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Discussion Starter #1
This is my fourth Miata/MX5/Eunos Roadster - I had two Roadsters and an MX5 in the UK before I moved out here - and the first one I'm trying to take from stock to where I want it to be all with my own work rather than buying a pre-disastered, sorry pre-modded car.

I've had the car for a bit over a year, modded it a little and took part in a few SCCA HPDE sessions until it became clear that for once, the car was holding me back on the track. That's a new feeling for me, usually it's the other way around.

So, here it is in all its glory with a mismatched hardtop and dented nose. It's rust free (a new experience for me), but unfortunately the PO has had a bit of an off-road excursion and a lot of the work I've done to it so far was to alleviate the damage from that. I also have the impression that it was running some thumpin' sound system at some point as there are a few holes for wiring etc that are Sawzall rather than stock. But it's a nice-ish driving car, has only about 138k on it and a new-ish top to boot:





So far, the mild mods on it are:


  • Stock MSM shocks and springs
  • GarageSTAR front and rear tow hooks and offset license plate bracket
  • Braided brake hoses and Hawk HP+ pads all around
  • Retrofitted a "real" oil pressure gauge instead of the fake one that the '95 came with
  • "Mail-order Bride" seats on original Bride lowmax rails
  • Rear suspension and steering rack fitted with polyurethane bushes.
The suspension is still fine on the road, but it has trouble coping with track use. Between that and the all-seasons on the car, something had to be done. Due to some other issues I had to cut short the 2012 track season, but after our house move, I finally decided to start the project proper. Current target date for getting everything back together is April 6th as that's the annual tech day for the local SCCA chapter. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, I'm kinda sorta fibbing, the real deadline is Miatas at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca so if things go horribly wrong I have a couple of weeks worth of a buffer, but I do really want to get it done for the annual tech day as that makes teching the car a lot easier for me.

During the downtime - the car's and mine - I've started collecting parts for the project. This is only a small part of the stash, there is a lot more, some parts are still in transit and several other major parts (suspension, wheels, tires, exhaust) haven't even been ordered yet. Not to mention that I still have to find a bunch of the parts again. I hate moving house.




There's also a roll bar, an undimpled nose in much nicer condition (but the wrong colour), an unbroken air guide, a replica R-package from lip and a couple of complete ARC intakes that may have just become surplus to requirements.

The first job was to get cracking on the roll bar because that had known fitment issues (it's one of the EGR group buy ones) and I wanted to find how unhappy I would be with the fit so if I decided I was too unhappy, I could give Moti @ Blackbird Fabworx a call to see if he could fit me in before the deadline.

First the job started by adding lightness by removing the majority of the interior and plonking the bar in to get a feel for the fit and see where the parcel shelf would need tweaking:



The trial fitment showed the need for cuts in the expected places, but I also ran into an unwelcome and somewhat unexpected snag. The foot plate on the passenger side is noticeably too wide to fit in between the ECU and the B-post:




The plate looks like it's at least 5-6mm (sorry, I'm metric, call it 1/4 inch) too wide to even fit in the available space. Issues like this tend to upset me, especially because I had to wait for a fair amount of time to get the bar in the first place. This bar supposedly has the fitment issues fixed. Oh well.

Maybe I'm just a little too Germanic about these things but this is a powder coated (not painted) rollbar that might need - well, the foot plate *will* need - cutting and potentially holes enlarging in order to get it to fit. Because it's powder coated, fixing up the cuts will be problematic (paint would be much easier) and it's not going to do anything nice for the finish, either. Mrmpf.

Now, this wasn't an unexpected problem, but given that I'm striving for a pretty high quality build it's time to call Blackbird Fabworx to see if they can fit me in sometime in February or not. If not, I guess it's time to "adjust" the rollbar and hold my nose regarding the fit.
 

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Could you remove the ecu, bolt in the rollbar and then re install the ecu without having to cut anything?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Not really - I have to cut the mounting studs for the ECU mounting bracket as those would be located under the roll bar's foot plate anyway. One suggestions I got was to see if I can move the ECUs over far enough to clear the roll bar and basically rivnut new ECU mounts in. I'll look at that next.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Not much in the way of updates this weekend, need to get my UK tax return prepped so all that is happening is a quick peek into yet another box of parts that arrived last week:







Two sets of NB injectors that I'm planning to set off to RC Engineering to be cleaned and flow matched - the better matched set will end up on my NA, the other one gets sold. They only flow a little more but have better atomization and given that I'm not planning to up the boost on the supercharger, they should do fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No photos today, it's freezing cold in the garage and I didn't fancy taking pictures and working on the car at the same time.

Removed the ECUs so I don't damage them, then moved all the wiring that's stuck to the B-posts out of the way. Of course all the plastic holders for the wiring broke as I tried to remove them with the appropriate tool - I really need a heater in the garage. At leat I managed to trim the parcel shelf a little with my tin snips but really need to get my air metal saw going to cut out the bit of the parcel shelf that needs removing. Didn't want to wake the neighbours, wife or cats though by doing that in the middle of the night so it's got to wait until Sunday.

With the ECU and the wiring out of the way it looks like the bar is going to be a decent fit, just need to buy a few more tools :lol: to mount it properly (like a angle drill).
 

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Looks like you got a sweet build going. in for seeing how the roll bar fits. I was in that group buy but cancelled my order after waiting 2 months.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Unfortunately I didn't get any further with the rollbar fitting as the CRX took up a little more time than I wanted - well, all my "car playtime". I hope I'll make more progress during the week as I really have to get it fitted. Need to move onto the suspension work!

At least the parts hoard got another item added to it:

 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I finally found some time to try and make progress with the installation of the rollbar. Mind you, I had to decide between watching the Superbowl and working on the car, but with the wife yelling at the TV, sorry, watching the Superbowl we had the Superbowl part covered :).

So, first I made a little cardboard template to figure out how much metal I needed to cut out:




Then I got my new bodywork saw out and started cutting. Turns out my small Harbor Freight compressor wasn't really up to driving it so it took a long time and the compressor started to smell funny, but I got the job done:







I only needed to remove one of the studs that normally hold the ECU, and Mr Dremel made short work of that with a cutting disk and a grinding stone to grind down the remains of the stud:



Note to self, when trial fitting a powder coated bar, wrap the damn thing in something so the sharp edges don't cut into the powder coating. I'm a little surprised that the powder coating wore off that easily, I thought it should be more robust:




Finally got the bar to sit right but with the foot plates where they are supposed to be, but only the driver's side mounting hole on top of the B-pillar lines up. You can see that the correctly size bolt is still touching the plate on the bar, but at least it goes into the hole.




The one on the passenger side is off by a noticeable amount. I'm not the first one to have that problem, either, I remember several people on here complaining about issues like this:




Of course I can enlarge the hole, but that means I'm back to messing up the powder coating. It's also not the only part that needs attention. For starters, my car has the rare option of a remote trunk release and I need to notch the rear foot plate that's sitting on top of it:




What bugs me most however is that the two plates on top of the B-pillar don't seem to sit in the same position. Well, either that or my car is seriously bent - which I doubt, given that everything else lines up fine. This is the driver's side, I can easily fit my pinky in between the plate and the top of the B-post:




This is the passenger side, the plate sits a lot closer to the top of the B-post. There is still a gap, but there is no chance I'll stick any finger in there:




Now, none of these issues are insurmountable but this isn't really the parts quality I want to have on my car. *Especially* not if I have to wait out a delay of around two months over and above the promised ETA for the bar.

I guess I'll try to call Moti @ Blackbird Fabworx on Monday and see what the damage is for one of their six-point bars when fitted by him, and if he can fit me in either this month or next as the April 6th deadline is still looming. Of course that adds transport issues to the mix, but I have to make progress here one way or the other.

I'm just a little too disappointed with this EGR bar right now, especially given that I had several email exchanges with EGR where I pointed out that I'd be happy to give them more time if that helped them make me a better quality bar.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
To make this clear - the bar is one of the EGR bars from the group buy, not one of Moti's. I'm just tired of the fitment issues with the EGR bar, thus I'll see if I can just cut my losses and get Moti to fit one of his bars and sell this one to someone who isn't that bothered by these issues and/or willing to work around them. It's still a pretty sturdy bar, but I just appear to be too picky when it comes to quality parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
A little more progress over the last few days. I sold the EGR rollbar to a fellow local SCCA member and should hopefully get a roll bar from Moti in early March.

This evening I decided to work on the car a bit more during the "calm before the storm" as the FM suspension and assorted other goodies are supposed to show up in a few days.

Time to throw out the OEM radio, so I went from this:



To this:



As usual, things didn't quite go 100% smoothly, the holes for two of the gauges needed enlarging (for some odd reason the housings of the two JDM 52mm gauges have a bigger diameter that the Innovate 52mm gauge, go figure). I also needed to tweak the double-din hole in the tombstone a little - the work on this isn't quite finished as the fit isn't quite there yet. Fortunately I have a second tombstone (if I can find it after our house move) so I can practise on this one to get the fit right. I think I also might want to get an AFR gauge that's a better match for the other two gauges...
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the kind words. I'm trying to keep the costs halfway under control by using used parts where applicable but this time I really wanted to do it right rather than cheap. Time is a major issue for me, that's why the whole thing is dragging out for quite a while.


Anyway, I have a little progress to report:



Got a bunch of parcels with suspension parts from Flyin' Miata a few days ago and yesterday I took a little roadtrip down to the wilds of Napa (about 3h from here that took more like 5h) to pick up another piece of the puzzle that I had looking for for a while:





Now all I need is a decent quiet-ish exhaust to go with it :).
 

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Discussion Starter #18
So between some cat herding, furniture building and aquarium set up, I found enough time to turn this:



Into this:



I built up the suspension from all new parts even though I am already running NB MSM suspension, but this way I have a chance to sell the old struts and springs ready to mount. In order to put the front coilovers together I ended up having to shave the two top rubber mounts by about 1/10" as I wasn't able to compress the rubber enough to start the nut on the thread. A quick call to FM tech support suggested the shaving approach (thanks Keith) and after that, the coilovers went together in no time at all.
I managed to fit one of the rear ones before I ran out of time:



Unfortunately it looks like I have to take both front and rear suspension apart completely - the rear one either needs the poly bushes regreased as they're squeaking up a storm, or the bushes thrown out for uprated rubber items. I have to do the front suspension also, but I haven't got around to upgrading the bushes there yet so I'm a bit on the fence as to which way I'm going. Given that the car needs an alignment afterwards anyway, quickly stripping the suspension to regrease the bushes isn't a big deal, but I'm not sure I want to do this on a regular basis. Anyway, something to sleep on.
 

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A little more progress over the last few days. I sold the EGR rollbar to a fellow local SCCA member and should hopefully get a roll bar from Moti in early March.
To me! Nice to meet you once again Tim. Looking great so far.

Looks like we're running the same suspension as well, NB VMaxx with all new NB top mount goods. Haven't gotten it fully on the ground yet, and fronts are off as well as front subframe and engine, tranny, etc., so can't speak for ride or handling, but quality seems to be at least in line with cost... I think the similarities end there though, years is a ton nicer car with a load of sweet parts.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Ah yes, the massively delayed update to the build thread. I've been slowly working on the car but haven't had time to post updates, so here we have the mega-update for the last six weeks or so.

First, a quick trial fitting of the radio and gauge mount. The tombstone needs a bit of tweaking, as did the gauge holes - apparently not all 52mm gauges agree on their sizes. Oh well. Of course, neither the headunit nor the gauges are hooked up at this point :claugh::



Then it was back to fitting the various suspension goodies I bought from FM a while back. Starting with the rear anti-roll bar:



Can't remember where I got the suggestion but someone recommended to put a layer of teflon tape on the ARB as that would make it easier for the ARB to rotate in the bushings even with the appropriate grease applied. I eyeballed the locations, wrapped, then installed:



No photos of the installed bar, but trust me, it's on the car :). Now, it's time to take off the NB Mazdaspeed Bilsteins and chuck on the front bar and the front VMaxxes:



My preferred way to replace the front struts on an NA - which might or might not be the recommended way, but it works for me - is to disconnect the ARB and then remove the long bolt that holds the top suspension arm to the chassis. As the car is a desert car it's not a problem to take these bolts out and it makes this a pretty quick job:



Pop the new strut in, they were all pre-assembled and set to what I thought was the correct height:



Lift the assembly, put the top bolt back in, then use a jack to maneuver he whole thing into place:



I also tend to use jacks to lift the car off the jackstands and load the suspension so I can torque the suspension bolts correctly why I have easy access to them.

Now it's time to install the front ARB, guess who runs out of Teflon tape. Organized, that's me:



Everything connected, torqued and all that. All I need to do is put the new undertray back on and take the car off its stands, but in the meantime I have to show off the FM frame rails:



I have the whole butterfly brace but it looks like the OEM cat on the car and the butterfly brace are having a bit of a disagreement as to who wants to occupy the space that the cat is currently claiming for itself. The floor around the driver's side framerail has been pushed up (presumably during some sort of off-road excursion) so that might have something to do with it. Anyway, I was planning to put on the FM high-flow cat and exhaust anyway so I left the brace off for now.

Time for the big reveal, take it off the stands:



Oops, that's quite a bit lower at the front than expected. Maybe I should have read the instructions properly?

Ah, that's better:



Note to self, when setting the suspension it might help to use the settings from the "also for 90-97 with NB suspension" line and not the NA line. Doh. I still need to readjust the rear ride height but I want to regrease the polyurethane bushes there anyway before I do that, plus I want to have the 15" wheels with tires on there.

I tried to get the car ready for today's annual tech for my SCCA region, so I put the ECUs and partial interior back into the car but did run out of time. At least I got a chance to drive it with the new suspension. I'm pretty happy with it so far, it's not too harsh but the car feels much better and does barely lean in corners that are approached in an enthusiastic fashion.

Hopefully my rollbar should be ready in a week or two as that's one of the main missing pieces of the puzzle before going to Laguna Seca in April. Oh, and a set of 15x7 wheels with some sticky rubber on them.
 
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