Mani-fold on to your hats!

The process of putting together a turbo manifold was a lot more stressful to me than any other part of the car to date- besides the header before it.

The need to visualize and start to piece together weld elbows and straight piping isn’t something that I would consider a strength of mine. More of the opposite. I approached it the same way as I do many things in life. Identify the starting point, then the destination and finally connect the dots.

I started by bolting on the head flange which was easy because it was a quality piece and didn’t require me to crush the pipe into an oval. Then I mounted the merge collector on the turbo and slid in a piece of metal bar stock between them so I could mount it to the chassis with clamps. With the start and end identified it was simply about filling in the gaps

I started with the hardest runner first and tacked pieces together. It actually went along easier than I expected as I would tack and slice elbows until it went where I wanted. Occasionally an elbow was sacrificed but at $5 a piece it was a small cost of less than $15 to have a well fitting manifold.

At the end of the day it took far more money to build the manifold than I expected. Here is a quick run down of why mine was expensive:

  • Head Flange-$60
  • Merge collector with flange-$80.
  • 12 weld els-$70 (only used 9).
  • Straight stainless tube 12” long- $8.
  • Filler metal in 308L and 309L-$30.
  • Dual port argon regulator $130.
  • Argon $60 for 120 cu ft (used a good bit because of back purging

The parts were not that expensive but the 3 hours of fabrication to mock it up and 16 hours for welding it was more than I expected. This is probably a startup and learning cost of I had to state a reason. If I had the tools it would have been cheaper (I had the TIG welder..but this was largely it’s first use). A friend that is a solid fabricator (professional) said he would do it for $800. That’s a pretty good deal in my eyes.

Up next is to evaluate if polishing will work or if I should coat it followed by the down pipe and wastegate output into the exhaust. While I hate the fact the turbo is outside the chassis- there just were no other choices.

Welds were flatter than expected. I struggled to get the ridges and dimes look I expected but penetration was good
A reverse rotation turbo would have been better but the space is there if I find myself needing to replace this one.

The disassembly begins….

After many months of collecting parts I believe I am finally in a position to start pulling the car apart in preparation for the engine swap.  For those who haven’t seen or heard- I will be removing the Miata Engine and replacing it with a 2.0 GM Ecotec engine (with Turbocharger and direct injection..)

 

Here is a short video on the overview : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IajZ-zl0AzY

 

I will admit- I had a large amount of anxiety (and still do..) about pulling apart a car that was driving and running quite well. Especially not knowing if this new engine would fit or how many modifications are needed.

Starting with the seats, then the transmission tunnel, Radiator, scuttle and some sheet metal I started to pull off the covers and find things to remove- There certainly is no shortage.

The radiator was long overdue for a flushing, the seats had crap under them from 2010 and the questions continue. I also made the decision to remove the installed Halon Fire system and replace it with a single hand held unit in future. There are a few pounds I feel we can save!

Looking at all the wiring and I certainly think there is a good 40 or 50lbs of wiring that will be coming out of the already trimmed down harness

Mitch from Swap Time recently did a video about the harness. It is set to arrive on Wednesday of this week. Following that I will probably try find an hour or 2 to pull the engine this weekend and see if the new one fits!

Here was a video of the harness he made- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jGzw7sIMFI

I suspect I will need to wire in headlights, tail lights and turn signals as well. The goal there is to keep them all as minimal as possible

Subscribe if you wish to follow along. The YouTube video channel as well as this webpage should both see a few updates in the coming weeks!

Turbocharger Arrived

Turbocharger Arrived this week and I quickly mounted it in a mock up fashion.  Finding the size nuts and bolts for it is proving it be a royal pain in the ass.

It is a used unit from a junk yard off a stock motor which should be good enough for mock ups and to get things rolling.  The air exit pipe actually fits in a good spot. Hopefully it will stay within the body lines.

 

Missing the factory heat shield but  can make one fairly easily.  If anyone knows the nut size or part number for the turbo please let me know. 

The turbo came with 1 oil pipe but  the other is missing and will need to be bought.

The turbo mounts further out then I would like but hopefully it will work.

Water lines need to be made/purchased. Unfortunately without using the stock radiator and coolant tank it may be another custom effort

Engine Preparation

This weekend I started cleaning the engine (Brake clean is the $hit!) with the intention of mounting the flywheel and trans in the near future.  There are some cheap engine stands on amazon for $40 but I don’t feel they would bolt up easily. I will probably start to build and frame up something that will offset the engine and make transmission attachment plausible.


For the transmission I added a bar at the back with 2 casters. That makes it easy to pick up the one side of the engine and slide it around.

Car is in the background. I do feel the intake manifold will need to be replaced with something custom to prevent the large side bulge.

I could use some help. If someone knows the connector that I could replace the clutch line with I would appreciate it.  The factory line was cut and this was the connector that is left (It goes into the clutch slave cylinder). Ideally I want this piece to a -4an fitting to connect to my Wilwood master cylinder.

Ecotec flywheel…

The hardest to find parts is anything related to the manual transmission. It’s really like looking for a needle in a haystack.

I bought a fidanza flywheel after refusing to pay $800+ for a factory flywheel. My entire life I have wanted a lightened flywheel so it was an attractive option.

The problems..

Firstly the flywheel bolts are custom. Thankfully Tim at Zzperformance hooked me up. I will admit that looking for M11 bolts was a pain in the ass!

Secondly the pilot bearing is a big question mark. It doesn’t look like the factory would fit and there isn’t much information about what to do. More to come on that front after I talk to Fidanza.

Lastly I have called a few dealers trying to find a factory clutch and pressure plate. Many of them don’t see it in the parts catalog which is frustrating. I will most likely just buy it from Zzperformance.

If you decide to go LTG I would recommend just buying the clutch masters at from zz and be done. Spending hours trying to find information for simple things is not worth the savings!

Wiring and electronics

When I started I had collected the entire Miata wiring harness and related plugs/modules.  First I removed all of the wire wrap and used a gallon or 2 of degreaser to get the years of adhesive off. Using several wiring diagrams I managed to identify and remove over 35lbs of wire and sensors that I didn’t need anymore. Things like power windows, wipers,emissions crap etc all hit the scrap pile.

Admittedly I was afraid because I didn’t know exactly what the engine and ECU would need to run. I left a few extra wires and plugs when I was unsure.

Wiring Harness before modification

For the taillights I did not want to use anytime similar the original or Caterham- both of those solutions use RV taillights.  After looking around I managed to find some LED’s that would light up in multiple colors.

First step was to buy some Aluminum blanks.

From there I turned them down to provide a small lip and allowing for a piece of glass between them. The lights are able to light up Red, Orange or white.

The coolest part is they will hold red but flash orange if a turn signal is lite up. White for reverse lights obviously.

Here is a shot of the turn signal on. I mounted them as high as possible and they are very bright which I hope will help with awareness.