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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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

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

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

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

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


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:

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