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Rodan Reader
10/27/17 3:37 p.m.

Got the header back for the NA this morning.   Mmmm, ceramic coated (hopefully not-so) hotness...

Headercoated1 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Also moved the surgical tools into the garage.  If all goes as planned, road tripping in the morning to pick up an NB2 engine for the NB...

DSC_1339 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Rodan Reader
10/29/17 10:16 a.m.

So, the road trip went well yesterday.  A little too well, actually. cheeky

Seller had two NB2 VVT engines listed.  I only really needed one, but I made an offer and he took it!

DSC_1340 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

DSC_1341 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

So, now I have one to go in the NB, and a spare.  At the price, I couldn't pass it up.  When the engine comes out of the NB, I'll have to determine if it's worth keeping the short block for a turbo build.  The '99 head will probably get sold.

The only downside is I put a big hole in my brake budget for the NA for now.blush

Rodan Reader
11/5/17 9:04 a.m.

Lots going on in Miataville this week...

It all started Wednesday night.  My wife calls, and says there's something wrong with the NC.   She says she went to get something to eat, and when she came out, there was oil and "green stuff" all over the driver's front wheel.  She said she got in and started it and it made a bad noise, but she was able to drive it back to her office.  I ask if the noise was like spoons in a garbage disposal, and she says yes...  Uh, oh... frown

I leave work early, run home and get the truck.  Drive to the storage yard and pick up the trailer, then make the hour drive to her office.  There's a trail of oil leading to her parking spot, and oil all over the car and ground.  I look under the hood, but don't see anything obvious.  We load the car in the trailer, bring it home, and call it quits for the night.

My usual weekend is Thurs-Sat, so Thursday morning I get the NC up on stands in the garage to take a look.  I start with the obvious suspects...  oil drain plug is tight.  Oil filter... loose, and hanging on the threads.  Looking at where the oil sprayed, it looks like the obvious source.  I'm thinking WTF!  I had done oil/filter about 1000 miles ago on the NC, the 12th oil/filter change I'd done on the car.  I've done countless oil/filter changes over the years and never had a filter or drain plug come loose.  Oh, well, guess it can happen to anyone.

After further interrogation, my wife had said it made the bad noise on startup, and then went away when she drove the car, so I'm thinking maybe it was just the filter rattling and we may have gotten lucky...  So I make a run to get a new filter and some oil.  At the parts store, I get a filter for the NC, and also for the NB.  Parts guy gives me the filters, and it clicks...

When I did the previous oil change, it was the first time I had ever bought filters for the NC and NA at the same time.   Parts guy, says they're the same filter.  I say, "huh, didn't realize that".  Guy gives me two filters and I go home and change the oil in both.

Guess, what...  they're not the same.  I realized this immediately when the parts guy (on this week's trip) gives me two different filters.

Turns out the NA/NB filter is the same thread, and will even torque down properly and not leak (initially) on an NC.  But the gasket eventually pushed out and it came loose.   As I noted before, this was my 12th oil change on the NC, and I have a routine.  The old filter comes out in a wad of paper towels, straight into a freezer bag, otherwise you get oil all over the crossmember.  The new filter is primed with oil, sitting next to the jackstand ready to go.  As such, I never directly compared the filters... lesson learned.

So, new filter on, cheap dino oil in (why fill with M1 when it could be toast?) and fire it up...

Sounds... normal.  No knocking, ticking, screeching or any indication it sustained any damage.  So, I took it out and tried to break it.  Run through the gears, rev limiter several times, pull from idle, decel from high rpm.  If it's gonna go, I want to know.  Nothing.  Runs great.  Big sigh of relief... smiley

Wife drove it to work on Friday, ran fine.  Yesterday, I swapped the oil out for M1.  No signs of metal in the oil that came out.

I think we dodged a bullet! 

Rodan Reader
11/5/17 9:15 a.m.

Now that we've got that drama out of the way, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Friday, the dead engine came out of the NB...

DSC_1343 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

What a mess... grunge city.

Also discovered there were only three bellhousing bolts holding the trans to the motor, so I'm going to have to replace those.  I did a bit of teardown, and the head looks pretty good.  No scoring on the cam lobes, and no obvious metal in the oil in the top end.  The pistons weren't so pretty...

DSC_1351 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Still seized solid.  I'm going to have to tear it all the way down to see if I can get the pistons free and see what the bores look like.  I'd like to be able to use the block and crank for a turbo short block build, but if it's toast it's toast...

I've got a bunch of cleanup to do, and need a few small parts (injector o-rings, etc.) before I can start swapping the injectors, fuel rail and VICS manifold over to the new motor.  Also need to add the pigtails for the NB2 coils to the harness.  But, progress is progress... smiley

Rodan Reader
11/5/17 9:22 a.m.

Also on Friday, after I had had enough of grunge, I installed the RB header in the NA...

RB header installed by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Yesterday, I finished the intake/exhaust project, installing the Flattop intake manifold and Skunk2 throttle body.  Still need a new clamp for the TB inlet...

FT-RB-SK2 installed by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I was a little disappointed with the included harware for the  TB.  Both IAC adapter screws had to be shortened, as they would bottom out before becoming tight.  I also had to shorten one of the TB mounting bolts for the same reason.

Another box checked off the list was cleaning up the fuel line runs.  The 1.6 NA factory hard lines point toward the rear of the engine compartment, and the later fuel rail has the connections on the front.  I didn't address this before, as I had been in a hurry to get it running, and have been pretty busy since.  Now, with the intake off, was the time.  I used a brake line bender to 're-orient' the hard lines, allowing a much shorter run of flexible hose, and a much cleaner engine compartment.

Rodan Reader
11/9/17 4:37 p.m.

So, finally some results....

I went out and did some road tuning today.  AFR's were still surprisingly close with the new intake/header, but I did make some adjustments.  Car feels great! laugh

I had done a few "pulls" for Virtual Dyno at the end of October in anticipation of the swap.  I wanted as direct as possible comparison before/after.  I got really lucky with the weather... 68* F for the before runs, and 70* F for the after runs.  Base barometer was 81.6 kPa before, 82.2 kPa after.  Conditions were about as close as you can get two weeks apart at this time of year.

I had done the before runs with just a warm up cycle, but the after runs had ~45 minutes of driving and tuning prior, so were made with intake temps a full 10*F above the before runs.  Obviously, the runs were done on the same road in the same direction.

As I've noted before with Virtual Dyno, I'm much less interested in absolute numbers as I am comparison.  Anyway, here's the graph, with two 'before' runs compared to the 'after' run (only had time for one in each direction today).  Red and blue are 'before', green is 'after'.  These numbers are uncorrected for altitude (5000ft).  

FTRB beforeafter by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Anyway, I'm pleased with the result, and it turned out just about as expected.  Of course, these are very well documented mods, so expectations were clear. 


Rodan Reader
11/9/17 4:39 p.m.

On the NB front, I got the '99 fuel rail, injectors and harness cleaned up and installed on the '03 engine. Still waiting for some small parts, but targeting this weekend for cleaning up the car, and next week for engine installation...

Rodan Reader
11/11/17 2:35 p.m.

The nice thing about putting an NB2 engine in an NB1 is that the wiring is much easier than putting one in an NA...

I already had the harness installed, and last night I wired up the coils.  The wiring for the NB2 coils is the same as the NB1, just the coils are on the valve cover instead of the back of the head, so you really just have to extend the harness.  They use different connectors, which I was able to source from Ballenger Motorsports.  Fortunately, the hard work of figuring out which wires go where has already been done:

NB2 coil wiring in NB1

New pigtails on coils, you can see the gray NB1 connectors at the back of the valve cover.

DSC_1360 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Wired up

DSC_1361 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

And tidied up

DSC_1363 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


Today, I started some cleanup in preparation for re-assembly.  When I cleaned everything up on the NA it was a PITA, and I'm a lazy bastard, so I was looking for a better way.  Sam's Club put a light duty pressure washer on sale this weekend, and I figured it would be just thing thing...

DSC_1364 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I figure just what I save in Brake Cleaner on this project will pay for it! cheeky

Transmission took ~45 minutes as opposed to the 3 hours I spent cleaning when I did the NA...


DSC_1345a by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


DSC_1365 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Got a little behind, so I'll be starting on the chassis cleanup next week.

Rodan Reader
11/19/17 10:50 a.m.

Intake is back on, and the engine is ready to go back in the car.

DSC_1368 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I moved the VICS manifold from the '99 engine to the '03 engine, as the VICS manifolds have been shown to make better power than the VTCS manifolds on the VVT engines.  I had one stumbling block:  the VICS vacuum actuator's nipple was broken off, and the part is NLA from Mazda.  I was originally going to modify the actuator off the VTCS manifold, but after comparing the parts, it was going to be a lot of work.  I ended up drilling out the actuator, and using aerospace epoxy to fix a small piece of brass tubing for the vacuum signal.  I have used this epoxy in the past on a number of different types of repairs, and it's some seriously tough stuff.  It's rated for a 250* environment, so it should be fine on the intake side.

DSC_1369 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

I still have some cleaning to do, both the car and some parts.  The project also snowballed a bit, as the car needs a heater core, and the clutch slave was leaking, so it'll be getting the clutch hydraulics replaced with the 949 kit and a new heater core before the engine goes in.  Heater core requires dash removal, so that's a day's work...  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good progress next weekend.

Rodan Reader
11/22/17 2:02 p.m.

More cleaning...

Alternator, before:

DSC_1370 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


DSC_1371 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Mr. Lee
Mr. Lee UberDork
11/23/17 12:17 a.m.

Good stuff man. I just spent 2 hours reading through most of this thread. 

Rodan Reader
11/23/17 1:35 a.m.


Apologies for the damage the PB fiasco did with all the pics.  I'm going to start fixing that as I have time...

Rodan Reader
11/26/17 8:55 a.m.

Good progress on the NB this weekend...

Friday I pulled the dash to replace the heater core.  Core itself was a PITA due to o-rings that didn't fit properly.  Having the dash out did give me an opportunity to clean everything up while it was apart.

DSC_1373 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Next was more cleanup.  Oil leaks leave a mess.  Especially when the PO does nothing about it for long enough to kill the motor...

DSC_1366 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

After a bunch of scrubbing and blasting with the pressure washer, things were looking better...

DSC_1377 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

While the car was drying off, I started getting the engine and trans re-joined.  I got a pretty good looking clutch/PP combo on one of my used engines, and the other had a flyweel that looked like it had just been re-surfaced.  I added new pilot and clutch release bearings for peace of mind.

DSC_1378 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Once the clutch was on, I bolted on the trans, starter and slave cylinder, and we're ready to install...

DSC_1379 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Aaand, it's in!

DSC_1380 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Today I need to do all the electrical hookup, water, vacuum and fuel lines, PS and AC, fluid fill, bleed the clutch and install the shifter, and it'll be startup time.

Rodan Reader
11/26/17 10:02 p.m.

The rescue NB is ALIVE!

For the first time since I've owned the NB, it moved under its own power.

Once I finished  up bolting everything together, it was time for the last wiring mod:  moving the cam position sensor to the rear of the head.  The '99-00 and '01-05 use the same sensor, it's just on different ends of the valve cover.   Fortunately, it doesn't even require cutting any wires.  You just unwrap the harness to pull enough out to reach the rear mounted sensor.

DSC_1384 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Also fortunately, I have plenty of looming material leftover from the NA swap.  It was quick work to rewrap the harness...

DSC_1385 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

After that, it was just a matter of filling the crankcase, trans and coolant, and bleeding the clutch hydraulics, and it was ready to fire...

DSC_1390 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

And fire it did, on the first try.  With a check engine light... cheeky

A quick check showed P0106... MAP issue.  Once I attached the vacuum line I missed, and cleared the code, it was all good.  We even circumnavigated the block.  That was as far as I wanted to go until I get the insurance updated tomorrow, and get the registration reinstated...

When we got back, I rewarded it with a bath

DSC_1389 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Mr. Lee
Mr. Lee UberDork
11/26/17 11:12 p.m.


Rodan Reader
11/27/17 7:27 a.m.


So, I totaled up the receipts this morning... always a scary thing.  At this point, I'm all in $1658.20 on the NB.  I hope to recoup some $$ by selling the '99 cylinder head.  The BP4W heads are still popular with the folks who don't want to mess with VVT.

Rodan Reader
12/2/17 11:08 a.m.

Spent a couple of hours updating photo links in earlier posts in this thread... thanks PB! angry

It's a slow process, but eventually, I'll get all the pics working again.

On the NB front, everything is going well.  I had not hooked up the power steering and AC after finding a big gash in the PS pressure hose while re-installing the engine, so I spent the first few days with Armstrong steering.  I replaced the hose, and now the power steering is working great.  Still working on belt tension... got a few crickets until the belts warm up.  

Next, I hit the headlights with a Silvania restoration kit...


DSC_1392 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


DSC_1395 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Not perfect, but huge improvement!

After driving it around for a few days, the leprosy on the hood was really getting to me, so I hit it with some rattle can satin black...


DSC_1396 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


DSC_1398 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

The hail damage is now more visible, but I think it looks a lot better!  Anyway, just a short term fix until I pick up a straight hood.

Rodan Reader
12/9/17 11:04 p.m.

Took the NC out to play with some friends today...

12-09-17 Bagdad by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Also opened an early Christmas present for the NA... Wilwoods for the rear.

DSC_1412 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Hope to get the front half ordered up after the holidays.

Rodan Reader
12/14/17 3:26 p.m.

I think it might be time to admit I have a problem... cheeky

DSC_1417 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Mr. Lee
Mr. Lee UberDork
12/14/17 4:18 p.m.

In reply to Rodan :

No problems.


Only answers!!!! cheeky

Rodan Reader
12/14/17 6:22 p.m.

Lots of Answers!

So... this thing popped up on CL 5 minutes from home and I decided to grab it.

158k, body is straighter than my blue '99... and unlike the salvage title on the blue car, the black car has a clean title.

DSC_1415 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr
DSC_1416 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Typical AZ paint fade on the top surfaces, but 5 minutes with a rag and some compound and I was able to bring a shine back to a small area by the gas door, so I have high hopes.  Except maybe the hood...

DSC_1414 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Some a**hat has been sanding on it, so I don't know if I'll be able to bring it back, but I'll try.  If not, respraying the hood black is a DiY no brainer, unlike the metallic blue on the other car.  Not to mention the panels are straight...

Near new canvas top.

DSC_1420 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

And tan leather, in decent shape...

DSC_1421 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Buuutt, as you can see, it's an automatic...  sad

Fortunately, I have a manual parts car...  wink

Plan is to swap the drivetrain (and VVT engine) from the blue car to the black car, then sell the engine out of the black car to recoup some $$.  I don't think the auto trans is worth much, if anything.  I'll probably also sell the black interior from the blue car, and it will become a parts car/spare shell, in case I ever wad up the NA on the track.

Oh, at this point, I have ~ $3k in both cars...  

Rodan Reader
12/15/17 6:41 p.m.

Did a little paint rehab today...

Prepped for the buffer... that's how I got it, I didn't do any sanding...surprise

DSC_1427 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

After about 3hrs work with the buffer and various Meguiars products, it was looking much better...

DSC_1428 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr

Sanding scratches are still visible, but it cleaned up pretty well.  Went from a 50/50 car to a 10/10 car.  These pics actually make it look better than it is:

DSC_1433 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr
DSC_1434 by Rodan AZ, on Flickr


docwyte SuperDork
12/15/17 7:26 p.m.

Looks great!

Mr. Lee
Mr. Lee UberDork
12/15/17 8:44 p.m.

^^^ yeah, what he said!  I'm seriously  impressed with the job you did. Even if the pics are making it look better than it is, if it had been me, it would have gone straight to paint after sanding the rest of it. 

Rodan Reader
12/16/17 10:02 a.m.

Thanks, guys.

Today I'm cleaning the interior... some former owner was a smoker... YUK.cheeky

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