Shipwright's Disease

Saturday, April 24, 2010 at 11:23
I'm sad to report that I've come down with a bad case of shipwright's disease. I got started doing a few improvements to the Miata for this year's autocross season. Last year, all I did was change the oil and buy new tires. This year it was going to need a little bit more.

I needed new front hubs, since I had one wheel that was really noisy and getting sloppy. I'll just get that done quick before the season starts. No problem.

Except . . .

The best place to order is from Mazdaspeed Motorsports. Since I'm ordering from them and paying shipping from the USA anyway, I might as well order some of newer the R/LE type tie rod ends that have better geometry for lowered Miatas. And oh look, that's a decent price on adjustable sway bar links, let's just replace the stock links in the back as well.

Ok, so far so good. Then Chris C. gives me a good deal on his Diamond race wheels and Kumho V710s. No problem, pick those up too. Whee!

Buuuut . . .

I know the clutch is slipping and should probably be replaced. I can baby it and if I don't do hard launch drag starts it's not too bad. However, the new tires are a lot stickier and will make the clutch slip even worse. I was a little intimidated to tackle that job in my garage, but after talking to a few people and helping a friend do a clutch on his Miata (albeit on a lift, not on stands) I decide I can do the job. Well, if I'm pulling it all out anyway, might as well order up a lightweight flywheel at the same time.

No sense going in and not replacing the pilot and throwout bearings as well (and they come in the clutch kit).

And while I'm in there, it's a really good idea to replace the rear main oil seal and the transmission F/R oil seals.

Oh! Now I remember I have a braided stainless steel clutch line I bought two years ago and haven't installed yet. I have to remove the clutch slave cylinder anyway, so this is a good time to replace that line.

Come to think of it, I really don't know how old the clutch master/slave cyls are - probably best to replace both of those at the same time. It's no "extra work" to re-install a new slave instead of the old one.

Easiest way to get the room needed to drop the trans is to pull the exhaust off. Out of curiosity . . . 26 pounds?! Hmmm. That's more than I thought it would weigh. I know the muffler isn't original and it isn't a very sporting sound so maybe that should be replaced too.

Well . . .

Now I'm only 9 bolts away from having the exhaust manifold off and there's an inexpesive new header from Raceland that seems to be getting good reviews. OK, order that, done. Will get a new pipe and lightweight muffler put in at a local shop.

Only, in order to get to the exhaust manifold bolts, the intake has to come off. Well, since it's off anyway might as well modify it a bit for better airflow. And the new header will run without the factory heat shield, so I'll need to fabricate a new shield for the intake.

Oh, and due to a blown valve cover gasket a few years back, everything under the car is coated in a thick gooey black oil/dirt mixture. Makes for a very messy job. But since the transmission is out anyway, what better time to clean it up? So I loaded it up in the truck and took it to the local wand wash where I got a couple odd looks, but mission accomplished. See before, during, and after:


So what started as a couple simple jobs spiralled out of control until I had a garage full of old and new parts, a car missing several of it's important bits - like exhaust, transmission and wheels - and a stomach full of anxiety about my ability to put it all back together again.

Well, I'm happy to say that I'm mostly done now, save for a few minor tweaks and double checks. I did learn two interesting facts that you may want to know:

  1. There are at least 19 unique ways to spill transmission fluid on the floor, the car, your tools and yourself.
  2. It doesn't taste nearly as bad as you'd think.

A friend also pointed out: 
  1. (b) - There are at least 154 ways to discover you've spilled it (which usually involve soaking some part of your clothing or hair in the puddle)!

p.s. While putting the transmission and center console back in the car I found an aluminum shifter bearing I'd also bought a while back and then threw it in the console and forgot about. So I installed that too. So now I'm wondering what else I might have forgotten to do!

1 Responses to Shipwright's Disease

  1. Totty Says:

    Another thing that perhaps you've learned by now already:
    3. The best way to find the exact centre of your car is to drop a wrench under it.

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