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Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/22/20 4:54 p.m.

Project Pooka

Hi! I’ve been lurking on GRM for a few years, and finally joined last fall when I (we) bought a 1995 Miata as a toy.

Some backstory: My business partner (Jerry) and I both are automobile enthusiasts, but he’s more appreciative of the sensations of driving a car. I love driving too, but I love turning wrenches also. We’ve had an eye out for something like a Miata. Cheap, simple, and easy to modify. He can drive it, and I can wrench on it.

So, we found a local 1995 Miata, 5-speed, white with cloth interior. It was a 2-owner car, with both owners being ladies. It has 120k+ on it, and appeared stock (foreshadowing!) when we bought it. Everything worked well, no weird noises or smells. Body is rust free (well, not quite!) but there is a small dent or scrap on every body panel. The only thing I saw was the nose had been resprayed white and there is a crapton of yellowing clear on the left rear. Whatever, right? So we bought it for $2500. It’s been properly maintained and not mistreated. No records, but you can tell. New tires, good brakes, everything works, A/C, power mirrors, cruise, all great.

Here’s Pooka:

The general plan is to get it mechanically safe and then sprinkle tasteful additions or upgrades as desired. I want to track it at some point as well.

The car ran perfectly, but was really dirty. Some areas had never been cleaned. I can’t stand a dirty car, so a comprehensive cleaning was undertaken. Weirdly, the left rear wheel was heavily coated with rust even though it’s aluminum. I ended up using an old credit card for a scraper, and large hunks would flip off with a little stabbing. As it turned out all four rotors are uncoated metal! Why does this one corner weep to the outside of the wheel while the others are clean? Don’t know. I’ll either replace or paint to deal with that.

When you pushed in the clutch there was a sharp click sound. I quickly grew tired of that, and after researching the cause I ordered a clutch stopper button! Our first purchase and repair. At the same time the key / door buzzer was making a sound like a cow on meth and that was quickly silenced permanently. The next purchase was brake and clutch foot pads, because I discovered driving with wet shoes was really not ideal with smooth metal pedals. The accelerator pedal had holes in it, so I figured that it was factory equipped that way. It’s not, but the holes still made wet shoes ok. Jerry’s first must-have item was coconut floor mats. The real thing, pricey, but do give a very nice look to the cockpit. 

The top of the radio antenna was bent. It worked, but looked sad. A new shorty antenna was acquired because it was cheap, but it looked terrible. A proper replacement mast and motor was purchased and installed. The rear plastic window was really scratched and nearly useless. I polished both sides with my 4” orbital and at least we could sort of see behind us. Also the taillights which were faded so a nice buffing made them shiny.

The top of the oil dipstick was naturally missing, so I made a custom one with a cabinet knob I had laying around. 

I also removed the front shipping hooks and corrected tons of white overspray. Whoever resprayed the front surround must have had the paint gun up to 150psi or so, cause that stuff went everywhere. (to this day I’m still removing overspray on places.)

I realize this is not really hard core GRM stuff, but it does get better!

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/22/20 5:01 p.m.

Naturally, the first modification would be pure bling and involve replacing the steering wheel. A 14” wood MG style aftermarket unit was procured. During removal of the stock steering wheel the lower part of the dashboard (which was held on by zip-ties and glue) literally disintegrated even further during removal. Eventually I took out the gauge pod around the instruments to take out the airbag light bulb, and the gauge surround had been hot glued in with more zip-ties. Anything to do with the dash pod or attachment to the dash acted like a taco shell and just cracked more. I tried to two-part plastic epoxy some of the pieces back together and they actually snapped into more pieces while trying to glue them together! So, forget that. I can get a new gauge surround for $130. I can’t attach it to the dashboard because there are no more attachment points, though. Well, we’ll deal with that later.                    

I’m at the point where you start to reassemble all the parts on the steering wheel replacement. I’ve misread the instructions (and later found on the internet that I’m not alone in doing that) and I cut the horn wire off where I was not supposed to. I had about an ⅛” left of wire coming out of the clock spring to attach the new horn wire. I tried to remove the wire coating but in the end the wire was so small even doing that made it break. I run to the internet and learn NA clock springs seem to be rare. Great! I find one on eBay for $30 and hit Buy Now! on that puppy.

I reassembled the steering wheel sans horn. It looks amazing! It’s a little off-center, but that’s easy to correct when I fix the horn wiring. At work the car sits in the direct sun all day on asphalt. I soon learn the steering wheel is so hot I can’t hold it. I end up palming it with the edges of my hands on the wood, but the “rivets” on the wheel are too hot as well so I have to drive the car kinda karate-chopping at the wheel. This is not optimal. Oh well, it looks cool and that's what counts. Also, "Airbag, we don't need no stinkin' airbags!"

AngryCorvair GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
2/22/20 5:07 p.m.

Mazda rear caliper slide pins like to stop sliding, which leads to outboard pad becoming metal on metal, and that iron dust deposits on the rim.  The "yellowing clear" was probably iron oxide deposition from said metal on metal.  

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/22/20 5:09 p.m.

So, after living with the car for a few weeks, I find out the Miata has 14x6 aftermarket wheels. The center cap says “Vailier euro form.” I can’t find anything about the wheels on the internet. They are not bad looking, but they are “multi-fit” and I have replacement wheels in mind. Soon one center cap falls off, then another. I trace my route to find they have been run over by other cars. Great. The car also has a front shock stiffening bar, and to my great surprise, coil overs! Which are berkeleyed as I soon learned.

Going to my office I take a left turn off of a residential street onto a wide (3 wide lanes) road up a hill. I apex off the turn lane stripe and at 25-30mph and the Miata will slide when it’s wet. Several times I’ve done that and the nose plows and then the weight shifts back and it snaps into oversteer. Not exactly Miata neutral handing and something that would trash somebody if they were not paying attention. The coil overs are Tein “Basic Driving Master Damper.” Huh. They will be replaced soon. This is actually not a safe handling vehicle. Emergency avoidance protocol would be vastly more difficult with the condition these things are in.

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/22/20 5:19 p.m.

A Monday morning. Jerry says the car is stuck in gear and will not start. I Google a few minutes and text him that I’ll pick it up. My wife drops me off at Jerry’s house. I check the clutch fluid reservoir. Yep, empty. I fill the reservoir with the DOT3 I had just bought. I get in, pump the E36 M3 out of the clutch, and I start Pooka. I drive home (8-10 minutes) gingerly but with no shifting issues. The next day I stop at the local AutoHobbyLand and score a new master and slave cylinder. Plus a 10mm flare wrench. All for $50. Hey, I like these Miata prices!

Off comes the old, on goes the new. The secondary cylinder is shot. When the clutch is depressed a nice blorp of fluid flies out. But berkeley me, the job was not nearly as easy as the YouTube folks showed it to be. The slave cylinder’s lower bolt was blocked by the sub-frame for a straight shot, and I had to start building an assembly of socket + u-joint + extensions at about 60 degrees. I came up with an ungainly apparatus with 24” inches of extensions.There was like an ⅛” of a window that this would work. Finally got it out. Whew!

The next day, I mount everything back except for the secondary cylinder. I can’t get the bottom bolt engaged while I’m holding the actuating rod to the clutch arm. Finally, I give up. This requires another approach. After glaring at it over a can of beer, I get zip ties. I fashioned a zip tie rig to compress the piston while still being able to cut them off when the cylinder is mounted. Karma rewards me with the very first turn of the bottom bolt going right into the threads. Two minutes later and everything is ready for bleeding. (Cue fistpump.gif!) I live in central Florida. At this time of year it can be 95 degrees, then it rains, and then the sun comes out, and then it rains, and then the sun comes out, etc. All without much of a breeze. Which means whatever I’m wearing is soon literally as wet as if I had jumped into a pool. Shoes included. So, dealing with an awkward bolt or something really berkeleying tedious takes it out of you. I quit for the day.

Bled the clutch line the next day. I pressed my wife into service doing the old pump and hold to bleed the clutch line. It went well for a bit but then it was taking too long and my wife’s leg was giving out. I had ordered a brake power bleeder earlier for bleeding the brakes. I eyed the bleeder and went and fished the old clutch master cylinder cap out of the trash. Drilled a hole in the cap, enlarged to size with a round file, and screwed the fitting from the power bleeder into the top. Filled up the reservoir, put the old cap on with the new fitting from the bleeder, pumped it up to 10 psi, and went to the end of the line and opened it. Magically, a big burp of air, and then fluid came out. I love these new-fangled gadgets! 

Earlier I could see about ¾” of lighter colored fluid on the top of the fluid in the brake master cylinder. The brakes worked,but they took a lot of leg. Now using my brake power bleeder as intended, I bled the system. Brake feel was noticeably improved, but I’m wondering if it’s ok. Remember, I’ve never driven a Miata, and I’m coming from driving a ‘10 Wrangler and a ‘16 Corvette. It’s apples and oranges here.

Dusterbd13-michael MegaDork
2/22/20 5:27 p.m.

Im liking your writing style! Keep it coming!

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/22/20 5:30 p.m.

Since we’ve had Pooka when you pull the parking brake it zips to the very end of its travel. And if you are parked on a 1 degree or more slope you will very slowly start to roll away. I study about adjusting the parking brake. I adjust them but tightening the screw on the caliper does not help the parking brake. It’s better, but still a full pull is weak. Then I adjusted the parking brake cable, and then the caliper pad adjustment. There is (internet indecision) about this, so I reverted to my own judgment. Went for a test drive; a big difference in brake pedal feel, but noticeable noise from the real calipers. It’s Friday. I back the rear pads out bit and drive it to Jerry’s. Brake feel is noticeably softer. <sad> I’ll revisit this later.

While re-bleeding the brakes and clutch is on the list, my first priority is to rebuild the shifter. It shifts well, but occasionally balks going into a gear. I source parts, but then read that (internet indecision) that one should use the same gear shift lubrication type because (internet indecision) sometimes the fluid can leak into the transmission. This is all bullE36 M3 to me, but it allows me to rationalize changing the transmission fluid while I change the differential fluid.

I decide to revisit the steering wheel and fix the horn issue. I pick up the Miata. We now have a car cover because the trunk has become a swimming pool. I help take the cover off, we stuff it into the trunk, noticing the inch of water in the trunk (a storm came before Jerry could cover the car.) I drive it home and take off the steering wheel. Some of the screws holding the steering wheel are hand tight to loose. Mental note to buy Loctite. I get everything off. I place the clock spring in the driver's seat. Pull car cover over car. Done for the day.

Later in the week the swimming pool is becoming ridiculous. I Google “Miata trunk leaks.” Yeah, ok, pretty straight forward. First I check the rain rail drains. Clear! I do the “is it leaking from the rain rail test” and berkeley yes it pours in at an alarming rate. In the meantime the car cover is mandatory.

Ok, I need to fix the horn as my better half has been dropping hints. It’s taken 5 separate days to get a 30 minute job done because of the rain. I installed the recently bought clock spring and ground down the connector (like brain surgery but only on snap connectors.) Got all that done and shrink wrapped. I need 10 more minutes. It starts raining in 5. <censored> It stops an hour later so I can wrap things up. I tap the horn. “meep” Success! We may now voice our displeasure whist being trodden by an SUV!

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/22/20 5:35 p.m.

The next project is to drain the transmission and differential fluids. I’m wondering if I put the car cover on it while it’s on jack stands outside, or just move into the garage. I don’t mind laying in water. Hmmm.

Over a week of relentless afternoon rain has kept me from even getting Pooka on jack stands. Yesterday evening I ran out and ripped the car cover off, jacked under the driver’s door, and got two jack stands secured. I ran around and jacked the passenger’s side and was getting close to putting the jack stands in place… and I stood up. I know this sound. It sounds like whispering, but steadily getting louder. “berkeley” I yell, and grab the car cover. My wife runs out of the garage and does one end, I do the other, then we run into the garage as a wall of rain comes down. About an hour later, it’s still sprinkling, but I go out and make sure the floor jacks are centered and then let the floor jack down. It won’t lower. No matter how hard I turn the handle, it won’t release. I have another identical jack, so I made sure I was not having a stroke or something and was turning it the wrong way. I finally stomp over the the tool box, bring out a 2 foot long pipe wrench, and proceed to turn the berkeleying handle anyway. A moment of fiddling, and now the handle rotates either way. Sigh. I go to the tool box, get a big channel-lock and a flashlight and discover the u-joint has just twisted in half. Far out! I use channel-locks to release the jack, and lean towards the garage, dragging a broken jack.

Next day, I grab a BayCargo coupon for $20 off and get the same jack that broke. I go home, get my E36 M3 in place, and gently rubber-hammer the differential drain plug loose. The fill plug was next, slightly harder but it probably was the angle I was tapping it at. Slide drain pan under, crack fill plug for air, remove drain plug, and a weak stream of black oil was observed. The usual great smell of 85-90W gear oil, but this had overtones of hot and not happy. Mostly I was concerned about how little came out. Hopefully it was half-full, but yeah, it was not much.

I pump in fresh Red Line 85-90W until it’s full and slap the drain plug in. Lock both plugs down and done. I don’t know why people don’t change their differential oil more often. I guess it doesn't sound sexy enough.

The magnetic drain plug was as full as it could be. A fine paste; kinda a paint made of metal. A good sign to me, although the magnet was at capacity for holding stuff. I’ll see how much is on there the next change.

Shadeux (Forum Supporter)
Shadeux (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
2/22/20 5:41 p.m.

I love rain, but I don’t have covered parking for Pooka, so by the time I get home it’s probably rained, or about to. Next is the transmission oil change. It takes several days before I get a chance to crawl under while laying on wet concrete. I find the drain and fill plugs, get my 23mm socket and a 10mm end/combo wrench. I loosen the drain plug pretty easy, hand tighten it back, and then lightning hits close, so into the house for the evening.

Next day I try to loosen the fill plug. It’s not happy, and it’s not coming out. It’s at a weird angle for me and I just can’t get leverage on it. The car is too low for me to move to a better position, but I’m not going to jack it up again and raise the jack stands. I’m getting cranky about this bolt, and then it starts raining. I just stay under the car, soon laying in a puddle. I glare at the fill bolt, and then launch myself from under the car into the pouring rain and head into the garage. I get a 16 inch ziptie and loop into the closed end of the wrench. I go back under the car and set the open wrench onto the bolt and clamp vice grips to the free end of the ziptie. I get the angle best as possible and make sure the wrench is sitting right on the bolt. Get a 6 pound hand sledge and whack the vice grip next to the ziptie while pulling on it. It might have moved. I reset the wrench and hit it again. Ta-da! Bolt is loose. Yay for being able to move your leverage point. I quit for the day. It’s now pouring and I’m soaked.

The next day I’m trying to hurry before the rain. I get my tools, slide under Pooka, and let the oil out into the drain pan. Done. I check both bolts, and tighten the drain plug back. It’s thundering. berkeley. I start pumping oil into the transmission. One quart, two, and a bit of three. Tighten the fill plug and get inside the house as the lightning is really close to me. Next day I clean up my mess, and do a last little job - door sill plates! Just plain stainless, no logo or verbage. 8 phillip screws later I’m done. They hide all the scrapes of a 23 year old car on the door sill. Hmmm, the only thing on hand to do next are front and rear lips. They arrived warped and I read this was normal but a heat gun would be your best friend. About a month earlier I bought the cheapest head gun BayCargo had. So, this coming week I’ll start messing with those.

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/23/20 5:04 p.m.
Loweguy5 said:

As I grow older and consider my retirement in 10-15 years, your posts are not encouraging me to consider Florida as a potential home when the time comes.

We've had a few wet years lately. It's better than the dry years we went through about 10 years ago. Things go through cycles. I'd rather deal with rain than dry, though.

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/23/20 5:04 p.m.

Soon though, I needed to order the new top because the rain rail is borked, and the existing coilovers are totally shot. I decided on an AutoBerry top instead of Robbins. I’m trying to stay on the cheapish side of things until we figure out what we’re actually doing with the car. Ordered the top and Yonaka coilovers. The coilovers came with a pile of swag, which was cool! Two large stickers, a hat, and a lanyard. Finally, I had a day to work on the car. I chose to do the left rear first, primarily because there was room for the jack (I’m practical) due to how it was parked. On jack stands, with a safety jack in place, I then started taking the top bolts out. Ugh. Access was not great and the bolts were not happy coming out. Mazda thoughtfully designed the gasoline and vent pipe to be removable to increase access to the coilover, but I just did it the hard way. Finally the top was loose, and I move to the underside. I needed my little breaker bar on the bottom bolt, and did have to unhook the sway bar to get more room to take out the old coilover. The new one went in fine except for when replacing the top nuts on the studs I had the thought of “I probably should not drop a nut here,” which meant I promptly did. It’s like a mineshaft in Moria there. I ran a magnet all around and down but could never find the nut. I hope it won’t result in a weird rattle. 

Long story short, it turns out the left rear is the hardest one to do because of the limited top-side access. The right rear is much more open, and the fronts would be termed “easy,” except the nuts really got cranky on the bottom. I simultaneously rounded a long socket and a nut. Hrumph. The rounded nut is still there, and the socket is in the trash. I then twisted my long ⅜” extension 360 degrees along its axis, and about 45 degrees sideways. I thought the bolt was turning, but the extension reached its yield strength and that was it. Interestly, the brand was Bernzomatic. I remember buying this little cheap yellow metal box with a ¼” & ⅜” socket set as a christmas gift to my dad. I think this was in 1978. I eventually inherited the set. Some of it is left. I think it was $6.99? I took off the top sway bar bolt to compensate for the rounded lower one, and discovered it was easier because of better leverage access. Duh. 

The front coilovers were easy except for cranky bolts. I thought for some reason that the coilovers came “pre-adjusted” so the car would sit more or less level. This turned out to be wrong. I’ve never messed with coilovers before, so I prudently watched about 45 seconds of YouTube and began wrenching. Turned out pretty easy to level the car. I took a drive around the block, and it was close enough. I ran errands with it the next few days and then readjusted the height. Some more driving and I think I have one more leveling session and then I can get it aligned.

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/23/20 5:13 p.m.

Found out by chance the local car salvage place has the OEM luggage rack I’ve been looking for. Our car came with this but with just the stainless steel parts screwed to the car. Nothing else. I can’t imagine how it came to be in this condition. Not sure about the price, but they want $150 for the trunk lid. Found out if you buy the trunk lid the rack comes with it. Ebay has a luggage rack for $300. Yeah, nah. I picked up the luggage rack up today: totally what we wanted! I wonder how Pooka ended up with the trunk lid parts it has? It’s all of a set; It’s not like you could lose a piece or something of it.

Operation Install Top has started! Like a Gazelle, I leap out into the Floridian 96 degree sunshine and started taking the seats out. I had just purchased a ¼”-⅜” Pittsburg extendable ratchet from BayCargo hoping to avoid the Herculean effort on the coilovers. I proudly walked towards Pooka in the toasty sunshine and hit the right front passenger seat’s right front bolt. It easily turned! Awesome! Next the left front bolt. It turned, but only after maximum effort and then oddly slowly. Long story short, the next two bolts (the rear ones) did the same thing. The bolts are partially rounded. Somehow my sockets just can’t handle it.  I have cheap sockets, I admit.  After weighing options, Lowe’s has a killer deal on a 20V ⅜” impact wrench that is $40 cheaper than BayCargo. I did get BayCargo’s 3/8” impact sockets, though. I change up the DeWalt and hit the unmovable seat bolts. I rip out all 5 bolts in less than 30 seconds. I’m in love! heart

With this new-found power in my hands, I removed the seats, the rear shelf carpet, (gotta shout-out to BayCargo’s plastic trim remover set!) and finally the top and frame from the car. This took several days because I have to work in the sun (and or rain.) I also ordered the top tension cables because the old ones were worn after inspection. It took several more days to get the top and frame reinstalled. Finally latched it after a day in the sun. Looks good! The old rainrail was as brittle as a taco shell. If I do one again I think I’ll leave the frame on the car. I might prefer that method over struggling with the top and frame as separate loose items. After a wash it leaked around the windows, because putting back the weatherstripping is a pain. It needs new ones anyway. Oh, and the first morning the top was latched and in the sun for the first time a bird took a massive E36 M3 on the top.  I hope it died later.

Stampie GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
2/23/20 5:35 p.m.

I've met Pooka and of course you and Mrs. Shadeux.  Look forward to the build. 

Shadeux GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
2/24/20 5:36 a.m.

Yes, Stampie and 'Lil Stampie have had a sneak preview to Project Pooka because they have seen it recently. The current timeline of the build post is about last November or so. 

Project Pooka - Headlights

The car came with these:

I did not know this. One day I was trying to figure out the dash-mounted headlight up switch (the ‘wave’ switch) and I asked my wife to see what the headlights were doing when I used the column mount light switch vs. the dash mount one. At some point in the conversation it came up that “the other lights are on when you do that.” “What other lights?” I got out of the car to look and I wish I could have seen my face as I expected to see a 7” lamp and ended up seeing a high / low beam setup. I hated it immediately, and was dumbfounded at the cost when I looked it up. On my to-do list was to return the car to the factory headlight setup.

Later, some person wandering around in a junkyard named Stampie shared some pictures of his walk on GRM. I wrote that it looked like fun, and I was not that far away. Maybe we could meet one day for a junkyard walk. He asked what I was looking for and I said Miata headlight assemblies. In the next few days he practically tripped over a set already taken loose from a car. It’s a sign!!!

One day he posts he’s going to an automobile swap later in the month, and therefore almost driving by my house. A plan is hatched. He can have my lights and I can have the stock setup I want. Cool! The day arrives and I get to meet Stampie and ‘Lil Stampie, and we swap stuff. I felt like I was meeting a celebrity because I had been reading his posts for a long time and I knew what he looked like from his posted photos! 

I take apart the right headlight assembly first.

All the hardware got tossed into an ultrasonic cleaner. The result was ok, but I ended up polishing everything with a Dremel. Large pieces were cleaned by hand. The white is not matching but a can of color-matching paint is almost $30 a can. The car needs a repaint anyway, so I’ll just run with it for now. I finally reassembled one unit and installed it. I open the box of headlamps I ordered (because both lights that came with the junkyard units were cracked) and start to install one. Oh, it’s cracked, and the other one is cracking and the terminals have melted bunt goo around them. Yeah, no - I print a return sheet and order some more bulbs, this time for $5 more but with more style. Takes a week to get here. Bummer.

Before and after:

Clean out everything under each headlight while I'm there. I unearthed a old coolant cap somebody dropped.

I install the actuator arm that makes the headlight bucket go up and down. The set on my car was missing the rear plastic cap that snaps onto the ball. I push it out easily, but it cracks and now I can’t make it fit on the other arm. Forget it - even a  junkyard is going to have old plastic. I could make up something with nuts and bolts as a pivot arm, but I decided to just order two new arms for $40.


I twiddle my thumbs waiting on the second set of headlights and the actuator arms. The new bulbs arrive and there is some weird fitment issue with the bucket. I had read about this when I ordered them but I wasn't worried about it. An hour with the Dremel and both buckets are fine with the new bulbs.

I plug in everything and get the bulbs screwed down. I tried to get old Marchal lights or something but egads, the prices! Cheapo fake Tri-bar headlights for the win!  The brackets that Stampie picked up did not have the shroud that hides all the mechanical stuff. For now I like it exposed. It’s less 90’s and more “vintage” for the mechanism to be open to the world to see


Shadeux (Forum Supporter)
Shadeux (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
4/20/20 4:57 p.m.

Project Pooka - Sun visor delete

I found the sun visors to be in the way instead of being useful. I took them off for several months to confirm that I didn't want them.

Because of the virus I found myself doing a deep cleaning of my car-stuff cabinet. I came across the sun visors and decided to pitch them, then remembered I would need to order replacement pieces. Huh.

I cut the sun visor away from the plate and I had a tiny bit of glue to plug the hole.


Some paint and sand and hey, not bad. 





jfryjfry (Forum Supporter)
jfryjfry (Forum Supporter) Dork
4/21/20 8:59 a.m.

It's those little things.  The blanking plates loom factory -great job

Shadeux (Forum Supporter)
Shadeux (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/12/20 4:51 p.m.

Project Pooka - Hand brake plate


After living with the center console delete for awhile in Pooka the area around the fuel & trunk levers looked frumpy. The console carpet  bunches up there, so I decided to make a surround plate and hide the carpet opening and showcase the levers because I think they look cool. Somehow this turned into doing a similar plate around the hand brake first. I have never done metal work like this before, and I knew it would be a big learning curve. I had to learn how to shape metal (in a rudimentary way) using a vice, a hammer, and a few files. And my piece of metal came from the Miata headlight that Stampie brought me for the headlight swap we did!

Handy cardboard templet. Note fine drawing skills.


Only the finest tools were used. Don’t laugh, it was the perfect radius. (I did open the lid for GRM though.) laugh


I am simple person.


First trial fit. Huh, it fits!


One important thing for me was to add visual weight to the plate. I wanted to increase the apparent thickness of it and not just have it a thin piece of metal (which it is.) Somehow I don’t have photos of this, but I took 3/16“ brass rod and bent a continuous inner and outer edge trim for the plate’s edges. I then spent about a week trying to braze them to the plate. Learning curve. Finally I figured out all the proper steps and was able to properly braze the brass rods to the edges.


Lots and lots and lots of finish work. I'm not good at it, but getting better.


I also wanted to express the fasteners and give the illusion of depth so I added a backing plate so I could countersink the bolts a bit. It’s subtle, but I like it. Blood sacrifice is always good.


Tapped in new threads.


Now that the rainy season has kicked in here in Central Florida I’ve given up on painting and sanding. It takes too long for paint to dry (even when drying inside the house sitting on a dehumidifier.) For now the plate is done. This fall or winter I’ll finish it and probably powder coat it because I doubt the paint is going to hold up.

Before and after! (Miata headlight cover is smaller now because it also donated to the "Lil' Blue" build thread for the new coil bracket.)


Anyway, I’m pretty happy with it, and certainly happy with my new skill set. The trim plate around the fuel and trunk levers will be much easier now that I know what I’m doing. cheeky

newold_m (Forum Supporter)
newold_m (Forum Supporter) New Reader
6/13/20 7:11 a.m.

That is a neat looking bracket!

Shadeux (Forum Supporter)
Shadeux (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/13/20 1:14 p.m.

Project Pooka - Wheel Covers

When we bought the car it had these wheel covers on it. Then one fell off, then another. I think it was because I was taking the wheels off a lot. So, new wheels are out of the budget, so I came up with an idea to make new wheel covers. Hmmm. How?

After a lot of brainstorming and beer, I settled on the following design: There is a small lip on the inside hub of the wheel. If I put a nut there on a plate, the lip lets me pull against it, which means I can attach a wheel cover securely. 

Commence Operation Bandsaw. First, the main cover. Squares into round.


Then the plate for attachment to the wheel. Decent fit.


Then because I wanted a little something more for the design, I got some aftermarket caps. I countersunk the hex bolt flush into the small cap, which needed a third piece behind the main cap in order for the bolt to ground against.


Removed the tabs.


I really wanted to mechanically fasten everything, but I couldn’t without it looking homemade, so I resorted to JB plastic and metal weld epoxy. Plastic for the wheel cover, and metal for the plate to the wheel. I opened up holes so the epoxy would grab what it could. Finally I put the caps together, and the plate with the mounting nut to the wheel with the epoxy.


I decided the caps were still a little plain, so I added some “Speed Holes”™ which look neat.


Attached the plate to the wheel. I did grind down the excess putty.


Annnnd it's done!


I painted them silver, which almost matched the wheel color. The wheel covers have been on there for about two months, and the nylon lock nuts I used seem to hold perfectly. There is some finish sanding to do on the covers, but before I made them perfect I wanted to see if they stayed on first! When I paint the wheels I’ll do the final finish on the covers.

Shadeux (Forum Supporter)
Shadeux (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Dork
6/13/20 4:10 p.m.

Project Pooka - Hey, remember that time I cleaned the throttle body?


I bought some Seafoam so I could clean my wife’s 2010 Wrangler TB. That really improved the acceleration so I decided to do the same to Pooka.

So, expecting this to be a 15 minute job, I’m a bit perplexed by the vacuum lines going into the TB. They were <censored> to get off too. Tiny little spring clips with two layers. Never seen two layer ones before.

I finally wrestle the lines off and remove the TB. What... what is this? Coolant? WTF?


I go research the weirdness of the Miata coolant system. Finally getting a mental map to all of this, I imagine in my head the following conversation:

Miata engineer #1: “Oh yeah? I bet you can’t run coolant lines to the oil filter AND the throttle body!”

Miata engineer #2: “Hold my sake.”


Huh, not too bad.


Oh berkeley.


Seafoam: Magical cleaning stuff.


Huh. Not so magical.


Move aside, I use real cleaner.


Woo!  That made a difference!


So, Pooka has been making these embarrassing puddles when the coolant is topped off. I had already ordered the full coolant hose set and have them on hand. Guess it’s time to do that job now that two lines are off already. How hard can it be?


E36 M3, at the end of it I was removing one hose a day. I bought 5 different long-nose pliers in different shapes and lengths. Used every one of them too. Several clamps I had to cut off, two hoses I had to split and pull off the nipple.


Guess what hose leaked? The one on the back of the engine that never gets changed. It got changed, with attitude.

That sucked!

Stampie (FS)
Stampie (FS) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/13/20 4:21 p.m.

That back one is a PITA.  I think the coolant hoses are the car gods punishment for us driving such a perfect car.

Stampie (FS)
Stampie (FS) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
6/26/20 6:16 p.m.

It's in the junkyard thread but I got you a present today.

trumant (Forum Supporter)
trumant (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand Reader
6/26/20 8:10 p.m.

Love the way you write about the car, your sense of humor comes through so well.

This whole owning a car with a partner thing is interesting. Do you have a shared custody schedule or is it all a lot more flexible?

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