This is going to blow…

I know I have strengths and I know I have weaknesses. More often than not I tend to maneuver to highlight my strengths and minimize my exposure to weaknesses. Unfortunately 3D spatial design is a huge weakness

The process of making headers for the original motor was incredibly difficult and one I hated every second along the way. Now I had a box of bends and flanges and had to make the turbo manifold. The progress is slow and as of this post it is not complete.

Placement was difficult and unfortunately cannot fit in the bodywork. As a result of a frame piece I will land up hanging the entire turbo outside of the bodywork and as a result I’ll probably just skip that panel entirely.

The results should be positive. As the extra airflow will move heat away from the engine and avoid melting the soles of shoes.

Up next is to get 4 more right radius bends and attempt to connect the collector ports to the header flange. Wish me luck! I’ll need it!

Pushing hard to get it over the line

While summer appears to be winding down as do the number of days that I’m willing to drive the car. It’s a double edged sword because the garage is still hot as hell but a fan helps.

So what has been going on? A lot of wiring,a lot of waiting for parts and time bending body panels. I decided to remake the firewall as the old one had a large hole from the factory miata fuse box. The new one is plain with minimal holes and several bc opponents mounted from the back side.

The wiring harnesses are all net new (minus the engine harness) and we’re made using txl wire and concentric twisting. My initial expectation was that it was hype but the results were true my magic! It is far more flexible than I ever expected. For connectors I went with deutch connectors besides for the fuel pump and fan (their connectors for 10GA was $$$)

The PDM install was next and I was able to get it mounted with space for the Hondata ecu. Wiring is a bit hectic but it should be fine and contained under the scuttle. One project that remains is an aluminum plate for the front of the dashboard to mount the wide and sensor and gauge cluster. With 2 rails for wiring management I am hopeful it will be easy to remove and install the scuttle without much fuss. As seems to be typical I have a whole host of ring terminals but none that are the right wire size or loop size..

Everyone out of the pool!

Good progress over the last few days. I took 2 days of work and spent half with the car and half with the kids.

It took about 10 minutes to yank the engine and transmission. Simply remove the 2 motor mount bolts and 2 holding the transmission and out it came.

After that I took the engine and trans apart and replaced the rear main seal on the engine and loctited the adapter plate to the motor.

Also removed the water pump housing and cut the top off of it to allow the intake manifold to spin around. some Hondabond and that went perfectly back in place.

One thing I wasn’t happy about was the performance of the POR15 paint. It seems to have bubbled everywhere the to cost wasn’t applied. The wire cup on an angle grinder and an hour later the metal was all ready to be repainted. I still had 2 small cans of por in silver and painted and top coated everything I could see.

On the transmission front we were not having a great day. The replacement pivot I got was the wrong size so it had to get machined down. The clutch alignment tool was built for a larger transmission input shaft so I tried to machine it down. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough material and I machines right thru it.

After searching for replacement tools for an e30 bmw only 1 place had it and it wasn’t cheap. I eventually decided to just make a new one. Using a piece of aluminum I cut a new center on the lathe. Worked like a champ!

Unfortunately there were 2 failures that I couldn’t fix without buying new parts. The transmission input seal folded slightly and I don’t trust it and the transmission shifter seal had the same fate. Ordered 2 replacements from rock auto just in case.

Final piece for the weekend was getting the clutch bolted in. Looks good although I was expecting a self adjusting version.

Hopefully the new seals arrive this week and I can reunite the 2 halves and get them back in the chassis. Feels like progress and might get it running this year optimistically!

Now steering in the right direction!

Adding the throttle body recently kick-started the progress of getting this thing back together but it also exposed a problem. The old steering shafts was pointed right where the alternator needed to live. I looked at several other alternator options but at the end of the day it made more sense to move the steering shafts than buy a different throttle body and find a way to make the alternator work.

Here was the old setup. The alternator lives right behind it.

The solution was actually easier than I expected. Woodward- the makers of the steering rack- had a variety of universal joints available and on the shelf. Some money was given to them and in return some shiny pieces arrived a few days later.

What is the plan? I expected to use 2 new universal joints to allow for some movement downwards and away from the engine. The results look promising and I manage to maintain my collapsible steering column setup!

Up next- transmission mounts!

Slow progress..but still progress!

It’s been slow and I have been looking to rent some space to use at night to further development of the car and get it ready before 2020.

After the engine was installed I decided I need to mock up drive belts and systems and get the steering sorted out. The next piece of the pie is the exhaust. Having built a header for U bends before I decided that I would like to avoid that again. The solution- a turbo manifold!

The hunt for a turbo was no simple task. Learning about mappings and what characteristics are important took up several hours in the evenings.

I decided on a Garrett G25-660 turbo. After lots of research I was price shopping and about to pull the trigger and an eBay price alert went off. Long story short- I was able to get a GT3076R dual ball bearing unit for $700 that was new in the box. It won’t have the same low end but it should fine given the ball bearings.

Next step is to order a kit to build the rams horn turbo manifold!

K20 Power now bolted in!

It took a while but I snuck a half day into working on the car with my dad. While I thought it was 3 hours of work it actually took 6.

First thing was to pull the k20a3 and remove the transmission and adapter plate.

Up next was moving those parts to the K20z3 and bolting them all back together.

From there we worked out what needed to be changed and we we removed and replaced a tube in the chassis. We also removed the old motor mounting plate and cut a new piece. After 5-10 minutes of welding we started to position the engine.

After measuring and cutting several tubes we had the left side mounted. Next we leveled the engine to 0.6 degrees and started on the driver side. They came out quite well

The final step was to check hood clearance. I didn’t expect it to fit but was nicely surprised. 3 mm to spare!

There week be some challenges with the steering and alternator but those are for a different day!

Ground clearance is a nice and acceptable 4″

Up next is the transmission mounts!

This engine is fighting me every step of the way!

From the moment I bought the engine it has fought me every step of the way. It seems the “Honda mechanic” that I bought it from was either a fantastic liar or had a love affair with red locktite.

I first realized it when I broke a 3/8″ extension trying to remove a flywheel bolt. I then brought out the impact wrench and it did absolutely nothing. A trip to the Chinese took store and coming home with an impact wrench that can make 800ft lbs of torque. The results? Nothing! Didn’t move it at all! Even tried heating the bolt to break the locktite but nothing changed.

Thankfully I have an amazing coworker that has the 1200lb version of the torque wrench. First thing it did was split the 12 point socket into 2. A trip to the orange store and $4 later I had a new 12 point 17mm socket. Given the first one slightly damaged the bolt head I decided to face off the new socket so it would have more grip and less of the rounded approach that makes sockets easier to get on to the bolt.

Unfortunately the bolt head on 2 of them bolts was too damaged. What happens next? Out came the welder! It took 3 attempts with the mig welder but adding a 3/4″ bolt did the trick finally. Most likely the heat of welding broke down any remaining locktite.

Up next I will put the engine back on the engine stand and verify the bottom end is good. And then we can start adding parts. The collection of “go fast parts” is growing!

New engine deal of the day!

I’ve been watching the internet for an I-vtec motor and seem to find every idiot in town. Eventually I found someone that had a K20Z3 engine with medium miles. It was a good option and should fit well. At 7 am I pulled it out of my truck and drained the oil. All in all it looks like it’s up to the task!

I don’t have an intake manifold. If anyone has one that would fit please let me know. I’m going to try a standard Honda one first before going the skunk2 route.

Let’s try a Honda Engine!

In an interesting twist it looks like we may be considering a Honda engine. After looking for small footprint and low heat options the Honda K series engines came to the top. After reading about using it with an S2000 transmission it appeared to have legs.

Hours of research highlighted that the S2000 transmission wasn’t a great choice for big power I somehow landed on a website- kmiata.com. These guys make adapter plates that allow the Honda motor to bolt to a Miata transmission. If I had not sold mine previously I might have had the swap up and running a while ago.

Given the option of a BMW Getrag 260 gearbox I decided to try find one. That was no way task! Luckily eBay helped and I found one about 20 miles away. After a good cleaning it looks pretty good! It will be a while before we understand its condition but it appears to have 5 forward gears and 1 reverse.

After that I managed to get a K20a3 motor to use as a mock up and potentially to use until I find a k20a2. The motor fits quite well and I’m optimistic it will work. Here is a picture of it just dropped into place and held by a 2×4

After having the engine and the transmission I needed to buy the adapter plate to marry them together. After the Ecotec problem I decided to stay as basic as possible until its weld ready. I bought just the plate and bolts and 3 days later they arrived.

I pulled the motor out and gave it a good degreasing and the blew it off with compressed air. Then out came the adapter plate.

The quality is impeccable and my hopes of being able to “spend my way” to completion is still alive!

One small hiccup is that the a3 engine has a different head (the inferior one..) and so it had a fitment problem. Nothing a grinder couldn’t fix.

Time was running out and I had to go shower but that wouldn’t happen before bolting the two together with a minimal amount of bolts. Until next time this is my view when going to work:

Hoping to have the next update and some good news in about a week’s time!