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Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/14/21 10:27 a.m.

In reply to Pushrod :

Pushrod,

Good catch. The angle you see on the front control arms here was not ideal and was actually causing bumpsteer issues for me. Stay tuned, it will get fixed 

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/19/21 11:23 a.m.

So after settling in to the new place it was time to get the pinto. I flew back and had a couple weeks of help from my father, brother, and friend. Their help was indispensable and appreciated. Here's what we did: wheels torqued, oil changed, trans fluid changed, diff oil changed, bumper filler panel installed, tunnel patched, lights for gauges, usb socket installed, heater core/hoses installed, fan thermostat installed, 180 thermostat installed, antifreeze topped off, bump stops installed, strut rod mount patched, etc. Here are a few pictures I took.

 

 

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/19/21 10:56 p.m.

My brother had a school break and we decided to do the cross country trip together. It was a great trip that we hope to do again soon. Here are a couple of highlights:

Pocono Raceway:

not far from there we ran into the minion man, he was stoked on the car!

Our first hotel in Toledo, when we checked for bed bugs...and found them... we drove all the way to indy before stopping for the night. It was a long first day.

The worlds largest truck stop, the 18 wheeler parts section is impressive, as is the barber, movie theater, dentist, and other odd stuff inside.

Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles, 100% worth a stop if you're traveling through Nebraska. It is free with a suggested donation to keep them going and they have some great stuff in there. I was really intrigued by all the oddball tracked vehicles meant for snowy areas.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/20/21 2:15 p.m.

Some more trip highlights:

We had a great time in Arches:

Then we got caught in a gnarly snow storm heading over a pass in Utah. With summer tires on the car it was a real white knuckle experience. We didn't see many other cars up there but the 18 wheelers were pulling off the road and the tow trucks weren't attempting to pull the cars out. Thankfully we made it the 40 miles of full white out and no service to an exit with a hotel.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/21/21 2:19 p.m.

Next up we spent some time in Zion:

In Vegas we got a big rag wrapped around the driveshaft that tried to take out the brakes and fuel line. After some rebending and zip ties we were back on the road:

Then the Hoover Dam:

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/21/21 3:02 p.m.

Finally, we made it:

And into my first fully enclosed garage. 

SkinnyG (Forum Supporter)
SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) UberDork
1/21/21 7:17 p.m.

Drove my V8 Pinto wagon in the snow while I was rebuilding the engine in my daily at the time.  Also a white-knuckle experience. Seat pucker.

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
1/21/21 7:25 p.m.

It is so damn awesome to build a great project car and then take it on a neat road trip.  Congrats!

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/25/21 12:33 a.m.

Over the next few months I drove the car and enjoyed it, making small improvements along the way. 

I don't have many pictures but I cut the front springs to level the control arms and reduce the steering wheel vibrations. I also switched to a set of front wheels with a higher backspacing to reduce the scrub radius. The handling and driving experience was much improved.

 

Edit:

I also finally bought a speedo cable and put new drive gears in to calibrate.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/25/21 1:04 a.m.

So this is probably a good time to circle back around to why I own the bean. A few years ago I was driving a blown foxbody mustang as my daily/project/only car. I also used it for my first few autocross races. The power and rwd format was super fun but the handling couldn't touch my old mk1 rabbit. I also noticed the miatas could beat me around almost any course. So when a tree fell on my foxbody, I set out to find a car I could build to beat the miatas. I originally looked at vega wagons, then pacers, tried to find a gremlin, and when I opened my search to pintos I found some good cars.

The goal of the build would be to design a new suspension for the car. However I couldn't get past the 50hp the car made stock. I got distracted and decided that the 302 was the best power/weight/cost candidate. I would have loved to use a different manufacturers engine for the wow factor but the 302 made the most sense. Now that the engine swap is pretty well sorted I have shifted my focus back to the suspension. 

I wanted quicker steering, IRS, and double A arms in front including ditching the strut rods in the stock front end. The 73 pinto does not have good parts support as it is not compatible with the 74 and up. Things like bushings and ball joints are hard to find. There are many ways to achieve these goals, but I ended up here:

If yah can't beat em join em.

SkinnyG (Forum Supporter)
SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) UberDork
1/25/21 1:09 a.m.

Wait.... you're Miatafying the Pinto?

Interesting....

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/25/21 7:21 p.m.

In reply to SkinnyG (Forum Supporter) :

I won't be using the whole "roller skate" as others have done. Hopefully I can pull off using both subframes. We aren't caught up yet so keep following along. I appreciate your comments.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/25/21 7:26 p.m.

Once the miata (my first, woohoo!) landed in the driveway it was disassembled. It wasn't as complete as advertised so the seller agreed to include an NB front subframe to sweeten the deal. Here are some pictures:

 

After seeing him a few times and trying unsuccessfully to catch him, I finally found and removed the furry stow away when he started to smell:

 

Pulling this apart I really gained an appreciation for the engineering behind these cars. The unibody/subframe/assembley/etc. is brilliant.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh New Reader
1/26/21 12:40 p.m.

I spent the next couple months selling miata parts and scheming about cheap ways to make some 8.8 conversion axles for the rear end. I had no idea how well used miata parts sell, I ended up quite a bit ahead on the price of the car.

I also took the pinto for a trip down the 1/8 mile... I knew it was slow but man I didn't think it was 9.2 at 75mph slow. I hot lapped the car until it started getting mad at me and called it a day. We didn't put in a big effort to run the best time, just a fun day with lots of passes.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
1/27/21 12:09 p.m.

At about that time I took a trip home to attend a wedding. While there I got to help out a bit with my fathers new project.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
1/27/21 3:06 p.m.

When I got back to town it was time to wave good bye to the miata as I needed the space and had already taken most of the value out of it.

 

I also needed to change up the steering wheel in the Pinto. I picked up a used wheel in the style of the more expensive one I had my eye on. This allowed me to try it out without a big investment. The used wheel came with a "mustang" hub (it was chevy splined) so I picked up a cheap ebay hub. The slip ring was a single contact and I needed a double for the horn to work properly. Nothing a cutting wheel and some solder can't fix.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
1/28/21 2:24 p.m.

Well after the miata was gone I had a bit of room and a need for a trac lok IRS differential. The miata came with a Ford 7.5 however it was open with a poor ratio. So this happened:

My first free car! Just had to pay for the Uhaul. It had an 8.8 with lsd. Just needs a set of gears.

jfryjfry (FS)
jfryjfry (FS) Dork
1/28/21 3:04 p.m.

Maybe I missed it but where in California did you end up?

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
1/28/21 8:33 p.m.

After robbing the rear end and sending the thunderbird on its way I had a nice pile of parts to play with.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
1/31/21 12:19 a.m.

As I'm running through the photos I took to remember what I did I found these. First, this shows trying to make some sense of the project and start to visualize what I wanted the frame to look like.

The thunderbird axles put up a real fight. After mushrooming the end of one axle with a hammer I wised up and went to rent the puller. Lesson learned for next time!

Then some more mockup to generate some inspiration. More to come.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
2/1/21 12:23 a.m.

I had every intention of a finely crafted plan for the miata suspension swap. I would draw up the frame and run some simulations on it to make it the best possible design. Well... that often leads to analysis paralysis for me and after about a month I decided to start cutting and see where it led me. First I decided one day i would cut the front crossmember out and start fitting the front suspension from the miata. So I jacked the car up from the crossmember and braced it under the front "frame" pieces under the floor. When I started lowering the whole car flexed as if it would bend in half. After an inspection of the floors it became clear the last person to replace the floors had brazed them in from above not attaching the frame pieces or the underside of the lap joint. So I got to work plug and stitch welding the frame pieces to the floors. 

The mix of old undercoating and oil was tough to clean off and even harder to weld through when it started to melt and run into the bead.

After getting both sides done there still was not a satisfactory amount of stiffness in the car so I decided to do the rear end first. 

Once the gas tank was out the project was officially started. Here's the little piece that got Ford in so much touble with the Pinto:

 

Once the stick axle was out of the way I slid in the miata rear to start getting acquainted.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
2/1/21 12:27 p.m.

So obviously some things need to move out of the way to get the subframe up to where it needs to go.

You can see the wheel isn't in the right place yet. More clearancing needed.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
2/1/21 1:46 p.m.

After starting to do surgery on the rear of the car it became clear I needed to add stiffness before cutting too much. This prompted some rust conversion and hole patching in the floors along with tacking the support beams that run under the rear seats in fully.

Here you can see the floor has separated from the wheel well. This is under the rear seatbelt mounts. More dirty welding to close up these gaps and add back some strength. The seat belt bolts were so stuck that they twisted the splines off my torx bit. So they were removed with the grinder.

 

At the same time I was working out what to build the frame from. After drawing some inspiration from some of the major builds here (Nocones subaru, etc) I figured I would use light gauge 2x2. After picking up some offcuts from the metal supplier I reconsidered. The offcuts I got ended up being .055 rather than the .080 that I thought I was buying. After some quick simulations of simplified cases and realistic design considerations, I decided to use 2x3 .120 wall. This is likely overkill for this project however I do not plan to run a cage, the body has shown it is fairly flexible, and I want to be able to rely on the frame itself for most of the rigidity in the car. This will not be a featherweight car and I am ok with that. It'll provide a nice solid base.

Shavarsh
Shavarsh Reader
2/1/21 7:20 p.m.

A bit more bracing then the real fun started. All the patches in this car are brazed in. My grinder does not like to cut braze. Unfortunately I don't have tanks for my torch so the grinder is the current method of removal.

The floor and subframe were trimmed incrementally in many steps. I'll skip a few of them to not bore you to death.

 

Nitroracer (Forum Supporter)
Nitroracer (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
2/1/21 9:39 p.m.

This was a cool little Pinto before you started to give it Miata underpinnings and now its great.   I need to convince myself to take the next step and take on a project of this level.

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