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114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #41 ·
To catch up on the backlog:

After moving the car to the other garage I could work on my own for a bit, without my father constantly looking over my shoulder/telling me how to do stuff (the price for using the garage and occasionally a helping hand).
The plan was to "tidy up" the trunk, and then tear off the old vinyl roof before starting on the brakes.
I have an exam coming up at university and a birthday in the family, so I couldn't work on the car as much as I wanted.
This was the setup:

Tidying up the trunk I first had to deal with the "mystery balls":
Hundreds of tiny metal balls filling various corners and crevices.
Loosely, stuck together/to the car, or rusted into place.
I have no idea where they come from (maybe birdshot for ammunition?).
(Side note, the yardstick on the photo is in metric, so it's centimeters not inches)

I kept a few around, but most were (scratched loose and) ended up in the vacuum (and then trash).
Maybe one of you knows what they are/were. :dunno:

After that I could start on the soft top.
Opened the roof a small bit, and held it in place with a broomstick (had no-one to hold it in place).
The first metal stripe came off easily enough:

But below it a (guessed) liter of Japanese high-power glue held the vinyl to the frame, even with a heat gun my fingernails suffered to get that stuff off

At the corners the vinyl tore off right away, showing the age of the material.

Got everything freed up at the front, "released" the first few centimeters along the sides, and found the rivets for the tension cables (which have to go too).
On the other side the cable is held on by a spring, and I was "told" (googled around online) that it is more difficult to get that spring through the top than to just drill out the rivets, so that's what I did.

On a side-note, this is how dirty a "clean" roof gets over 24 years (the black part was "protected" by the frame, the brown-ish part wasn't).

For a few hours I had something very unique, a soft top with a sliding roof :mrgreen:

I continued working on the 12th, starting with the trunk.
The plan was to just repaint a few scratches and repair the damage from not-very-fresh battery-acid.
So I unscrewed the last battery-bracket, started sanding and...

The brown death is back.:twisted:

At that point it was too late in the day to remove the rust and fix the damage, so instead I went and (with some help) lifted the soft top frame (and soft top) off the car:

For a long time I had considered driving Maria without a roof, or as a Coupe (I do have a hardtop lying around, after all).
But I do want to drive without a top, and driving without a folding roof is just not a good idea in our weather (unless you really change up the interior, in the Smart Crossblade-direction).
So, bit by bit, I peeled the vinyl off the frame (I really recommend taking the frame off the car for that), and put the frame back in the Garage (but not back onto the car yet).
By the way, the frame is quite heavy, so if you go for light weight/low center of gravity, consider ditching it.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #42 ·
On Saturday I pushed the car halfway out of the garage, and generously covered it with painter's fleece and started sanding on the rust in the trunk (and on the undercarriage below the trunk).
Both sides had rust, the right side was MUCH worse.

On the right I blame the battery acid, on the left I guess the jack scratched up the paint a little too much since the rust concentrated around it's brackets.
Here and there rust converter covered the rust, in some spots on the right I found some thicker...material (undercarriage sealant?), and then paint over it :bang:
Kept sanding until I had all the rust uncovered and removed, and then hit it with some primer:

I let it dry (since I was busy with non-car-stuff for a bit), came back in the late afternoon and applied a layer of black paint (meant for BMW, I think, but the color matches 1:1 to the Mazda-paint).
Let that dry, while I put the soft top frame back onto the car (that was a lot of fiddling and back-and-forth to get right):

The problem?
On both sides two screws have to be positioned in notched "bays" in the frame (you can see one here, the other one is further down in the dark):

If that doesn't drop right into place you can't line up the holes for the screws that connect the frame and the chassis, and you can't install the roof.
And it took me a long time to notice that, long enough to suspect a torqued/bent frame :fp:

At last I applied a second layer of paint in the trunk, and then pushed the car back into the (sufficiently heated) Garage so it finishes drying over night.
On sunday I plan on putting the trunk back together and (hopefully) start on the brakes.


P.S.: I found two small pieces of grey vinyl in the Garage, does anyone know if they belong to the soft top?
Color and pattern don't match up, but I don't know where else they could be from:

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #43 ·
Got a lot more garage-time squeezed in recently, but always only dumped the photos onto my computer and didn't do anything with them, so there's a good bit of progress to catch up on:

First, obviously, I finished repainting the inside of the trunk after removing the rust:

And then I signed my work :mrgreen:

After that it was time to start assembling the brakes (FINALLY):
Carefully removed the paint off the areas where the caliper-braket bolts to other parts, and put in the clamps.
Taking forever for that and not getting it right cost me probably an hour before realizing that I'd been sent the wrong clamps (too many for one side, too few for the other) :fp:
So I restored some of the old ones (which were fine, I'd just wanted all new parts) and put them into place with some copper paste:

At that point I saw how many gaps there were in the zinc coating of the brake calipers, so I had to paint those to keep them from rusting.
The primer had no interest in sticking to the zinc, though, so I had to start over and treat the parts with some ammonia water:

Then I covered up all the spots I didn't want paint on...

And applied the primer on the brake-parts and the little bracket that holds the battery:


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #44 ·

The next day started with some disassembly, the rest of the intake as well as the exhaust manifold (suspected to leak/have cracked) had to leave the engine bay.
I had planned on replacing the filter, but it looks pretty new:

The manifold put up a decent fight, the lower end wasn't easy to reach and only came undone when I had removed one stud along with the nut and let another bolt break off at about 90% of it's length :(

Side note, the bolt had already broken most of the diameter, trying to undo it only broke the last tiny bit that held it together.

If you look into an NA's engine bay, down in the corner by the brake servo, you find a small screw that serves as the chassis ground for 4 or 5 cables.
Mine was completely rusted to death (big surprise), and probably didn't do it's job anymore.

Photo from this side, most of the other side was still stuck in the socket, largely pulverized.

Of course I couldn't leave the hole rusty, so that had to be adressed.

I couldn't reach it with a wire brush, a screwdriver wasn't precise enough, and I didn't want to remove the whole brake servo either.
I took a tour of my parent's extensive tool-collection, and found a few old touch-up pencils/brushes that came with tiny wire brushes.
We probably have a dozen of those, so I took one and jammed it onto an extension from the socket wrench to try it:

Works decently, but could be better.
Dove back into the tools, found a few pieces, and grabbed the powered screwdriver:

I call it the Frankenstein.

Looks odd, but it did the job just fine.

The old exhaust manifold gasket (engine side) looked very worn, while the manifold itself didn't look too bad:

The bottom gasket looked a bit worse, and I found a spot where I think exhaust-gasses leaked out of the pipe:

Two days later I got to work on the car again, starting with the manifold's heat shields.
Made sure there's no rust that needs removing, hit them with de-greaser, and spray-painted them silver.


While that was drying I cleaned all the bolts and nuts with brake-cleaner and made sure the nuts would "bite" again (careful use of a vice's jaws helped with that):

Since I have neither the time nor the budget to hand the exhaust manifold off to be re-leveled/machined, and don't want to replace it (since it seems to have no cracks) I went to do it myself.
Looking for the needed perfectly flat surface I ended up hijacking my parents' kitchen counter, which is made of granite and perfectly flat.
I went to the hardware store, got a few different "levels" of "woven" sandpaper, and went to work.
Here's the bottom end before I started, with the suspected leak on the left:

And the same spot after I was done, nicely flat and leak-free (hopefully):

Cleaned everything up, de-greased the manifold, found some exhaust-paint, and gave the manifold two layers just for looks:

You only see the upper edge of the manifold, but if I was doing it already I decided I could do it somewhat properly.
The paint is said to be fine up to 1472°F (800°C), if I breach that I'll probably have other problems than worrying about the paint on the exhaust-manifold.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #45 ·
After cleaning up the mounting-area on the cylinder head the new gasket went on just fine:

Followed by the reworked manifold.
Except for the dirty engine it doesn't look too bad, does it?

The manifold is only attached at the top, the bottom gasket takes ONE WEEK for shipping within Germany.
As I'm already under the car I'll just go ahead and replace the other exhaust-gaskets, the pipes themselves are nowhere near rusted out or leaking.

In between doing that I also prepared for taking care of the brake servo, since I didn't want to remove all the hardlines I just unscrewed some of them from the firewall and some thick wire (meant for flowers) helped to create the space I need around the brake servo:

Yesterday I started sanding down the rust spots on the brake servo and covered the whole car with old bedsheets and paper, before I de-greased the brake servo and then painted it:

The horseshoe-shaped imprint comes from my father wanting to check if the pain "might be dry already" (before the time it tells you to wait on the spray can) :cry:
While that dried up I removed, sanded, primed and painted the wiper-arms as well.

This morning I sanded and painted the brake servo once more to get rid of the fingerprint, and for tonight I plan on continuing with installing the brakes after managing to piece together one of them last night:

Once the brake servo dries and the mailman brings the last missing gaskets I will be able to re-assemble the engine bay, which I hope to get done during the weekend.


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Got the brake-servo done, and even the stickers and lettering survived just fine.
I think for a rattle-can job in the garage it looks pretty neat:

I brushed and cleaned the brake cylinder assembly, a new one is 350€ so I'll not replace that if I can avoid it.
Getting the lines back into place was a major headache, apart from the main vacuum-line none of them wanted to fit right (meaning: have their cut-outs sit where the brackets are).
Took a bunch of pulling, pushing and rearranging to get them all to sit right.
Since they have never been messed with I assume their sub-decent fitment is due to my MX5 being a "transition model", meaning it was made by throwing pre- and post-facelift parts together.
That whole ordeal consumed so much time that I didn't get to do the brakes themselves, but at least the results look decent, with all the lines sitting properly, topped off with the polished and sealed vacuum-line (the silver shine should lessen soon, giving it a "hue" of gold back):


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #48 ·
Well, I thought I'd receive the missing exhaust-gasket today, but instead the shipment that did arrive was just a bunch of plastic clips and caps, the gasket will arrive tomorrow.

So I left the engine bay as it was and turned my attention to the brakes, or the lack thereof.
Installed the remaining three brakes, hooked everything up, filled it up with fluid, got the air removed from the system and topped off the reservoir.
I haven't been that happy about yellow liquid in the right place since my dog got house-trained :)

There's new discs and pads from ATE all around, new rear calipers (the new are "refurbished" and supposedly like-new), I've removed the rust from and painted all caliper-brackets myself, also painted all the calipers.
That whole brake-package lives behind blasted and painted (the plastic hub-caps shouldn't be powdercoated due to the heat involved) 15" NB-wheels.

Tomorrow I'll receive the last missing part to put the exhaust back together, after that I have to replace the clutch-fluid.
The fluid that's in there now is kinda "foggy" and dark green, it's probably been in there since Japan.
Once that's done I'll button up the engine bay, put "Maria" back on her own wheels, and this time leave her on them.
Apart from the small trip from one garage up the driveway to another she's been on stands for 7 months :eek:


114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #49 ·
The car is still alive, I finished restoration in May last year.
Just suffered a data-loss shortly after, which really frustrated me and made me mostly abandon the forums because I hated having to leave the thread open.
I'll see if I can dig up some photos of the remaining work.

Premium Member
45 Posts
You are doing outstanding work. Black is beautiful, as long as it's someone else's car! (hehe) I had one black car and it drove me nuts. The good news is that was 1995 and there are so many better products on the market now to protect the paint. Check out Detailed Image some of there stuff is pricey, but I do not think you will find better anywhere else...Honest! I got stuff for my wheels that is just OUTSTANDING!!! GOD BLESS

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #51 ·
You are doing outstanding work. Black is beautiful, as long as it's someone else's car! (hehe) I had one black car and it drove me nuts. The good news is that was 1995 and there are so many better products on the market now to protect the paint. Check out Detailed Image some of there stuff is pricey, but I do not think you will find better anywhere else...Honest! I got stuff for my wheels that is just OUTSTANDING!!! GOD BLESS
Just bummed about the data-loss.

I found I don't need any fancy supplies, mostly I just have to wash the car bit-by-bit and dry it off afterwards to avoid spots from the water, and I have to remove dead insects after each drive because the black paint has no clearcoat, so they immediately hurt the paint.

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #52 ·
First part of a small recap of the stuff I skipped, in case anyone still reads this (a small reply would be nice):
In January 2019 I continued the project by sandblasting/de-rusting a bunch of smaller bits and pieces, including giving the back of the lamps a new coat of paint and re-applying the original stickers:

Cleaned up the hood latch, from this
to this

Pulled the center console, cleaned up some spilled ash (from the ashtray), fixed the windows/adjusted their rails, and replaced the shifter bushings. I left the old leather cover/boot on, the car can show some age here and there.

Next problem was the passenger side door handle, which tended tog et "stuck" half-open. Probably just the spring?
Instead the bushing that holds the transfer plate had gotten worn out, so it simply didn't move the transfer plate anymore:

I drilled out a washer to fit in the transfer plate, it took seemingly forever to get it all to fit right:

Found a new, matching-looking bolt, put it all back together, and re-tensioned the spring.
However I over-tensioned it, leaving the handle stuck fully open:

The same day I also took out the Frankenstein-bolts and replaced them with another "dome"-bolt, since I won't use the hardtop. Had to re-attach the usually welded on nut on the left, which was kinda hard to get to/hold in place.
Note that the silver plates have a tiny drainage-hole, mine probably wasn't the only one where that hole was clogged.

Next up I turned my attention to the electronics, I wanted to bin the annoying immobilizer and figure out why the "knee-panel" under the steering column was bulging. Long story short: The shop that had installed the immobilizer had absolutely slaughtered the wiring loom, even after cutting out a bunch of excess wire it still looked like this:

Spent a few hours cutting, sanding and sawing at the rock-hard shrink-wire connectors, finally getting to pull out the control module (which had been bolted to the small fuse box in there).
In the process I invented "Miatayoga" (no joke, my photos are on google :LOL:):

Far less comfortable than it looks, and only worked because I could stick my torso and legs under the steering wheel at once to get in/out.
By the end of it the car looked like this and, lacking a bunch of wiring, was essentially bricked:

I didn't throw away the immobilizer yet, btw, maybe some day someone wants it....
Repaired the wiring over the next week (needing to get a new plug from the scrapyard because one wire was cut so close to the plug that it melted when being soldered together) I got the car's electronics reassembled and it actually fired up for the first time!

On the 2nd of February 2019 I pulled the Tombstone off, using a shoelace for the vents, mainly because I'd seen a bunch of dust and dirt on the carpet behind it. This was absolutely nerve-wracking, because the dashboard in mine was/is MINT and I had been told that there would definitely be broken clips. But none broke on mine.

I also found out that one of the few terminals/plugs I hadn't touched when rebuilding the wiring loom had failed, meaning the car didn't care much about what the ignition key was doing anymore since a major wire was just hanging freely in space. Some more cutting, soldering, taping and a new terminal later that issue was solved.

I spent most of the third of February at the Bremen Classic Motorshow, the kinda-sorta official season-opening for classic cars in Germany.
While there I talked to a bunch of companies who over cavity- and underside-protection, after a local workshop had estimated (at least) 1500 Euros, just 400 short of what I had paid for the car (and very much outside the budget).
I ended up talking to another company offering it in my hometown (Hamburg), who pointed me to a freelancer they contract for anything that doesn't fit in their workshop or on their lift (big vans, especially long or heavy cars) since he works on a former farm (big workshop) and has a 4-ton lift.

The next morning I called up the freelancer I'd been told to contact, and it turned out he happened to be in the general area I was in dropping off a customer's car, so he could swing by and pick Maria up with his trailer by 5pm.
Maria wasn't going to be driven to his shop, and that way I wouldn't have to rent a trailer and get my parents to tow it there (I'm not allowed to tow car-trailers, my license has a weight-limit for trailers that they tend to breach).

To have the cavity-protection done I had to remove the plastic bumper-reinforcements that sit at either end of the MX5.
Removing the baby-teeth (strap-down loops) for that I also tried removing a screw holding a tiny piece of torn-off underside protection, and of course I managed to cleanly rip that screw off

Removing the plastic piece in front I found a few more spots of surface-rust, so after a brief Whatsapp-conversation removing those was added to the list of things to be done as part of the conservation-procedure, along with pulling out three dents in the undercarriage left by attempts to use car-jacks in the wrong places.

Getting some help from my father I used two floor jacks (one for the left side, one for the right) to get Maria off the jackstands and back onto solid ground, first the front then the rear end.
Ran back to my room to swap the workshop/valet-key for a brand new proper one, we cleared some stuff away from the garage's gate, and were ready to roll the car out of the garage by 4:58pm.
And, what else would you expect, the freelancer arrived exactly at 5pm to pick up the car.
I guess Germans really do tend to be on time

I immediately sent that photo to a few friends, with no context but a link to "Time to say goodbye".
First diagnosis: Max quit/regained sanity, the MX5 has been sold. I let them believe it for a few hours.

Mufasa in Training
33,756 Posts
Looks like you did a lot of work!

It's a shame you sold the car :(

114 Posts
Discussion Starter · #54 ·
It's a shame you sold the car :(
I didn't^^
It got picked up to have the cavity/underside protection done.

Meanwhile I removed the remaining DIN-plate from the Tombstone, and removed the switches for the rear window defroster and the electric mirrors from it.
Then I used a box knife and a small angle-grinder to get rid of a plastic burr near the hole left by the immobilizer's sensor.
The style of DIN-panel can't be had as a replacement, so I was going against my original plans and was going to have a USB-port in it.

I used the empty garage (what a weird sight) to remove surface rust from and paint the two metal bumper retainers that go on each end of the car.

Once I was done for the day I finally went and told my friends the story behind the photos, and explained that I didn't sell the MX5/replace it with a BMW Z3 1.8 (the car my parents had been suggesting as a much better/safer alternative).
But be assured, I won't give up on that car (or regain sanity

5th of February:
Drove over an hour across town to get to the Mazda-dealership (keep in mind that, in Germany, distances are usually much shorter than they're in the states), getting a couple of screws IL Motorsport (big parts-provider in Germany) didn't have and that I couldn't find online/in hardware-stores either.
Got what I needed, and headed another 30 minutes further out into the countryside, entering the next federal state to visit the small (former) farm where Maria had the conservation-procedures done.
I roll up an endlessly long driveway, see the Mercedes that had trailered her away, and a Trabant (ever heard of it?) in NYC-Checker-Cab Design.
Seems like I found the right place.
I knocked on the door of the (former) stable, a door opens, and I "finally" see the MX5 again:

My car actually got home before me (by trailer), it really looked a bit like an SUV^^

I quickly realized the main drawback of the conservation I chose, the whole car is covered in a thin layer of grease (FluidFilm is based off of the fat from sheep's wool), so you have to really think about where you want to touch the car.

Over the next few days the new headlight rings arrived (mine were beyond saving) so I got to put the lights together, and de-rusted, basecoated and repainted the "bulgy" bumper supports:

I also cleaned, de-rusted and painted the "baby teeth" so they could go back on the car:

Tackling the next issue, someone had placed something heavy on my left headlight cover and bent it.
I got it back into shape enough to mount it, but the gap-size was barely acceptable on a Lada:

It took a few times on-and-off, and after a few days I had gotten it pretty close:

Because I was starting to get fed up with panel gaps I headed to the rear of the car, polished up the fuel cap and reinstalled it. The rubber stops were gone and stupid expensive to buy as spares, but some BMW Z3-ones from my dad's stockpile fit right in.

Next up I sanded and repainted the car jack so it looks decent again:

On the 13th of February I repainted the new wiper fluid tank bracket (which arrived with some awful paint-quality) and put the brackets together. New:

Versus old:

In late February I did an oil change and replaced the coolant hoses, the oil filter took quite a beating before giving up:

With the ignition-box and the camshaft-angle-sensor gone for the coolant hose replacement I pulled the valve cover off, mainly to check the timing belt after the serpentine belts had needed replacement.
The timing belt got to stay, and there were no nasty surprises underneath the valve cover either.
Only having to scrape copious amounts of sealant off the gasket-area was kinda annoying, since that stuff is only meant to go in 6 specific spots. The rest of it looked quite alright though.

With the valve cover already off I chose to use the time I had and do something about the worn look.
I didn't like the painted look, blasting and sealing didn't fit in the time frame or the budget (which absolutely isn't blown to bits by now...), so reconditioning it was the only option.
Scrubbing it down with soapy water didn't bother the dirt at all, so I went at it with nitro-based thinner (twice) producing some decent results already.
A simple rag and a nylon brush with aluminum polish did the trick on the smooth surfaces, the lettering and smaller corners and edges were taken care of with an old electric toothbrush.
Of course it won't look like new, or like silver paint, but I don't think it looks that bad compared to the way it was.

Next up: Door cards and the roll bar.....
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