I've been a long-time mostly lurker here, and I figured it was time to finally start a build thread here in order to seek technical feedback and to share what I've been working on.
A little about myself - I'm a mechanical engineer with professional experience in a number of automotive areas, I spent 3 years in college helping to found and develop an FSAE program, I'm a driver on a Lemons team called Mod Squad racing that races MK2 MR2s, and I have a turbo Miata that's my summer car and autox rig. I am a really serious DIYer. I have earned certifications in TIG welding CroMoly steel and aluminum and own a TIG welder, I have a 4'x4' CNC router and numerous other bits of shop equipment (band saw, table saw, grinders, sanders, drill press, 10 ton press, press brake, etc). I run a small side business doing custom welding and fabrication, mostly for a local medical research facility and other car guys.
Since I have 4 cars in the fleet at the moment I try to do as much works as possible myself and try to avoid any 'throw money at it' solutions. I'm willing to sacrifice some performance in order to keep my Miata as a reasonably affordable hobby. Anything that I can possibly do myself, from making and fixing parts to alignments, I try to do. For me, half the point of having a car like this is to have a project to work on. Thus why I call this a 'budget+diy' build.
, I just wanted to give a little background on my attitude towards this car/project.
Onto the car... I bought it in the fall of 2010, it's PO had used it as a GRM car. It needed a lot of TLC, but the price was right. I've made a lot of mistakes along the way, enough to warrant replacing the engine two years ago. But it's been a very rewarding experience to work through all of the car's problems and my own mistakes, learn how to drive it fast(er), and to learn more about Miatas and cars in general.
Love it or hate it:
A (mostly complete) mod list:
FM NB Stage 2 + NB tophats
225/45-15 RS3 on 15x7.5 C1M wheels
Energy Suspension poly bushings
De-powered rack (remove seal, control valve, and welded splines)
FM frame rails
1992(?) rear sub frame with sport brace
HardDog single diagonal roll bar
6-puck 'stage 3' clutch (from PO)
4.1 clutch-pack RX7 LSD and 1.8 rear-end conversion
Energy Suspension poly differential bushings
MS1 Hi-Res w/ KnockSense MS and LC1 WBO2
Chinese knock-off GT2560 turbo
Cast log manifold
DIY 2.5in ss downpipe+race pipe to 2.5in FM trubo cat-back
COP Conversion, still wasted spark
No-name oil cooler
In recent work:
The engine I swapped in 2 years ago had 240k miles on it, but was cheap and available, so I figured I would run it until it died and by then (hopefully) a decent used engine would have surfaced. Well, both of those things happened. Last Friday it lost a bit of power and started having a crap-ton of blow-by. Leakdown numbers on 1-4 were: 4, 36, 7, 40. So, new engine time. Luckily a local guy I just met two weeks ago is selling his 80k mile drivetrain in preparation for an LSx swap. I plan on rebuilding the current engine, hopefully with upgraded rods and cylinders.
A cylinder from the recently-deceased engine. I assume this is just age-related failure, but am looking for other opinions. The crack doesn't look like the ring land failure from its first engine, which was clearly due to ping/knock. This engine showed no signs of knock damage.
The cylinder bores all still look fantastic on this engine too. I think it will make a good candidate for a rebuild.
Other work that I've done recently...
Braze-welded steering pinion splines.
A few different iterations of coolant block-off plates. One for me, one for a D-prep racer in GA.
2.5in stainless v-band downpipe.
And an alignment using FM hub-stands and lasers.
1/16 toe out per side
1/16 toe in per side
My immediate plans are to replace the engine, transmission, and clutch and to do a coolant re-route.
Thoughts? Comments? Criticisms? Questions?
*zipping SFI-rated up flame suit*