Fully assembled Turbo/Manifold with FM 8mm Inconel Studs, Stage 8 locking hardware and Resbond. I will say, this is the first time I've used anything like Resbond and Im really interested to see if it makes the difference people say it will. Admittedly, I really don't see this car seeing the same stress that a lot of people put their manifold assembly through. I guess we'll see!
While I was stripping down the 1.8 block to bring to the machine shop, I ran into some trouble getting the old crank timing gear off the nose of the crank. Like an ***, I decided to break out ye old mini sledge and flat head to try and get the gear off and, like an ***, I ended up damaging not only the gear but the surface near the seal on the oil pump as well... I didnt feel comfortable reusing the factory oil pump thinking it would end up with a leak that I didn't want to deal with. I ended up buying a DNJ oil pump online for about $100. (If anyone has any experience with these, I'd love to hear about it. I couldn't find any real reviews for this one and I had a generally hard time finding good information on aftermarket replacement oil pumps.) After further reading after my purchase I think I probably would have waited and sprung for a pump with billet gears, I have no cams or headwork done to warrant super high rpms so I'm really hoping that a little common sense and mechanical empathy will leave me in safe waters here.
Fortunately I noticed a sizable hole in the top of it that I'm fairly sure is the oil dipstick hole for the 323. I looked at the old pump and was able to gingerly tap out a plug that was in the same spot. I slathered it in some JB weld and it popped in perfectly. So far so good.
Finally, it was time to pull pull the old 1.6. This little motor saw ~144k miles without a beat and would likely still be cruising had somebody just paid a little more attention during the timing belt change. It now sits on an engine stand and has been serving as a model for me when I need to use it to better understand something.
Good bye little 1.6. We salute you!
While wrestling the end of the transmission from the transmission tunnel I looked out of the cab and rushed to take quite possible my favorite picture ever!
My beautiful and talented girlfriend has been helping me along the way and I was thrilled to get this picture of her (even though she's keeping the weight of engine from smashing up the AC condenser or fire wall). Seriously though, she's awesome.
With the old motor out I separated the transmission from the block and started cleaning.
Meanwhile, the rest of the motor build continued.
Oil Pump, water pump and cams in. Timed. All buttoned up.
Then time for some drive train love. I was really excited for this bit an am really hoping the clutch isn't too tough for drive ability and can hold up to the power Im hoping to make. I originally really wanted to go with the FM Happy Meal clutch kit but they were on back order for a few months at the time.
New ACT 9 lb flywheel, pressure plate and Stage 2 clutch as well as throw-out bearing and pilot bearing installed. (Before anyone notices, I had this assembled and torqued up 2-3 times before I actually took these pictures and then realized I'd have to take it all apart to install the bellhousing/starter shield).
With the new drive train bits installed, I mated the clean transmission to the block and proceeded to wrap up some of the loose ends. Some of you may have noticed the coolant reroute temp sensor housing in place. I picked up a brand new M-Tuned reroute from Curly for a good price and made sure to install the difficult parts before putting the motor in. Im hoping to get some good results out of that.
After triple checking a few things and crossing my fingers that I got the important bits correct, it was time to wrestle the new motor back into the engine bay and check fitments.
IT FITS!!!!! With more help from my lovely assistant, we were able to cram everything in with no real problems!
Almost immediately I had flash back to the FM turbo kit install instructions saying "Hey, There are some fitment issues with the cold side of the turbo and the miata frame rails, you need to trim that **** down." Well, they're right. It sits damn close to the rail and I can see the cold side getting chewed up and making some awful noises with just a little bit of engine flex. I spent the better part of an evening with the motor pushed to the side so I could dremel out a notch to allow for a little more movement. I freed up about an inch of space which makes thing much better. I filed everything down as nicely as possible and in the end its not entirely too janky. At some point when the motor comes back up I'll likely clean this up a bit more. Point is, read the directions. This is important.
I kept plugging away and got things pieced together as they came up, eventually it all came together like this.
I went to the parts store to find a coolant hose with a good S bend in it to get around the charge pipe leading into the TB cleanly and joined it to my re-reroute hose.
I couldn't close the hood cleanly with the rubber lining on the top of the intake shielding and the hood wouldn't close as nicely as I wanted so I've ditched it until I can trim the aluminium down.
With the engine bay all sorted out, it was time to get the Megasquirt box sorted out get the car closer to starting. I had a good friend of mine come into town and rather than showing him around Denver like any decent friend would have done, I locked us both in the garage for the weekend and we proceeded to put the finishing touches on the car and plug in the MS. My friend has a good bit of MS experience with a few different cars, one of which is a '77 Mk1 VW Scirocco that has been turned into the epitome of a purpose built, DIY race car. Its very fast and very impressive.
Previously I had snagged a used LC-1 off of someone in the classifieds. $100 bucks with the gauge! I had planned to use the Spartan 2 (Spartan Lambda Controller 2 | 14Point7
) just because its so damn cheap and I've heard direct reports of it doing its job very well, I never intended to run the gauge but the price was right and I had previous experience with the LC-1 so in it went.
With some good help from my friend, we got everything installed per instructions and our own experience, added fluids, filled the diff and trans with Mobil 75w-90 and the moment of truth was upon us. And as such things often go, it turned out to be several moments of truth....
The car would crank strong, would spark, and stumble but we couldnt get things to work quite right. I changed the plug wire around and made a few other forgettable changes and it came to life! On to checking timing... Only the timing was nowhere close to being correct... My friend had to take off literally as soon as we got the car to idle with incorrect timing for the first time so we waived bon voyage to him and I took a break from the garage for a week or so.
After loads of reading and diss-assembling/checking/re-assembling I was incredibly confident that my physical timing was not wrong (I seriously became a master at miata timing belts after this). Along the way I took a good look at the rest of my motor and continued to pour through forums until one day, lightning struck my brain...
This is not how a CAS should be positioned....
But I'll be god damned if it doesn't bolt in and pivot perfectly that way... For what ever reason (I think its a ground strap bolt) Mazda put a bolt hole on the drivers side of the CAS as well as one on the passenger side that seems less obvious. This is where the CAS is supposed to bolt up, with the plug facing upwards... I corrected that and ultimately thought my problem was solved. Not so. At this point I couldn't even get the car to idle like it previously had so back to the forums I went. Unfortunately everything pointed back to my timing again. As instructed, I manually put the motor to TDC and checked my crank pulley marks. By the looks of things I was about 5 Degrees off based on my crank pulley mark which, after checking the proper gear marks, meant that the crank damper had begun to slip.
Excited to get my car driving and thinking this was the key, I put in an order for a SuperMiata pulley/dampener and was very pleased with the end product.
It pressed on nicely by tightening the crank bolt up, I do hope I don't have to pull it off for anything minor though. Hopefully this will spare my aftermarket oil pump a little bit of unnecessary thrashing and balance nicely with the lightweight flywheel.
Long story short, this did not solve all my problems magically but at least I knew I had accurate timing marks to make decisions off of. I was told that the first two intake cam lobes and first two exhaust cam lobes should be pointing almost directly at 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock respectively. Something wasn't right.
After snapping some pictures it was quickly noted by the good folks at MT.net that the small pin that holds the cam gear in place with the cam is not always the most robust piece and can be prone to breaking.
Lo and Behold.... Not cool, Bro.
I looked at replacing the dowel, its supposedly very doable. For $20 I was able to pull a complete exhaust cam at a local scrapyard the same day. Popped it in, reassembled and HALLELUJAH! Played with the CAS a bit and the timing is dead on, 10* btdc. Car roared to life and idled like it was supposed to. After an uncomfortable amount of smoke that I had to repeatedly convince myself was from burn off I was thrilled!
A little bit of idle enrichment later and things were looking great! After some clutch line bleeding, and some small changes/cleanup It was time for a first drive! Took it around the block in the dark that night and things were feeling great. I had to come back and fix the boost gauge that night, but got to take it out the next day to give it the best attempt at an early tune and a break in run for the piston rings. It's currently on wastegate pressure of ~5-7 lbs and is a completely changed car! Even from a dead stop this thing is proper quick, a huge change from what it was like before.
That's the brunt of my 6 month build process in retrospect. For what its worth, this has been a fantastic and strait forward project and could be done by anyone with a good collection of basic tools and a reasonable amount of general mechanical/automotive knowledge. I've done larger projects than this before but there was nothing that was positively difficult or confusing about it. So far I've been impressed with the quality of every piece/part that I've ordered. I feel like Flyin' Miata has put together a very solid kit, and I was very impressed with the level of detail and instruction that is given about each piece. In retrospect, it certainly wasn't cheap, I'm sure that I payed FM enough to pay some serious college tuition. I absolutely could have pieced this together on my own and made it work for a lot cheaper, infact, were I to do it again, I'd probably opt for something like Shieund's group buy turbo package. That being said this was my first time with these cars I am absolutely happy I chose the FM kit. It did make this project about as easy as it could be and I'm sure saved me from alot of trial and error as well as wait time.
This car is still far from finished or dialed in but so far the swap and the turbo conversion are both things I would recommend to any Miata enthusiast that's looking to coax some serious zip out of their car.
At long last, I can finally take some pictures of our car... Thanks for reading!