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accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/6/20 9:22 a.m.

Well, here we go again. The 'mato miata build is well under way so naturally I'll try to make a build thread about it. 

It popped up on craigslist and it was love (or something) at first sight. Red, clean body, good top, supposedly "ok" shortnose crank motor, supposedly "ok" transmission (narrator: FORESHADOWING - play this in the background for added effect https://youtu.be/ZKGJZt83_JE). My dad and I went to go get it on the drop of a hat (a tow dolly is a dangerous thing). We meet the guy, he's a nice young dude - his fiancé has cut his engine swap dreams short so he's gotta move it (my wife squealed with delight on seeing the red, non-running miata I was plan on picking up - it takes all types). I haggle weakly since he seems nice - we settle - everyone is happy. 

We push it onto the dolly (the trunk is full of water but dry interior!) - and set off. We make it less than a mile before a horrendous noise starts to inform me this is not going to be a smooth drive home. The shifter felt VERY bad when I was checking out the car, but apparently it's so bad that it's in gear and we can't get it to go back into neutral - HASHTAG TowDollyLyfe. We pull into the first parking lot we can find. It's getting dark .... and we're in the back of a McDonald's parking lot hanging out with last weeks food by the dumpster - not how I thought the tow home was going to go. We try a few things and settle for depressing the clutch with the jack handle pressed in via the seat. A move not even NASA scientists could better - the trans is clearly gar-a-bage (that's French for it sucks), I just want to make the 1 hour drive home. 

We get moving, it seems to have worked! Victory! Suck it NASA scientists!

And then we started to hear a noise, but we're in rush hour towing a busted miata through Nashville. We attempt the go-to fix for anyone on a budget. We turn the radio up. This works surprisingly well. It's as if there's not a problem! 

Then the light gets low enough to see the sparks. Ok, maybe there's still a problem (sorry NASA). In an absolute power move we park in a shifty gas station lot (this time in full dark). An upgrade! There's not a McDonald's dumpster next to us! 

I flop under the car using the ubiquitous smart-phone flash light to inspect the damage ( I came prepared). Before I was worried about dumping trans fluid everywhere when removing the driveshaft. Now I can see the inner workings of the transmission while laying on the pavement - it appears this won't be a problem anymore. Another win!

I manage to get the driveshaft unhooked. Presto-chango it's the quiet tow you, me, and your grandmother always wanted. 


 

Tune in next time. This go I'm trying to stick to a strict, lean budget [narrator: he doesn't].

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/6/20 9:28 a.m.

Following, sounds like the story of my last red NA6

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/6/20 9:31 a.m.

Sneak peak: my friend the transmission.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/6/20 9:32 a.m.

Those wheels/tyres!  WTF up with that look?

 

Pete

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/6/20 9:43 a.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

lol - don't ask me. They're stretched 0-offset wheel. Ironically the wheels are good for the Exocet. It requires 0-offset to not rub the frame, but not with those scary stretched tires on there. I was worried they weren't going to make it home (as you might've read, it turns out I was worried about the wrong part of the car).

Gunchsta
Gunchsta HalfDork
4/6/20 9:45 a.m.

Great writing, you've got my attention. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/6/20 10:00 a.m.

Now that transmission is a new failure mode. I'm not sure how.

UNLESS the PPF somehow torqued it apart. Pretty hard to do because the PPF is a pretty flexibile piece in twist, but I'd take a good look at motor mounts, diff mounts and any "improvements" that might have been done to the PPF. It's also possible the trans was stuck in gear (those early trans would grab reverse and refuse to let go) and it got disassembled by the flat tow. The good news is that it's not an expensive part.

Pete Gossett
Pete Gossett MegaDork
4/6/20 2:22 p.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

FWIW I have a spare trans that is most likely good, and a spare engine that would have most likely been good were it not for the hole through the side of the block. I also have a decent selection of other NA6 parts too. 

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/7/20 10:28 a.m.

In reply to Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) :

Ha! You'd think we'd learn, but here I am - doing it again. Putting too much money in a slow car to keep it pretty slow. 
 

In reply to Gunchsta :

Thank you! It was a fun time/story/adventure with the pops so it translated well.


In reply to Keith Tanner :

I think stuck in gear is a likely candidate. I believe the PO flat towed it to pick it up in the first place and did some damage before I got it. Either way I was planning changing out the short nose engine anyways (and NBD to do the trans with it)

In reply to Pete Gossett :

Thank you! I might have to ping you for some things - specifically hardware, man it's eating me alive. Engine and trans I have a "spare" sitting around. I think it needs the oil pan half moon gaskets replaced - it dripped perpetually in my exocet before I swapped the motor. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/7/20 10:31 a.m.

Those gaskets very rarely fail. Far more likely it's the front crank seal (they'll last more than 60k but less than 120k, so they should be replaced with every timing belt) or the CAS seal. The latter is usually incorrectly diagnosed as a leaky rear main.

Oil pan gaskets, in my experience, only leak once disturbed and reused. They don't see all that much oil.

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/7/20 10:37 a.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

Good to know - I was REALLY hoping to avoid doing anything with the oil pan. It seemed to be coming from the back of the engine, a dime size drip under the car after letting the car sit overnight after running. I did the rear main (with flyin' miata seal press) and CAS o-ring. Maybe I just did a bad job or got bad seals?

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
4/7/20 10:44 a.m.

Take a good look at the back of the engine, you should be able to see. You can also leak from the valve cover gasket and in some cases the back corner of the head gasket. In both cases, it runs down the back of the head/block and into the bellhousing, where it does a great imitation of a rear main leak. Could also be the trans input seal.

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/8/20 2:05 p.m.

As with most things the closer you look, the better it gets. 

Wait, no, that’s not right. How does it go? 

I can’t remember. Anyways.

It’s much worse - So much worse than it looked at first blush. Like waking up after wearing the proverbial drunk goggles, but for a car. 
And it turns out the car was a dude. 
And he didn’t even look like a lady, you were just that plastered.
And … You get the idea.

It starts with the inspection: I’m certifiably the single worst human at inspecting a car with the owner present. Something in my brain is wired to attempt to not insult them. To puff up my potential purchase. This, as you can imagine, makes me a terrible haggler - I’m prone to glossing over things my brain is literally screaming at me for.

The wheels tell what I believe is the beginning of the end for this little red miata. 
Well, the wheels and maybe the waterlogged trunk. In this automotive primordial stew floats a motorcycle battery, a 14mm ratcheting wrench, a ⅛” ratchet with a 10mm affixed to it, a mostly empty bottle of brake fluid, a set of jumper cables, and a partridge in a pear tree. It sounds like the setup for a very disturbing (awesome?) automotive themed “I Spy” book.

Huh.

The body, interior, and softtop look to be well taken care of - someone loved this car for a long time before it went into the secondary market. But then, Junior got it. We’ve all been Junior at one time or another - I’ve been Junior more times than I care to admit. Junior watches all the youtubes and has big aspirations for this little red convertible. Turbo? Wide body? Slammed? Why not all of it. Start with the wheels, you gotta put the pillars in place to build a palace. Who knew you could stretch 195s onto a 9” wheel? A technical marvel. But then the truth of owning an old car starts hitting: The master cylinder starts leaking - no problemo! A bottle of brake fluid is cheap! Leave it in the trunk for easy access! Power steering leaking? Groovy! Weight reduction! Real men™ don’t even use power steering. Bonus: It also coats the entire driver’s side of the engine compartment in a low cost, but effective rust inhibitor. The battery starts getting weak? Also no big deal! NBD! I have jumper cables and a motorcycle battery (!?). The alternator manages to sheer it’s bolt? THIS IS NOT A PROBLEM. WE CAN USE A COMBINATION OF A STUD AND WHEEL NUT TO BOLT IT ON.

I’m assuming that it was around this time that our theoretical previous owner once removed (PO-1) decided it was time to cut their losses and sold it to our 0th index previous owner (PO-0). PO-0 claimed that the car turned over and started when he took delivery. At this point I'm wondering how much of a basketcase I've wandered into....


That gets us to the next day. The transmission is fubar’d from our little jaunt through Nashville. I’m no expert - but I can see gears on the outside. I begin scoping out the engine finding out all the things the trunk hinted at. Well….. Nothing to do, but to do it. Day 3 of owning the car I rip out it’s heart and soul. 

Out comes El Lump. Our good friend the tired 1.6 and his friend the see-through transmission!

A time lapse of me trying to get the transmission to tell me it’s secrets. Loyal chap, he never uttered a world.

 

 

Well, there's that. At this point I'm treating this as some sort of crappy therapy writing blog - car diary -covid madness combo. A few more updates to catch up to modern day, but I'm going to take my time with them! See you next time space cowboy. 

Gunchsta
Gunchsta HalfDork
4/8/20 2:46 p.m.

Creative writing and terrible cars for the win. 

I just glazed over the thread again a couple of times; do you have a specific plan/goal for this or was it the classic "cheap project" impulse buy? 

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/8/20 3:05 p.m.

In reply to Gunchsta :

Well .... I have a bunch of spare na6 parts from my Exocet and wanted a dual duty real street car again. It was cheap! And in spite of my colorful hate directed it's way, it has good bones. My eventual goal is LFX (remember, I'm "Junior" a lot...), but that'll be next year or so, for now just having fun with it as a project and getting it running again. 

*edit/translation: I have no self control and a wife who enables me.

wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L)
wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) UltraDork
4/8/20 3:39 p.m.

I know I'm a heathen, but I love the wheels. Not so stoked on the stretch-yo!, but the wheels themselves are sweet.

Great Project, and I'm looking forward to following along.

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/8/20 3:47 p.m.

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) :

Agreed! I'm not a fan of the 0-offset on the miata without fender flairs to go with it. But I do believe they'll be making a comeback on my exocet at some point with not-so-stretched tires.

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/9/20 6:11 a.m.
accordionfolder said:

In reply to wheelsmithy (Joe-with-an-L) :

Agreed! I'm not a fan of the 0-offset on the miata without fender flairs to go with it. But I do believe they'll be making a comeback on my exocet at some point with not-so-stretched tires.

Damn, no tilty wheel stance exocet in the future! 

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/9/20 8:34 a.m.

In reply to Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) :

What do you mean? For anything over 14" you have to run 0-offset wheels or they rub the frame on exocets. 

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/9/20 8:48 a.m.
accordionfolder said:

In reply to Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) :

What do you mean? For anything over 14" you have to run 0-offset wheels or they rub the frame on exocets. 

Was a stretched tire joke. 

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/9/20 8:57 a.m.

In reply to Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) :

Oh, I've got you now. I read it as a command "no tilty wheel stance exocet in the future" instead of the joking lament.

 

I drove it with those goofy tires on it when my others were being mounted and balance. It was kinda fun since it had exactly 0 traction EVERYWHERE. 30% throttle? Wheel spin. Turn the wheel? Drift. Look at the break pedal? Lockup. 

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
4/9/20 9:02 a.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

I'll find some photos of the tires on my red NA I had when I got it. Kid goes "newer tires, good to drive home" the damn things had cords showing, and it rained on way home. 

einy (Forum Supporter)
einy (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
4/9/20 12:00 p.m.

Your video clip inspired me to hang an old ceiling fan that I have been tripping over for years in my garage.

accordionfolder
accordionfolder Dork
4/10/20 10:03 a.m.

In reply to einy (Forum Supporter) :

The fans are so nice - not only to cool off, but for ventilation when I spill something. Funny - I get comments about those fans all the time.

Bill Mesker
Bill Mesker Reader
4/10/20 9:00 p.m.

"I drove it with those goofy tires on it when my others were being mounted and balance. It was kinda fun since it had exactly 0 traction EVERYWHERE. 30% throttle? Wheel spin. Turn the wheel? Drift. Look at the break pedal? Lockup."

 

I couldn't stop laughing at this lol! Although I have one to add.... Look at the engine wrong? Rod through the block..... (Kidding of course haha. I know they're fairly stout. smiley)

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