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Hey CR,

Last night I was out delivering pizzas in the bay area, when I heard a thumping under my hood followed by the ominous red battery charge light in my dash. After a quick roadside inspection, I confirmed that my alternator belt had left the building. For those who know (and those with google), the belt that drives the alternator also takes a turn around the water pump pulley. I did the only sane thing: shut off auxiliary electronics and limped it 5 miles home on battery power and a slowly rising temperature gauge.

I ended up making it home in one piece, with just enough battery to close the headlights and a hot and steamy engine.

I bought my 1990 Miata in December of 2014 with 216,000 miles, cracking paint, no service history, and aftermarket wheels. In hindsight, I overpaid. Since then, I resprayed it white again, cleaned up the hacky wiring that the PO pieced together, and modified it bit by bit to where it sits now. Currently the engine has 236,000 miles and burns a fair bit of oil. I have KYB AGXs with Flyin' Miata lowering springs, a Jackson Racing tubular front sway bar, Rota RB wheels (15x7) with 205/50R15 Yokohama s.Drives, and a Hard Dog M1 roll bar. For intake, I have Racing Beat's U tube with a K&N filter, which is mostly for noise, and a Magnaflow muffler with 1.8 catalytic converter.

Back to the present:
Also developing is a nasty vibration at speeds over 70, which can be replicated on jack stands (ever seen Ferris Bueller's Day Off?), and which sounds like it's coming from the transmission/clutch area. I've also heard some clunking noises in the differential area, a whine from the water pump, and a racket coming from the exhaust header on cold starts. Others would write off the car, but ney...I have a spare 1.6 engine in my garage that I intend to pair with the 1999 transmission I also have and swap it in in the next few weeks. That’ll be only temporary though...

My end goal is to slowly change the entire drive-line to the 1.8 style, including a low-mileage 1.8 engine, and eventually either 1.8 open or torsen differential. All of which I intend to document and post here. So stick around, grab some popcorn, and watch me f*&# up my bank account!

: 3gears:
 

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I've prepped the intake manifold by painting it black with VHT Engine Enamel, rewrapping the injector harness with pvc tape (I'll see how that holds up), and installing new injector seals.

I ordered a few part from Rosenthal Mazda including new stock motor mounts (the car is my daily, and I didn't want to added NVH from the Mazda Competition mounts). I also bought oil seals for the engine as well as the transmission. The transmission will be in the final setup for the car, so I want to spend the money on that and do it right. I went on Flyin' Miata and bought a rear main seal installer tool so I don't mess up that important install, I'll use PVC couplings to drive the other seals though.

A few weeks ago I bought a shifter rebuild plus bronze shifter bushing from 5XRacing for the 1999 transmission, as well as lower shift boot, so I'm excited to have that in the car.

 

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Received shipping confirmation for both Rosenthal and Flyin' Miata. FM's shipping is odd, they make you pay for UPS, but then say that they may ship USPS. The $22 part had $18 shipping tacked on :(. Anyways, next week I should have the parts, and hopefully swap engines on the weekend of the 20th.
 

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To start the rear main seal install, I braced the crankshaft with a tool I got from The King in Arizona.



I had been soaking it in oil as some forum members have said to do. Turns out oil seeps through this plastic, I should have known. Before installing, I degreased the outer edge that contacts the block as FM instructs.



To get the old seal out I had heard that you can drill into the seal with a small drill-bit, then thread a screw into the seal and pull out with pliers. I couldn't easily/safely drill a hole in the seal due to some metal in the actual seal. Instead I removed some of the seal with a pick, and then I was able to get needle nose pliers around the seal to remove it, careful not the mar the surfaces.



Next I installed the seal part way (which is actually quite difficult) and started mating up the FM installer tool.



Driving the seal is super easy with the tool; just tighten evenly. The tool bottoms out, and that's when you know the seal is properly installed. FM measured and machined it so that you don't need to worry about driving the seal too far into the block. Makes me anxious to drive the other seal in with PVC.



Lastly, I loctite'd the flywheel bolts and attached the flywheel, clutch, and pressure plate. Torque spec for the pressure plate bolts is right around 19 ft/lbs, right? It felt low to me.

 

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Discussion Starter #9
I received my Rosenthal package with seals, gaskets, and bushings a few days ago and prepped the transmission.

I took the front plate off of the transmission input shaft and started by taking the old seal out. It's really in there, so I had to heat it with MAPP really quickly and then got it out with a flat head.



Next I put a little bit of grey Permatex on the outside of the new seal for security and drove it in the plate.



I'm not sure what this front plate does entirely, it has a secondary chamber, but I'm not sure what it's meant to do...here's the new gasket.



I also wire-brushed the bolts for the front plate and blue-loctite'd them.



Next was bolting it up, torquing the bolts and re-fitting the throwout bearing. I put white lithium grease on the input shaft to lube it.



Lastly, here's the output/driveshaft seal. This guy is $16 new, and I debated reusing the old one, but I ordered it to be safe.



I plan on putting the motor in the car tomorrow, so hopefully all goes smoothly.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I also picked up a few things locally.

First I got an NB starter for $20. I like the sound that new cars with reduction gears make so I'll see how this one does. It's also a bit lighter than the NA one too.







I also got an oil filter relocator that I may or may not use. The lines look like they're deteriorating, but I have no idea where/how to source replacements.



The closest looking one is the Cobalt Oil Filter Relocator Kit, so maybe they'll have parts I need? Hey for $20 for the kit it's not killing me.
 

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I'm back. Had a few setbacks in the process, and my plan changed a bit, but I have a lot to share now.

First, as I was starting to take the old engine out the first time to deal with the clunks, I found that my driveshaft's front U-joint was seized and seemed to be the cause of the odd clunk that I'd heard and thought was the transmission. I figured I could get a little more life out of the engine, so I got a new differential with half-shafts and driveshafts from a 2000 NB. The owner said it was a 4.1 gear ratio, but the speedometer doesn't seem off compared to my old 4.3, so I think he was wrong. I figured that I might as well upgrade to the more robust 7" drive instead of spending money on my 1.6 6" differential. I went with the newer Lightweight Shockproof gear oil from Redline because of the noise reduction it offers.



 

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After having the new differential in, the clunks were gone, and I was very pleased with the change and the fact that I didn't have to immediately pull the engine. (There is still a repetitive clunkclunkclunk in left turns, and I'll elaborate on that in a few posts.)

After having driven the car for a while with that setup, all was fine. Recently though, I had a rapid increase in what sounds to me like valve noise. The sound was close to what exhaust leak sounds like, but it didn't sound healthy, and I didn't feel comfortable driving it.

I decided now was the time to pull the engine finally. Since my plans for a 1.8 seemed ridiculously expensive for a slight increase in power, I decided to refresh the spare 1.6 I had, and drop that in. Previously, as you've seen, I had replaced the crank seal and rear main seal, as well as several intake seals and the complete transmission reseal kit. Now I got a 1.8 clutch and used a spare flywheel from a friend, and got a new water-pump to compliment the new timing belt kit (while I'm in there).



 

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Next was to remove the old engine, which wasn't terribly difficult. My engine hoist, I've found, doesn't have a very long reach, so I had to extend it past the pre-drilled holes. I suppose this is a no-no, but it solved my problem. The engine came out in an hour or two without any hiccups.







You can see from the pictures that there was a pretty substantial oil leak that I intend to track down, and from looking in through the exhaust holes, the valve stem seals looked like they were leaking.
 

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That night I stayed up prepping the new engine one last time: swapping/chasing exhaust manifold studs, swapping valve cover bolts, swapping pcv valve, etc. I also painted some parts: Wrinkle black valve cover and timing cover, matte grey exhaust manifold, and gloss black heat shield with chrome acorn nuts.





In the morning, I started putting the new engine in the car...

Installation was certainly NOT the reverse of removal.

It took me a ton of time and effort to squeeze the new motor-mounts into the subframe holes. I rebalanced the engine 15 different times, dropped and rehooked it. The transmission turret kept catching on the interior turret hole, and it just seemed like it would never go back in. That is until I removed the CAS and coilpacks. I don't know why it took me so long to figure that one out, but it must have been 2 minutes after I did that that I got the first motor mount in and then another minute before it was completely bolted. The transmission to ppf connection gave me some headache though. I was only able to get one of the 2 long bolts connected because one kept stripping. I think I'm going to pop the nut off of the top and put a new nut/bolt in to secure it.

Here it is all hooked up without intake tubing and radiator in the car.



The first start up scared me. It started right away, and I knew there would be some serious HLA noise, but the noise that persisted for about 30 minutes or so of idling was terrifying. I initially thought there was a broken rod or something, but after a while, the lifters filled and the atrocious noise subsided. The NB starter noise is so oddly nice in the NA.
 

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Now briefly back to the clunking. This only appears when turning left, as far as I can remember. After a lot of research, I'm going to be disconnecting each swaybar to see if they are hitting control arms or something, which will hopefully solve it. I also have heard that the alignment bolts get loose and create noise, but I just got an expensive alignment with the FM specs, and I don't really want to have to pay for that again.

Any insight?
 

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Might be a little late but...

Flywheel/driveplate bolts.............................71-75 ft-lbs
Clutch pressure plate to flywheel bolts...........14-19 ft-lbs

Hope you torqued those right.

Build is coming along nicely. You'll be amazed how much wiggle room removing the CAS and coils gives you. Handy to know for other jobs too.
 

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Might be a little late but...

Flywheel/driveplate bolts.............................71-75 ft-lbs
Clutch pressure plate to flywheel bolts...........14-19 ft-lbs

Hope you torqued those right.

Build is coming along nicely. You'll be amazed how much wiggle room removing the CAS and coils gives you. Handy to know for other jobs too.
Thanks James, I used mnet's garage page torque specs and it looks like that's what you listed as well. That would have been very sad.
 

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It's dumb hot out right now, so I was only able to disconnect and rule out the rear sway bar as the reason for the clunking. It sounds to me like the rear right wheel in left turns. It doesn't look like any suspension pieces are contacting either. It may be work getting a gopro hooked up underneath in the wheel well.
 

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I took the rear wheels off today and cranked down the upper control arm bolts, but the sound persisted. The alignment bolts are tight and haven't moved either.

On another, and more troubling note, I can't seem to pass CA SMOG. Hydrocarbon is measured at 136 with a maximum allowable at 134. NOx is also too high with 1376 measured with maximum allowable way over at 847. These numbers are with a new R-Speed oxygen sensor and stock 1.8 catalytic converter that came with the Magnaflow exhaust. It's looking like I may need to borrow another catalytic converter from a donor car, or worse yet, buy a whole new CA/NY cat.

When I went back to do a numbers only recheck, I put the stock intake back on as well as the stock oxygen sensor, and both numbers were even higher. Something smells fishy (or like a rich mixture). Any SMOG experts on here?
 
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