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Old 04-07-2014, 06:53 PM   #1
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Default The Hangar Queen Project

Warning: Will contain profanity, descriptive texts of mishaps, newbishness, heartbreak, terrible pictures, and occasionally something awesome.

The best place to start any story is at the beginning, but most of that **** is boring, so I'll keep it short: Before this project, the penultimate test of my mechanical skills was lying on my back on the pavement in the summer in Mississippi changing a throwout bearing on a '91 GMC Sonoma, and changing a clutch on a 1984 Mercedes 190D.

After I bought an RX8, and lovingly nursed it back into existence, then found out the ******* who had sold it to me had doctored his HPI documents showing it was clear... and he still owed money on it (which meant it technically wasn't my car.) AND I found out this same ******* had sold it because he was going to PRISON for getting busted with distribution levels of cocaine... IN the same car I'd bought, making it an instant body cavity search any time I went near a cop... I was a little bit pissed, to say the least.

I work for the military, and one of our "odd jobs" we get stuck with is audio setups for large events. It's about the only job where we can trade favors. (Example: We'll do your retirement ceremony if you get your guys to fast-track fabricating these antenna mounts for us...)

So, there I was, on a military base, with a car that had, once upon a time not so long ago, gotten hit up for little white bags of nose candy. The military has a great deal where if you buy a car, you have 72 hours of "gratis" of bringing it to the base cops, and they'll run a drug dog over the car for you, and you won't be held accountable for what they find. Something often done in back stateside, because you'd be amazed at how easy it is to have a roach parked under a seat rail or some crazy ****...

But I'd already had the car for a month, so after talking to some folks who "know a guy"... guess who wound up doing a retirement ceremony for a dog? Yep. And worse yet, the car was clean... So, after I finally cleared **** up with the previous owners lender and had a clear title... I immediately sold it. Shame too, I'd already taken the time to seafoam the engine, change out the fluids, plugs, and had a solid compression test. But, small price to pay for not getting pulled by the plod every 5 minutes...

Now, this isn't the RX8 forums, and I know that well. Just setting the backstory a bit. So, I wanted a sports car, and already being in the gravity well that is mazda, and having just blown a fairly large wad of cash on a car that legally I couldn't drive, sell, or really do anything with (until I'd gotten the whole lien thing sorted)... I had to get it on the cheap.

I found out a couple cars back that if it's performance related, find the most active forums for the cars, and look for one for sale there, because you stand a better chance of not getting reamed in the *** with an alumin(i)um foil condom. Looking back on it now, there are lots of things I would have done differently, but regardless; after about a week, I knew what I wanted. MK1 with a 1.8, not red, not smurf blue, not silver, 1300 or less. So I sat, waited, and looked.

Looking back on it now, I probably should have saved up a bit more, and been less impatient. Regardless, one fine cold day, in late March of 2012, I bought this, and drove it home:

1994 MX-5, PZ Black. 1.8, Open Diff.
Manual Windows, Steering. No A/C.
Rust starting to peek through in areas, frame rails dented to ****.
TA Technix Coilovers on 15" BBS OEM alloys.
Stock Interior with a Sony CD player.
130K on the clock.
HLA's clattering like throwing a cat into a room full of mousetraps.

I immediately swapped plugs and fluids, cleaned the induction air filter (blech) and replaced two front tires. Then I took it up to the Lake District for a week with the wife, and we fell in love with the car. Except for the HLA's. Holy **** they drove me nuts. I could not get them to shut the hell up. I'd blown a lifter in an '84 Buick Somerset, and the haunting memories of nursing that car home with exhaust blowing into the intake and all that **** kept haunting me.

Then I let the wife drive it on the motorway. She enjoyed it, and somehow managed, during one of the stupidly predictable motorway accordion brake slamming episodes (where everyone screeches to a halt like Jesus Christ himself is having his second coming in the middle of the ******* highway and only those going 20 or less get pulled up for the rapture, then as soon as it happens, it's done, and everyone's accelerating like they're an audi driver trying to whip their dick out to everyone after a toll-booth)...

She managed to go from cruising in 5th to 2nd. No synchro resistance or anything, car was like "yeah, I can do that!" Needless to say, she didn't want to drive anymore. But still, the HLA thing was seriously getting on my nerves.

So, I read about cleaning them, replacing them, and decided that after everything is said and done, that's just too much work. Being in the U.K, Supercharging with a Mini MP45 was all the rage, and being a bielieber, I jumped on that fanboi train, and started to plot...

So after a couple of hurried newb messages to various folks and all that ****, I decided that instead of doing the simple thing like cleaning/replacing the HLA's, or even going to a BP4W head; I was going to do this instead:

Because the only thing that makes a project better is by making it more complicated, right?

So, after much talking on the phone with folks, drawing up lists, and hearing a whole lot about "how to do it better" I wound up with a whole list of stuff to get from my good buddy, JunkYardDog:

MK2.5 Bottom End, low miles.
BP4W Head, Low Miles.
JDM/EUDM Square Top intake, fuel rail.
MK2.5 Injectors
3.9 Torsen
Low Miles 5 Speed (Because I found a chunk of second gear when I drained the fluid to pull the motor).

And man, was the engine bay NASTY:

Unfortunately, this was right about the time the U.K, in their infinite wisdom, in 2012, announced a hose-pipe ban, because of critically low water levels.

Which, of course means it started raining the next day. And didn't.*******.stop. Which was good for me, because that meant I could spend more time IN the garage, but bad for me, because my stuff getting shipped was sort of dependent on a guy from up in Yorkshire coming down to a nearby dirt-track to race.

Which he couldn't do, because it was too muddy to race. Which meant I started peeling back the onion a bit. And what I found is what really turned this from "hey guys, check out my newb motor swap and point and laugh" into "how many more bolts until you have this whole ******* car in pieces?"

Example: The front sub-frame was rusty on the bottom, and the top was only not as rusty because of engine oil leaks. But the rear sub-frame was a god-damned tragedy. Observe:

So yeah, I got REAL tires of trying to wire wheel that crap, and knowing I could never do a proper job with it like that, and not even knowing if it was structurally sound (because I didn't read the part in the manual that says the subframes regardless of how they look, will outlast the rest of the car...) I said "**** it" and picked up some refurbed ones from AK Automotive, and decided to qualify the car for the "MEGA SLAMMED BRAH" thread on ClubRoadster:

Oh, I bought the skates it's sitting on too.

So, I had the wishbones off the sub-frames, and they looked like crap too... So what better way to pass the time than trying to scrape rust off of rust, so you can get to the rust underneath that rust, and scrape some more?

Yeah, I said screw that pretty quick too, and after nearly breaking myself, and a wishbone trying to press the bushings out (no torches allowed in that auto shop... base rules...) I allowed myself to get some ---- action by taking it to a local "SCREW ALL THE AMERICANS" garage and have them burn the bushings out. Then I took them to a powdercoater and had them done too.

And I ordered some Prothane bushings.

Once I got everything back from powdercoating (BLAAAAAAACK) my block, head, and all the other goodies arrived.

Block was, of course, unclean; but I had a lot of crap to swap, and some tolerances to check: Head looked like it had recently been milled; the base was totally clean, yet the valves weren't. This boggle point would later wind up biting me completely in the ***. Twice. See, I didn't know **** about leak testing, or anything; I just knew I had a head off a low-mileage '99 and it was time...

All that got cleaned up and kicked back to the corner because I'd gotten tired of seeing my car like this:

And decided I'd put it back on it's own four feet. With some shiny new(ish) goodness...

And the camera decided it didn't really want a picture of the MX5 back on tires and wheels, so basically just imagine a black MX5 on wheels. Done? Good.

Right around early July, I really started working on the engine, which was completely nasty work, and you don't exactly have a lot of hands to grab your phone to take a picture, so I don't really have a whole lot of imagery from that point on.

I had been a bit busy, so the car got:

BEGI Coolant Reroute, OEM airbox, removal of the lazy-eye ****
Cobalt Cat-Back exhaust, because I ditched the old one.
Some Stainless Carbing Tow Hooks, painted red. (Later replaced with less ostentatious ones from Jass Performance.)
New ball joints, and the improved track rod ends.
3.9 Torsen, etc...

That brings us from March to July, 2012...
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Old 04-07-2014, 07:29 PM   #2
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In July, I found out I'd cocked up the timing belt, and had to redo it; after that, and a newb mistake of not plugging the MAF in, the car fired up, but wouldn't idle low. I chalked that up to having a SUPERMEGAAWESOME engine in the car, and timed it with the idle as low as I could get it.

The car was a mess body wise; it had a not-so-big-gay-wing I didn't want, an aerial I didn't need, a terrible stereo, terrible seats, terrible alignment, rusty sills, crunched frame rails, emblems torn off front bumper, and windows that didn't want to wind down.

But, it ran. So I drove it for a bit, the road tax ran out in August, I booked it in for an MOT, and made sure it failed on the rusty sills. Then booked it into a body shop 45 minutes away, because "I know a guy".

The one thing you'll find in the U.K. is if you tell someone to take their time, it doesn't mean "don't rush it", it means you can measure seasons before **** gets done...

Example: Before I got the car back from the body shop, me and a friend (who had hydro-locked an RX8 motor doing 60 through a big-assed puddle) got up at the ***-crack of dawn, and headed down towards cornwall where he picked up:

(That's an '89 Skyline GTR right off the boat from Japan)
But that's not really a timestamp, that's just showing off.

THIS is a timeline image: From September, to:

Anyways, I picked the car up, and was happy. Promptly drove it to the mechanic to fix some mechanical bits, and a month later got the car back with a clean MOT.

Took a day off work, and started working on some bolt-on items I'd been collecting:

Oh, and a set of enkei's and some oversized tires to go with it. You can see the carbing hooks and about how ostentatious they are here:

And how dusty the engine bay was after the body work:

And that's when everything started to come falling apart...
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:10 PM   #3
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I decided it was time. I'd read about the whole Supercharger vs Turbo thing, and decided that I was going to go turbo...

So, one fine day in February, I contacted Flyin Miata regarding one of their no-electronics setups, and gave them the skinny on what I was running, what I wanted, my address, the fact that I was driving a UK car, etc... Got an invoice from them for a not-insignificant sum, opened the taps on the bank card, and paid them.

That's when I got contacted by FM, who stated that they couldn't ship the kit to me because I had an APO Box. So, since I now a guy who works in the military post office, I called them. And I promptly called Flyin Miata back. They could ship it, they just had to make sure each box fit within a certain size spec (which is actually pretty huge) and not weigh more than 70 lbs if they wanted to ship it priority (meaning it goes on an aircraft instead of a boat).

No dice. So I explained to them how people get off-road tires for their monster 4X4's shipped from the states over here.

No dice. So, I asked what their reasons were. Couldn't insure it.
I checked. Yes, they could. They could insure it for over 25 grand if they wanted. In fact, there's a claim going through for a guy who shipped 16 grand in silver coins to a location that couldn't actually handle registered mail, and whoopsie, it got "lost".

Still no dice. So I asked what THEY wanted. I was already getting a bit fed up at this point, but they already had my money, so they had the advantage... They wanted to ship it through a different courier. Who, by the way, wanted to charge 600 dollars for the privilege. Oh, and I'd have to provide a receipt, and pay U.K. Customs charges, as well as VAT on the item.

That struck a nerve. Paying 20% on top of the charges put their kits into the ionosphere for costs. So, still trying to play ball, I called HMS customs.

Basically, if I got a letter signed by the base commander that I was a member of the Armed Forces... I wouldn't have to pay those fees. But, you know, it required a letter. From the Base Commander. Which means everyone in the chain of command suddenly gets to interview you (like 12 interviews really) and talk about what it is that you're bringing into the country that requires them to sign what is, basically, a non-military related document... for YOU. It also gives you 12 chances to be shot the **** down, because if one person in that chain decides that you're going to kill yourself with it, or that it could make the Military look bad, or I don't know, a drop of **** landed in their daily oatmeal and they're not in a particularly giving mood... you're screwed.

And even if you're not screwed, you owe each and every one of those people who rubber stamp their approval a favor. And I do not need my entire spring-summer occupied tending/DJ'ing someones ******* backyard neighborhood BBQ...

So, even though they had a longer lead time due to a backlog, I contacted BEGI, who, after explaining my circumstances (Pam is an awesome person, I should send her a card or something...) and they put together an S3 list for me that met my needs.

Flyin Miata "did me a solid" by not charging me a 20% restocking fee and returned the money I'd sent, and I promptly flipped that around and handed a fat check to BEGI instead.

Right about that time I decided I'd take a look at my engine and make sure it was up to the task...

It wasn't. Compression failed, miserably. So, leakdown test time! Remember when I said that head would come back to bite me in the ***?

Dry Run:
1: 125
2: 70
3: 80
4: 130

Wet Run:
1: 180
2: 120
3: 120
4: 150

Leakdown Test Fail :(

Two Steps Forward... Three Steps Back...

That's with 5W20, not WD-40...

so, a mad 1 hr dash to an MX5 Breaker to pick up another '99 motor, a 3 hour drive to Reading, a bank transfer, and another drive, and I had this:

Which promptly turned to this:

Meanwhile, I'd started a couple sekret projects. Shhhhh...

FYI, I had to get the dials re-clocked. Apparently running a 3.9 with oversized tires puts the speedo out enough to mean one of the few things I am OCD about (doing EXACTLY the speed limit in average speed check areas) couldn't be done without GPS aids, which I wouldn't stand for.

I'd also put together a rough set of COPS and a bracket:

and Reverant got me his famous MS2 Enhanced CPU's

Oh, and two big assed boxes from BEGI showed up!

That's just a 2560; not much, but it should be obvious by now this isn't a track toy (gasp! the horror!) and I'm not really going for "ALL OF IT" (more gasp! More the Horror!). I want a reliable "set it and forget it" setup. I even got the pipes powdercoated in Blaaaaaaaack so it looks more OEM.

That's about all for today. Stay tuned tomorrow for more trips down mammary lane!

P.S. This takes us up to about May of 2013...
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Old 04-07-2014, 08:34 PM   #4
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Wow, sounds like a real PITA with FM. Nice build so far!
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:01 PM   #5
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Excellent start.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:41 PM   #6
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Nice thread so far. Is that a center console mock-up under the "sekret projects?"
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Old 04-08-2014, 04:13 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Yezzir View Post
Nice thread so far. Is that a center console mock-up under the "sekret projects?"
Yep, I got the idea from STE, then started pulling other retro ideas from other folks until it's turned into the amalgamated monstrosity you'll see in a bit. It's been about a year since I started it, and it's still not done... I am not a fast man...
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Old 04-08-2014, 11:57 AM   #8
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Very entertaining so far, keep it up!
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:00 PM   #9
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So now BEGI is welding the separator (wastegate to turbine outlet) into the turbine housing instead of the downpipe. Wonder if my son-in-law will be willing to weld to the casting, because, really, it makes more sense to me to have the separator in the housing.

Calmdown... love your screen name.
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Old 04-08-2014, 06:23 PM   #10
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So in June, I received yet another box of goodies from ye-olde powdercoater. I wasn't quite happy with the orange-ness of the red, but I was pressed for time, so I started putting **** together:

I'd painted the heater pipe, and the water mixer lower take off thingy, and figured I'd have to repaint it black after the PC'd crap came in, but the color was a perfect match. Which is unfortunate, because I was actually going for something slightly darker red... But, it matched, and while it is a bit rice for my tastes, at least it's hidden rice, and the motor mounts really needed some sort of protection...

You'll notice I hadn't been totally idle; the auto shop had gotten a brand spanking new large karcher steam pressure washer, and I set about using ALL OF IT, and cleared out a lot of the nasty from the bay...

Then set about shooting BLAAAAAACK over everything moderately exposed, after a generous wire wheeling, and a heavy dose of some supercalafragalistic paint that goes on thick, dries dull grey, and smells like mint...

But it was getting warm out, and another project I'd done earlier had started to get on my nerves...

I'd shamelessly ripped this idea off of Revlimiter a while back, and had dropped into the MX5 without thinking of the consequences:

Oh, and was it as easy as pulling out the old door cards, stripping them off, and adding new stuff onto them?

Of course not. This is england, where the damp can rot an alligator at 15 paces... I've handled lots of particle board in my life, (touched a lot of wood, one could even say...) and I've never seen something so flaccid, and inadequate. It was like seeing David Hasselhof without his chest-hair.

Anyways, MK1 involved this:

5mm MDF cut, formed, sprayed multiple times with a 50-50 mix of PVA (white glue) and water to seal it, spray painted on the smooth side BLAAAAACK, and covered in diamond quilted vinyl that I'd bought and had shipped from the states.

The result is above, and yep, it turned out pretty nice; but the only place to get speaker grills without lettering, in a vintage style, that didn't cost 100 bucks and be forged in the heart of a dying star or some ****... was conrad electronics; which you see below...

And the window crank fouled on them. Only a little bit, but enough to go "click click click" when you're rolling down the window. And I had longer window cranks to go in, which were a no-no... More on that later...

Regardless, back to hooking up the engine...

See that joined hose for the BEGI coolant reroute? The one with the Blue Plastic connector on it? Ok, look at the one to the right of it, where some idiot (me) clocked it so the plastic connector part was facing down. Got it? See it? Good.

Don't ever do that if you value your sanity...

Once I had the engine running, after about a week of driving it, when the car warmed up, it would "squeak squeak squeak squeak squeak" And it drove me NUTS trying to find it. I'd thought the motor mount was the issue and even went so far as to jack the car up and lithium grease the **** out of it. I thought it was in the door, under the carpet, that I had a loose sub-frame, that the poly bushes were doing it, etc, etc...

Nope. That hose connector settled on top of the front left brake flange metal bit, and once it rubbed through the plastic, went metal on metal squeal. Which is not as nice as girl on girl squeal, lemme tell ya...

But, at least I took the opportunity to get these suckers fitted:

Performance 5 Puredrive coilovers, refurbed, springs powdercoated, etc...

I don't really have any imagery from sorting the stereo, but there's enough install pics about to sate anyones taste for wiring **** in...

I did do a couple mods to the car at that point: Finally fitted some Jass hooks, ripped out the soft top and chucked it... Because every time I've just said "I'll never use this **** again so no use keeping it!" it's worked out brilliantly... Like when I threw the cat away. No, not that cat, THE cat. Although I would likely throw the other cat away too, because the only one that comes near me is the same one that ***** in our front bushes...

I was still breaking the car in at that point, didn't really even have 500 miles on it. But I'd pushed redline fluids to everything but the dino-oiled engine.

One of those mods was this:

And yes, I pulled my crash pad out and wrapped it in leather. Which wasn't hard except pulling the vinyl off... you can see where the vinyl yanked some foam out right above the tombstone...

Hey, tombstone! I disconnected the headlight popup, and hazard switches, and decided to relocate them to different areas of the car. I'd always wanted one of those geeky fire control toggle guards, and toggles seemed to go better with the theme I was heading towards, so I basically just went for it, and did it. That one was easy. The headlight popup switch wasn't difficult except when I went to lengthen the wires...

I'd forgotten to pull the retractor relay out (the rare green one under the dash, no less) and accidentally the whole thing... So if you want to do that, don't do that. I think the toggles are Lucas, because, as the Brits like to say, "Lucas is the prince of darkness"

More parts kept rolling in; I got a Grip Royal wheel I'd had my eye on, and it seemed to do the job as good as my old Momo Corse, so it got to live...

I cut new doorcards out of some new miracle material that's been around for 20 years or so, called Foamex. It's basically smooth finished flexible foam that sign-makers use. About as rigid as MDF one size smaller than it, and easier to cut/shape than ABS. Just makes a marvelous mess when you dremel it too...

I didn't do that **** for nothing either; I was sick of the clickity clack of my window winders, and found a solution:

And wouldn't you know it, another fine british invention I can bastardize, steal, and call my own!

Door Cards, MK2, with what WERE going to be fender guitar Amp handles, but saved by someone deciding to make a product for cheap enough to say "why not"...

After my neighbors finally got done using my polisher:

I finally got to have a go with it. It was the first time the car had been properly polished...

Oh, I also swapped the PINK wheel nuts for more BLAAAAAACK. Pink ones were purchased as red, but... welp... ebay...

And that's May 2013, through August 2013...
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Old 04-08-2014, 07:14 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Fireindc View Post
Wow, sounds like a real PITA with FM. Nice build so far!
Just wanted to say that I agree, it was a great big case of blue-*****...

However, and a BIIIIIG However... In this particular case, I think it has less to do with FM, and more to do with my particular situation. The 1% or even less of their customer base, whom their policies prohibited them from finding a solution that was amenable to both parties.

FM make some good stuff, and have been in the business for years. I'm not upset with them that they wouldn't ship, just like I'm not upset with Goodwin for telling me they wouldn't ship me any enkei's via the USPS...

It isn't that I wouldn't order from them in the future, it's just that I can't.

Yeah, it was a massive ***-pain to wait to get my money back, but on the bright side, they refunded ALL OF IT, didn't mess about and put me in the position of chasing up the money, etc, etc... something that's actually pretty rare in a fair number of vendors out there.

I still liked working with BEGI more. Possibly because we'd already discussed shipping before we got down to business.
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:27 PM   #12
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Just ran across these from the previous owner: Shots of the car right after he bought it:


That got pulled, taken apart, brought back into smoothness with a wire wheel and a dremel, and shot with VHT Wrinkle Red, and Gloss Black.

^^ That was fun. Wound up drill wheeling it back to bare metal, knocking out the pure rust, rust treating both holes, then a combination of a JB-Weld type epoxy, and aluminium mesh, filled in both holes. Then, when that dried, I leveled it off with silicone and layed cling film on it over a weekend so it would dry without inclusions.

Yes. Zipties. The correct one is holding it down now.



Pulled out all the plastic in the rust area on the left, wheeled it down, and brought in a welder to MIG some steel where it was needed. Wheeled all that down, and after priming it with some minty smelling thick paint... I think I literally wound up pouring hammerite over it and leaving the car in a bay for the weekend to cure... Then I brought in a heat-gun and a rivet gun, and molded a piece of ABS plastic to hide the welds (very akward place to try to grind them right next to the fuel lines) into place, and riveted that in. Then I sprayed the whole area gloss black. I only put that much effort in so if, in the future I decide to use a different overflow tank, I'm not left with scar tissue in that area.
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The Hangar Queen Project-57sgdua.jpg   The Hangar Queen Project-li7ze7k.jpg   The Hangar Queen Project-yojslwa.jpg   The Hangar Queen Project-hep53gc.jpg   The Hangar Queen Project-2wo66sw.jpg  

Last edited by Calmdown; 04-16-2014 at 07:39 PM.
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