either way, we enjoyed the trip, as I hope the car did, too. Definitely trying to be back next year:

Actually it turned out that maybe it didn't enjoy the trip that much or didn't want to go to this weekend's PDX session, because as I removed the exhaust to put the new shiny one on, I was greeted by this sight:

Should be an easy repair, but the rear hub on that side (driver's side) was damaged by the bent upper A-arm that I got the car with. As the whole thing has to come apart anyway I figured I'll just find a good used hub and change it out at the same time.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
7/14/13 2:37 p.m.

The car's been napping on axle stands since the last post - well, almost. As I had to get the exhaust off to get more space under the car, I figured I might as well do the whole exhaust in one go as I have all the parts.

Taking off the exhaust itself was easy - two cheers for a car that's lived in desert climates for most of its life - but the manifold required some serious soaking and the purchase of bigger, badder tools (a bunch of 1/2 sockets):

Soaking for a while so I could get the various nuts off and bolts out:

Of course I had to find yet another unpleasant but not unexpected surprised, namely that the plate that is supposed to fix the bottom of the OEM exhaust against the gearbox had parted company with the clamp around the exhaust. At least that saved me a little more swearing but it does make me wonder who small that "little off" really was.

As long as you get all the bolts undone and don't forget one like I did, as Keith Tanner mentioned in one of his books the whole header comes out in one piece after you remove the O2 sensor and leaves you with this:

Quick question - is it normal for the header gasket to "delaminate" like this or do I need to go buy a new one?

Oh, and bonus question - which of the two switches on the back of the gearbox controls the backup lights? While I'm in there I might as well try to check the switch and hopefully fix it, as the backup lights have never worked in all the time I owned the car. And yes, they do have working bulbs in them.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
8/2/13 11:26 p.m.

Some progress again, finally.

I've had to remove the EGR tube and block off the valve as the Maxim header doesn't have a connector for the EGR (IIRC the JDM models don't have EGR). It's trial fitted and looks good in the engine bay, but I think I need some sort of header wrap or the TDR exhaust blanket for it.

Anyway, I had a little time on my hands to go and finally work on the problem with the driveshaft. As suspected, the cap over the CV joint had popped out, resulting in this:

Not sure how this happened, though - it's not running super low suspension or anything like that. Anyway, stuff some fresh grease in there (yeah, I know, I should've taken out the CV joint, cleaned and repacked it), then slap the cap back on.

Oh, and bolt it all back together, which took no time at all.

Next job, take the exhaust hangers that I put on the car back off, fit them to the new shiny exhaust first and then try to mount them back onto the car.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
8/4/13 8:24 p.m.

TIme to hang the shiny new exhaust, once I had managed to get the new polyurethane exhaust hangers off the car (they have to go on the exhaust first, at least with this particular exhaust).

With the right tool, not a problem:

Once the shiny exhaust was fitted correctly I tried to put the cat in to connect the shiny aftermarket header with the shiny new exhaust. "Tried" being the operative word here:

I guess the NA USDM header and the NA JDM header are not only of different lengths, the flanges aren't identical either. So if I want to keep the Maxim Works, I'll have to find someone who can modify the cat with a new flange as I don't want to have the header modified, or I'll have to find a replacement header. Of course unless I put the old header back on the car isn't drivable, which makes the cat modification just ever so slightly more difficult.

BoxheadTim PowerDork
8/5/13 3:21 p.m.

Talking to some Maxim Works owners in the UK, it's definitely beginning to look like the USDM exhaust is different from the JDM one. If I want to keep the header I guess I need to get a suitable cat fabbed or the existing one modified.

z31maniac PowerDork
8/5/13 5:14 p.m.

Just have someone move the flange on the cat and call it good!

Swank Force One
Swank Force One MegaDork
8/5/13 5:49 p.m.

^ What he said.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
8/5/13 6:10 p.m.

Yeah, there are some variations in cat length on the 1.8 cars for the UK and Japaen.

1 2 3 4 5
Our Preferred Partners