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Old 11-23-2014, 08:45 PM   #1
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Default the fifth quinquennial rebuild

Some background:

I've had my early 1990 (May 1989 build date) for a long time. I bought it from the first owner with just under 12,000 miles in March 1991. It was/is the first white Miata available on the west coast, and one of the first 500 US spec built.

This photo isn't from long after that, the small child in the passenger seat is my eldest, now grown and moved out of the house, and check out that cool Depeche Mode t-shirt I'm sporting.

At this point the car is bone stock, "A" package with VLSD and A/C. (A package had roll up windows, power steering, and cassette radio).

I didn't plan on doing much, I campaigned it in the local SCCA in C-stock, so was limited to what I could do by rules. I had a set of panasport wheels with sticky rubber (Yokohama A008R, anyone else remember that tire?)
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Old 11-23-2014, 09:07 PM   #2
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In the mid 1990's, 1994-1998 time frame, I was very active on the Miata mailing lists and the early days of miata.net (well before the forums took hold of the interwebz).

I worked at a big computer company that had offices overseas and I had ready access to Japanese Domestic Market products via co-workers/friends.

My early goals were to see what I could do with the 1.6l and keeping it N/A.

I'd toyed around with a set of Mikuni carbs, then switched to IRTB's, then went back to Fuel Injection...then had to do some internal work when the infamous short-nose crank keyway issue struck.

In the course of getting parts for the rebuild, I acquired a JDM Toda Racing stroker crank for the 1.6l.

Other interesting go-fast bits included one of the Millen competition clutch LSD diffs--these were used on the cars Rod Millen campaigned in the World Challenge efforts.

In the photo is one of the first kits for low profile head lights. That was part of what I consider the first quinquennial build.

Old school photo, it was top notch tech in the day 1 magapixel and a full 320 pixels wide! Who would ever need more?
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Old 11-23-2014, 09:26 PM   #3
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A lot of parts found their way onto the Miata and then were removed as I sought the magic number of 200 hp N/A.

Around 2002, I bent a rod. I was traveling internationally a lot in those days, and didn't have the time to do an engine rebuild myself. So I looked around locally and met with Rolla Vollstedt. He was mostly working on top fuel and cup car racer cars, but he liked the design on the Miata and agreed to the work.

Rolla is a racing icon, even in his 80's at the time, he would putter around the work shop turning wrenches. I was and am honored that he agreed to work on my engine.

Here's a couple of cool articles on him:
Indy innovator Rolla Vollstedt still building race cars, spinning tales at 88 - USATODAY.com

Tri-City man restores historic Indy car, drives it at Brickyard | Local News | Tri-CityHerald.com

This engine was 80.5mm bore, Toda stroker crank, 11.5:1 compression, knife edge crank, spun balanced to 9000 rpm, etc.

It dyno'd at one point 180 whp on C12 race gas, but was typically tuned for 91 octane pump and produced around 165 whp.

Check out the uber lightweight SSR type X wheels. I ordered them from Japan from a friend, then shipped to Hawaii, and brought them home as luggage during a vacation trip.

Under 8 pounds.
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Old 11-23-2014, 10:05 PM   #4
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I spent most of the period from 2003-2009 working on international projects and traveling 40-45 weeks a year. As the third or fourth vehicle in the garage, the Miata mostly sat in a bay under a car cover.

Until I decided that I needed to take a break and spend the holidays at home. When I went to pull the car out for a nice indian summer drive, I was met with a nice "wauph" and a puff of smoke with the tell tale fragrance of melting/burning plastic and wires.

Apparently in the pacific north west, the gourmand rodents prefer Japanese import wiring looms to standard fare.

So while I was repairing, I also removed the alarm that hadn't worked in a decade, the airbags and some other assorted clean-up.

As part of the new interior, I pulled the stock arm rests and made up a set of webbed strap door pulls to go with the Lotus Elise leather Probax seat in the driver's side.

In hindsight, I should have bought a second seat at the time, because now they are going for $1000 each when you can actually find them.

And yeah, it's sporting a Link Mk 1.5 ecu....rocking it old school bay-bee..
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Old 11-23-2014, 10:24 PM   #5
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It is great to see cars like yours that have been well cared for all these years, and look to have a great future ahead.
Just love early white NA's
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Old 11-23-2014, 10:29 PM   #6
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Love the seat, properly jealous of it. I've been considering a pair of non-probax ones.
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Old 11-23-2014, 10:41 PM   #7
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So this year, the Miata celebrated 25 years, there was going to be a big deal about the intro of the ND, and lots of hub and bub around the Miatas-at-Mazda-Laguna-Seca-Raceway event.

I was swamped for time, working on projects on three continents, and just wanted to make certain that I could drive 750 miles each way and go to the thing. I tinkered a bit, changed the fluids, and tried to get the Link tuned properly, but was having significant issues with smooth idle, and hot restart.

It was running super rich, I had replaced the IASC valve (fleabay $60 special actually off a Protege I'm guessing instead of the $600 factory part), and some other things but wasn't getting satisfactory results, and had to head back to Africa.

SO I dropped it off at Eddie's shop with the instructions to "make it so."

The problem was eventually found: the crank nose pulley was off by about 60 degrees, and had chewed up the end of the Toda crank.

I didn't have the time to source all the bits and bobs needed for a proper rebuild in the time left. Plus the car was now old enough to be eligible for a specialty plate.

In Oregon, Specialty Plates are extra special. Not only do you not have to pay for registration every two years, but if the vehicle is currently wearing good tags, you don't even have to get the car to pass DEQ/Smog check. Ever again.

To be fair there are some down sides to this deal: you can't drive more than some small amount of miles annually, and when you do it must be for a "club or automotive social event". Frankly, neither of these are a concern for me.

So this means I can do what ever needs to be done to get the car to run well and kill the planet at the same time.

Since I wasn't going to rebuild the high compression engine, I would be replacing it with a swap, it was time to look at the 1.8l options.

Also, Turbo!

I searched around--remember this was a time critical period, it was like August 20th and I wanted to have everything ready to drive for the MLSR event in September--and looked for a good candidate that was close enough and good enough to use. Stage one was just do the stock 1.8l swap. I found a 1997 with under 60K miles, bought it on the spot from a place in Arizona, and sent them a payment via paypal in less than 15 minutes with the explicit discussion of them being able to ship out the engine the next day.

They were supposed to re-check compression, then pull the engine with everything attached accessories wise (P/S, A/C, Alternator, water pump).

So I waited for my new-to-me engine to arrive.

And waited.

And called the place to find out what the status was only to be put on hold.

And waited.

Finally a week later I manage to connect with a human with enough brain cells to have cognitive thought processes. The engine is still in Arizona, but they promise it will be shipped that afternoon.

The truck failed to make the delivery before Labor day weekend, thus the engine did not arrive until the Tuesday following. There was very little likelihood that everything could be put in place unless there were no other events.

Of course there were other events.

The engine was eventually installed with the Link ECU the week after MLSR.

It seemed to be pretty good, but not great. Lots of smoke on acceleration, but it was still faster off the line than the 1996 M a friend had just acquired. Very heavy exhaust--smelled of oil.

But it didn't leak and it was mostly drivable, but not tunable.

Since I was thinking of eventually going Turbo, and the Link was difficult to get support on, I looked at other options.

I also did a compression test. Ugh.

Cylinder #1: 130 psi
Cylinder #2: 152 psi
Cylinder #3: 152 psi
Cylinder #4: 140 psi

Rings are shot at best.
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Old 11-23-2014, 10:55 PM   #8
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And thus we are now current in the time line. I am collecting parts and deciding on options for the fifth rebuild.

This time, we go for forced induction.

I haven't had the chance to do anything further investigation wise, but I'm thinking of the route others have done with forged rods, new rings, and arp hardware on the bottom end for a reasonable budget.

Wait and see what needs to be done on the head--I still haven't done a leak down test but the wet compression test did raise on #1 from 130 to 145, leading me to think that the head might be alright.

However, I might just go on the hunt for a 1999 head.

And since I'm going there, should I also look for a EUDM square top intake?

Already underway/ordered:
6258 EFR with external wastegate
Turbosmart 40 mm
ARTech 3" hot side
ID1000 injectors
DIYPNP V2 Megasquirt

Some photos of the red powder coated, urethane bushinged, Big Brake Kitted feet that was done back in 2009/2010 timeframe.
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Old 11-23-2014, 11:01 PM   #9
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Thanks for the feedback.


At this point, I can't get anywhere close to what I have put into the car, so I'm not going to sell it ever.

Besides, I've determined that I actually save money on my Haggerty policy by owning the Miata, so I should of course spend many orders of magnitude greater sums to get it to the point of no compromise, right?

Don't answer that.
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Old 11-24-2014, 12:32 AM   #10
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Great to see some new photos and updates from ya, fills in a lot of blanks in your story I hadn't previously known, that's for sure.

And your airbag pic is incorrect, the part labeled airbag CPU is actually just a sensor, the two CPUs are the blue things in the first photo with the frayed wire.

Let me know if you need any engine building tips, I've built a few myself, and have a great guy to bring heads to, but yeah, I'd highly suggest a '99 head and either VICs or flat top manifold. Anything you buy though should go to the head shop to get the valve seals replaced, along with checking the valve seats for leaks.

Good luck!
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Old 12-01-2014, 03:01 PM   #11
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I now have a specific vector for the path forward:

I bought up a "should be rebuilt" 1999 BP4W long block off of Craigslist over the weekend. I'm going to pick it up tomorrow and will have a full assessment then (with pictures).

The plan is to rebuild this lump while running the poorly ringed '97 1.8.

When I say "running" what I'm actually doing is:

1) Pull out the Link ECU
2) Install the Megasquirt
3) Install the AEM wideband O2 sensor
4) Install the AFR guage
5) remove the last traces of the Air Bag wiring harness
6) remove the R12 A/C system--there is a local ad for a "mostly complete from the firewall forward" A/C from a 1995 that I was toying with, but instead I have acquired all the needed bits to remove A/C. This isn't a daily driver, heck it isn't even a weekly driver.

I'm keeping the P/S, I'm old and cranky and like my workouts in the dojo not the parking lot.
--------------------

Now the test of merit of posting to the forum, some actual questions for feedback:

I have a budget of reasonableness. By this I mean if it can be argued that there is a right way to do it or a cheap way to do it, I will choose the right way. But I don't want to spend just for the sake of spending. There is no prize given for having the most ridiculously over built Miata.

On the '99 BP4W engine:

I see a couple of forged sets with Pistons/rings/rods/pins on fleabay.

Example this set with Eagle H rods and 83mm CP pistons (~$870):
CP Pistons Eagle Rods Miata MX 5 Protege Escort BP 1 8L 9 0 1 83mm | eBay

or this set with Manley H rods and 83.5mm CP pistons (~$895):
CP Pistons Manley Rods Miata MX 5 Protege Escort BP 1 8L 9 0 1 83 5mm | eBay

On the surface these seem like a decent deal, has anyone used them successfully?

In the realm of reasonableness, if the BP4W block doesn't need to be bored out, I won't and thus the stock size pistons seem like the way to go. I've read that Eagle and Manley rods are actually the same with just different labeling.

Given my power goals of 250ish, and the EFR 6258, do I need to spend the big up tick in price for Carillos?

Should I just pull the forged rods out of my built 1.6l--to be honest I haven't even dropped the oil pan on that engine. I probably should and then determine if they are even worth reusing. (I now have another, better option for Catfish donations so the 1.6l and all it's associated bits are up for adoption (part out) soon I think)

That's enough questions, now heed the demand of our newest house guest to provide some answers. (her name is Cleopatra and that is her palanquin with which we carry her around as her wont dictates)
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Old 12-01-2014, 03:09 PM   #12
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God dammit! You got that $200 '99??? There was half a dozen of us arguing over it on CR, me included for my own Smurf, need me a 1.8. Damn good deal, I was looking forward to decent rebuild for myself. Early bird gets the worm!

Forged pistons are a big addition in terms of money and machining. Getting bore sized right, piston ring gap correctly ground (lots of theories going around the internet as to what is the "right" gap), and you have to deal with piston slap during warm up.

Personally, if you don't plan on going past 250ft/lbs, keep stock pistons. They're good to 300+ AFAIK, and will be plenty safe with a good tune.

Manley rods are a great buy, and only around $350 IIRC.
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Old 12-01-2014, 03:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by curly View Post
God dammit! You got that $200 '99???
Guilty

I'm going to crack open the 1.6l this week. It's sitting on my engine stand in the way of a bunch of things, might as well spread it out so it's in the way of a lot more things.

I know of a '97 1.8l that needs a rebuild, maybe we can work out a deal...

So no need for pistons, unless the stock units in the '99 are trashed, but I'll find out tomorrow.

Any one have feedback for the seller RealStreetrsp? They have a set of Manley + ARP2000 bolts as well (~$370):
Manley Forged H Beam Rods Mazda Miata 323 Protege BP 1 8L with ARP2000 Rod Bolts | eBay
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Old 12-01-2014, 04:04 PM   #14
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949 has them for $359, ARP 2000 bolts included.

I'd definitely be interested in a '97 1.8 if it's usable. Not the hardest to swap over to a '99 head later. I'd be kicking myself for getting rid of that '99 head a few months ago. How ironic, I sold it to TSE for a core and now I could be buying it back...
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Old 12-18-2014, 02:55 PM   #15
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Brief update:

I started cleaning up the wiring in preparation to install the Megasquirt, and that lead to cleaning up the worthless 31 pounds of crap of Air Conditioning.

I pulled the front fenders and bumper and will be doing some clean up of the 20+ years of accumulated grunge.

So far, the passenger side needs more work. I'm thinking of building my own aluminum water tank for the windshield washers. $140+ for the JDM Cappuccino bottle is just stupid money.

Next, I'm pulling the hardtop off an removing the soft top completely and pulling the A/C stuff from under the dash (which requires removing part of the dash)

I still have some wiring to clean up in the front; at one point I ran DRL in stockish turn signals that's part of the mess on top of the bumper. Now I have TSI's with led lamps.

Some of this work feels like when my wife cleans up the house before the Merry Maid crew shows up, or washing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher.

But when I do get to the "install MegaSquirt" event, I want it to go smooth and fast.

Josh, send me a PM with your schedule for the next couple weeks, I figured your recent time was spent on Ed's MSM...

-------------

While I'm in there, thinking about putting a set of these in:
Louvers, Aluminum Side Vent - Pair

only maybe putting them in the hood instead of the fenders...

$85 for a pair seems like a reasonable price.
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Old 12-18-2014, 07:01 PM   #16
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Fab9's got the rods for $340 including the ARP bolts:

Rods : Manley Forged H-Beam Rods - Miata

Also has package options if you want to do a full build.

Would love to ride in this thing when it's finished. Would love to drive it but I won't ask for that, considering my reputation
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Old 12-18-2014, 09:28 PM   #17
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I'll send a PM as soon as I'm home!

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Old 12-19-2014, 04:43 PM   #18
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Ho ho ho


I was checking the consistency of the lugnuts and Cleopatra decided to help:


Tungsten, 15x8. I need longer wheel studs now. Feelings of stud inadequacy.....
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Old 12-27-2014, 02:28 PM   #19
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I've been cleaning up the wiring to undo some of the past modifications. At one point I had wired up 55w Day-time Running Lights in the stock turn signals. Now, there are a bunch of extraneous wires and two different PIAA branded relays.

In this image from my post #15


you can see the them, smaller black one on the bumper, large white blocky one on the driver side of the engine bay.

I can't find the original notes I made for when I wired up this stuff, and can't find decent pin outs on the relays there. I'm going to get some generic relays instead and just wire up the driving lamps sans kit bits.

The lamps are no longer available PIAA 959, which have a pair of wires on them, one for power, one for grounding (since the body is entirely plastic), which means I can mount them directly to the bumper.

Top Tip: Don't use the outer pair of predrilled holes, as that's where the bumper cover attaches. Because then you will have to remove the driving lamps when you want to just pull the cover. And installing/removing the lamps is much easier without the bumper cover on.

AMHIK
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