AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
6/26/19 8:39 a.m.

Instead of doing separate build threads for each project/car I do, I figured I'll just make a single thread for all of it. 

 

To start off the thread, last night I did some work on my NB Miata, which is my daily driver. I've been planning this since I got it, and acquired materials like a month or two ago, but a finally getting to it. Custom door cards. 

If you've been in both an NA miata and an NB, you'll likely notice that the NB is a bit tighter due to the stock door cards. On an NA, there is a padded section at the top, then basically a heavy duty piece of cardboard covered in vinyl for the bottom. The NB on the other hand, has a molded plastic door card that stick into the cabin quite a bit more. 

I had done some research online, and found that you can use the factory NA tops on NBs and make your own bottom sections, so that's what I decided to do. I already had a set of ok NA door cards in the attic, so I harvested the tops from them. For the bottom section, I decided to use a material called e-panel. It is a composite panel with a thin layer of aluminum on each side, and a section of ABS or plastic of some sort in the middle. I thought about using a sheet of just aluminum or ABS, but this seemed like a better option. It's about 1/8" thick, and pretty solid. I got a 4'x8' sheet from a local sign shop for about $80. For this I am using 4'x4' of it, and am going to make another set for someone else with the rest. I think if you were precise you might be able to get 3 sets of door cards out of a 4'x8' sheet, but I needed space so I cut it down to 2 4'x4' sheets till I could start the project. 

Making the panels was pretty easy, but took some patience. I made a cardboard template from tracing the stock door card and then holding it up to the door to compare. They aren't a perfect shape, but as much as I thought they'd be off, it doesn't show badly. When cutting the panels out, I cut my 4'x4' panel into 2 2'x4' panels, then clamped them together and cut both out at the same time. I used dad's DeWalt 20v jig saw to do the cutting, which worked great! (Thanks dad!) 

Mounting the panel on the door I did with 6m Rivnuts using stock mounting holes in the door. I did have to use a step bit to make them one size larger. For the bolts, I used some of these "Billet Aluminum Fender Bumper Washer Bolt"

Most of the other custom panels I've seen done online try to mate the top padded section with the bottom section, but I figured it would be easier to keep them as two sections. I mounted the bottom section to the door, then slid the top section on. On the front of the top section I used one of the fender washers through the section into a rivnut I mounted into the bottom section. on the back of the top section, I actually just drilled a hole in both pieces and used a zip tie. I would have liked something a bit nicer, but that part of the padded section was too thick for the fender washer bolts I had, and the zip tie is not actually very noticeable anyway. 

(Arrows are on the protective layer of film that the panel shipped with.)

 

Phase one is complete. I still need to add some door pulls, holes for speakers (new sound system going in at this time too), and then finally wrap the panel in vinyl wrap to finish it off. 

 

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
6/26/19 8:44 a.m.

Another recent project I picked up is this minibike. 

I got it for cheap, tossed a new HF Predator 212 in it, put a new twist throttle on it, and now it rips pretty well. I also added some LED lights. Next upgrade for this will be a better seat. The current seat has a metal bar at the back of it that is not pleasant. 

 

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
6/26/19 9:05 a.m.

LED lights mounted on the minibike. I used a universal headlight bracket that I actually got from a guy on the forum a few years ago. He was custom making them. I tried to find the thread, but so far haven't been able to. 

I think I am going to take it down to just a single LED light and center it, because when the bike inevitably goes down in the dirt, having them this wide, the lights get bumped and then the mounts get loosened. 

To power them, I am using an old DeWalt 20v tool that broke, so I took it apart to use the casing as a mount for the 20v battery. The lights are rated to operate anywhere from 9-30v, so this seemed like the simplest solution, and is easy to recharge. The "gas tank" on the bike is storage, so I mounted everything in there. 

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap Dork
6/26/19 9:56 a.m.

In reply to AWSX1686 :

You can add a charging coil to that motor for about $40 using new parts that would power the light fine. 

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
6/26/19 10:06 a.m.
Professor_Brap said:

In reply to AWSX1686 :

You can add a charging coil to that motor for about $40 using new parts that would power the light fine. 

I may still look into that, was it would obviously be nicer than keeping a battery charged up, but but for now, for practically $0 it works. 

If you have more info on the charging coil, I'd love to hear it!

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
8/8/19 2:50 p.m.

Been a while since I updated. Lots going on... 

Me and my wife have been keeping an eye out for a house for a while. We're tired of living in town as we both grew up in more rural settings, and neighbors suck. We put an offer on a house last week, but it was declined. Disappointing, no doubt, but at the same time, it was a fairly ambitious offer. We're supposed to look at another house next week, it appears to have a lot of the same appeal, but has a lot higher property taxes. We'll see how it goes, for now the house hunt still continues. 

We're pretty set on getting a place to settle down though, a long term house hopefully. Since that requires money I've sold off a good bit of stuff to help fund the house purchase. I sold the truck on Saturday, and have a deposit on Red Betty, and I've sold a bunch of spare parts as well. (Less to move right?) 

So that leaves me with my NB Miata as my daily driver, and Black Betty as my long term project. (Though Red Betty is still in my possession for a bit.) This is the least amount of cars I've had in a while! Well, for a few days at least. 

 

The Miata has been having issues, and Black Betty I don't quite trust to take me to work at the moment, so I decided to get the next drift car, in the form of a backup daily driver. 

(Yes confusing, I know. Sell the drift car, buy another drift car.) 

This is a 1999 BMW 323i, automatic, named Luna. It's been my buddies car for probably the last 6-7 years, and recently he offered it to me for $750. It runs, drives, and has a few quirks. Overall it shows really well though. For now I'll be using it as my backup daily, and hopefully within a year swap it to a manual transmission. Once it's a manual, it'll get some drift goodies, and then do double duty as the backup daily, and street legal drift car. The last 2 project cars I've owned, the SpitBird and Red Betty, were not street legal which, while fun, did not make it easy to test drive. Having a car that I can drive to work in a pinch if necessary, but not primarily, should be nice. 

 

I'm also on the lookout for another truck. I need something that can do truck things, and hopefully something that can tow the car trailer. The goal is to get a truck, and the next drift car (already purchased) for less than half of what I sold the old truck for. The car trailer may also go up for sale since I should be able to get quick cash out of that, and then get another one down the road. 

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
8/8/19 2:54 p.m.

I had been debating between an e36 and an e46  as the next drift car.  It seems that most decent e36s are at a premium right now though. Partially due to "drift tax" as they say. So between that, and the fact that I got this one so cheap, and also with a known history, seems like a no brainer. Another plus, is that drifty parts are readily available for the e46, unlike the e28. (Angle kit, dual caliper mount, overfenders, etc.) Most of that I could make myself for the e28, but that takes time, and I don't have an excess of that. Having something more or less plug and play and drift and street legal, should be nice. 

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
8/28/19 9:37 a.m.

New tow rig acquired! 

 

As I mentioned a few posted ago, I sold the Cummins to help fund our house purchase. We are still hunting for a house at this point, though we do have an eye on one in particular. Selling the Cummins allowed me to set a good chunk towards the house, and still have some leftover for another truck. I had been debating on whether to get something smaller and cheaper just for now, or spend a little more and get what will actually fit our needs. Well, I found something that fit the bill, and wasn't too expensive. 

It's a 2000 For F250, with the 7.3 Diesel. Quad cab, so we can comfortably seat 6. (Plus side over the previous extended cab.) It is RWD, not 4WD, but that was not a deal breaker for me. In fact, I think I'll be thanking myself as I hear stuff like ball joints and wheel bearings are quite a bit easier on 2WD trucks.

It is a 6-speed manual, which is really cool. I didn't expect to find a manual diesel in my price range. The shift pattern for these is pretty interesting too!

It's got a little bit of rust, but not too bad. All 4 doors and the tailgate have some starting at the bottom, I plan to wire wheel and spray with some sort of rust inhibitor. The rear wheel arches are rough, but covered. I'll spray them to to try and slow it down. The worst rust is on the bed supports. I may pull the bed to see how bad they are and if I can save them, or I may just keep and eye our for a new bed.

It does need some love, but all in all it's a pretty solid truck. Hopefully it will give me years of good service. 

Oh, and did I mention is has 430k miles?!? 

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
9/27/19 8:36 a.m.
AWSX1686 said:

LED lights mounted on the minibike. I used a universal headlight bracket that I actually got from a guy on the forum a few years ago. He was custom making them. I tried to find the thread, but so far haven't been able to. 

Thanks to the newly designed forum search, I finally found who I got the headlight bracket from! singleslammer

Unfortunately most of the pictures and links are dead now, but this is the guy. https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/sprockets/my-headlight-bracket-is-live/84467/page1/

Jordan, if you're reading this, I finally used my headlight bracket! Only took me like 4 years. lol

AngryCorvair
AngryCorvair MegaDork
9/27/19 10:10 a.m.

it's weird that they have the turn signals built into the transmission...

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 SuperDork
9/27/19 10:20 a.m.
AngryCorvair said:

it's weird that they have the turn signals built into the transmission...

LOL!

AWSX1686
AWSX1686 UltraDork
2/12/20 8:17 a.m.

Wow, it's been a lot longer than I realized since I updated this thread. Hopefully I'll get back into the habit here. 

So, what's new? 

I don't currently have a dedicated "project car", which is weird, but also kinda nice. All of my cars run and drive, and are street legal. Cool! They also all need smaller stuff that gets put off when I have a project car, so I'm starting to work through some of those things. 

 

The biggest project since I last updated here was on my truck. I was on my way to put new tires on it, and the transmission locked up on me. I had to disconnect the driveshaft before we could pull it across town to a spot where it could sit till I got to it. 

I started picking up all the parts I would need in addition to the transmission, and was also able to find a used transmission close to work. Since my truck was broken, I used the next best thing to pick up a F250 transmission... My Miata!

I pulled the passenger seat out, and also made some quick brackets that I bolted into the front seat bolt holes so I could secure the transmission with a ratchet strap. All in all, it went really well!

 

Now, my truck is too big for my garage, so I had to get creative in how I was going to setup the truck to replace the transmission. I ended up pulling the front of the truck into the garage far enough that the cab cleared the door, then closed the door onto the bed and locked it, and finally setup a Harbor Freight portable garage to cover the back end and sealed it to the garage door opening with a couple screws and boards. It worked pretty well!

 

With that setup, I could get to work. 

Pulling the old transmission was fairly easy, putting everything else back in took a bit longer. 

 

In pulling the transmission, I figured out what the cause of the issue was... Apparently unlike most manuals, this one has a pump and lines running to the radiator to cool the trans fluid. These lines got kinked and were leaking. (Pretty sure before I even got the truck.) Long story short, they were leaking for long enough that it ran the transmission dry. Below you can see the lines, and then the amount of fluid that was left in the trans when I drained it before pulling it. (They are supposed to hold 6 quarts.)

 

The clutch also didn't look great, and I'm not totally sure why. I did put in a new clutch, flywheel, clutch hydraulics. As well as motor mounts, transmission mounts, new trans cooler lines, new radiator. I was also already planning to replace the water pump, so I did that, the thermostat, and the coolant hoses at this point too. 

 

I did get it all back together and driving. The used transmission seems ok, mostly. It does grind a bit when shifting into 4th, but the rest of the gears are fine. It does whine a bit, but I am going to do some more research and see if maybe different fluid would help that. I have also been noticing the sound that before I thought was the throw out bearing, but now it's a brand new throw out bearing, so I'm not sure what that noise is...  Right now the truck is still on light duty till the clutch is broken in, and till I get a fair amount of miles on this trans for me to trust it. I do have all new ball joints for the front end waiting for me to put in. I'm considering bumping the front end up a bit with a leveling kit while I'm in there. The 2wd trucks sit a lot lower than the 4wd trucks, so it would be nice to get it sitting at a more "normal" looking height. 

 

Finally, to finish off my update regarding the truck, I leave you with this:

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
10/23/20 9:13 a.m.

So, I haven't been motivated to post here for a while, but here goes nothing. 

Currently I've been doing the manual swap on Luna, my e46 daily. It's going from a 323i automatic, to a 323 with a 328 engine, manual transmission, and plenty of other improvements. I'll go into that more in another post perhaps. 

 

The truck has been a pain... I put in that used trans, knowing it's a risk. I found that 4th gear needed to be shifted into place gently or else it would grind. Then at some point it got worse and now it's totally gone. If I try to shift into 4th it's like there's not even a gate there, just a block wall. Now 3rd is picky about going into gear.

Anyways, I've gotten tired of the thing and ultimately decided it was time to move on. It's currently posted for sale, and I'm sure someone will decide to tackle the challenge and buy it. 

 

Since I've decided to sell it, I've also been looking for a different truck. I ended up getting one yesterday at an auction. It wasn't exactly what I was looking for, but I think I got a good deal and it should fit my needs nicely. 

 

So, here it is: 1996 Ford F350. 460/ ZF5 Manual. (Fingers crossed I have better luck with the ZF5 than the ZF6...)

Wasn't looking for a dually, and kinda wanted an automatic, but like I said, it seems like a solid truck and was a good deal. The cab is very clean rust-wise. The flat bed will get cleaned up, and a good coat of paint. The tool boxes underneath also need some help, but that's all pretty simple.

 

I did find out on the way home something interesting that I'll have to investigate further. The front tank shows as 3/4 full, and the rear shows as empty. So to drive home, I switched it to the front tank. Then it started to run like crap. So I switched it to the rear tank and it ran better and made it home just fine. Soooo, most likely bad gas in the front tank, and need a level sender in the rear tank. 

Other things to note, need to put a couple light bulbs in, and would like to figure out a decent seat cover as the bench seat has one good gash. Finally the shifter is a little sloppy, which I know should just be the shift bushings which are actually the same as in the ZF6, so I need to order in a set of those. 

That's all for now till I give it a full lookover/inspection. 

 

Finally, a little comedy from my brother in law. 

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
10/26/20 9:26 a.m.

My friend Mark invited me to co drive his car at autocross this weekend, so I couldn't say no to that. A supercharged Miata on Hoosiers is a blast... Unfortunately yesterday was rainy, so it was like ice, but still very entertaining. 

 

Met a couple GRM'ers there too. Moxnix's wife, Katie, was at my course working station, and John Vitamvas was there with his RX8.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
10/26/20 9:29 a.m.

Hoping to get a call from the auction place today so I can go pickup the title for my new truck. Also looks like I am set to sell the old one on Tuesday, so hopefully I can do the title's at the same time. 

 

For now the truck is at my in law's, looking good along side my Brother in Law's Ranger. We realized we need to line up his newest truck purchase along with so we have Red, White, and Blue. I'll leave that for another post though. 

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
11/11/20 10:47 a.m.

Well, lots to update.

Spent most of my car time last week trying to get the E46 finished and on the road, because I signed up to take the Miata to Rallycross on Saturday.

Long story short, the BMW was not finished.

My buddy came over Tuesday night and flashed the ECU to the proper tune for the new engine, and took out the automatic stuffs in there too. It runs, I just needed to bleed the clutch. In process of bleeding the clutch, something happened and the brand new slave cylinder sent its pushrod into the transmission bell housing.

Well, I took the Miata to Rallycross anyway. It’s not quite as low as when I first bought it, but is about 2” lower than stock height. Not ideal, but I really wanted to try Rallycross this year, and this weekend was the last event.

The event went fine. Naturally I was slow as it was my first time and dirt is very very different than pavement. But it was fun! Drive the Miata there and back with no issues.

Sunday I went to go to the store in the Miata and part way there it started misfiring. Cylinder 4, cause still I know. Limped it home. Today I tried new spark plugs but that didn’t do it. Hopefully I can try more diagnostics tomorrow.

Sunday at the store I picked up a magnet on a stick and tried for quite a while to fish out that pushrod. No luck. Transmission has to come out.

Monday I finally got the transmission out. It was a pain. But really it was a good thing. The new clutch I put in was the factory style self adjusting clutch, and it didn’t engage like it should, so the slave cylinder wasn’t pushing against a spring and I’m pretty sure that’s why it gave out.

So I’m ordering a new clutch for the bmw, so it’ll still be a bit longer till it’s on the road.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
11/11/20 10:51 a.m.

Yesterday I got some time on the truck and got my toolbox mounted. 

Then in the evening I got some more time diagnosing the Miata. The NB is an interesting setup. While the NA Miata's have 2 coils at the back of the engine with two spark plug wires each, the NB has 2 coils, on top of plugs #2 & #4, then a spark plug wire coming out of each for the other two cylinders. 

Since the miss was on Cylinder #4, I tried swapping the coils and the miss moved to cylinder #2. So that told me it was either the coil, or the coil boot. Figured I'd try the boot first even though the existing one looked totally fine and I had installed it only about a year ago. That fixed it though! The Miata is back on the road. 

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
11/11/20 10:55 a.m.

Pics from Alan Olson at Rallycross Saturday:

 

Plus a cool pic of Chris' car:

 

Furious_E (Forum Supporter)
Furious_E (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
11/11/20 11:29 a.m.
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) said:

My friend Mark invited me to co drive his car at autocross this weekend, so I couldn't say no to that. A supercharged Miata on Hoosiers is a blast... Unfortunately yesterday was rainy, so it was like ice, but still very entertaining. 

 

Met a couple GRM'ers there too. Moxnix's wife, Katie, was at my course working station, and John Vitamvas was there with his RX8.

Hey, I recognize that Miata! Think he's been at all of the Susquehanna region events this year. Nice dude, worked the course with him at one of the earlier events this year.

Is that a BMC event? Venue doesn't look familiar to me.

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
11/11/20 6:27 p.m.
Furious_E (Forum Supporter) said:
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) said:

My friend Mark invited me to co drive his car at autocross this weekend, so I couldn't say no to that. A supercharged Miata on Hoosiers is a blast... Unfortunately yesterday was rainy, so it was like ice, but still very entertaining. 

 

Met a couple GRM'ers there too. Moxnix's wife, Katie, was at my course working station, and John Vitamvas was there with his RX8.

Hey, I recognize that Miata! Think he's been at all of the Susquehanna region events this year. Nice dude, worked the course with him at one of the earlier events this year.

Is that a BMC event? Venue doesn't look familiar to me.

The one these pics came from was at summit point, on the kart track. I did run BMC with him at Ripken like 2 months ago too. Mark's a super cool down to earth guy. 
 

accordionfolder
accordionfolder SuperDork
11/12/20 5:33 a.m.

Fun read! You sure seem to like putting in and removing transmissions! ;)

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
11/12/20 7:51 a.m.
accordionfolder said:

Fun read! You sure seem to like putting in and removing transmissions! ;)

Ugh, unfortunately I'm getting fairly good at it. 

AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter)
AWSX1686 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
11/18/20 7:19 a.m.

So the E46 is still having clutch issues. I put the trans back in last week and it still won't disengage. It's a standard style clutch now, not a self adjusting clutch. I plan to do one more bleed on the clutch before taking it back apart again, but I don't have high hopes. 

I am wondering if the clutch disk is installed backwards. I had wondered if something was wrong with the clutch when I installed it, so I took these pictures and sent them to a few people, but the general consensus was that they thought it looked fine.

 

So the clutch disk has the hub in the center, which on one side is pretty much flush, and on the other side sticks out a bit. I installed it raised side facing towards the transmission because that's what it was labeled as. I am wondering if it was mislabeled though. If it was facing the other way, the fingers of the pressure place could move farther before bottoming out. I'm not 100% confident that this is the case, which is part of the reason I haven't really touched it yet.

 

Just for fun, here's a picture of the new slave cylinder vs the old new slave cylinder that shot itself into the bell housing. 

 

Other than the E46, last weekend I helped my Brother in law refresh the brakes on his dump truck he got. That went well, but I think I tweaked my back hauling the 6 wheels and tires on and off my truck to take them to get new tires on and bring them back. Should've been more careful lifting apparently. (Another reason I haven't pulled the e46's trans again yet.)

Also, I have a line on some different suspension for the Miata for Rallycross next year. JustJim should be shipping that to me at some point soon. I have some other plans for getting the Miata in a bit better shape in general, and especially for Rallycross. Hopefully I can get the E46 out of the garage soon and some other things on the house done so I can mess with the Miata a bit. 

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