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Rodan Reader
1/7/17 8:15 a.m.

Once the engine harness was finished, it was time to figure out how to mate it to the MS3 and chassis. I wanted to be able to disconnect the harness and remove it with the engine as necessary, and also to make things easier for a swap down the road. I ended up ordering several OEM type connectors from Deutsch and Weatherpack. It took several connectors to get the job done, as there are ~36 wires coming off the engine harness. Of course, each connector requires a special crimp tool, so I ordered those as well...

DSC_0017 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I spent more hours with the diagrams and MS3 manual, mapping out my connections, then started stripping and crimping wires.


DSC_0031 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0032 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


DSC_0033 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Final result on the engine side...

DSC_0035 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I do have a few 'vacancies' on the connectors for future expansion. One thing I made sure to do was to keep notes and diagrams in my book. When it's all done, I'd like to find some diagramming software to make a .pdf wiring diagram for the whole setup.

Rodan Reader
1/7/17 8:23 a.m.

So, at this point the factory ECU was out, most of the engine compartment was cleaned up, and I had removed a metric E36 M3 ton of wiring... Here's about half of what came out of the car at this point:

DSC_0002 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Next project was the factory fuse/relay box, which I wanted to relocate to the interior side of the firewall.

DSC_0010 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0009 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

This, of course, required completely disassembling it so I could run the wires through the firewall without having to cut anything. After several hours of cussing and trying not to impale my fingers on dental tools, I had the thing unpinned and disassembled...

DSC_0011 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0012 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0013 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Helpful hint: even though every part is unique and it can only go back together one way, taking pictures is a good way to supplement a failing short term memory...

I eventually got it re-assembled on the other side of the firewall. It was just about time to put the engine back in the car...

Rodan Reader
1/18/17 9:33 a.m.

Time for some more NC "experience"...

I actually got a bit out of order, as the work in the last couple of posts was completed after we returned from a little trip. We took the traveling roadshow to Utah for a week at the end of September '16 to do some hiking in the National Parks. We had driven through on a previous trip, but hadn't had the opportunity to stop and really take time to 'smell the roses'. This trip was all about taking our time and enjoying the scenery.

We set up base camp in Hatch, UT, at a nice little RV park off Highway 89...

DSC_9813 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Hatch is within easy driving distance of Bryce Canyon and Panguitch, and about an hour over the mountain to St. George and North end of Zion (Kolob Canyons). We spent three days there, one in Kolob Canyons and two in Bryce.

Kolob2 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Bryce2 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Utah 1 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Bryce1 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Weather was cool, and rainy at times, but we didn't let it slow us down. We did have the top up a little more than we would have liked...

We then relocated to Green River, and set up in the State Park there.

GreenRvr1 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

It was about an hour drive to Moab (Arches and Canyonlands NPs), but the prices for RV spots in/around Moab were pretty ridiculous. In retrospect, it was a great choice, as it was a beautiful spot, and very quiet. We spent three days there, one in Canyonlands, one in Arches, and a day just knocking around Moab. I found myself less impressed with Arches than I expected (it was still beautiful), but Canyonlands is spectacular!

Clands1 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Clands2 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Arches1 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Another great trip in the books. I hope I'm not boring anyone with the adventures that are not directly track or build related, but to me they're every bit as enjoyable as the track outings. Anytime we can get out in our cars and have fun is a good time to me!

Rodan Reader
1/18/17 9:40 a.m.

Anyway, back to business on the NA... Having completed most of the engine compartment wiring, it was time to see about getting the new engine in the car. We'd had very nice weather into late fall, and I wanted to take advantage of that. The motor was ready to go, except for the rear main seal, and installing the new flywheel and clutch. For that, it had to come off the stand, back onto the hoist, so I had waited until I was ready to get it in the car. First up was the rear main, which went in easy with FM's tool...

DSC_0046 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Next was the Happy Meal...

DSC_0047 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0048 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

All ready for the transmission...

DSC_0049 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

And ready to go back in the car...

DSC_0050 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


Rodan Reader
1/18/17 9:47 a.m.

And on November 18, 2016, a nice sunny day, it finally happened... the engine was in!

DSC_0051 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0052 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0053 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0054 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0055 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

In the grand scheme of things, this was really a small step, labor wise, only a couple of hours. But it felt like a giant step in the process and that's satisfying.

It also opened up a lot of floor space in the garage, which was important as the NC had been languishing outside, and colder weather was coming. SWMBO doesn't like scraping windows...

Rodan Reader
1/20/17 11:30 a.m.

So, I had previously removed the dash, support, wiring harness and all the HVAC components. Once they were all disassembled, it was time to get to work on the dash...

DSC_2064 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_2065 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

First up was cleaning the surface rust from the dash support, and removing some of the unused brackets.

DSC_0018 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I put it back in the car, and determined some more brackets could go...

DSC_0019 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0037 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I also removed the support for the factory center console.

DSC_0024 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

The plastic dash was similarly trimmed...

DSC_0039 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I also used some aerospace epoxy and aluminum tabs to repair the cracks in the plastic dash.

DSC_0041 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

The center vent section will be filled, and I plan to cover the entire dash, probably with some alcantara type material. The end goal is something similar to this, but with a center switch/gauge panel:

I'm not sure who's car that is... I originally found the pic here on GRM, so credit to whomever: looks great!

Rodan Reader
1/20/17 11:39 a.m.

Since I had removed all the support for the dash bar, next up was fabricating a replacement. The trans tunnel already had a bolt in a convenient spot, so I worked up a support that would attach to it. I started with a short piece of tube, and made a cap from flat stock.

DSC_0079 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0080 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I welded the 'cap' into the tube to make a 'cup' then center drilled the 'cap' as this would become the end piece that bolts to the trans tunnel. Then, using my fancy notching rig...

DSC_0094 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I coped a piece of tubing to run between the cup and the dash support bar.

DSC_0095 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Then it was just a matter of welding everything together. I really need to practice more with my TIG...it was driving me nuts so I punted and MIG'd it together.

DSC_0096 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0099 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I may yet add a second brace to the firewall. I'll figure that out once I get the mounting sorted for the fuse/relay box, MS3, and center panel.

Rodan Reader
1/20/17 11:58 a.m.

I had installed aftermarket seats in the NA several years prior, but I wasn't completely happy with them. First, they were cheapo eBay seats. Second, they didn't provide the support I was looking for in a track seat, and they didn't have any provisions for 5/6 pt. harnesses. I had been trying to figure out a seat solution for a while. Requirements were 5/6pt. harness compatibility, fixed back, low enough to clear the roll bar and fit both SWMBO and I. Over the summer, though I hadn't picked a seat, I had scored a couple of PCI seat brackets used at a good price.

DSC_2298 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

For the driver's side, some significant 'clearancing' with a BFH is required, but they bolt into the stock mounting holes, provide mounting points for the 5th/6th harness straps, and allow you to get pretty low.

DSC_2305 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Passenger side bolts right in, no banging required...

DSC_2306 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

What I didn't realize at the time is that they were the 'setback' version, which locates the seat 1.6" further back. More on that later... After Christmas, I finally got around to ordering seats. After hours of research, pondering, and teeth grinding, I ordered a set of Corbeau FX1 Pros. Having ridden in Keith's Targa Miata, I knew they could fit in a Miata, and that they would fit me. The other primary contender was the Sparco Sprint, but the narrow shoulder wings didn't really fit me, and they're a cloth over tube seat, which I didn't want. The only drawback with the FX1 Pro is that they are not certified. Two seats in one big box!

DSC_0103 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0104 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

The FX1 Pro has provisions for both side and bottom mounting, and the bottom mounts need to be cut off to fit low enough in the Miata (and to fit the PCI mounts, period). Keith covers this on his Targa Miata blog very well. Once I cut the bottom mount bosses off, they were a snap to install with the PCI brackets.

DSC_0106 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Final positioning is not set, as I need to reinstall the clutch pedal and clean up a whole mess of wiring, which the seats will be coming back out for. It is clear that I will have no problems with a 'broomstick' test. Since these mounts are fixed, I also need to try to find a compromise position that will work for both SWMBO and I. I think I can accomplish that without having to have her sit on a phone book...

Rodan Reader
2/4/17 11:17 a.m.

Since the thread has caught up to real time, there's not been a lot going on. Weather here has turned nice again after several weeks of rain/snow, so at least I can roll the car in and out of the garage to work on stuff. Unfortunately, my work schedule has not left a lot of free time to work on it, though the OT and side work will benefit the budget. Which is important, as I'd like to replace the turbo on the tow rig before we start traveling this year. Mostly, I've been piddling around with the wiring. I'm just about ready to hook the battery back up, and make sure everything on the chassis still works properly... Once past that hurdle, I'll start wiring up the MS3. Still need to fab a mount for the relay/fuse box and MS3. Last week, I got in some aluminum tubing, silicone connector sleeves and a filter and started mocking up the intake. I would prefer to run a cold side intake, but am having trouble finding a 180* (or therearbouts) bend that will fit. The problem on NAs is the headlight and retractor mechanism. What fits easily in an NB doesn't in an NA... Here's the two radii I've been able to source so far, mocked up in cardboard:

DSC_0192 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0191 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

The wider bend fouls on the headlight, the narrow one on the throttle linkage. I'm considering the narrow one, with a cut/weld to slightly widen the angle, but it's a cast piece, and welding cast aluminum is well beyond my rudimentary TIG skills. I'm open to suggestions... For now, it's the path of least resistance and a hot side run.... just a matter of a couple of cuts on a 90* and 45* piece...

DSC_0186 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0188 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

and, voila! It's an intake!

DSC_0190 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Still needs a support bracket or two, and a bung for the IAT sensor, but at least it clears the hood! Then the other day I got sidetracked for a while on the horn button. While the car was apart, I added an NRG QR hub, but had never bothered with the horn button, just bolted the wheel on. Well, I decided to take a couple minutes to stick the horn button in... nope. The Momo wheel has a plate that 'carries' the button between the wheel and the hub.

DSC_0194 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Unfortunately, the raised ring doesn't fit inside non-Momo hubs, so it won't bolt down flush. I had this problem with the generic hub I had on the car previously, but had forgotten about it. So, I pulled the NRG hub off the car, disassembled the horn wires from the contacts, and chucked it up in my lathe. I then cut a recess, so the plate would rest flush on the hub.

DSC_0195 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0197 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Easy, peasy, and back together... only about 40 minutes longer than I had planned to spend on that little project. I also got the clutch pedal and master bolted back in the car, and took a few more bites out of the wiring elephant. Small progress, but every little bit is a few more inches toward the finish line...

brad131a4 Reader
2/4/17 8:55 p.m.

Weehoo that looks nice. Just wondering if you are going to make it a true CAI? Makes me want to get my 77 spider out and turn it into a track car.

I'm guessing it would be more wallet friendly to do it to a miata but I have the fiat all ready.

Rodan Reader
2/5/17 8:52 a.m.

Getting a true "cold air" inlet on an NA Miata requires putting the filter in front of the radiator, or ducting air from the windshield area, both of which have packaging issues. There's a file out there for a 3D printed intake that puts the filter in front of the radiator, but I don't think anyone who's tried it has had one go long term without cracking. Alternatively, some folks have sacrificed a headlight for it, but I'm not ready to do that. At this point, goal #1 is to get the car up and running. Once that happens, I'll give it some more thought.

Rodan Reader
2/11/17 3:30 p.m.

Big test today, and mostly successful... but no pics today.

I plugged in the dash harness and instruments, and hooked up the battery for the first time in a year... and nothing caught fire!! Woohoo!

And just as importantly, most everything worked. Lights, headlight retractors, signals, brake lights, power windows, etc. The only things not working are the horn and wipers, so I do have some troubleshooting ahead. I'm guessing when I removed the cruise control wiring, I eliminated a power wire to the multifunction switch that controls the wipers... so back to the diagrams.

I also verified the power status key on/off/acc for a few leads that I plan to repurpose.

Other than that, it's time to start tidying things up for looming the wires, and then I can start on the MS3 wiring.

I also drove the NC around top down for the first time in a while today. I was starting to forget how much fun it is to drive!

Rodan Reader
2/16/17 6:23 p.m.

A few more hours of chasing wires and squinting at wiring diagrams today...

The end result is that the wipers and horn now work, and I eliminated the rest of the "goes nowhere" wires.

Now I'm starting to tidy things up and get the harness tucked back up where it belongs. It's kind of like trying to re-fold a road map...

Rodan Reader
2/21/17 9:59 a.m.

The big brown truck dropped of the new exhuast...

DSC_0203 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Still need to pick a muffler, though... Off the shelf wasn't going to work becuase of the the NB header/downpipe in the NA chassis. Using an NA 1.8 header was a possibility, but the NB2 header is usually within a few horsepower of aftermarket, so it would have been a large outlay for little gain. And I would have had to buy a full 1.8 exhaust anyway, since it's a 1.6 car. This way I get exactly what I want. It will be 2 1/2" from the downpipe back, allowing some headroom for the future... The 3" 'U' is for the outlet from muffler to bumper. I detest 'fart cannon' gigantic chrome tips, but don't want the Beetle pea shooter look either. 3" painted black will look properly 'utilitarian'...

Ironsides Reader
2/21/17 12:31 p.m.

Clean work with the NA, engine bay looks nice and tidy. I really love the look of the NC as well, nicely done!

Rodan Reader
2/23/17 7:24 p.m.

So, today was an exhaust fabrication day. First things first... out with the old. In this case, very old. I'm pretty sure the muffler was original, though there was some bodging going on around the cat... which I re-bodged when I eliminated the cat a while back when I installed an eBay header on the stock 1.6. That was a waste of time/$$, by the way.

DSC_0205 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Since I'm using an NB2 header and downpipe, I had to start with making a flange to attach to the stock downpipe... I started with a cardboard pattern for the flange, which I transferred to 1/4" steel, and proceeded to cut it out. Have I mentioned I love my plasma cutter?

DSC_0209 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0210 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I'm using an adapter pipe off the flange to reach the 2.5" diameter for the rest of the exhaust.

DSC_0212 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Once welded into place, it was time to figure the angle for the run down the trans tunnel. I sectioned one of the u-bends to align with the adapter, did some trimming, and welded it all up.

DSC_0216 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Next, I shortened that up, added the cat, then a straight pipe back to the diff...

DSC_0217 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0218 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Next I need to order the muffler and figure out what resonator to use. Then I'll work on getting it routed around the diff and out the back.

Rodan Reader
3/5/17 7:42 a.m.

Not much progress... I put a new turbo in the tow rig, which was way more of a PITA than I expected, and it took up most of my available wrenching time this week. I did get the bung welded in the intake for the IAT sensor. I'm still practicing with the TIG, but I wasn't quite trusting my aluminum welding skills for this particular job, so I had a friend weld it up for me.

DSC_0222 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Since the pic, I've got the connector wired in and loomed. Also have a muffler and resonator ordered, so I can finish the exhaust. Hopefully I'll get a little more time on it this week.

Rodan Reader
3/7/17 9:54 a.m.

The rest of the exhaust arrived...

DSC_0223 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I went with a traditional 'turbo' style muffler rather than the newer straight through style in the interests of keeping things quiet. Since one of our local tracks has a 95db limit, and I plan to take the car to Laguna Seca in the fall (92db limit), I'm willing to sacrifice a couple of HP to keep it quiet. Years ago, I tested the dynomax back to back with flowmasters at the dragstrip (on an 11 sec Mustang), and there was zero difference in performance, so I know these aren't a huge restriction. They're also reasonably quiet, while still letting some sound through. I know the more modern 'straight through' (Magnaflow) style mufflers probably make better numbers on the dyno, but without a turbo to quiet things down they're very loud and raspy on 4 cylinders. The Vibrant resonator is almost too pretty to hide under the car! Hopefully it will kill some of the 4cyl rasp, and I'll end up with something in the neighborhood of 'classic MG/Alfa' soundwise. We'll see...

Lof8 HalfDork
3/7/17 11:04 a.m.

Very nice! I like the variety of toys and the attention to detail!

Rodan Reader
3/11/17 1:04 p.m.

Thanks! Though we haven't even really talked about toys yet... I've got this RC flying addiction as well...

So, yesterday was the day I set aside to finish the exhaust. Unfortunately, I spent the entire berkleying day fixing our internet access...

I'm currently posting using a wi-fi Hotspot I picked up after several hours of frustration with our provider, and a bunch of $$ spent on unneeded hardware. Did I mention they're now our former provider? Now I'm waiting for the appointment with the new provider to get us set up... thus the Hotspot. Well, at least we get to upgrade from DSL to cable...

Anyway, back to Miata stuff: In addition to the resonator, I decided to add a flex section to the exhaust. I don't believe it had one stock, but it couldn't hurt. Plus the additional joints allowed me some extra wiggle room in getting everything aligned properly. Mid pipe with flex section and resonator:

DSC_0224 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Then I added the tail end, with a V clamp attachment in front of the axle...

DSC_0227 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

In position:

DSC_0228 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0229 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

All I had time for today. Next session I'll affix the rod for the hanger for the mid pipe, and start work on hanging the muffler. Once the muffler is in position, I can start the section that will snake around the axle. The plan is for V band attachment at the mid pipe and muffler to allow for easy disassembly, and future modifications.

Rodan Reader
3/16/17 6:27 p.m.

I was able to finish the exhaust today. Here's the muffler and connector tacked up before final welding...

DSC_0230 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

It's a little busy coming out of the muffler because I wanted a 3" tip, so it comes out of the muffler at 2 1/2" and then runs through an adapter to 3" before the bend.  The whole system...

 DSC_0231 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Mounted up...

DSC_0232 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0233 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I'll be painting the visible tip with some hi-temp black paint, but didn't have any on-hand today. Up underneath...

DSC_0234 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0235 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

The gray paint is high temp primer (AZ rust preventer). I like to shoot it over the welds to prevent surface rust. I have a few more pics, but for some reason Photobucket is being uncooperative at the moment... The only thing that hangs down below the frame rails is the downpipe flange, and I'm stuck with that because of the stock downpipe. Fortunately, it's only lower by ~ 1/8"... Can't wait to hear how it sounds, but have other work to do before getting to that point. Today checks off a big box, though!

Rodan Reader
3/17/17 6:14 p.m.

A couple more pics Photobucket wouldn't upload last night...

DSC_0236 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0237 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Painted the tip today... exhaust is installed (hopefully) for the last time. I may upgrade the hangers to polyurethane, but that shouldn't require removing it.

DSC_0242 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Also got the relay box mounted and the wires cleaned up on the pax side. I may move/improve the mount after I get the dash in and see how access is, but it's good enough to get the car running. Also need to loom the wires, but again, that'll wait 'till its running.

DSC_0238 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


Rodan Reader
3/25/17 5:20 p.m.

Lots of wiring fun this weekend... First, I bodged up a mount for the MS3. I didn't want to deal with sheet metal screws, or nuts/bolts through the trans tunnel, so I started with some small 1/4" steel 'pads' which I welded onto the trans tunnel, then drilled and tapped for the mounting bolts.

DSC_0243 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Next was the mounting bracket and support, out of aluminum sheet.

DSC_0246 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0244 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Now that I knew where everything was going to be, it was time to tidy up some wiring. I re-loomed the main harness, and got everything cleaned up on the driver's side. The I re-installed the dash to check everything, making sure there was enough slack to remove/install the instruments.

DSC_0248 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_0249 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


Rodan Reader
3/25/17 5:26 p.m.

So, then the dash came back out. Time to finish up the MS3 wiring to the engine harness. Earlier, I had extended the short (24") MS3 harness, because I didn't think it was going to be long enough. Turns out the 24" length of the short harness was perfect for where I mounted it, so I ended up cutting off all of the extended wires... MS3, with completed harness, and pins for connectors crimped on...

DSC_0252 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Wires at the top go to the chassis, wideband, etc, and those connections still need to be made. On the engine side, it's pretty much done, and the connectors are installed.

DSC_0253 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I picked up a cheap laptop for tuning (my only other laptop is about 15 years old... LOL), and have a tuning cable, which I somehow forgot to order, on the way from DiYAutotune. Need to download Tunerstudio, and make a few more connections, but I should be starting to test sensor outputs by next weekend... maybe I'll even get far enough to fire it up!

Rodan Reader
3/30/17 7:35 p.m.

Still probably a day's work away from testing the MS3 inputs... but the list is getting shorter...

DSC_0255 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Still hoping to have it running this weekend...

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