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Old 10-11-2013, 01:24 AM   #1
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Hi guys,

I've been lurking on this site for the better part of two years. I haven't really had anything of value to add so I've kept from posting. Now I'm getting to the point in my Miata odyssey where I will have some questions I can't answer though searching; but mostly I need to buy used parts from you guys.

Here are some pictures of my cats:

That is Buttons.

This is Scrambles:


I bought this car in March, it took some work to get it looking like this:


I'd been shopping for an affordable fun car for a long time. I had Iroc Camaros, 5.0 Mustangs, and Hondas in high school and most of college. Then I graduated and got an engineering job in Chicago, so I bought a grown-up commuter. Hated commuting and hated Chicago so I moved back to Iowa, got some cats, got married, bought a house, blah blah blah. That was about four years ago, and I'm just now getting back into cars. In the down time I got into mountain biking, backpacking, shooting sports, and hobbyist gunsmithing. I also spend a lot of time remodeling/fixing my house.

The goal for this car is to build something reliable that I can bomb around in on weekends and take to the occasional track day. I've been wanting to drive a car on a road course since I was 12 years old watching races at Road America, so getting to the point where I actually do a track day is my main objective. All the cars I've had before this have only had minor mods, so I'm also looking to learn some of the more serious DIY stuff.

The NB I bought seemed to be very well taken care of, but was starting to rust pretty badly and needed some maintenance items taken care of (still does). I started with brake pads and rotors, transmission fluid, shifter boots, fuel filter, clutch master and slave w/ stainless line, and gorilla taping the top.

While I was doing the brakes I started picking at some rust on the frame rails and they ended up looking like this:

Before I bought it, I got under this car on ramps, with a flashlight, but didn't know enough to look at the rails under the belly-pan .

After some minor despair, I called a buddy that used to own a body shop and we got to work cutting, welding and patching up the rails. It was a major pain in the ***, but everything came out fine.


Since I had to pretty much rip everything off the front of the car, I took out the A/C and power steering (looped lines). Then we started in on the body work. Cut out all the rust and did up hot-patches with tiger hair. We also shaved the antenna and bumper emblem. It's not perfect, but I'm very happy with the results. Here's an in-progress picture:


After the paint was done I wanted to start lightening the car, so I replaced the cast manifold with a $130 raceland header. It was horrible. Should have forked over the money for the RB. I spent the better part of three days getting the damn thing to fit, in and out with it four times, lots of massaging the trans tunnel with a 3lb maul.

After the header ordeal I bought myself a little Hobart 130 welder and made my own exhaust. I was trying to copy the expensive Borla spec-miata exhaust that's supposed to be so great. I used a Flowmaster Hushpower, no cat. It was extremely loud so I added a resonator, which didn't really help. I ended up making an add-on tail section (like the borla setup) using a little dynomax. It sounds pretty good now that I've gone to a rear exit. It feels like it added power but I have no idea. It is, however, substantially lighter than the OEM exhaust.

Here's what the front half of the exhaust looked like before I added the tail section. It's the first thing I ever welded so I took a picture:



And to bring us to the present, here is a shitty picture with the hardtop I picked up last weekend:


So my future plans are (no particular order):
Stainless brake lines and fluid flush
Roll Bar (HDHCHTSD or whatever I can find used)
Suspension (Ideally I'd go right to Xidas, but MSM + ebay sleves is probalby more realistic for my budget)
Real wheels and tires, probably 9" 6ULs with Rivals
Megasquit
Cooling Upgrades (all stock with one cheap aftermarket fan right now, however I did make ducting with old Ron Paul 2012 signs I had around)
More lightening (Air bags and soft top are gone)
Torsen
Helmet, Seat

I would love to turbo this thing someday, but I'd like to use this car to learn to drive fast around a track while it's still slow. At this point I really don't want to make it a track only car - I love driving it to work and running around town, it's already more fun than any car I've owned and I want to keep that accessible.

Sorry for the huge post. Here are some bonus cat pictures for making it to the end:

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Came for Miata info, Staying for Cat Content-4f37.jpg   Came for Miata info, Staying for Cat Content-8e0p.jpg   Came for Miata info, Staying for Cat Content-c11u.jpg   Came for Miata info, Staying for Cat Content-ehad.jpg   Came for Miata info, Staying for Cat Content-5a2s.jpg  

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Old 10-11-2013, 02:44 AM   #2
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Dis guy... Dis guy here? He gets it.

Welcome sir. You will do well here.
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Old 10-11-2013, 06:01 AM   #3
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Great intro post and welcome to the site, we need more like you.
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:18 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum. Quad cities, huh? Home of John Deere and a great little titty bar that doesn't serve alcohol, but they let you bring your own coolers inside. That's about all I know about that.
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Old 10-11-2013, 10:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrambles
Hated commuting and hated Chicago so I moved back to Iowa, got some cats, got married, bought a house, blah blah blah. That was about four years ago, and I'm just now getting back into cars. In the down time I got into mountain biking, backpacking, shooting sports, and hobbyist gunsmithing. I also spend a lot of time remodeling/fixing my house.

The goal for this car is to build something reliable that I can bomb around in on weekends and take to the occasional track day. I've been wanting to drive a car on a road course since I was 12 years old watching races at Road America, so getting to the point where I actually do a track day is my main objective. All the cars I've had before this have only had minor mods, so I'm also looking to learn some of the more serious DIY stuff.
A lot of excellence in those two paragraphs.

Also, print this out and keep it close to your computer when you are tempted to stray from the righteous path:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrambles
I would love to turbo this thing someday, but I'd like to use this car to learn to drive fast around a track while it's still slow. At this point I really don't want to make it a track only car - I love driving it to work and running around town, it's already more fun than any car I've owned and I want to keep that accessible.
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Old 10-11-2013, 11:06 AM   #6
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Thanks for the welcome guys.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sixshooter View Post
Welcome to the forum. Quad cities, huh? Home of John Deere and a great little titty bar that doesn't serve alcohol, but they let you bring your own coolers inside. That's about all I know about that.
Daisy Dooks! You nailed it. I haven't been there in a while, but it's pretty much the only strip club around where you won't find gold teeth, stretch marks, or visibly pregnant dancers.
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Old 10-11-2013, 01:21 PM   #7
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Excellent into. Props for tackling the rust and welcome.
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrambles View Post
Daisy Dooks! You nailed it. I haven't been there in a while, but it's pretty much the only strip club around where you won't find gold teeth, stretch marks, or visibly pregnant dancers.
In good old Plant City we have a Daisy Dukes! It is not a strip club though, but a supposed sports bar. The women are fair, the food is fair, and the drinks are fair. It happens to be my favorite place.

Glad to see you tackled that frame rail. I get a kick out of seeing people bring cars back from the dead.
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Old 10-11-2013, 03:53 PM   #9
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The drinks are cheap. That's why I go.
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:05 PM   #10
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Scrambles, congrats on signing up at the best site on the web!
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:07 PM   #11
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Taking the time to write that post last night got me all pumped up to work on the car, so I popped the cam-cover off over my lunch break. My gasket has been weeping a little oil over the header, so I figured I'd put in a new one and maybe paint the cover this weekend (my wife works so I will be able to bake paint in her oven without getting busted)

Anyway, I think I might have problems. The valve-train, especially on the exhaust side, is absolutely covered in gunk and grime. Is this a normal amount of build-up for a 150k mileage motor?



Is there enough Seafoam in existence to fix this? The car seems to be running really strong, and doesn't burn too much oil, maybe 1/3 qt over 250 highway miles (which I attributed to the leaky gasket) but this seems like an excessive amount of build up based on the little bit of snooping I've done under other valve covers. Suggestions? Should this go in a separate post? No, I haven't done a compression test , that was the going to happen as soon as I buttoned up the motor with the new valve cover gasket.
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Old 10-11-2013, 05:41 PM   #12
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oh my lawdy.

I'm surprised anything was able to leak past that.
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Old 10-11-2013, 06:51 PM   #13
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Great intro. The rust photos remind me of growing up in NE Ohio. So many 100% rust-free cars here in N. TX., you get spoiled.

That engine is pretty dirty inside, but I've seen dirtier. Looks like the P.O. didn't change the oil much or did a lot of short trips where he didn't get the oil up to temp. I wouldn't freak about it. Make sure the return passages are open and then start running Rotella. Rotella is a great oil for flat tappet engines and has serious detergents to start cleaning up that mess.

If you haven't done it already, one thing I would put on the short list is a timing belt and water pump (unless you know they've been recently changed).
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Old 10-11-2013, 07:29 PM   #14
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Someone forgot to change the oil I think. About 50k miles ago. I would do a compression test still and if that checks out.. then get out a toothbrush and have fun
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Old 10-11-2013, 07:40 PM   #15
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Hop to it!
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Old 10-11-2013, 08:41 PM   #16
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Thanks for all that guys.

Clutch, Timing belt, water pump, and radiator were all replaced the year before I bought it.

Here's my plan:

Scoop out the sludge I can get at w/o removing the cams and check oil passages.
Clean and button up the cam cover with the new gasket.
Check compression.

If the compression is OK:
Sea Foam
Drop the oil pan and clean that out.
T6 (which I've had sitting on my workbench for two weeks)
Profit

If the compression is not OK:

Buy a bottle of grain alcohol and head to Daisy Dooks
Start shopping for a VVT swap

Since everyone is commenting on the rust, here are some more hawt before pics:



Attached Thumbnails
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Came for Miata info, Staying for Cat Content-n0a2.jpg  

Last edited by Scrambles; 10-11-2013 at 10:08 PM.
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Old 10-11-2013, 08:49 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrambles View Post
Is this a normal amount of build-up for a 150k mileage motor?
That is a lot like what a 94 I bought looked like. It was the worst thing I had ever smelled.
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Old 10-12-2013, 01:51 AM   #18
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Great first post, welcome to the best Miata site.

If you wind up doing the VVT swap you'll love it. Good luck with that motor though, it's much more fun driving these car than working on them.
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Old 10-12-2013, 06:58 AM   #19
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I take bunch of 1 mile trips.. My engine doesnt look anything like that. Sure it only has 78k miles on the clock but still. Thats not the problem.
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Old 10-12-2013, 08:18 PM   #20
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Cleaned up the underside of the cam cover, including the little baffle boxes (they were pretty gross, but not clogged up) and changed the gasket. No leaks.

Compression test numbers:

185
180
165/185 wet
175

Better than I was expecting.
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