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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
1/26/23 1:30 a.m.

Finally got 338 out of the garage for a check drive after the latest latch de-rattling procedure. And at 80 mph, not a peep. This may be the least old sounding almost-34-year-old Miata there is. It feels good. I'm looking forward to seeing how the new tires feel since right now the tires feel a little hard, like the old sidewalls don't flex as much as they used to. No ETA on those at the moment.

I did discover on the last leg in the dark that I had neglected to align the headlight that recently received all the attention, but 30 seconds with a screwdriver fixed that once I got home.

Getting the car out of the garage also let me see it with the new front and rear lips. Obviously, since I've had these on just about every Miata I've ever owned, it was a familiar sight. It just looks right. These two stablemates started off very similar in specification and still look pretty much the same, but they have diverged fairly significantly under the skin :) The smurf car is currently doing testing duties for the race dash, so it has no gauge hood. Don't mind that...

This is how 338 greeted me this afternoon when I went to move it. Awww. Also ewwww, apparently I should dust my radio. Or put some Vaseline on my phone camera lens.

 

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) UberDork
1/26/23 11:03 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Cleaning is hard, smear that lens. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/8/23 3:29 p.m.

I needed a subject for one of our live videos, so I prattled on for a while about what I've done with 338 and tried to expand that to fettling a car overall. 
In retrospect, 338 might have been a good build series for a YouTube channel, but it's more fun to chat with GRM people. 

Anyhow, Jalopnik noticed and picked it up. Decent article, too - it's interesting to see what different people take from the video, it's like a Rorschach test. 
So that's cool. 
https://jalopnik.com/let-the-miata-master-teach-you-how-to-revive-your-mx-5-1850080084

MyMiatas
MyMiatas Reader
2/8/23 7:54 p.m.

Keith wrote" The smurf car is currently doing testing duties for the race dash, so it has no gauge hood."

What is race dash and gauge hood?

You certainly have me beat on how many Miatas you own. 

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/8/23 10:09 p.m.

In reply to MyMiatas :

The race dash and other electronic projects Keith has on YouTube.  His electronics projects are cool.  I admire his patience with those projects.  
 

Jalopnik is one of the better auto websites IMO.  Congrats on being recognized by them.  

RedGT
RedGT Dork
2/8/23 10:40 p.m.

In reply to MyMiatas :

Race dash is a digital custom configurable speedo/tach/etc dash gauge package.

A gauge hood is the black plastic part of the dash that covers the stock gauge assembly. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/8/23 11:22 p.m.

Lots of Miatas is an occupational hazard. 

There's a thread in here about the race dash project, which has been through several distinct variations. The final one is in testing now. 338 has had one of the prototypes to test compatibility with a stock Miata. 
https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/build-projects-and-project-cars/building-an-analog-race-dash/181498/page1/

dyintorace
dyintorace PowerDork
2/9/23 9:26 a.m.

To derail momentarily, is that Land Rover yours? I want an old Rover something fierce!

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/9/23 10:05 a.m.

In reply to dyintorace :

That's Basil. I've owned him for nearly 22 years. He's resting.

dyintorace
dyintorace PowerDork
2/9/23 11:16 a.m.

That is absolutely awesome! So cool. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
2/26/23 6:39 p.m.

So this is embarrassing. I almost didn't post this, but in the interest of full disclosure I shall.

It's been so long since I drove a bone stock 1.6 that I've forgotten what the power level should be. The car had one driveability quirk that had me wondering - when it was cold, it was not happy at about 2000 rpm or so. Basically, climbing the small hill out of my driveway was more effort than it should be, because the shift into 2nd after leaving the driveway was met with very little power. The M5 does the same occasionally, it's a cranky engine when cold. 338 was pretty gutless down low but hey, 1.6 Miatas aren't exactly known for their torks. It also would sometimes stumble if you blipped the throttle, which had me checking fuel pressure - it's fine. It was acting like the timing was a little funky or moving around. Of course, this is an area of some concern with a short nose 1.6.

Thinking back to the timing belt job in late 2019, I don't remember setting the timing. I don't really remember all that much of the job, really, but I know I did it because I talked about it in this thread :) At the time, I was more concerned with that high idle. So I've had "check timing on 338" on my to-do list for a week or two. And today I did.

Huh. It was at something like 4-6 degrees - I forget exactly what, but way low. Spec is 10 degrees. Either I changed the CAS O-ring when I did the timing belt and never set the timing, or I didn't replace the CAS O-ring and the timing is what the timing has been for years. I just don't remember, but the area looks suspiciously undisturbed so I think I just didn't go there (literally). Since I hadn't touched the CAS, there was no real need to check the timing. Or I just forgot.

I set the timing to 14 degrees - we've been doing that on NA Miatas since forever - and it's off for a test drive. Gratuitous picture.

Much better. A bunch of little quirks I'd be attributing to "old 1.6" turns out to have been "bad mechanic". It's much happier at low rpm, doesn't have the cold power issue and feels smoother overall. It's probably up on power but I didn't have the chance to explore that on the test drive.

I didn't think it was a particularly sad car before, but it's definitely happier now. And of course, now I'm also thinking I should replace that CAS seal...

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) UberDork
2/28/23 10:42 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

It's nice to read an honest post about not doing things perfectly the first time around.  I think it happens to most everyone, but it's really hard to admit sometimes.  I often get frustrated by the do it right / don't do it mentality.  Putting the Mishimoto radiator in my NB this past weekend was one of those moments.  It isn't a direct fit.  It doesn't play well with the AC condenser or the power steering cooler.  Oh well it's in.  I will have to watch the PS cooler and radiator for wear in that corner or I will have to move the PS cooler or replace it with a different one at some point. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/14/23 11:29 p.m.

I jumped in the smurf Miata to move it and realized how much I liked my reshaped foam over stock. I'm sitting in the seat instead of on it. So instead of modifying the foam in 338, I decided to swap them around. Neither of them are perfect seats, with a bit of abrasion on the driver's bolster - but by scruffy NA standards, they're mint. They both would benefit from a steam clean. That's the modified one on the left.

Turns out 338 has a set of headrest speakers that I think are stock. The smurf has what looks like aftermarket, so probably Clearwater. But the wire routing on 338 isn't quite right, so I must have retrofitted them. Interesting. I also discovered that I put sound insulation under the rear carpet on 338 at some point, so that's nice.

The car's being used as a benchmark tomorrow, evaluating some new shocks against Koni Sports. The other car is a 1.8 NA that just got a new set of bushings and has FM sway bars, just like 338. So this will be interesting.

Still no word on when my new tires will be here. I'm very much looking forward to getting them on to get the final feel of the car.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/24/23 4:22 p.m.

That's a historical photo! I did not just tear the engine out of the car :) Read on...

The suspension testing went well, with a number of the FM staff preferring the suspension on 338 over the new tech. We'll see where that goes, but it's good to know the old girl can still hold her head high.

What was interesting was driving a 1994 survivor back to back with 338. The 94 just got new shocks, new bushings and a 60k service and was otherwise fairly stock. But it had a cracked dash that rattled and that made a big difference in how old the car felt. Overall, it just felt more tired. I know the owner is just getting started on refreshing the car, so hopefully it'll come together. Also, the 1990 interior is so much classier than the 1994-97, always has been :)

Coker says the new tires (Michelin Pilot Exalto for those who forgot what I ordered back in January) are due to be in stock at the end of March. Let's hope!

And, apropos of nothing in particular, I came across a shot of 338 getting the engine rebuild. Dad drove the car out to Colorado and left it for the winter while it would have otherwise been in storage, then he and Mom took a road trip home. The picture is dated April 7, 2002 so we're looking at almost exactly 21 years ago. It's the first engine I built and it seems to be holding up okay. It's still got the original head/block/etc because Dad wanted to keep it numbers matching, although the only number is riveted to the oil pan. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/26/23 2:44 p.m.

I realized during our suspension testing that it looked like the rear of the car was sitting little lower than I'd like. I grabbed the tape measure and discovered the car was at the same height front and rear - usually the measurement I use has a 1/2" (12.5mm for the metric crowd) higher rear height. The Konis have three possible perch positions: stock, R Package and "lowered". The middle one matches the perch position used on the 94-97 R Package Bilsteins, and that's where the car was set. I would have put it there back in 1999 when I installed them and didn't pay any attention when I had the shocks out recently. The ride height measurement is actually where I understand a stock R package sat, so I guess they were correct.

I decided to lift the rear up to stock height and leave the front where it is to get my rake back. Easy enough, just pop the rear shocks out, remove the spring and move a circlip. And I'd never noticed this before, but the drop for the R package is greater in the rear than the front. There are different motion ratios, but look at the relative gaps between the three positions. Picture taken before adjustment. I am now at the top setting in the rear and the middle setting in the front.

Measurements say the operation was a success, I have my 1/2" rake back. If I was selling coilovers, I'd say that I decreased the preload but I'm not confusing cause and effect here :)  I also found an upper mount that had slipped a bit so I swapped it, I think it's time to get four new ones instead of digging through my stash for the least worst one.

To test the suspension, I took the car for a sunset drive because, well, you have to. There's a loop near my house that's 30 miles of twists, turns and amazing views. I sometimes use it for torture testing suspension, but last night was more like surfing. No aggro, just going with the flow of the road. And trying not to hit deer.

It got dark enough on the descent that I discovered the extra rake also meant my headlights needed to be adjusted, but I had a screwdriver in the trunk so that was easy enough to sort out at a trailhead.

MyMiatas
MyMiatas HalfDork
3/26/23 7:05 p.m.

I was reading one of your books about Miatas and saw a picture that shows 338 in a location that was in Colorado. I scratched my head for a bit about it but now I know why that was possible without asking. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/26/23 7:50 p.m.

In reply to MyMiatas :

I don't remember using a picture of it! I'd forgotten.  Which book? 

MyMiatas
MyMiatas HalfDork
3/26/23 9:26 p.m.

Here is the picture

And it is from this book.

There are quite a few 1993 LE Miatas in one of the pictures in that book.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/26/23 11:11 p.m.

Ah, that's not 338. That's yet another red Canadian 1990, it belonged to my friend Trevor who loaned it to some German friends of mine who drove out to visit me in CO. I think he's profiled as an owner in that book. 338 has never worn aftermarket wheels or had lowering springs, and didn't gain the front air dam until a few months ago. But they were identical cars when they came off the production line, and I've got at least one picture of them together in Trevor's garage.

There's a shot of my striped Miata in that book, parked on the side of the road near Moab. That was taken when Dad dropped 338 off for the engine rebuild and we drove to Moab for the day in my car.

I got pics from all over the place for that book. Had a lot of fun tracking down pristine examples of the various models, and I remember I got some really good pics of a '93 LE with almost zero miles on it.

That car on the cover? Here's what it looks like today. It has led a full and interesting life.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/26/23 11:20 p.m.

I should mention that I spent last weekend in another of my NAs, having a very different kind of fun. There are many sides to our hobby.

 

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
3/27/23 8:07 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

You've not mentioned the Targa Miata in a while, glad to see you shaking the dust off it a bit. 

MyMiatas
MyMiatas HalfDork
3/27/23 9:08 p.m.

Is that track event part of a local racing club that you belong to? Or just pay and go?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
3/27/23 9:18 p.m.

In reply to MyMiatas :

It's a local group called the Red Rock Racers. No sanctioning body, just a loose set of rules so everyone can play. In my class last week, there was a supercharged Mustang that's got Hoosiers about 2' wide, two modified Model 3 Performances, a modified GT-R, another V8 Miata and a turbo Exocet on Hoosiers. I can run whatever tires I want because of my power/weight, but I'm too cheap so I just showed up on my street rubber :) My prep was literally blowing the dust off the car and checking tire pressures. Finished third in class behind the Mustang and an M3P - the M3P set the overall lap record for the track, beating the time previously held by the Mustang. That felt pretty good.

We also had a race-prepped classic Mini, a gorgeous 280Z, a Turner, Camaro convertible, Miatas out the wazoo, etc. Good group.

I actually started the group myself back in 2004 or so because there were no options for autox or time trials in the area.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/6/23 1:08 p.m.

Happy Birthday 338! It's been 24 years since it joined the family, and it's 34 years old now. I'll take it for a walk later to celebrate.

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/happy-birthday-miata-one-miata-in-particular/152449/page1/

Yes, we live in a world where Miatas are 34 years old.

APEowner
APEowner UltraDork
4/6/23 1:28 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Happy Birthday 338! It's been 24 years since it joined the family, and it's 34 years old now. I'll take it for a walk later to celebrate.

https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/happy-birthday-miata-one-miata-in-particular/152449/page1/

Yes, we live in a world where Miatas are 34 years old.

One of the amazing things about Miatas is that at that age you can take a mostly stock one, let it sit for a month, check the fluids and tire pressures and then take it out and beat the snot out of it for a weekend before putting it back in the trailer for another month.

Also, if you're an idiot and stuff one into the tire barrier you can buy all the parts to fix it direct from Mazda.  At a reasonable cost too!

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