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Discussion Starter · #81 ·
I can't believe how slow I move. After 3.5 months of what seems like sitting on my ass, the car started, idled, and burnt a lot of oil....

There were a lot of "things" that had to be done for this swap to function. Most of it is well documented but, unfortunately for me I'm old and forget everything I read. The first debacle was with the starter. Once I got everything plugged in I decided to give it a go. "CLICK" then nothing. The solenoid was good, the battery was good, must just be the motor then. I may have killed it trying to crank the motor after spinning the bearings. So I took the starter out, hooked it up to the battery and POOF!, something not right happened. Apparently I hooked it up wrong. It only took me 4 weeks to order a used one. :facepalm: Then after getting the starter and testing it out on the old battery, it turns out I must have shorted the battery out, so now that's useless. Another 4 weeks and I head to Walmart for a battery. So now we're back together, car starts but sounds like crap. Maybe because of the open header or the vacuum leaks? Who knows. I went back under the hood and noticed the #2 header runner was cool to the touch while the others were warm.

This leads me to the fuel rail debacle. After looking over the car for a whopping 30 seconds I see a huge gas leak which coincidentally was on the #2 cylinder. My first through it seals. Took me a week to actually sit down and find what I needed for a decent price. Ordered a whole new set of seals, pull the manifold off, loosen up the fuel rail and suddenly realize how poorly it fit. I started looking around at the different fuel rails I have and some posts online, I realized I totally screwed this one up. I thought i could just use the 94-97 fuel rail for the 99-00 motor in the 1.6 chassis. It made sense in my head. Well in real life it was dumb. Back into my stash of parts i found the correct fuel rail. A couple days later the fuel rail is back on, intake bolted back on, and I proceeded to bolt up and hang the exhaust. Cue the burning oil.

If I was going to tell if the car was stuttering or not i felt I needed to quiet it down some. I bolted up the new cat and the old exhaust to the new header. I also decided that there was really no turning back now so I pieced back together the cooling system. I turned the key and magically she started right up and idled really nicely. So far, no coolant leaks, no oil leaks, but man does new exhaust work STINK. The garage was filled with smoke, most of it coming off the header. It was really motivating though, now it's time to put together the punch list and get this thing back on its feet!

Things still to do include installing the MC, bleeding the brakes, clutch, troubleshooting the reverse lights, hooking up the e-fan, throw the belt on the SC, put the boost tubes back together, re-install all the radiator shrouding, check the timing, and start doing some street tuning. Seems like a lot but I should be able to knock it out in about 4 hours of work barring any incidents.

No pictures or videos so I'll leave a picture of my old '91 BRG for giggles sake:

 

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Nice BRG. Good luck with the money pit. I can relate to your comment about being old and forgetful. There are lots of little tricks and nuances to getting the BP4W swap working in a 1.6 car. I’m still working on improving mine, but that’s mostly because of issues related to the ITBs and Megasquirt. One day I’ll have a working IACV and a stable TPS signal. Until then, I keep telling myself it’s a racecar.
 

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Discussion Starter · #84 ·
I've been chipping away at the to-do list when i got a couple moments on weekends. Life is tough these days, I have a 4.5 yr old daughter who's in a Daddy phase, an 8 month pregnant wife, and a MAJOR house renovation happening, plus my company is being purchased and I will be starting a new job in a month or so. So much happening, none of it racing :(

Today marks a glorious day in my automotive saga. The Miata moved under it's own power for the first time in 11 months. Today I finished up the SC plumbing, primed the SC with it's traction fluid, re-checked a couple key bolt's torque numbers, and planted it back on the ground. After charging the battery, she roared to life and inched out of the garage, and that's as far as she went. The car isn't registered any longer :banghead:.

After replacing a shorted out wire for the rad fan, checking base timing, and setting the new req fuel in MS I called it a day. She starts up, idles great, fan cycles on and off as it should, and no obvious leaks for the time being. The only issue to report is my brake light switch seems to be a pain in the ass. I knocked off the connector last night somehow which make it keep the brake lights on. Fixed that and now the lights won't go on (opposite problem). Annoyed but i'll take it over the various other things that could go wrong.

So, next steps, fix the brake light switch, figure out the Idle Control Valve settings so it doesn't idle at 1700 rpms, and do some runs with it to get it dialed in tune wise. Just in time for winter to set in. The good news is I have a garage for it and it's 2 siblings.

Some pics from today:



 

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Discussion Starter · #86 ·
1 step forward, 2 steps back....

I decided to bite the bullet and start playing with Tuner Studio. I was able to figure out the idle issues fairly quickly. Once the Idle Control Valve (ICV) was disconnected it barely idled so I knew it was the settings for the ICV. The 1.6 ICV and 1.8 ICV operate the same, but differently, the duty cycles were way too high for the 1.8 motor and was causing the high idle issues. After messing around with open loop coolant temp based mappings I was able to come up with a slope that seems to work for my car. The idle now settles to 900 rpms when warm which seems to be a happy spot for my setup.

I ordered a correct battery for the car as I had a giant one in there temporarily just to get it running. That's now on my porch waiting to be installed.

The other issue I was having was the wide band wasn't reading. The MS had it pegged at 18.6 AFR and the gauge was just showing ---. The sensors aren't all that expensive, just your typical Bosch 4.9 LSU sensor which on Amazon is $40. I figure it's easier to just replace the sensor than it is to try and troubleshoot the controller. I'm hoping that during "construction" the sensor got damaged or covered in oil preventing it from reading correctly. I'm hesitant to really take the car out until I get the sensor working properly. The car feels eager to go but without seeing AFRs... well I don't want to be pulling the motor again.

And here's proof that she runs and drives, chilling with her sister, both sad they haven't been exercised in a while.

 

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Discussion Starter · #87 ·
Life has certainly been keeping me busy, a little too busy to play with the toys. This week however gave me enough of an incentive to spread myself a bit thin and get things going again on all the projects I have (too many!!!).

We have been working on a home renovation for the past 6 months. It was finally time for us to move last week which meant the car needed to move too. I've been struggling with cold starts and a bad idle for a while. I was lucky enough to find a few moments to replace the o2 sensor which took maybe 10 mins including getting it jacked up. I adjusted the tune a bit and got her started eventually. Once idling it had a terrible misfire. I replaced the plugs with my back-up set from the 1.6 I had in my track pack and it was golden. I'm still having a problem with cold starts though.

All of that led up to driving her to the new house, which is a lengthy .9 miles away from the old house. It was a good drive. I enjoyed every second of it, even the almost stalling at every stop sign bit. The car desperately needs a new tune and I need to figure out the correct wiring for the TPS. Tip in seems to be the problem now.

Here she is sitting patiently in her new home.

 

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Glad to see you're still working on it.

Life happens, but it'll slow down again. :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #89 ·
I heard a story about someone who recently rolled their Miata on track. The car seemed to be similarly setup to mine, harnesses, rollbar, fixed seats. The car rolled on track (or more precisely off-track while lapping), the windshield folded in and crushed the guys helment. Last update I heard he was in a coma. Now I know the Miata isn't the safest car and I also know that I'm not doing competitive driving so the likelihood of a big mistake like that is small (and mostly on my own actions) but this really woke me up. I've been worried about getting hurt in the car for some time now, partially the reason I got the RX-8. So, caught up in all this emotions I listed the car for sale. I got all of 0 responses. Yep, heavily modified, pandemic, personal build, rather track specific (but still street legal). An acquaintance was trying to get me to part it knowing it's worth a lot more in parts than whole but man that really tears my heart apart.

The only good thing that came out of that post was interest in the Rotrex kit which I think is one of the hardest things to sell. I bought it for it's power delivery but most people that want to put that kind of work or money into a Miata would either swap it or go turbo. The offer was pretty good, so I sold off the kit. oddly enough it came off in less than an hour. I can't tell you how much time it took me to assemble it for the first time.

From this:
Untitled by sicklyscott, on Flickr

To this in roughly 55 mins, 10 of this were because I refused to pull the wheel off to get to the clamps for the Rotrex oil cooler lines.
Untitled by sicklyscott, on Flickr


After it was removed I had no choice but take it for a spin. It's been a long time since I drove a naturally aspirated Miata, and I don't think I've ever driven a NA 1.8 so I was curious. Surprisingly, it wasn't bad! It seemed to have some good pep to it. The bigger motor, the 6 spd and arguably less weight and engine rotational resistance made it a lot of fun. So, do I keep it now? The plot thickens....

I was telling Mike, the guy who's restoring my Cutlass about the events of my week and he showed interest in the Miata. I'm not sure his intent but I know he lives down by the track I frequent and his family has been talking about trying their hand at road courses. He may end up taking the Miata plus parts as a way to pay down the tab on the Olds which would really help me out in two big ways. I don't have to deal with stupid lowballers and I don't have to liquidate more funds.

On the other hand I've realized how much I like roadster style cars. I was having a tough day on Saturday, i took my daughter for a spin in the Miata and EVERYTHING just went away. I know it's certainly not that car, it's the experience of an open air, nimble car that I can rev out and listen to all the noises. So, without the Miata, what else is there?

To calm my nerves during this time of indecision I decided to, well, work on cars. I still find it therapeutic even as I bitch about it. I've had these "shorty" consoles for the Miata sitting around for a while. I never installed them because I hadn't sorted the shifter boots out yet. It also took a bit of effort to get the top vinyl boot attached to the console. I had some time the past couple nights so I went in for the kill. I replaced both upper and lower shifter boots that seal the turret and cabin, these are easy and you can find tutorials all over the place so no pics. I then took the old shift boot, detached it from the plastic ring that snaps into the console and laid it out with the new console's metal ring. A couple of hole punches, some screws and nuts, and finally a finished product:

Untitled by sicklyscott, on Flickr

It's now installed in the car but I don't have any pictures. All those nasty fumes and noises from underneath the car are now gone, it drives much better because of that.

This story may come to an end, or it may live on. I'll post more as more decisions and events happen.
 

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I heard a story about someone who recently rolled their Miata on track. The car seemed to be similarly setup to mine, harnesses, rollbar, fixed seats.
Yeah, nothing like a bad accident to shake things up. I had a light rollover in my SR20 Miata on a highway drive to the Oregon Coast during a rainstorm. Best advice I got from people was to back away from the project for awhile. That lasted for about 8mos when I found a clean, low mileage 1991 BRG and well, I'm back at it again. Take some time to think things through. My kids are 16 and 13 and they've always had a Miata in their life. Sure you could get a Mercedes or BMW sedan convertible, but it's the Roadster lifestyle that really draws on your motorsports brain. Keep the car and work on something else for awhile :thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter · #91 · (Edited)
The Miata story, or as I like to refer to it on IG, #scotts****box, has officially come to an end. The car was awesome, even in NA guise but I knew I'd never use it. I wanted to get $9k out of the car, in my mind I found that number to be reasonable compared to other builds of the same level. I found a guy willing to give me 2k for the supercharger kit which I mentioned before. Then in conversation I mentioned it to the guy working on my Oldsmobile, he expressed interest. When it came time to talking about final payment he threw the Miata into the mix. I ended up getting $5k for it with all it's little issues and a bunch of extra parts I had laying around. I still have a few more things to sell, I should be able to get to the $9k mark without a doubt.

I really did like this car. It was a great car to drive on track and to learn in. I never got to extract the lap times out of it that I know it was capable of, fear held me back. In the end the car was too small for me to feel safe. I still want a little convertible to zip around town in but with harnesses, metal seats, no PS, no AC, this was't the car for my 40 y/o self. I know my decision was right but, it hurts knowing I can't just walk out to her and go for a spin.

I'll now be focusing my time on the Olds, which needs some decent time invested in it, and the Rx-8 which is just begging to be driven (mostly so the battery doesn't go flat).

A group of the grey gang in the morning. It's funny how I hate grey cars but I somehow ended up with 3.


And all loaded up and ready to leave my life:
 

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Man...it’s a tough day seeing one leave, isn’t it.

I sold mine because, even with a severe foamectomy on the stock seat, I still was uncomfortably close to the top bar on the Hard Dog. Sitting in stopped traffic one morning with the top down, I watched a woman in a Dodge minivan doing ~45mph—clearly looking at her phone—approach me with zero awareness. Fortunately the lane to my left opened up at just that moment so I dumped the clutch in first and moved over with my throttle foot pinned to the floor. The screeching of my tires/exhaust must have gotten her attention, because she nailed the brakes. She *barely* avoided hitting the guy in front of me.

I drove the rest of the way to work having that, “What if...” thread running through my head. Sold it and bought the Boxster soon after.

They are such fun cars, even stock, for just what you describe—top down motoring with great control feel and a playful chassis.
 

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Sorry to see the project end in less than racetrack glory, but I get the safety concerns. I've given serious thought to converting the roll bar with petty bar in my Alfa to a full cage. As much as it would destroy remaining streetability, I know the safety aspect is real.
 

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I sold mine because, even with a severe foamectomy on the stock seat, I still was uncomfortably close to the top bar on the Hard Dog.
Your Miata really was a nice car. I had forgotten this story. I also can't get past how close my head is to a roll bar. And I rolled my last Miata with just a HT!
 

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Discussion Starter · #97 ·
I was just sitting at work, minding my own business, pretending to do things and I got this picture:



The following text read something like "I just got another project and really haven't touched this thing in 2 years. Want to buy it back?"

Crap.

So here's the deal, I've been in need of a fix. I currently have a '13 Lotus Evora S, '65 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible, and my Tesla Model 3 Performance. All great cars and all very different from each other. Out of that bunch, the problem is the Lotus. I want it to be a track and weekend toy but, it's worth too much. I'm scared of pushing it on the track and, on the street it's not the easiest to get in and out of plus, I can't help but feel it's fragile (it's really not). So stupid me puts deposits on a C8 Z06 and a Lotus Emira. Both more expensive than the Evora. I really don't know why I did any of that but, I digress.

Point is, I've been looking for a new toy. I thought of building a mk1 chassis VW. Then I went on to electrifying a Karmann Ghia. Then I started looking at GC8 chassis Subarus. Then I started eyeing up a new 86 twin. I'd really like to do a NC Miata project but those prices are just insane now for what they are.

And now I might be buying back my old Miata.

I'm honestly excited. It's got a list of problems that are going to frustrate the hell out of me but, I also know I can sell it for a lot more than what I'm getting it for.

If this all works out, I don't know what I"m going to do with it. Part of me would love to do a K swap on it, another part of me wants to do a cheap turbo build. Do I end up caging it for the track? Do I just make it a killer street car? Or do I remove some of the track focused bits and make it a nice clean OEM+ style Miata?

If I had the energy, this could be a fun YouTube channel. I could start it with my wife's reaction (which won't be good!).
 
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