Destination SSM One Miata's Journey through Hell

23Dec/110

General Progress and Engine Harness

Posted by David de Regt

The last couple weeks have largely been spent organizing, cleaning, and selling parts from the old black car.  That took an unexpected amount of time, though I've been pleased with the results.  I've recouped around 1800$ from parts selling, the frame is gone from my possession, and I still have a couple shelves of stuff left to sell.  The time setback is annoying, as it's going to be 2012 before I even get into the new car, but everything always goes slow in a car build.  I keep reading Jason Rhoades' STX build blog and seeing how much worse it could really be.  I'm still waiting on any word back from the Oregon DMV, so the new car's now just sitting untouched in my garage, waiting for some sign that I do legally own it.

At least some things are still moving forward.  I dropped all of the motor parts off at the machine shop a week ago, so I'll have a built 99 motor ready to go sometime relatively soon.  I also managed to stumble upon a great deal for Quaife gearsets, so I've ordered a set of the wide ratio Quaife gears, which are going to go straight to Advanced Autosports, who will rebuild a 94-97 tranny with them, and I should only be out around 2700$ for what should be a brand new bulletproof gearbox when all is said and done.  The 1.8 rear end is at Chase Race getting the OS Giken differential installed onto a 4.3 ring and pinion and he's pressing the ABS rings installed onto the axles as well.  So, the non-supercharger-related portions of the drivetrain are coming together nicely.

While waiting for some long-running SQL queries today, I decided to dig into the wiring harnesses a bit.  I have the 93 LE California front harness spread out on the floor, I've bought an 05 MSM front harness (for a number of useful connectors), and the 93 LE engine harness is also there.  The front harness is going to be a giant hassle, as I need to tear apart both front harnesses, remove a bunch of wiring from the 93 harness, add a bunch of wiring from the 05 harness, and add more custom wires yet for the coil on plug conversion I'm doing.  I'm still waiting on a shop manual that I ordered to know what the 05 wiring harness consists of, but I thought I should get the ball rolling on the engine harness.

The engine harness usually runs along the intake side of the engine, all the way down the transmission/PPF, into the trunk, where the battery is.  In the factory configuration, there's a big cable (~6 gauge) that runs the whole length (~10 feet) to connect the battery from the trunk to the electronics in the engine bay.  I've picked up a tiny 2.5 lb lithium battery to use for the car, so it seemed silly to bother running a cable that weighs more than that just to run it to the trunk. So, I tore into the harness, removed all the various clips and such, the one airbag sensor wire, and cut off most of the battery wire to the trunk.

I'm not positive where I'm going to mount the battery yet in the engine bay, so I wanted to leave myself a little wiggle room.  There's probably another half pound that can come off it if I put the battery where I suspect I will (near the fusebox), but that'll be easy down the line anyway.  The harness went from 5.22 lb down to 2.46 lb.  Easy weight reduction, and simplifying the electrical system while I'm at it.

The next two projects are the front harness and finalizing the radiator/intercooler/intake manifold setup so I can get BEGi started on the fabrication.

7Dec/110

Because I Enjoy Making Things Difficult

Posted by David de Regt

I was really hoping to have interesting, substantive, things to post on the Miata build by now, but unfortunately I really don't yet.  Things are progressing, but the Davin car episode kind of set everything back a bit.  Hannah says people want to see what it looks like to strip a car down to the frame, so I can show a little of that, for those who haven't done it before.

Having decided that Davin's car was toast, the only thing left to do was make what I could of it.  It's a 93 Limited Edition car (or at least it has that interior and options package), so it has a silly red interior that lots of people seem to go crazy over.  As such, parting it out seemed like the way to go (instead of re-selling it as it sat, that is.)  So, I posted out some feeler threads, and a day or so later found myself with people buying most of the red interior for 650$ + shipping, nearly what I'd paid for the car.  From there, it was time to pull apart the rest of the car and see what we could make of what's left.  It'd be useful to have a full set of spares for the new build, in addition to lots of extra stuff to measure/futz with in the name of science.

So, last Thursday night, Brian, Duncan, and I suited up and spent a few hours tearing down the car.  After a few hours of work, we had a lot of the important stuff done.  Somehow half the garage was full of crap, but the car didn't feel much smaller.  We learned some stuff that we weren't really all that sure of before.  For example, the doors are, in fact, absurdly heavy.  Also that the car's frame is even more toast than we thought.  When we pulled the stuff out of the front right of the car, it exposed the fact that the frame rail is bent by a good 5-10 degrees off where it's supposed to be, starting just in front of the wheel centerline.  That's bad.  In addition, with the rest of the interior removed, Brian noticed that the unibody was bent all the way up the back left side into the passenger compartment.  I guess this poor car had hit some good stuff back in the day.

I spent a bit sorting through stuff and trying to put it all in piles to make room for the next round of parts removal, and then we retired for the night.  Sunday, Brian, Duncan, and I resumed the tearing apart, and actually finished up this time.  Having never torn a car all the way down to the frame before, it was a somewhat interesting experience.  Now a basically blank car sits on jackstands in my garage waiting for Doug Chase to take it away for scrap recyling on Monday.

On the other side of things, I bought a new Miata on Saturday.  As per my usual MO, it's not actually a cherry, but the car seems really straight (I inspected everything I could, lifting up the car and everything, the VIN checks clean, and all the body panels have original VIN stickers on them).  It also has factory ABS, which will save me a ton of pain in the butt.  The original red paint is pretty faded, but it drove 380 miles back from Roseburg and got 32+ mpg the whole way, without so much as a peep of trouble aside from the nicely out of balance wheels (there was a nice sweet spot around 68-69mph that the vibration disappeared at!)  I'm now in the process of trying to get the title transferred from Oregon.  There's some annoying nuance here -- I bought it from someone who bought it from someone who died and her heirs lost the title, and these guys have been trying to track down the paperwork to get it registered, then had to move to Canada with no warning due to a job relocation.  So, I've now submitted a good 15 pages of paperwork to the Oregon DMV today, most of which is notarized death, estate, and inheritance paperwork from the trustee.

I think it'll all work out, but it'll be an annoying couple of weeks to wait and see if the DMV balks at my packet.  I've called them and they think I've submitted everything that I need, but it's still up to the whim of some poor IQ 80 public servant to wade through the paperwork (with instruction sheet from me) and issue me a new title, which I can then transfer to WA and register the car with.  As soon as that happens, we can tear into the new car with aplomb.

Most of the parts for phase 1 of the build have shown up at this point.  I'm going to bring the motor parts to Eastside Machine this weekend, and he'll get me a built motor back in a week or so of that.  By that time, hopefully we'll have the title situation worked out and can swap motors into the new car.  After doing a bunch more research, I decided to switch to an AEM EMS, and sold the Megasquirt for a small loss to do the upgrade, for reasons that I will outline in more detail when I get to tear into the wiring harnesses and explain what all I'm doing in there.  Some of the last stuff I'm still trying to figure out is exactly how the intercooler/radiator arrangement will go, how exactly to mount the supercharger cold-side where I want it, and what transmission/rear end combo I'm going to use.  I still have a few emails out about the last one, whereas the first two mostly need to wait until I get the 99 motor into the car to figure out for sure.

The next update will probably be about the motor build, when all the parts show up in a few days...  Hang in there, something interesting will happen eventually, I promise...

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